Arrow wants to provide an abstraction over multiple concurrency frameworks, in a way where their semantics match and they become interchangeable.

Working towards this purpose, it’s only natural that we’d add support for the framework Jetbrains provides over coroutines. This framework is called kotlinx.coroutines, whereas the machinery necessary to create coroutines is called kotlin.coroutines.

The most important datatype provided by Jetbrains is Deferred. Deferred is an abstraction capable of returning 1 result and cancellation. Its constructor is called async, and takes one suspended execution block where you can await() suspended functions.

async {
  val userProfile = getProfile("userId").await()
  val friendProfiles = userProfile.friends().map { friend ->

Does it look familiar? Yes! It’s the same as our comprehensions!

Improvements over the library

Unlike RxJava, Deferred doesn’t come with a natural set of operations for error handling and recovery, requiring users to use imperative try/catch blocks. Luckily, Arrow comes with its own set of error handling functions in its integration with MonadError.

See this faulty block

import kotlinx.coroutines.*

val deferred = async { throw RuntimeException("BOOM!") }
runBlocking { deferred.await() }
// CRASH! Exception!

What if we convert it to Arrow using k()?

import arrow.effects.*

val errorArrowWrapper = async { throw RuntimeException("BOOM!") }.k()
// Failure(RuntimeException("BOOM!"))

And how about adding some nice error recovery!

val recoveryArrowWrapper = async { throw RuntimeException("BOOM!") }.k()
                                 .handleError { 0 }
// Success(0)

The second advantage is that we’re providing all the instances required to create an architecture that’s agnostic to the framework, so you can mix and match multiple frameworks in a way that feels idiomatic, while not having to worry about the semantics of each implementation.

You can read more about FP architectures in the section on Monad Transformers.

Bringing Deferred to Arrow

To create a Deferred Arrow Wrapper you can invoke the constructor with any synchronous non-suspending function, the same way you’d use async.

val deferredK = DeferredK { throw RuntimeException("BOOM!") }

To wrap any existing Deferred in its Arrow Wrapper counterpart you can use the extension function k().

val deferredWrapped = async { throw RuntimeException("BOOM!") }.k()

All the other usual constructors like pure(), suspend(), and async() are available too, in versions that accept different values for CoroutineStart and CoroutineContext.

To unwrap the value of a DeferredK we provide a synchronous method called unsafeAttemptSync() that returns a Try<A>.

// Failure(RuntimeException("BOOM!"))

For unwrapping the values asynchronously you can use unsafeRunAsync() and runAsync().

The safe version takes as a parameter a callback from a result of Either<Throwable, A> to a new Deferred<Unit> instance. All exceptions that would happen on the function parameter are automatically captured and propagated to the Deferred<Unit> return.

DeferredK { throw RuntimeException("Boom!") }
  .runAsync { result ->
    result.fold({ DeferredK { println("Error found") } }, { res -> DeferredK { println(res.toString()) } })
// Error found

The unsafe version requires a callback to Unit and is assumed to never throw any internal exceptions.

DeferredK { throw RuntimeException("Boom!") }
  .unsafeRunAsync { result ->
    result.fold({ println("Error found") }, { println(it.toString()) })
// Error found

Note that the function unsafeRunSync returns a value that’s not wrapped on a Try<A>. This means that, like async, this function can crash your program. Use it with SEVERE CAUTION.

It is also posible to await() on the wrapper like you would on Deferred, but losing all the benefits of Arrow.

Error handling & recovery

MonadError can be used to start a Monad Comprehension using the method bindingCatch, with all its benefits. These benefits include capturing all exceptions that happen inside the block.

DeferredK.monadError().bindingCatch {
  val songUrl = getSongUrlAsync().bind()
  val musicPlayer = MediaPlayer.load(songUrl)
  val totalTime = musicPlayer.getTotaltime() // Oh oh, total time is 0
  val timelineClick = audioTimeline.click().bind()

  val percent = (timelineClick / totalTime * 100).toInt()

 // Failure(ArithmeticException("/ by zero"))

Several recovery methods are provided, which you can find in the documentation for ApplicativeError. The most common ones are handleError and handleErrorWith.

The former allows you to return a single value from a faulty block

val recoveryArrowWrapper = DeferredK { getUserListByIdRange(-1, 2) }
                                 .handleError { listOf() }
// Success(List())

whereas the later allows for any DeferredK to be returned

val recoveryArrowWrapper = DeferredK { getUserListByIdRange(-1, 2) }
                                 .handleErrorWith { getUserListByIdRange(1, 3) }
// Success(List(User(1), User(2), User(3)))

Subscription and cancellation

DeferredK created with bindingCatch behave the same way regular Deferred do, including cancellation by disposing the subscription.

Note that MonadSuspend provides an alternative to bindingCatch called bindingCancellable returning a arrow.Disposable. Invoking this Disposable causes an BindingCancellationException in the chain which needs to be handled by the subscriber, similarly to what Deferred does.

val (deferred, unsafeCancel) = 
  DeferredK.monadSuspend().bindingCancellable {
    val userProfile = DeferredK { getUserProfile("123") }.bind()
    val friendProfiles = userProfile.friends().map { friend ->
        DeferredK { getProfile(friend.id) }.bind()
    listOf(userProfile) + friendProfiles

deferred.unsafeRunAsync { result ->
  result.fold({ println("Boom! caused by $it") }, { println(it.toString()) })
// Boom! caused by BindingCancellationException


You can see all the type classes DeferredK implements below:

import arrow.*
import arrow.effects.*
import arrow.debug.*

showInstances<ForDeferredK, Throwable>()
// [Applicative, ApplicativeError, Functor, Monad, MonadError, MonadSuspend, Async, Effect]