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Serialising objects in Perl, using Storable to pass them around threads - Ed's journal
sobrique
sobrique
Serialising objects in Perl, using Storable to pass them around threads
You may have found Object Oriented Perl useful - it's not a tool for every job, but if you've a complicated data model, or a data driven process, it's invaluable. (Not to mention code encapsulation - but that doesn't actually seem to come up as much).

You may have also found being able to thread and queue useful. (Perl threading and queues)

However what you'll also have probably found is that multithreading objects is a significant sort of nuisance. Objects are jumped up hashes, and there's some quite significant annoyances with sharing hashes between threads.

However, another module which I find very useful in this context is Storable (CPAN).
What Storable does - essentially - is allow you to easily store and retrieve data to the local filesystem. It's geared up to hashes particularly:
use Storable;  
store \%table, 'file';  
$hashref = retrieve('file');  


This is quite a handy way for handling 'saved state' in your Perl code. (Less useful for config files, because the 'stored' file is binary formatted).

However what Storable _also_ supports is objects - which as you'll recall from the previous blog post are basically hashes with some extra bells and whistles. Better yet, there are two other methods that allows Storable to store to memory.
my $packed_table = freeze ( \%table );  
my $hashref = thaw ( $packed_table );   


This also works very nicely with objects, which in turn means you can then 'pass' an object around a set of threads using the Thread::Queue module.
use Storable qw ( freeze thaw );  
use MyObject;  
use Thread::Queue;  
  
my $work_q = Thread::Queue -> new();  
  
sub worker_thread {  
  while ( my $packed_item = $work_q -> dequeue )  {  
    my $object = thaw ( $packed_item );  
      $object -> run_some_methods();  
      $object -> set_status ( "processed" );  
       #maybe return $object via 'freeze' and a queue?  
  }  
}  
  
my $thr = threads -> create ( \&worker_thread );  
my $newobject = MyObject -> new ( "some_parameters" );  
$work_q -> enqueue ( freeze ( $newobject ) )  
$work_q -> end();  
$thr -> join();  
 


Because you're passing the object around within the queue, you're effectively cloning it between threads. So bear in mind that you may need to freeze it and 'return' it somehow once you've done something to it's internal state. But it does mean you can do this asynchronously without needing to arbitrate locking or shared memory. You may also find it useful to be able to 'store' and 'retrieve' and object - this works as you might expect. (Although I daresay you might need to be careful about availability of module versions vs. defined attributes if you're retrieving a stored object)

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