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VIPS and threads

Using VIPS — VIPS and threading

Introduction

This section tries to summarise the rules for threaded programs using libvips. Generally, libvips is threaded and thread-safe, with a few exceptions.

Images

On startup, you need to call VIPS_INIT() single-threaded. After that, you can freely create images in any thread and read them in any other thread. See the example at the end of this chapter. Note that results can also be shared between threads for you by the vips operation cache.

The exception is the drawing operators, such as vips_draw_circle(). These operations modify their image argument so you can't call them on the same image from more than one thread. Reading from an image while another thread is writing to it with one of the draw operations will obviously also fail.

When libvips calculates an image, by default it will use as many threads as you have CPU cores. Use vips_concurrency_set() to change this.

Error handling

libvips has a single error code (-1 or NULL) returned by all functions on error. Error messages are not returned, instead they are logged in a single global error buffer shared by all threads, see vips_error_buffer().

This makes error handling very simple but the obvious downside is that because error returns and error messages are separate when you detect an error return you can't be sure that what's in the error buffer is the message that matches your error.

The simplest way to handle this is to present the whole error log to the user on the next interaction and leave it to them to decide what action caused the failure.

Using VipsRegion between threads

VipsImage objects are immutable and can be shared between threads very simply. However the lower-level VipsRegion object used to implement VipsImage (see Extending VIPS) is mutable and you can only use a VipsRegion from one thread at once.

In fact it's worse than that: to reduce locking, VipsRegion keeps a lot of state in per-thread storage. If you want to create a region in one thread and use it in another, you have to first tag the region as unowned from the creating thread with vips__region_no_ownership(), then in the recieving thread take ownership with vips__region_take_ownership(). See the source for operations like vips_tilecache() if you're curious how this works.

libvips includes a set of sanity checks for region ownership and will fail if you don't pass ownership correctly.

Example

This example runs many vips_resize() in parallel from many threads.

Example 2. VIPS and threads example

/* Read from many threads. 
 *
 * Compile with:
 *
 * 	gcc -g -Wall soak.c `pkg-config vips --cflags --libs`
 *
 * Run with:
 *
 * 	rm -rf x
 * 	mkdir x
 * 	for i in {0..10}; do ./a.out ~/pics/k2.jpg; done
 *
 */

#include <stdio.h>
#include <glib.h>

#include <vips/vips.h>

/* How many pings we run at once.
 */
#define NUM_IN_PARALLEL (50)

/* Number of tests we do in total.
 */
#define TOTAL_TESTS (NUM_IN_PARALLEL * 20)

/* Workers queue up on this.
 */
GMutex allocation_lock;

/* Our set of threads.
 */
GThread *workers[NUM_IN_PARALLEL];

/* Number of calls so far.
 */
int n_calls = 0;

/* Our test function. This is called by NUM_IN_PARALLEL threads a total of
 * TOTAL_TESTS times. 
 */
static int
test (const char *filename)
{
  VipsImage *im, *x;
  char output_file[256];

  snprintf (output_file, 256, "x/tmp-%p.jpg", g_thread_self ());

  if (!(im = vips_image_new_from_file (filename,
				       "access",
				       VIPS_ACCESS_SEQUENTIAL_UNBUFFERED,
				       NULL)))
    return (-1);

  if (vips_resize (im, &x, 0.1, NULL))
    {
      g_object_unref (im);
      return (-1);
    }
  g_object_unref (im);
  im = x;

  if (vips_image_write_to_file (im, output_file, NULL))
    {
      g_object_unref (im);
      return (-1);
    }
  g_object_unref (im);

  return (0);
}

/* What we run as a thread.
 */
static void *
worker (void *data)
{
  const char *filename = (const char *) data;

  for (;;)
    {
      gboolean done;

      done = FALSE;
      g_mutex_lock (&allocation_lock);
      n_calls += 1;
      if (n_calls > TOTAL_TESTS)
	done = TRUE;
      g_mutex_unlock (&allocation_lock);

      if (done)
	break;

      if (test (filename))
	vips_error_exit (NULL);
    }

  return (NULL);
}

int
main (int argc, char **argv)
{
  int i;

  if (VIPS_INIT (argv[0]))
    vips_error_exit (NULL);

  g_mutex_init (&allocation_lock);

  for (i = 0; i < NUM_IN_PARALLEL; i++)
    workers[i] = g_thread_new (NULL, (GThreadFunc) worker, argv[1]);

  for (i = 0; i < NUM_IN_PARALLEL; i++)
    g_thread_join (workers[i]);

  return (0);
}

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