Callback::Frame - Preserve error handlers and "local" variables across

        use Callback::Frame;

        my $callback;

        frame_try {
          $callback = fub {
                        die "some error";
        } frame_catch {
           my $stack_trace = shift;
           print $stack_trace;
           ## Also, $@ is set to "some error at ..."


    This will print something like:

        some error at line 7.
        ----- Callback::Frame stack-trace ----- - ANONYMOUS FRAME - ANONYMOUS FRAME

    When programming with callbacks in perl, you create anonymous functions
    with "sub { ... }". These functions are especially useful because when
    they are called they will preserve their surrounding lexical

    In other words, the following bit of code

        my $callback;
          my $var = 123;
          $callback = sub { $var };
        print $callback->();

    will print 123 even though $var is no longer in scope when the callback
    is invoked.

    Sometimes people call these anonymous functions that reference variables
    in their surrounding lexical scope "closures". Whatever you call them,
    they are essential for convenient and efficient asynchronous

    For many applications we really like straightforward callback style. The
    goal of Callback::Frame is to simplify the management of dynamic
    environments (defined below) while leaving callback style alone.

    The problem that this module solves is that although closures preserve
    their lexical environment, they don't preserve error handlers or "local"

    Consider the following piece of broken code:

        use AnyEvent;

        eval {
          $watcher = AE::timer 0.1, 0,
            sub {
              die "some error";

        ## broken!
        if ($@) {
          print STDERR "Oops: $@";


    The intent behind the "eval" above is obviously to catch any exceptions
    thrown by the callback. However, this will not work because the "eval"
    will only be in effect while installing the callback in the event loop,
    not while running the callback. When the event loop calls the callback,
    it will probably wrap its own "eval" around the callback and you will
    see something like this:

        EV: error in callback (ignoring): some error at line 6.

    (The above applies to EV which is a well-designed event loop. Other
    event loops may fail more catastrophically.)

    The root of the problem is that the dynamic environment has not been
    preserved. In this case it is the dynamic exception handlers that we
    would like to preserve. In some other cases we would like to preserve
    dynamically scoped (aka "local") variables (see below).

    By the way, "lexical" and "dynamic" are the lisp terms. When it applies
    to variables, perl confusingly calls dynamic scoping "local" scoping,
    even though the scope is temporal, not local.

    Here is how we could fix the code above using Callback::Frame:

        use AnyEvent;
        use Callback::Frame;

        frame_try {
          $watcher = AE::timer 0.1, 0, fub {
                                         die "some error";
        } frame_catch {
          print STDERR "Oops: $@";


    Now we see the desired error message:

        Oops: some error at line 8.

    We created two frames to accomplish this: A root frame with "frame_try"
    which contains the exception handler, and a nested frame with "fub" to
    use as a callback. Unlike "fub", "frame_try" immediately executes its
    frame. Because the nested callback frame is created while the root frame
    is executing, the callback will preserve the dynamic environment
    (including the exception handler) of the root frame.

    This module exports the following subs: "frame", "fub", "frame_try",
    "frame_catch", "frame_local", and "frame_void".

    "frame" is the general interface. The other subs are just syntactic
    sugar around "frame". "frame" requires at least a "code" argument which
    should be a coderef (a function or a closure). It will return another
    coderef that "wraps" the coderef you passed in. When this wrapped codref
    is run, it will reinstate the dynamic environment that was present when
    the frame was created, and then run the coderef that you passed in as

    "frame" also accepts "catch", "local", "existing_frame", and "name"
    parameters which are described below.

    "fub" simplifies the conversion of existing callback code into
    Callback::Frame enabled code. For example, given the following AnyEvent

        $watcher = AE::io $sock, 0, sub { do_stuff() };

    In order for the callback to have its dynamic environment maintained,
    you just need to change it to this:

        $watcher = AE::io $sock, 0, fub { do_stuff() };

    IMPORTANT NOTE: All callbacks that may be invoked outside the dynamic
    environment of the current frame should be created with "frame" or "fub"
    so that the dynamic environment will be correctly re-applied when the
    callback is invoked.

    The "frame_try" and "frame_catch" subs are equivalent to a call to
    "frame" with "code" and "catch" parameters. However, unlike with
    "frame", the frame is executed immediately.

    "frame_void" takes a single callback argument. This can be useful if you
    wish to kick off an unassociated asynchronous action while handling. If
    the action is run in void context, there is no way for it to throw an
    exception that will affect your request, or to access its local
    variables. Note that you probably should install a separate
    "frame_catch" in case the unassociated operation throws exceptions.

    Libraries that wrap callbacks in frames can use the
    "Callback::Frame::is_frame()" function to determine if a given callback
    is already wrapped in a frame. It returns true if the callback is
    wrapped in a frame and is therefore suitable for use with
    "existing_frame". Sometimes libraries like to automatically wrap a
    callback in a frame unless it already is one:

        if (!Callback::Frame::is_frame($callback)) {
          $callback = frame(code => $callback);

    If you wish to run a coderef inside an existing frame's dynamic
    environment, when creating a frame you can pass in an existing frame as
    the "existing_frame" parameter. When this frame is executed, the "code"
    of the frame will be run inside "existing_frame"'s dynamic environment.
    This is useful for throwing exceptions from within some given callback's
    environment (timeouts for example):

        frame(existing_frame => $callback, code => sub {
          die "request timed out";

    "existing_frame" is also useful for extracting/setting a callback's
    local variables.

    Although you should never need to, the internal frame stack can be
    accessed at $Callback::Frame::top_of_stack. When this variable is
    defined, a frame is currently being executed.

    Callback::Frame tries to make adding error handling support to an
    existing asynchronous application as easy as possible by not forcing you
    to pass extra parameters around. It should also make life easier because
    as a side effect of adding error checking it also can be made to produce
    detailed and useful "stack traces" that track the callback history of
    some connection or transaction.

    Frames can be nested. When an exception is raised, the most deeply
    nested "catch" handler is invoked. If this handler itself throws an
    error, the next most deeply nested handler is invoked with the new
    exception but the original stack trace. If the last "catch" handler
    re-throws the error, the error will be thrown in whatever dynamic
    environment was in place when the callback was called, usually the event
    loop's top-level handler (probably not what you want).

    When a "catch" handler is called, not only is $@ set, but also a
    stack-trace string is passed in as the first argument. All frames will
    be listed in this stack-trace, starting with the most deeply nested

    If you want you can use simple frame names like "accepted" but if you
    are recording error messages in a log you might find it useful to name
    your frames things like "accepted connection from $ip:$port at $time"
    and "connecting to $host (timeout = $timeout seconds)".

    All frames you omit the name from will be shown as "ANONYMOUS FRAME" in

    Since multiple frames can be created within the same parent frame and
    therefore multiple child frames can be active at once, frames aren't
    necessarily arranged in terms of a stack. Really, the frame "stack" is
    more of a tree data structure (known in lisp as a "spaghetti stack").
    This occurs most often when two asynchronous request frames are started
    up concurrently while the same frame is in effect. At this point the
    "stack" has essentially branched. If you are ever surprised by an
    exception handler being called twice, this is probably what is

    In the same way that using "frame_catch" or the "catch" parameter to
    "frame" preserves the dynamic environment of error handlers, the
    "frame_local" function or "local" parameter to "frame" can be used to
    preserve the dynamic environment of local variables. Of course, the
    scope of these bindings is not actually local in the physical sense of
    the word, only in the perl sense.

    Technically, perl's "local" maintains the dynamic environment of
    bindings. The distinction between variables and bindings is subtle but
    important. See, when a lexical binding is created, it is there "forever"
    -- or at least until it is no longer reachable by your program according
    to the rules of lexical scoping. Therefore, bindings are statically
    mapped to lexical variables and it is redundant to distinguish between
    the two.

    However, with dynamic variables the same variable accessed in the same
    part of your code can refer to different bindings at different times.
    That's why they are called "dynamic" and lexical variables are sometimes
    called "static".

    Because any code in any file, function, or package can access a dynamic
    variable, they are the opposite of local. They are global. However, the
    bindings are only global for a little while at a time. After a while
    they go out of scope and then they are no longer visible at all. Or
    sometimes they will get "shadowed" by some other binding and will come
    back again later. Because when they are accessed determines which
    binding is referenced, dynamic variables are actually temporally scoped,
    not locally scoped (perl nomenclature notwithstanding).

    To make all this concrete, consider how the binding containing 2 is lost
    forever in this bit of code:

        our $foo = 1;
        my $cb;

          local $foo;
          $foo = 2;
          $cb = sub {
            return $foo;

        say $foo;     # 1
        say $cb->();  # 1  <- not 2!
        say $foo;     # 1

    Here's a way to "fix" that using Callback::Frame:

        our $foo = 1;
        my $cb;

        frame_local __PACKAGE__.'::foo', sub {
          $foo = 2;
          $cb = fub {
            return $foo;

        say $foo;     # 1
        say $cb->();  # 2  <- hooray!
        say $foo;     # 1

    Don't be fooled into thinking that this is a lexical binding though.
    While the callback $cb is executing, all parts of the program will see
    the binding containing 2:

        our $foo = 1;
        my $cb;

        sub global_foo_getter {
          return $foo;

        frame_local __PACKAGE__.'::foo', sub {
          $foo = 2;
          $cb = fub {
            return global_foo_getter();

        say $foo;     # 1
        say $cb->();  # 2  <- still 2
        say $foo;     # 1

    You can install multiple local variables in the same frame with the
    "frame" interface:

        frame(local => __PACKAGE__.'::foo',
              local => 'main::bar',
              code => { })->();

    Note that if you have both "catch" and "local" elements in a frame, in
    the event of an error the local bindings will not be present inside the
    "catch" handler (use a nested frame if you need this).

    Variable names must be fully package qualified. The best way to do this
    for variables in your current package is to use the ugly "__PACKAGE__"

    Objects stored in local bindings managed by Callback::Frame will not be
    destroyed until all references to the frame-wrapped callback that
    contains the binding are destroyed, along with all references to any
    deeper frames.

    The Callback::Frame github repo

    AnyEvent::Task uses Callback::Frame and its docs have more discussion on
    exception handling in async apps.

    This module's "catch" syntax is of course modeled after "normal
    language" style exception handling as implemented by Try::Tiny and

    This module depends on Guard to maintain the
    $Callback::Frame::active_frames datastructure and to ensure that "local"
    binding updates aren't lost even when exceptions or other non-local
    returns occur.

    AnyEvent::Debug provides an interactive debugger for AnyEvent
    applications and uses some of the same techniques that Callback::Frame
    does. AnyEvent::Callback and AnyEvent::CallbackStack sort of solve the
    dynamic error handler problem. Unlike these modules, Callback::Frame is
    not related at all to AnyEvent, except that it happens to be useful in
    AnyEvent libraries and applications (among other things).

    Promises and Future are similar modules but they solve a slightly
    different problem. In the area of exception handling they require a more
    drastic restructuring of your async code because you need to pass
    "promise/future" objects around to maintain context. Callback::Frame is
    context-less (or rather the context is implicit in the dynamic state).
    That said, both of these modules should be compatible with

    Miscellaneous other modules: IO::Lambda::Backtrace,

    Python Tornado's StackContext
    <> and

    Let Over Lambda, Chapter 2

    UNWIND-PROTECT vs. Continuations

    For now, "local" bindings can only be created in the scalar namespace.
    Also, none of the other nifty things that local can do (like localising
    a hash table value) are supported yet.

    Doug Hoyte, "<>"

    Copyright 2012-2016 Doug Hoyte.

    This module is licensed under the same terms as perl itself.