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A More Ergonomic Async Lock (obsolete)

June 15, 2022—Making the work queue look more like an async lock

This is the second post in a series about async locks:

  1. Reentrant Async Lock—A correct implementation
  2. A More Ergonomic Async Lock (obsolete) (this post)—Making the work queue look more like an async lock
  3. ReentrantAsyncLock NuGet Package—Introducing the ReentrantAsyncLock package
  4. Questions Answered—Answering some questions about ReentrantAsyncLock


The code described in this post has some issues. For example, the code below doesn’t correctly handle cancellation. See the next post for a better implementation that is more thoroughly tested.

I previously described how to make an async lock that supports all three of these at once:

  • Reentrance
  • Asynchronicity
  • Mutual exclusion

Now I’m going to show how to make it more ergonomic. With the WorkQueue class from that post and with the EnterAsync extension method shown below you’ll be able to write code like this:

readonly WorkQueue _asyncLock = new();
readonly object _resource = new();

async Task DoItAsync(CancellationToken cancellationToken)
    await using (await _asyncLock.EnterAsync(cancellationToken))

The EnterAsync extension method

This extension method sets SynchronizationContext.Current to the given SynchronizationContext, then asynchronously enters it. When the returned IAsyncDisposable is disposed of then SynchronizationContext.Current will be reset to whatever it was before.

using System;
using System.Diagnostics;
using System.Runtime.CompilerServices;
using System.Threading;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public static class SynchronizationContextExtensions
    static readonly Func<object?, IAsyncDisposable> CastToAsyncDisposable = state => (IAsyncDisposable)state!;
    static readonly Action DoNothing = () => {};

    static readonly ConditionalWeakTable<SynchronizationContext, TaskFactory> SynchronizationContextToTaskFactoryMap = new();

    public static Task<IAsyncDisposable> EnterAsync(
        this SynchronizationContext context,
        CancellationToken cancellationToken)
        if (cancellationToken.IsCancellationRequested)
            return Task.FromCanceled<IAsyncDisposable>(cancellationToken);
        var previousContext = SynchronizationContext.Current;
        var contextFactory = GetOrCreateTaskFactory(context);
        var disposable = AsyncDisposable.Create(() =>
            if (SynchronizationContext.Current == context)
            var task = Task.Run(DoNothing, CancellationToken.None);
            return new ValueTask(task);
        return EnterAsyncCore(contextFactory, disposable, cancellationToken);

    static TaskFactory GetOrCreateTaskFactory(SynchronizationContext context)
        Debug.Assert(SynchronizationContext.Current == context);
        if (SynchronizationContextToTaskFactoryMap.TryGetValue(context, out var factory))
            return factory;
        var scheduler = TaskScheduler.FromCurrentSynchronizationContext();
        factory = new TaskFactory(scheduler);
        SynchronizationContextToTaskFactoryMap.AddOrUpdate(context, factory);
        return factory;

    static async Task<IAsyncDisposable> EnterAsyncCore(
        TaskFactory taskFactory,
        IAsyncDisposable disposable,
        CancellationToken cancellationToken)
            return await taskFactory.StartNew(CastToAsyncDisposable, disposable, cancellationToken);
            var _ = disposable.DisposeAsync();

public sealed class AsyncDisposable : IAsyncDisposable
    public static readonly AsyncDisposable Empty = new(null);

    Func<ValueTask>? _disposeAsync;

    AsyncDisposable(Func<ValueTask>? disposeAsync)
        _disposeAsync = disposeAsync;

    public static AsyncDisposable Create(Func<ValueTask> disposeAsync) => new(disposeAsync);

    public ValueTask DisposeAsync() => Interlocked.Exchange(ref _disposeAsync, null)?.Invoke() ?? default;

A passing test case

The following test passes:

public async Task EnterAsyncMethodShouldSwitchIntoAndOutOfGivenContext()
    SynchronizationContext.SetSynchronizationContext(null); // Necessary because xUnit's SynchronizationContexts like to waffle back and forth
    var newContext = new SimpleWorkQueue();
    await using (await newContext.EnterAsync(default))
        Assert.Same(newContext, SynchronizationContext.Current);
    var isActuallyOutOfTheContext = false;
    newContext.Post(_ => isActuallyOutOfTheContext = true, null);
    var spinWait = new SpinWait();
    while (!isActuallyOutOfTheContext)