Creating a co_await awaitable signal that can be awaited multiple times, part 1

Raymond Chen


C++/WinRT asynchronous activities can be awaited only once. This is consistent with their intended usage pattern, which is for an application to start the activity, co_await the result, and then continue.

But maybe you want something like a Win32 event, where any number of people can co_await the event, and then once it is signaled, all the awaiters are resumed.

Well, an easy way to do this is simply to have a Win32 event!

struct awaitable_event
  void set() const noexcept
  { SetEvent(os_handle()); }

  auto operator co_await() const noexcept
  { return winrt::resume_on_signal(os_handle()); }

  HANDLE os_handle() const noexcept
  { return handle.get(); }

  winrt::handle handle{
      /* manual reset */ true, /* initial state */ false,
      nullptr)) };

This class is just a wrapper around a Win32 manual-reset event handler. You can call the set method to set the event, and you can co_await it to wait for the event.

The traditional way of supporting co_await is to implement the trio of methods await_ready, await_suspend, and await_resume. But another way is to define the co_await operator so it returns an awaiter. We implement our custom co_await operator by propagating the awaiter returned by resume_on_signal. Basically, awaiting the awaitable_event is the same as awaiting a call of resume_on_signal with the hidden handle.

For simple scenarios, this might be all you need. You can define a global awaitable_event and have as many people as you like co_await it.

If you want the object not to have static storage duration (say, because it’s a member of another class which is dynamically-allocated), then you will encounter lifetime issues because you can’t destruct the awaitable_event while somebody else is still awaiting it.

We’ll continue investigating this issue next time.


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