Monday, 21 December 2015

OperationCanceledException vs TaskCanceledException when task is canceled


In my previous post, "How to cancel a Task", I mentioned that MSDN recommends throwing OperationCanceledException from a cancelled task. But the following example shows that canceling .NET methods makes them throw a different exception type - TaskCanceledException:

Output:


System.Threading.Tasks.TaskCanceledException: A task was canceled.
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.TaskAwaiter.ThrowForNonSuccess(Task task)
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.TaskAwaiter.HandleNonSuccessAndDebuggerNotification(Task task)
   at Program.d__1.MoveNext()
Task.IsCanceled: True
Task.IsFaulted: False
Task.Exception: null


So why .NET does not follow its own rules? Why exception thrown in the example above was not OperationCanceledException?

I asked this question on SO and this is how I interpret the answer I got:

(1) System.OperationCanceledException class has been around longer than TPL. MSDN describes it as: "The exception that is thrown in a thread upon cancellation of an operation that the thread was executing." It is intended to be thrown from a thread in which operation is executed. .NET async API are actually synchronous operations (return Task, not marked as async). They don't have additional thread involved which makes OperationCanceledException not appropriate exception to be thrown.

(2) It is different to cancel a Task (setup of the engine which will execute "real work", user's operation) than to cancel operation itself. For example, we can pass already cancelled token to a task or can simply create already cancelled task. Operation and its thread are not started at all in these cases but if we await such task and catch OperationCanceledException we might think they were actually started. So it makes sense to use different type of the exception in these two different scenarios.

Example 1: Already canceled token is passed to task factory method:

Output:


System.Threading.Tasks.TaskCanceledException: A task was canceled.
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.TaskAwaiter.ThrowForNonSuccess(Task task)
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.TaskAwaiter.HandleNonSuccessAndDebuggerNotification(Task task)
   at Program.d__1.MoveNext()
Task.IsCanceled: True
Task.IsFaulted: False
Task.Exception: null


Example 2: Awaiting task which is created as already canceled:

Output:


System.Threading.Tasks.TaskCanceledException: A task was canceled.
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.TaskAwaiter.ThrowForNonSuccess(Task task)
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.TaskAwaiter.HandleNonSuccessAndDebuggerNot
ification(Task task)
   at System.Runtime.CompilerServices.TaskAwaiter.GetResult()
   at Program.d__1.MoveNext()
Task.IsCanceled: True
Task.IsFaulted: False
Task.Exception: null


From the points made above we can conclude that caller of the cancelable task can expect two types of exceptions:OperationCanceledException and TaskCanceledException. As the latter derives from the former, it is enough to handle OperationCanceledException if we want to handle the case of canceled task:




Further reading:
SO Q&A: OperationCanceledException VS TaskCanceledException when task is canceled
SO Q&A: Difference between OperationCanceledException and TaskCanceledException?
Andrew L Arnott: Recommended patterns for CancellationToken

3 comments:

Unknown said...

How can we differentiate between the two if we need to ?

Bojan Komazec said...

You can have chain catch statements and in the first one specify catching more specific (derived) exception (TaskCanceledException in our case) and in the second catch specify more generic exception (OperationCanceledException).

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