AKKA : hierarchies / lifecycles

Ok so last time we covered the basics of actors and the actor system (actor fabric) and covered how to send simple messages to actors.

This time we will talk about actor hierarchies (supervision) and also actor lifecycles.

But before we get into supervision and how it is used, we should just take a trip back to the introduction article in this series of posts.

The introductory post had the following bullet point

  • Supervisor hierarchies with “let-it-crash” semantics.

What does that actually mean. Well quite simply Akka embraces failure and treats it as an expected part of what could happen.

Doesn’t this sound quite dangerous? Well yes and no, the yes part could be that an actor was part way through processing some message. So logic would dictate that you should ensure that you messages are idempotent, and are safe to send again.

The no part is the interesting case, so you have an actor that dies part way through its job. Boo

Luckily this is Akka’s bread and butter, it has a strong concept of ownership/supervision where the supervisor would know about an underlings failure and would know how to remedy that. We will look at this next.

Hierarchies (supervision)

So far we have seen how to create our own little Akka systems. But what is really going on when we do that.

It turns out that the Akka fabric creates some top level Actors called “Guardians” which all user created guardians are “supervised” by.

This can be seen on this diagram (borrowed from the official Akka documentation)

image

Within Akka EVERY actor is “supervised” by another actor, up until the “Root Guardian”

There are 2 sub guardians under the root guardian.

User and System both of which play different roles

To stand on the should of giants here is what the Akka docs have to say about these 3 top level guardians

/: The Root Guardian
The root guardian is the grand-parent of all so-called “top-level” actors and supervises all the special actors mentioned in Top-Level Scopes for Actor Paths using the SupervisorStrategy.stoppingStrategy, whose purpose is to terminate the child upon any type of Exception. All other throwables will be escalated … but to whom? Since every real actor has a supervisor, the supervisor of the root guardian cannot be a real actor. And because this means that it is “outside of the bubble”, it is called the “bubble-walker”. This is a synthetic ActorRef which in effect stops its child upon the first sign of trouble and sets the actor system’s isTerminated status to true as soon as the root guardian is fully terminated (all children recursively stopped).

/system: The System Guardian
This special guardian has been introduced in order to achieve an orderly shut-down sequence where logging remains active while all normal actors terminate, even though logging itself is implemented using actors. This is realized by having the system guardian watch the user guardian and initiate its own shut-down upon reception of the Terminated message. The top-level system actors are supervised using a strategy which will restart indefinitely upon all types of Exception except for ActorInitializationException and ActorKilledException, which will terminate the child in question. All other throwables are escalated, which will shut down the whole actor system.

/user: The Guardian Actor
The actor which is probably most interacted with is the parent of all user-created actors, the guardian named “/user”. Actors created using system.actorOf() are children of this actor. This means that when this guardian terminates, all normal actors in the system will be shutdown, too. It also means that this guardian’s supervisor strategy determines how the top-level normal actors are supervised. Since Akka 2.1 it is possible to configure this using the setting akka.actor.guardian-supervisor-strategy, which takes the fully-qualified class-name of a SupervisorStrategyConfigurator. When the guardian escalates a failure, the root guardian’s response will be to terminate the guardian, which in effect will shut down the whole actor system.

See http://doc.akka.io/docs/akka/snapshot/general/supervision.html

Ok, so now we have established that there are top level guardians that take care of “supervising” any actors that are created programmatically, and that there is a guardian to monitor existing actors and log/manage their correct shutdown.

But can we created our own supervisors?

Well yes you can, in fact this is completely encouraged and a very very natural part of writing Akka code.

So how do we do that exactly?

It is actually quite simple, we have to follow a few steps

  1. Decide on what supervision strategy we wish to use (Akka has 2 of these, we will cover these in this article)
  2. Implement a Decider (again we will cover this in this article)

Let’s start with talking about these 2 points before we dive into any code

Supervision Strategy

As stated above it is completely possible to create our own supervisors.  There are only a couple of things that we need to look at before we dive into looking at some example code.

Firstly we need to understand what is meant by a supervision strategy. Quite simply a supervision strategy is a strategy that dictates what a supervisor will do when one of his underlings (the actors that he creates) throws an Exception

Akka comes with 2 inbuilt supervisor strategy

OneForOneStrategy which means that ONLY the child actor that raised the exception qualifies for some special treatment. The special treatment is called a directive, but more on this later

AllForOneStrategy which means that ALL of the children under the direct supervisor will have the supervision strategy directive applied to them

Decider

Within both of these strategies listed above, Akka has the concept of a decider. A decider is a PartialFunction that has the following type signature

type Decider = PartialFunction[Throwable, Directive]

Where PartialFunction is a trait that looks like this under the covers

PartialFunction[-A, +B] extends (A => B)

The idea here being that given a Throwable (exception) you must return a B. In Akka’s case the B in question would be a akka.actor.SupervisorStrategy.Directiver

A Directive will take one of 4 possible values

  • Resume
  • ReStart
  • Stop
  • Escalate

So what we are really saying when we talk about a decider is that it is a way for a supervisor to know what action to carry out when it sees a given Throwable (exception). This action will be applied to one (or more) of the supervsiors child(ren) depending on the type of supervision strategy used.

Akka actually comes with a default decider, which you can use directly should you want to, or you can create your own which you can augment with the default Akka one. In this post I will create my own and augment it with the default Akka one.

Let’s see an example of how a supervisor might use a decider and how it may create a supervision strategy.

import akka.actor.SupervisorStrategy.Directive
import akka.actor._

class AllForOneSupervisorActor extends Actor {
  

  val decider: PartialFunction[Throwable, Directive] = {
    case _: AkkaStopDirectiveException => 
	akka.actor.SupervisorStrategy.stop
    case _: AkkaRestartDirectiveException => 
	akka.actor.SupervisorStrategy.restart
  }

  override def supervisorStrategy: SupervisorStrategy =
    AllForOneStrategy()(decider.orElse(
	SupervisorStrategy.defaultStrategy.decider))
}

Now that we have seen how a supervisor creates a supervision strategy and how it makes use of a decider lets continue to look at an example of the 2 built in Akka supervision strategies

The Common Parts Of The Demo Code

Within this demo the following actor will be used as the child of the supervisors, we will just have multiple children ALL of this type of actor

import akka.actor.Actor

class LifeCycleActor extends Actor {
  println("LifeCycleActor: constructor")

  override def preStart { println("LifeCycleActor: preStart") }

  override def postStop { println("LifeCycleActor: postStop") }

  override def preRestart(reason: Throwable, message: Option[Any]) {
    println("LifeCycleActor: preRestart")
    println(s"LifeCycleActor reason: ${reason.getMessage}")
    println(s"LifeCycleActor message: ${message.getOrElse("")}")
    super.preRestart(reason, message)
  }

  override def postRestart(reason: Throwable) {
    println("LifeCycleActor: postRestart")
    println(s"LifeCycleActor reason: ${reason.getMessage}")
    super.postRestart(reason)
  }

  def receive = {

    case "SoundOff" =>
      println("LifeCycleActor: SoundOff seen")
      println(s"LifeCycleActor alive ${self.path.name}" )

    case RaiseStopThrowableMessage =>
      println("LifeCycleActor: RaiseStopThrowableMessage seen")
      throw new AkkaStopDirectiveException(
        "LifeCycleActor raised AkkaStopDirectiveException")

    case RaiseRestartThrowableMessage =>
      println("LifeCycleActor: RaiseRestartThrowableMessage seen")
      throw new AkkaRestartDirectiveException(
        "LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException")
  }
}

OneForOneCodeStrategy Example

Here is the code for the “OneForOne” supervisor actor.

There are a couple of things to not here.

  • We create child actors using the contextOf built in akka factors. This create children that are “supervised” by the actor whose context was used to create the child actors
  • We use a custom decider which uses the default akka decider as well
  • We use the “OneForOneStrategy” supervision strategy
import akka.actor.SupervisorStrategy.Directive
import akka.actor._

class OneForOneSupervisorActor extends Actor {
  println("OneForOneSupervisorActor: constructor")
  val lifeCycleChildrenActors = new Array[ActorRef](3)

  def receive = {
    case "StartChildren" =>
      println(s"OneForOneSupervisorActor : got a message StartChildren")

      for(i <- 0 to 2) {
        val child = context.actorOf(Props[LifeCycleActor], name = s"lifecycleactor_$i")
        lifeCycleChildrenActors(i) = child
      }

    case "MakeRandomChildCommitSuicide" =>
      println(s"OneForOneSupervisorActor : got a message MakeRandomChildCommitSuicide")
      lifeCycleChildrenActors(2) ! RaiseStopThrowableMessage

    case "MakeRandomChildRestart" =>
      println(s"OneForOneSupervisorActor : got a message MakeRandomChildRestart")
      lifeCycleChildrenActors(2) ! RaiseRestartThrowableMessage

    case "TellChildrenToSoundOff" =>
      println(s"OneForOneSupervisorActor : got a message TellChildrenToSoundOff")

      lifeCycleChildrenActors.foreach(x => x ! "SoundOff")
  }

  val decider: PartialFunction[Throwable, Directive] = {
    case _: AkkaStopDirectiveException => akka.actor.SupervisorStrategy.stop
    case _: AkkaRestartDirectiveException => akka.actor.SupervisorStrategy.restart
  }

  override def supervisorStrategy: SupervisorStrategy =
    OneForOneStrategy()(decider.orElse(SupervisorStrategy.defaultStrategy.decider))
}

When we run this one, we will fail a particular child, and ONLY that child will be effected by the supervision strategy thanks to the use of the “OneForOneStrategy”.

Let’s assume we have this demo code

val oneForOneSupervisorActor = system.actorOf(Props[OneForOneSupervisorActor], name = "OneForOneSupervisorActor")
println("sending oneForOneSupervisorActor a 'StartChildren' message")

oneForOneSupervisorActor ! "StartChildren"
Thread.sleep(1000)

oneForOneSupervisorActor ! "MakeRandomChildRestart"
Thread.sleep(1000)

oneForOneSupervisorActor ! "TellChildrenToSoundOff"
Thread.sleep(1000)

oneForOneSupervisorActor ! "MakeRandomChildCommitSuicide"
Thread.sleep(1000)

oneForOneSupervisorActor ! "TellChildrenToSoundOff"
Thread.sleep(1000)

system.stop(oneForOneSupervisorActor)

Here is the output of running the full demo code

sending oneForOneSupervisorActor a ‘StartChildren’ message
OneForOneSupervisorActor: constructor
OneForOneSupervisorActor : got a message StartChildren
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: preStart
LifeCycleActor: preStart
LifeCycleActor: preStart
OneForOneSupervisorActor : got a message MakeRandomChildRestart
LifeCycleActor: RaiseRestartThrowableMessage seen
LifeCycleActor: preRestart
LifeCycleActor reason: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
LifeCycleActor message: RaiseRestartThrowableMessage
LifeCycleActor: postStop
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: postRestart
LifeCycleActor reason: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
LifeCycleActor: preStart
[ERROR] [07/29/2016 07:06:28.569] [SupervisionSystem-akka.actor.default-dispatcher-2]
[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/OneForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_2]
LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
AkkaRestartDirectiveException: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
    at LifeCycleActor$$anonfun$receive$1.applyOrElse(LifeCycleActor.scala:36)
    at akka.actor.Actor$class.aroundReceive(Actor.scala:484)
    at LifeCycleActor.aroundReceive(LifeCycleActor.scala:3)
    at akka.actor.ActorCell.receiveMessage(ActorCell.scala:526)
    at akka.actor.ActorCell.invoke(ActorCell.scala:495)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.processMailbox(Mailbox.scala:257)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.run(Mailbox.scala:224)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.exec(Mailbox.scala:234)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinTask.doExec(ForkJoinTask.java:260)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinPool$WorkQueue.runTask(ForkJoinPool.java:1339)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinPool.runWorker(ForkJoinPool.java:1979)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinWorkerThread.run(ForkJoinWorkerThread.java:107)

OneForOneSupervisorActor : got a message TellChildrenToSoundOff
LifeCycleActor: SoundOff seen
LifeCycleActor alive lifecycleactor_0
LifeCycleActor: SoundOff seen
LifeCycleActor alive lifecycleactor_2
LifeCycleActor: SoundOff seen
LifeCycleActor alive lifecycleactor_1
OneForOneSupervisorActor : got a message MakeRandomChildCommitSuicide
LifeCycleActor: RaiseStopThrowableMessage seen
[ERROR] [07/29/2016 07:06:30.548] [SupervisionSystem-akka.actor.default-dispatcher-2]
[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/OneForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_2]
LifeCycleActor raised AkkaStopDirectiveException
AkkaStopDirectiveException: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaStopDirectiveException
    at LifeCycleActor$$anonfun$receive$1.applyOrElse(LifeCycleActor.scala:31)
    at akka.actor.Actor$class.aroundReceive(Actor.scala:484)
    at LifeCycleActor.aroundReceive(LifeCycleActor.scala:3)
    at akka.actor.ActorCell.receiveMessage(ActorCell.scala:526)
    at akka.actor.ActorCell.invoke(ActorCell.scala:495)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.processMailbox(Mailbox.scala:257)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.run(Mailbox.scala:224)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.exec(Mailbox.scala:234)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinTask.doExec(ForkJoinTask.java:260)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinPool$WorkQueue.runTask(ForkJoinPool.java:1339)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinPool.runWorker(ForkJoinPool.java:1979)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinWorkerThread.run(ForkJoinWorkerThread.java:107)

LifeCycleActor: postStop
OneForOneSupervisorActor : got a message TellChildrenToSoundOff
LifeCycleActor: SoundOff seen
LifeCycleActor: SoundOff seen
LifeCycleActor alive lifecycleactor_1
LifeCycleActor alive lifecycleactor_0
[INFO] [07/29/2016 07:06:31.553] [SupervisionSystem-akka.actor.default-dispatcher-4]
[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/OneForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_2] Message [java.lang.String]
from Actor[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/OneForOneSupervisorActor#-1082037253] to
Actor[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/OneForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_2#2123326382] was not delivered.
[1] dead letters encountered. This logging can be turned off or adjusted with configuration
settings ‘akka.log-dead-letters’ and ‘akka.log-dead-letters-during-shutdown’.
LifeCycleActor: postStop
LifeCycleActor: postStop

 

There are couple of things to note here

  • ONLY one of the child actors is restarted
  • ONLY one of the child actors is stopped, which is why we only see 2 actors out of 3 in the final “SoundOff” message sent to all the supervisors children

 

AllForOneCodeStrategy Example

Here is the code for the “AllForOne” supervisor actor.

There are a couple of things to not here.

  • We create child actors using the contextOf built in akka factors. This create children that are “supervised” by the actor whose context was used to create the child actors
  • We use a custom decider which uses the default akka decider as well
  • We use the “AllForOneStrategy” supervision strategy
import akka.actor.SupervisorStrategy.Directive
import akka.actor._

class AllForOneSupervisorActor extends Actor {
  println("AllForOneSupervisorActor: constructor")
  val lifeCycleChildrenActors = new Array[ActorRef](3)

  def receive = {
    case "StartChildren" =>
      println(s"AllForOneSupervisorActor : got a message StartChildren")

      for(i <- 0 to 2) {
        val child = context.actorOf(Props[LifeCycleActor], name = s"lifecycleactor_$i")
        lifeCycleChildrenActors(i) = child
      }

    case "MakeRandomChildCommitSuicide" =>
      println(s"AllForOneSupervisorActor : got a message MakeRandomChildCommitSuicide")
      lifeCycleChildrenActors(2) ! RaiseStopThrowableMessage

    case "MakeRandomChildRestart" =>
      println(s"AllForOneSupervisorActor : got a message MakeRandomChildRestart")
      lifeCycleChildrenActors(2) ! RaiseRestartThrowableMessage

    case "TellChildrenToSoundOff" =>
      println(s"AllForOneSupervisorActor : got a message TellChildrenToSoundOff")

      lifeCycleChildrenActors.foreach(x => x ! "SoundOff")
  }

  val decider: PartialFunction[Throwable, Directive] = {
    case _: AkkaStopDirectiveException => 
	akka.actor.SupervisorStrategy.stop
    case _: AkkaRestartDirectiveException => 
	akka.actor.SupervisorStrategy.restart
  }

  override def supervisorStrategy: SupervisorStrategy =
    AllForOneStrategy()(decider.orElse(
	SupervisorStrategy.defaultStrategy.decider))
}

When we run this one, we will fail a particular child, and ALL children will be effected by the supervision strategy thanks to the use of the “AllForOneStrategy”.

Let’s assume we have this demo code

val allForOneSupervisorActor = system.actorOf(Props[AllForOneSupervisorActor], name = "AllForOneSupervisorActor")
println("sending allForOneSupervisorActor a 'StartChildren' message")

allForOneSupervisorActor ! "StartChildren"
Thread.sleep(1000)

allForOneSupervisorActor ! "MakeRandomChildRestart"
Thread.sleep(1000)

allForOneSupervisorActor ! "TellChildrenToSoundOff"
Thread.sleep(1000)

allForOneSupervisorActor ! "MakeRandomChildCommitSuicide"
Thread.sleep(1000)

allForOneSupervisorActor ! "TellChildrenToSoundOff"
Thread.sleep(1000)

system.stop(allForOneSupervisorActor)

Here is the output of running the full demo code

sending allForOneSupervisorActor a ‘StartChildren’ message
AllForOneSupervisorActor: constructor
AllForOneSupervisorActor : got a message StartChildren
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: preStart
LifeCycleActor: preStart
LifeCycleActor: preStart
AllForOneSupervisorActor : got a message MakeRandomChildRestart
LifeCycleActor: RaiseRestartThrowableMessage seen
[ERROR] [07/29/2016 07:10:12.887] [SupervisionSystem-akka.actor.default-dispatcher-3]
[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_2] LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
AkkaRestartDirectiveException: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
    at LifeCycleActor$$anonfun$receive$1.applyOrElse(LifeCycleActor.scala:36)
    at akka.actor.Actor$class.aroundReceive(Actor.scala:484)
    at LifeCycleActor.aroundReceive(LifeCycleActor.scala:3)
    at akka.actor.ActorCell.receiveMessage(ActorCell.scala:526)
    at akka.actor.ActorCell.invoke(ActorCell.scala:495)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.processMailbox(Mailbox.scala:257)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.run(Mailbox.scala:224)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.exec(Mailbox.scala:234)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinTask.doExec(ForkJoinTask.java:260)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinPool$WorkQueue.runTask(ForkJoinPool.java:1339)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinPool.runWorker(ForkJoinPool.java:1979)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinWorkerThread.run(ForkJoinWorkerThread.java:107)

LifeCycleActor: preRestart
LifeCycleActor: preRestart
LifeCycleActor: preRestart
LifeCycleActor reason: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
LifeCycleActor reason: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
LifeCycleActor reason: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
LifeCycleActor message:
LifeCycleActor message: RaiseRestartThrowableMessage
LifeCycleActor message:
LifeCycleActor: postStop
LifeCycleActor: postStop
LifeCycleActor: postStop
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: postRestart
LifeCycleActor: postRestart
LifeCycleActor reason: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
LifeCycleActor: preStart
LifeCycleActor: postRestart
LifeCycleActor reason: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
LifeCycleActor: preStart
LifeCycleActor reason: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaRestartDirectiveException
LifeCycleActor: preStart
AllForOneSupervisorActor : got a message TellChildrenToSoundOff
LifeCycleActor: SoundOff seen
LifeCycleActor: SoundOff seen
LifeCycleActor alive lifecycleactor_2
LifeCycleActor: SoundOff seen
LifeCycleActor alive lifecycleactor_0
LifeCycleActor alive lifecycleactor_1
AllForOneSupervisorActor : got a message MakeRandomChildCommitSuicide
LifeCycleActor: RaiseStopThrowableMessage seen
[ERROR] [07/29/2016 07:10:14.866] [SupervisionSystem-akka.actor.default-dispatcher-7]
[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_2] LifeCycleActor raised AkkaStopDirectiveException
AkkaStopDirectiveException: LifeCycleActor raised AkkaStopDirectiveException
    at LifeCycleActor$$anonfun$receive$1.applyOrElse(LifeCycleActor.scala:31)
    at akka.actor.Actor$class.aroundReceive(Actor.scala:484)
    at LifeCycleActor.aroundReceive(LifeCycleActor.scala:3)
    at akka.actor.ActorCell.receiveMessage(ActorCell.scala:526)
    at akka.actor.ActorCell.invoke(ActorCell.scala:495)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.processMailbox(Mailbox.scala:257)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.run(Mailbox.scala:224)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.exec(Mailbox.scala:234)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinTask.doExec(ForkJoinTask.java:260)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinPool$WorkQueue.runTask(ForkJoinPool.java:1339)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinPool.runWorker(ForkJoinPool.java:1979)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinWorkerThread.run(ForkJoinWorkerThread.java:107)

LifeCycleActor: postStop
LifeCycleActor: postStop
LifeCycleActor: postStop
AllForOneSupervisorActor : got a message TellChildrenToSoundOff
[INFO] [07/29/2016 07:10:15.873] [SupervisionSystem-akka.actor.default-dispatcher-7]
[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_0] Message [java.lang.String]
from Actor[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor#1766273084]
to Actor[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_0#1933756970]
was not delivered. [1] dead letters encountered. This logging can be turned off or
adjusted with configuration settings ‘akka.log-dead-letters’ and ‘akka.log-dead-letters-during-shutdown’.
[INFO] [07/29/2016 07:10:15.874] [SupervisionSystem-akka.actor.default-dispatcher-7]
[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_1] Message [java.lang.String]
from Actor[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor#1766273084]
to Actor[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_1#922057055]
was not delivered. [2] dead letters encountered. This logging can be turned off or
adjusted with configuration settings ‘akka.log-dead-letters’ and ‘akka.log-dead-letters-during-shutdown’.
[INFO] [07/29/2016 07:10:15.877] [SupervisionSystem-akka.actor.default-dispatcher-7]
[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_2] Message [java.lang.String]
from Actor[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor#1766273084]
to Actor[akka://SupervisionSystem/user/AllForOneSupervisorActor/lifecycleactor_2#-2073614826]
was not delivered. [3] dead letters encountered. This logging can be turned off or
adjusted with configuration settings ‘akka.log-dead-letters’ and ‘akka.log-dead-letters-during-shutdown’.

There are couple of things to note here

  • ALL the child actors are restarted
  • ALL the child actors are stopped, which is why we only see 0 actors out of 3 in the final “SoundOff” message sent to all the supervisors children

 

 

 

Actor LifeCycle

There is no better way of understanding the Actor life cycles that Akka has then to examine this image taken from the Akka documentation.

The Akka documentation is actually very very good, its just there is a lot of it, and I am hoping this series of posts will be a bit lighter to digest, and shall concentrate on the most common parts of Akka usage. The official docs are obviously the place to go should you have a need for some deep Akka related question.

Anyway the Actor lifecycle is as follows:

 

image

This diagram is ace if you ask me, from here you can see exactly what happens when, and the different states, and what is available within each state.

There is not much more I can add to that diagram, we can however take some of the concepts in this diagram for a little spin.

Lets assume we have the following Actor code

import akka.actor.Actor

class LifeCycleActor extends Actor {
  println("LifeCycleActor: constructor")

  override def preStart { println("LifeCycleActor: preStart") }

  override def postStop { println("LifeCycleActor: postStop") }

  override def preRestart(reason: Throwable, message: Option[Any]) {
    println("LifeCycleActor: preRestart")
    println(s"LifeCycleActor reason: ${reason.getMessage}")
    println(s"LifeCycleActor message: ${message.getOrElse("")}")
    super.preRestart(reason, message)
  }
  override def postRestart(reason: Throwable) {
    println("LifeCycleActor: postRestart")
    println(s"LifeCycleActor reason: ${reason.getMessage}")
    super.postRestart(reason)
  }
  def receive = {
    case RestartMessage => throw new Exception("RestartMessage seen")
    case _ => println("LifeCycleActor : got a message")
  }
}

It can be seen that we have several overrides of the underlying Akka Actor implemented. Lets discuss each of them in turn

preStart(): Unit

This is called by the Akka system for us, and simple allows us to carry out any presStart activity that we may wish to perform

preStop(): Unit

This is called by the Akka system for us, and simple allows us to carry out any presStop activity that we may wish to perform

preRestart(reason: Throwable, message: Option[Any]): Unit

This is called by the Akka system for us, and allows your code to examine both the reason and the message for the restart

postRestart(reason: Throwable): Unit

This is called by the Akka system for us, and allows your code to examine both the reason for the restartThis is called by the Akka system for us, and allows your code to examine the reason for the restart

 

Now let us assume that we also have the following code to exercise the LifeCycleActor code above

import akka.actor._
import scala.language.postfixOps
import scala.io.StdIn

object Demo extends App {

  //create the actor system
  val system = ActorSystem("LifeCycleSystem")

  // default Actor constructor
  val lifeCycleActor = system.actorOf(Props[LifeCycleActor], name = "lifecycleactor")


  println("sending lifeCycleActor a number")
  lifeCycleActor ! 100
  Thread.sleep(1000)

  println("force restart")
  lifeCycleActor ! RestartMessage
  Thread.sleep(1000)

  println("stop lifeCycleActor")
  system.stop(lifeCycleActor)

  //shutdown the actor system
  system.terminate()

  StdIn.readLine()
}

Here is what you might expect to get printed out to the console output

“C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\bin\java” -Didea.launcher.port=7532 “-Didea.launcher.bin.path=C:\Program Files (x86)\JetBrains\IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition 15.0.1\bin” -Dfile.encoding=UTF-8 -classpath “C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\charsets.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\deploy.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\access-bridge-64.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\cldrdata.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\dnsns.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\jaccess.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\jfxrt.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\localedata.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\nashorn.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\sunec.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\sunjce_provider.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\sunmscapi.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\sunpkcs11.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\ext\zipfs.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\javaws.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\jce.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\jfr.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\jfxswt.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\jsse.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\management-agent.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\plugin.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\resources.jar;C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_51\jre\lib\rt.jar;C:\Users\sacha\Desktop\SachaBarber.AkkaExamples\Lifecyles\target\scala-2.11\classes;C:\Users\sacha\.ivy2\cache\com.typesafe\config\bundles\config-1.3.0.jar;C:\Users\sacha\.ivy2\cache\com.typesafe.akka\akka-actor_2.11\jars\akka-actor_2.11-2.4.8.jar;C:\Users\sacha\.ivy2\cache\joda-time\joda-time\jars\joda-time-2.9.4.jar;C:\Users\sacha\.ivy2\cache\org.scala-lang\scala-library\jars\scala-library-2.11.8.jar;C:\Users\sacha\.ivy2\cache\org.scala-lang.modules\scala-java8-compat_2.11\bundles\scala-java8-compat_2.11-0.7.0.jar;C:\Program Files (x86)\JetBrains\IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition 15.0.1\lib\idea_rt.jar” com.intellij.rt.execution.application.AppMain Demo
sending lifeCycleActor a number
LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: preStart
LifeCycleActor : got a message
force restart
LifeCycleActor: preRestart
LifeCycleActor reason: RestartMessage seen
LifeCycleActor message: RestartMessage
LifeCycleActor: postStop
[ERROR] [07/27/2016 07:21:08.232] [LifeCycleSystem-akka.actor.default-dispatcher-4] [akka://LifeCycleSystem/user/lifecycleactor] RestartMessage seen
java.lang.Exception: RestartMessage seen
    at LifeCycleActor$$anonfun$receive$1.applyOrElse(LifeCycleActor.scala:22)
    at akka.actor.Actor$class.aroundReceive(Actor.scala:484)
    at LifeCycleActor.aroundReceive(LifeCycleActor.scala:3)
    at akka.actor.ActorCell.receiveMessage(ActorCell.scala:526)
    at akka.actor.ActorCell.invoke(ActorCell.scala:495)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.processMailbox(Mailbox.scala:257)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.run(Mailbox.scala:224)
    at akka.dispatch.Mailbox.exec(Mailbox.scala:234)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinTask.doExec(ForkJoinTask.java:260)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinPool$WorkQueue.runTask(ForkJoinPool.java:1339)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinPool.runWorker(ForkJoinPool.java:1979)
    at scala.concurrent.forkjoin.ForkJoinWorkerThread.run(ForkJoinWorkerThread.java:107)

LifeCycleActor: constructor
LifeCycleActor: postRestart
LifeCycleActor reason: RestartMessage seen
LifeCycleActor: preStart
stop lifeCycleActor
LifeCycleActor: postStop

 

As you can see you have all the pertinent information that you would need to make logic decisions on within the Actor.

 

Where Is The Code?

As previously stated all the code for this series will end up in this GitHub repo:

https://github.com/sachabarber/SachaBarber.AkkaExamples

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