[Python-Dev] PEP 492: __aiter__ should return async iterator directly instead of awaitable

Yury Selivanov yselivanov.ml at gmail.com
Mon Jun 6 15:23:43 EDT 2016

There is a small flaw in PEP 492 design -- __aiter__ should not return 
an awaitable object that resolves to an asynchronous iterator. It should 
return an asynchronous iterator directly.

Let me explain this by showing some examples.

I've discovered this while working on a new asynchronous generators 
PEP.  Let's pretend that we have them already: if we have a 'yield' 
expression in an 'async def' function, the function becomes an 
"asynchronous generator function":

    async def foo():
       await bar()
       yield 1
       await baz()
       yield 2

    # foo -- is an `asynchronous generator function`
    # foo() -- is an `asynchronous generator`

If we iterate through "foo()", it will await on "bar()", yield "1", 
await on "baz()", and yield "2":

    >>> async for el in foo():
    ...     print(el)

If we decide to have a class with an __aiter__ that is an async 
generator, we'd write something like this:

    class Foo:
       async def __aiter__(self):
           await bar()
           yield 1
           await baz()
           yield 2

However, with the current PEP 492 design, the above code would be 
invalid!  The interpreter expects __aiter__ to return a coroutine, not 
an async generator.

I'm still working on the PEP for async generators, targeting CPython 
3.6.  And once it is ready, it might still be rejected or deferred.  But 
in any case, this PEP 492 flaw has to be fixed now, in 3.5.2 (since PEP 
492 is provisional).

I've created an issue on the bug tracker: http://bugs.python.org/issue27243

The proposed patch fixes the __aiter__ in a backwards compatible way:

1. ceval/GET_AITER opcode calls the __aiter__ method.

2. If the returned object has an '__anext__' method, GET_AITER silently 
wraps it in an awaitable, which is equivalent to the following coroutine:

     async def wrapper(aiter_result):
         return aiter_result

3. If the returned object does not have an '__anext__' method, a 
DeprecationWarning is raised.

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