Chaining tasks using continuation tasks

In asynchronous programming, it's common for one asynchronous operation, on completion, to invoke a second operation. Continuations allow descendant operations to consume the results of the first operation. Traditionally, continuations have been done by using callback methods. In the Task Parallel Library, the same functionality is provided by continuation tasks. A continuation task (also known just as a continuation) is an asynchronous task that's invoked by another task, known as the antecedent, when the antecedent finishes.

Continuations are relatively easy to use, but are nevertheless powerful and flexible. For example, you can:

  • Pass data from the antecedent to the continuation.
  • Specify the precise conditions under which the continuation will be invoked or not invoked.
  • Cancel a continuation either before it starts or cooperatively as it is running.
  • Provide hints about how the continuation should be scheduled.
  • Invoke multiple continuations from the same antecedent.
  • Invoke one continuation when all or any one of multiple antecedents complete.
  • Chain continuations one after another to any arbitrary length.
  • Use a continuation to handle exceptions thrown by the antecedent.

About continuations

A continuation is a task that is created in the WaitingForActivation state. It is activated automatically when its antecedent task or tasks complete. Calling Task.Start on a continuation in user code throws an System.InvalidOperationException exception.

A continuation is itself a Task and does not block the thread on which it is started. Call the Task.Wait method to block until the continuation task finishes.

Create a continuation for a single antecedent

You create a continuation that executes when its antecedent has completed by calling the Task.ContinueWith method. The following example shows the basic pattern (for clarity, exception handling is omitted). It executes an antecedent task, taskA, that returns a DayOfWeek object that indicates the name of the current day of the week. When the antecedent completes, the continuation task, continuation, is passed the antecedent and displays a string that includes its result.

Note

The C# samples in this article make use of the async modifier on the Main method. That feature is available in C# 7.1 and later. Previous versions generate CS5001 when compiling this sample code. You'll need to set the language version to C# 7.1 or newer. You can learn how to configure the language version in the article on configure language version.

using System;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class SimpleExample
{
    public static async Task Main()
    {
        // Declare, assign, and start the antecedent task.
        Task<DayOfWeek> taskA = Task.Run(() => DateTime.Today.DayOfWeek);

        // Execute the continuation when the antecedent finishes.
        await taskA.ContinueWith(antecedent => Console.WriteLine($"Today is {antecedent.Result}."));
    }
}
// The example displays the following output:
//       Today is Monday.
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Module Example
    Public Sub Main()
        ' Execute the antecedent.
        Dim taskA As Task(Of DayOfWeek) = Task.Run(Function() DateTime.Today.DayOfWeek)

        ' Execute the continuation when the antecedent finishes.
        Dim continuation As Task = taskA.ContinueWith(Sub(antecedent)
                                                          Console.WriteLine("Today is {0}.", antecedent.Result)
                                                      End Sub)
        continuation.Wait()
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays output like the following output:
'       Today is Monday.

Create a continuation for multiple antecedents

You can also create a continuation that will run when any or all of a group of tasks has completed. To execute a continuation when all antecedent tasks have completed, you call the static (Shared in Visual Basic) Task.WhenAll method or the instance TaskFactory.ContinueWhenAll method. To execute a continuation when any of the antecedent tasks has completed, you call the static (Shared in Visual Basic) Task.WhenAny method or the instance TaskFactory.ContinueWhenAny method.

Calls to the Task.WhenAll and Task.WhenAny overloads do not block the calling thread. However, you typically call all but the Task.WhenAll(IEnumerable<Task>) and Task.WhenAll(Task[]) methods to retrieve the returned Task<TResult>.Result property, which does block the calling thread.

The following example calls the Task.WhenAll(IEnumerable<Task>) method to create a continuation task that reflects the results of its 10 antecedent tasks. Each antecedent task squares an index value that ranges from one to 10. If the antecedents complete successfully (their Task.Status property is TaskStatus.RanToCompletion), the Task<TResult>.Result property of the continuation is an array of the Task<TResult>.Result values returned by each antecedent. The example adds them to compute the sum of squares for all numbers between one and 10.

using System.Collections.Generic;
using System;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class WhenAllExample
{
    public static async Task Main()
    {
        var tasks = new List<Task<int>>();
        for (int ctr = 1; ctr <= 10; ctr++)
        {
            int baseValue = ctr;
            tasks.Add(Task.Factory.StartNew(b => (int)b! * (int)b, baseValue));
        }

        var results = await Task.WhenAll(tasks);

        int sum = 0;
        for (int ctr = 0; ctr <= results.Length - 1; ctr++)
        {
            var result = results[ctr];
            Console.Write($"{result} {((ctr == results.Length - 1) ? "=" : "+")} ");
            sum += result;
        }

        Console.WriteLine(sum);
    }
}
// The example displays the similar output:
//    1 + 4 + 9 + 16 + 25 + 36 + 49 + 64 + 81 + 100 = 385
Imports System.Collections.Generic
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Module Example
    Public Sub Main()
        Dim tasks As New List(Of Task(Of Integer))()
        For ctr As Integer = 1 To 10
            Dim baseValue As Integer = ctr
            tasks.Add(Task.Factory.StartNew(Function(b)
                                                Dim i As Integer = CInt(b)
                                                Return i * i
                                            End Function, baseValue))
        Next
        Dim continuation = Task.WhenAll(tasks)

        Dim sum As Long = 0
        For ctr As Integer = 0 To continuation.Result.Length - 1
            Console.Write("{0} {1} ", continuation.Result(ctr),
                          If(ctr = continuation.Result.Length - 1, "=", "+"))
            sum += continuation.Result(ctr)
        Next
        Console.WriteLine(sum)
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays the following output:
'       1 + 4 + 9 + 16 + 25 + 36 + 49 + 64 + 81 + 100 = 385

Continuation options

When you create a single-task continuation, you can use a ContinueWith overload that takes a System.Threading.Tasks.TaskContinuationOptions enumeration value to specify the conditions under which the continuation starts. For example, you can specify that the continuation is to run only if the antecedent completes successfully, or only if it completes in a faulted state. If the condition is not true when the antecedent is ready to invoke the continuation, the continuation transitions directly to the TaskStatus.Canceled state and subsequently cannot be started.

A number of multi-task continuation methods, such as overloads of the TaskFactory.ContinueWhenAll method, also include a System.Threading.Tasks.TaskContinuationOptions parameter. Only a subset of all System.Threading.Tasks.TaskContinuationOptions enumeration members are valid, however. You can specify System.Threading.Tasks.TaskContinuationOptions values that have counterparts in the System.Threading.Tasks.TaskCreationOptions enumeration, such as TaskContinuationOptions.AttachedToParent, TaskContinuationOptions.LongRunning, and TaskContinuationOptions.PreferFairness. If you specify any of the NotOn or OnlyOn options with a multi-task continuation, an ArgumentOutOfRangeException exception will be thrown at run time.

For more information on task continuation options, see the TaskContinuationOptions topic.

Pass data to a continuation

The Task.ContinueWith method passes a reference to the antecedent to the user delegate of the continuation as an argument. If the antecedent is a System.Threading.Tasks.Task<TResult> object, and the task ran until it was completed, then the continuation can access the Task<TResult>.Result property of the task.

The Task<TResult>.Result property blocks until the task has completed. However, if the task was canceled or faulted, attempting to access the Result property throws an AggregateException exception. You can avoid this problem by using the OnlyOnRanToCompletion option, as shown in the following example.

using System;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class ResultExample
{
    public static async Task Main()
    {
       var task = Task.Run(
           () =>
           {
                DateTime date = DateTime.Now;
                return date.Hour > 17
                    ? "evening"
                    : date.Hour > 12
                        ? "afternoon"
                        : "morning";
            });
        
        await task.ContinueWith(
            antecedent =>
            {
                Console.WriteLine($"Good {antecedent.Result}!");
                Console.WriteLine($"And how are you this fine {antecedent.Result}?");
            }, TaskContinuationOptions.OnlyOnRanToCompletion);
   }
}
// The example displays the similar output:
//       Good afternoon!
//       And how are you this fine afternoon?
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Module Example
    Public Sub Main()
        Dim t = Task.Run(Function()
                             Dim dat As DateTime = DateTime.Now
                             If dat = DateTime.MinValue Then
                                 Throw New ArgumentException("The clock is not working.")
                             End If

                             If dat.Hour > 17 Then
                                 Return "evening"
                             Else If dat.Hour > 12 Then
                                 Return "afternoon"
                             Else
                                 Return "morning"
                             End If
                         End Function)
        Dim c = t.ContinueWith(Sub(antecedent)
                                   Console.WriteLine("Good {0}!",
                                                     antecedent.Result)
                                   Console.WriteLine("And how are you this fine {0}?",
                                                     antecedent.Result)
                               End Sub, TaskContinuationOptions.OnlyOnRanToCompletion)
        c.Wait()
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays output like the following:
'       Good afternoon!
'       And how are you this fine afternoon?

If you want the continuation to run even if the antecedent did not run to successful completion, you must guard against the exception. One approach is to test the Task.Status property of the antecedent, and only attempt to access the Result property if the status is not Faulted or Canceled. You can also examine the Exception property of the antecedent. For more information, see Exception Handling. The following example modifies the previous example to access antecedent's Task<TResult>.Result property only if its status is TaskStatus.RanToCompletion.

using System;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class ResultTwoExample
{
    public static async Task Main() =>
        await Task.Run(
            () =>
            {
                DateTime date = DateTime.Now;
                return date.Hour > 17
                   ? "evening"
                   : date.Hour > 12
                       ? "afternoon"
                       : "morning";
            })
            .ContinueWith(
                antecedent =>
                {
                    if (antecedent.Status == TaskStatus.RanToCompletion)
                    {
                        Console.WriteLine($"Good {antecedent.Result}!");
                        Console.WriteLine($"And how are you this fine {antecedent.Result}?");
                    }
                    else if (antecedent.Status == TaskStatus.Faulted)
                    {
                        Console.WriteLine(antecedent.Exception!.GetBaseException().Message);
                    }
                });
}
// The example displays output like the following:
//       Good afternoon!
//       And how are you this fine afternoon?
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Module Example
    Public Sub Main()
        Dim t = Task.Run(Function()
                             Dim dat As DateTime = DateTime.Now
                             If dat = DateTime.MinValue Then
                                 Throw New ArgumentException("The clock is not working.")
                             End If

                             If dat.Hour > 17 Then
                                 Return "evening"
                             Else If dat.Hour > 12 Then
                                 Return "afternoon"
                             Else
                                 Return "morning"
                             End If
                         End Function)
        Dim c = t.ContinueWith(Sub(antecedent)
                                   If t.Status = TaskStatus.RanToCompletion Then
                                       Console.WriteLine("Good {0}!",
                                                         antecedent.Result)
                                       Console.WriteLine("And how are you this fine {0}?",
                                                         antecedent.Result)
                                   Else If t.Status = TaskStatus.Faulted Then
                                       Console.WriteLine(t.Exception.GetBaseException().Message)
                                   End If
                               End Sub)
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays output like the following:
'       Good afternoon!
'       And how are you this fine afternoon?

Cancel a continuation

The Task.Status property of a continuation is set to TaskStatus.Canceled in the following situations:

If a task and its continuation represent two parts of the same logical operation, you can pass the same cancellation token to both tasks, as shown in the following example. It consists of an antecedent that generates a list of integers that are divisible by 33, which it passes to the continuation. The continuation in turn displays the list. Both the antecedent and the continuation pause regularly for random intervals. In addition, a System.Threading.Timer object is used to execute the Elapsed method after a five-second timeout interval. This example calls the CancellationTokenSource.Cancel method, which causes the currently executing task to call the CancellationToken.ThrowIfCancellationRequested method. Whether the CancellationTokenSource.Cancel method is called when the antecedent or its continuation is executing depends on the duration of the randomly generated pauses. If the antecedent is canceled, the continuation will not start. If the antecedent is not canceled, the token can still be used to cancel the continuation.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Threading;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class CancellationExample
{
    static readonly Random s_random = new Random((int)DateTime.Now.Ticks);

    public static async Task Main()
    {
        using var cts = new CancellationTokenSource();
        CancellationToken token = cts.Token;
        var timer = new Timer(Elapsed, cts, 5000, Timeout.Infinite);

        var task = Task.Run(
            async () =>
            {
                var product33 = new List<int>();
                for (int index = 1; index < short.MaxValue; index++)
                {
                    if (token.IsCancellationRequested)
                    {
                        Console.WriteLine("\nCancellation requested in antecedent...\n");
                        token.ThrowIfCancellationRequested();
                    }
                    if (index % 2000 == 0)
                    {
                        int delay = s_random.Next(16, 501);
                        await Task.Delay(delay);
                    }
                    if (index % 33 == 0)
                    {
                        product33.Add(index);
                    }
                }

                return product33.ToArray();
            }, token);

        Task<double> continuation = task.ContinueWith(
            async antecedent =>
            {
                Console.WriteLine("Multiples of 33:\n");
                int[] array = antecedent.Result;
                for (int index = 0; index < array.Length; index++)
                {
                    if (token.IsCancellationRequested)
                    {
                        Console.WriteLine("\nCancellation requested in continuation...\n");
                        token.ThrowIfCancellationRequested();
                    }
                    if (index % 100 == 0)
                    {
                        int delay = s_random.Next(16, 251);
                        await Task.Delay(delay);
                    }

                    Console.Write($"{array[index]:N0}{(index != array.Length - 1 ? ", " : "")}");

                    if (Console.CursorLeft >= 74)
                    {
                        Console.WriteLine();
                    }
                }
                Console.WriteLine();
                return array.Average();
            }, token).Unwrap();

        try
        {
            await task;
            double result = await continuation;
        }
        catch (Exception ex)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(ex.Message);
        }

        Console.WriteLine("\nAntecedent Status: {0}", task.Status);
        Console.WriteLine("Continuation Status: {0}", continuation.Status);
    }

    static void Elapsed(object? state)
    {
        if (state is CancellationTokenSource cts)
        {
            cts.Cancel();
            Console.WriteLine("\nCancellation request issued...\n");
        }
    }
}
// The example displays the similar output:
//     Multiples of 33:
//     
//     33, 66, 99, 132, 165, 198, 231, 264, 297, 330, 363, 396, 429, 462, 495, 528,
//     561, 594, 627, 660, 693, 726, 759, 792, 825, 858, 891, 924, 957, 990, 1,023,
//     1,056, 1,089, 1,122, 1,155, 1,188, 1,221, 1,254, 1,287, 1,320, 1,353, 1,386,
//     1,419, 1,452, 1,485, 1,518, 1,551, 1,584, 1,617, 1,650, 1,683, 1,716, 1,749,
//     1,782, 1,815, 1,848, 1,881, 1,914, 1,947, 1,980, 2,013, 2,046, 2,079, 2,112,
//     2,145, 2,178, 2,211, 2,244, 2,277, 2,310, 2,343, 2,376, 2,409, 2,442, 2,475,
//     2,508, 2,541, 2,574, 2,607, 2,640, 2,673, 2,706, 2,739, 2,772, 2,805, 2,838,
//     2,871, 2,904, 2,937, 2,970, 3,003, 3,036, 3,069, 3,102, 3,135, 3,168, 3,201,
//     3,234, 3,267, 3,300, 3,333, 3,366, 3,399, 3,432, 3,465, 3,498, 3,531, 3,564,
//     3,597, 3,630, 3,663, 3,696, 3,729, 3,762, 3,795, 3,828, 3,861, 3,894, 3,927,
//     3,960, 3,993, 4,026, 4,059, 4,092, 4,125, 4,158, 4,191, 4,224, 4,257, 4,290,
//     4,323, 4,356, 4,389, 4,422, 4,455, 4,488, 4,521, 4,554, 4,587, 4,620, 4,653,
//     4,686, 4,719, 4,752, 4,785, 4,818, 4,851, 4,884, 4,917, 4,950, 4,983, 5,016,
//     5,049, 5,082, 5,115, 5,148, 5,181, 5,214, 5,247, 5,280, 5,313, 5,346, 5,379,
//     5,412, 5,445, 5,478, 5,511, 5,544, 5,577, 5,610, 5,643, 5,676, 5,709, 5,742,
//     Cancellation request issued...
//
//     5,775,
//     Cancellation requested in continuation...
//       
//     The operation was canceled.
//       
//     Antecedent Status: RanToCompletion
//     Continuation Status: Canceled
Imports System.Collections.Generic
Imports System.Threading
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Module Example
    Public Sub Main()
        Dim rnd As New Random()
        Dim lockObj As New Object()
        Dim cts As New CancellationTokenSource()
        Dim token As CancellationToken = cts.Token
        Dim timer As New Timer(AddressOf Elapsed, cts, 5000, Timeout.Infinite)

        Dim t = Task.Run(Function()
                             Dim product33 As New List(Of Integer)()
                             For ctr As Integer = 1 To Int16.MaxValue
                                 ' Check for cancellation.
                                 If token.IsCancellationRequested Then
                                     Console.WriteLine("\nCancellation requested in antecedent...\n")
                                     token.ThrowIfCancellationRequested()
                                 End If
                                 ' Introduce a delay.
                                 If ctr Mod 2000 = 0 Then
                                     Dim delay As Integer
                                     SyncLock lockObj
                                         delay = rnd.Next(16, 501)
                                     End SyncLock
                                     Thread.Sleep(delay)
                                 End If

                                 ' Determine if this is a multiple of 33.
                                 If ctr Mod 33 = 0 Then product33.Add(ctr)
                             Next
                             Return product33.ToArray()
                         End Function, token)

        Dim continuation = t.ContinueWith(Sub(antecedent)
                                              Console.WriteLine("Multiples of 33:" + vbCrLf)
                                              Dim arr = antecedent.Result
                                              For ctr As Integer = 0 To arr.Length - 1
                                                  If token.IsCancellationRequested Then
                                                      Console.WriteLine("{0}Cancellation requested in continuation...{0}",
                                                                        vbCrLf)
                                                      token.ThrowIfCancellationRequested()
                                                  End If

                                                  If ctr Mod 100 = 0 Then
                                                      Dim delay As Integer
                                                      SyncLock lockObj
                                                          delay = rnd.Next(16, 251)
                                                      End SyncLock
                                                      Thread.Sleep(delay)
                                                  End If
                                                  Console.Write("{0:N0}{1}", arr(ctr),
                                                                If(ctr <> arr.Length - 1, ", ", ""))
                                                  If Console.CursorLeft >= 74 Then Console.WriteLine()
                                              Next
                                              Console.WriteLine()
                                          End Sub, token)

        Try
            continuation.Wait()
        Catch e As AggregateException
            For Each ie In e.InnerExceptions
                Console.WriteLine("{0}: {1}", ie.GetType().Name,
                                  ie.Message)
            Next
        Finally
            cts.Dispose()
        End Try

        Console.WriteLine(vbCrLf + "Antecedent Status: {0}", t.Status)
        Console.WriteLine("Continuation Status: {0}", continuation.Status)
    End Sub

    Private Sub Elapsed(state As Object)
        Dim cts As CancellationTokenSource = TryCast(state, CancellationTokenSource)
        If cts Is Nothing Then return

        cts.Cancel()
        Console.WriteLine("{0}Cancellation request issued...{0}", vbCrLf)
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays output like the following:
'    Multiples of 33:
'
'    33, 66, 99, 132, 165, 198, 231, 264, 297, 330, 363, 396, 429, 462, 495, 528,
'    561, 594, 627, 660, 693, 726, 759, 792, 825, 858, 891, 924, 957, 990, 1,023,
'    1,056, 1,089, 1,122, 1,155, 1,188, 1,221, 1,254, 1,287, 1,320, 1,353, 1,386,
'    1,419, 1,452, 1,485, 1,518, 1,551, 1,584, 1,617, 1,650, 1,683, 1,716, 1,749,
'    1,782, 1,815, 1,848, 1,881, 1,914, 1,947, 1,980, 2,013, 2,046, 2,079, 2,112,
'    2,145, 2,178, 2,211, 2,244, 2,277, 2,310, 2,343, 2,376, 2,409, 2,442, 2,475,
'    2,508, 2,541, 2,574, 2,607, 2,640, 2,673, 2,706, 2,739, 2,772, 2,805, 2,838,
'    2,871, 2,904, 2,937, 2,970, 3,003, 3,036, 3,069, 3,102, 3,135, 3,168, 3,201,
'    3,234, 3,267, 3,300, 3,333, 3,366, 3,399, 3,432, 3,465, 3,498, 3,531, 3,564,
'    3,597, 3,630, 3,663, 3,696, 3,729, 3,762, 3,795, 3,828, 3,861, 3,894, 3,927,
'    3,960, 3,993, 4,026, 4,059, 4,092, 4,125, 4,158, 4,191, 4,224, 4,257, 4,290,
'    4,323, 4,356, 4,389, 4,422, 4,455, 4,488, 4,521, 4,554, 4,587, 4,620, 4,653,
'    4,686, 4,719, 4,752, 4,785, 4,818, 4,851, 4,884, 4,917, 4,950, 4,983, 5,016,
'    5,049, 5,082, 5,115, 5,148, 5,181, 5,214, 5,247, 5,280, 5,313, 5,346, 5,379,
'    5,412, 5,445, 5,478, 5,511, 5,544, 5,577, 5,610, 5,643, 5,676, 5,709, 5,742,
'    5,775, 5,808, 5,841, 5,874, 5,907, 5,940, 5,973, 6,006, 6,039, 6,072, 6,105,
'    6,138, 6,171, 6,204, 6,237, 6,270, 6,303, 6,336, 6,369, 6,402, 6,435, 6,468,
'    6,501, 6,534, 6,567, 6,600, 6,633, 6,666, 6,699, 6,732, 6,765, 6,798, 6,831,
'    6,864, 6,897, 6,930, 6,963, 6,996, 7,029, 7,062, 7,095, 7,128, 7,161, 7,194,
'    7,227, 7,260, 7,293, 7,326, 7,359, 7,392, 7,425, 7,458, 7,491, 7,524, 7,557,
'    7,590, 7,623, 7,656, 7,689, 7,722, 7,755, 7,788, 7,821, 7,854, 7,887, 7,920,
'    7,953, 7,986, 8,019, 8,052, 8,085, 8,118, 8,151, 8,184, 8,217, 8,250, 8,283,
'    8,316, 8,349, 8,382, 8,415, 8,448, 8,481, 8,514, 8,547, 8,580, 8,613, 8,646,
'    8,679, 8,712, 8,745, 8,778, 8,811, 8,844, 8,877, 8,910, 8,943, 8,976, 9,009,
'    9,042, 9,075, 9,108, 9,141, 9,174, 9,207, 9,240, 9,273, 9,306, 9,339, 9,372,
'    9,405, 9,438, 9,471, 9,504, 9,537, 9,570, 9,603, 9,636, 9,669, 9,702, 9,735,
'    9,768, 9,801, 9,834, 9,867, 9,900, 9,933, 9,966, 9,999, 10,032, 10,065, 10,098,
'    10,131, 10,164, 10,197, 10,230, 10,263, 10,296, 10,329, 10,362, 10,395, 10,428,
'    10,461, 10,494, 10,527, 10,560, 10,593, 10,626, 10,659, 10,692, 10,725, 10,758,
'    10,791, 10,824, 10,857, 10,890, 10,923, 10,956, 10,989, 11,022, 11,055, 11,088,
'    11,121, 11,154, 11,187, 11,220, 11,253, 11,286, 11,319, 11,352, 11,385, 11,418,
'    11,451, 11,484, 11,517, 11,550, 11,583, 11,616, 11,649, 11,682, 11,715, 11,748,
'    11,781, 11,814, 11,847, 11,880, 11,913, 11,946, 11,979, 12,012, 12,045, 12,078,
'    12,111, 12,144, 12,177, 12,210, 12,243, 12,276, 12,309, 12,342, 12,375, 12,408,
'    12,441, 12,474, 12,507, 12,540, 12,573, 12,606, 12,639, 12,672, 12,705, 12,738,
'    12,771, 12,804, 12,837, 12,870, 12,903, 12,936, 12,969, 13,002, 13,035, 13,068,
'    13,101, 13,134, 13,167, 13,200, 13,233, 13,266,
'    Cancellation requested in continuation...
'
'
'    Cancellation request issued...
'
'    TaskCanceledException: A task was canceled.
'
'    Antecedent Status: RanToCompletion
'    Continuation Status: Canceled

You can also prevent a continuation from executing if its antecedent is canceled without supplying the continuation a cancellation token by specifying the TaskContinuationOptions.NotOnCanceled option when you create the continuation. The following is a simple example.

using System;
using System.Threading;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class CancellationTwoExample
{
    public static async Task Main()
    {
        using var cts = new CancellationTokenSource();
        CancellationToken token = cts.Token;
        cts.Cancel();

        var task = Task.FromCanceled(token);
        Task continuation =
            task.ContinueWith(
                antecedent => Console.WriteLine("The continuation is running."),
                TaskContinuationOptions.NotOnCanceled);

        try
        {
            await task;
        }
        catch (Exception ex)
        {
            Console.WriteLine($"{ex.GetType().Name}: {ex.Message}");
            Console.WriteLine();
        }

        Console.WriteLine($"Task {task.Id}: {task.Status:G}");
        Console.WriteLine($"Task {continuation.Id}: {continuation.Status:G}");
    }
}
// The example displays the similar output:
//       TaskCanceledException: A task was canceled.
//
//       Task 1: Canceled
//       Task 2: Canceled
Imports System.Threading
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Module Example
    Public Sub Main()
        Dim cts As New CancellationTokenSource()
        Dim token As CancellationToken = cts.Token
        cts.Cancel()

        Dim t As Task = Task.FromCanceled(token)
        Dim continuation As Task = t.ContinueWith(Sub(antecedent)
                                                      Console.WriteLine("The continuation is running.")
                                                  End Sub, TaskContinuationOptions.NotOnCanceled)
        Try
            t.Wait()
        Catch e As AggregateException
            For Each ie In e.InnerExceptions
                Console.WriteLine("{0}: {1}", ie.GetType().Name, ie.Message)
            Next
            Console.WriteLine()
        Finally
            cts.Dispose()
        End Try

        Console.WriteLine("Task {0}: {1:G}", t.Id, t.Status)
        Console.WriteLine("Task {0}: {1:G}", continuation.Id,
                          continuation.Status)
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays the following output:
'       TaskCanceledException: A task was canceled.
'
'       Task 1: Canceled
'       Task 2: Canceled

After a continuation goes into the Canceled state, it may affect continuations that follow, depending on the TaskContinuationOptions that were specified for those continuations.

Continuations that are disposed will not start.

Continuations and child tasks

A continuation does not run until the antecedent and all of its attached child tasks have completed. The continuation does not wait for detached child tasks to finish. The following two examples illustrate child tasks that are attached to and detached from an antecedent that creates a continuation. In the following example, the continuation runs only after all child tasks have completed, and running the example multiple times produces identical output each time. The example launches the antecedent by calling the TaskFactory.StartNew method, since by default the Task.Run method creates a parent task whose default task creation option is TaskCreationOptions.DenyChildAttach.

using System;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class AttachedExample
{
    public static async Task Main()
    {
        await Task.Factory
                  .StartNew(
            () =>
            {
                Console.WriteLine($"Running antecedent task {Task.CurrentId}...");
                Console.WriteLine("Launching attached child tasks...");
                for (int ctr = 1; ctr <= 5; ctr++)
                {
                    int index = ctr;
                    Task.Factory.StartNew(async value =>
                    {
                        Console.WriteLine($"   Attached child task #{value} running");
                        await Task.Delay(1000);
                    }, index, TaskCreationOptions.AttachedToParent);
                }
                Console.WriteLine("Finished launching attached child tasks...");
            }).ContinueWith(
                antecedent =>
                    Console.WriteLine($"Executing continuation of Task {antecedent.Id}"));
    }
}
// The example displays the similar output:
//     Running antecedent task 1...
//     Launching attached child tasks...
//     Finished launching attached child tasks...
//        Attached child task #1 running
//        Attached child task #5 running
//        Attached child task #3 running
//        Attached child task #2 running
//        Attached child task #4 running
//     Executing continuation of Task 1
Imports System.Threading
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Public Module Example
    Public Sub Main()
        Dim t = Task.Factory.StartNew(Sub()
                                          Console.WriteLine("Running antecedent task {0}...",
                                                            Task.CurrentId)
                                          Console.WriteLine("Launching attached child tasks...")
                                          For ctr As Integer = 1 To 5
                                              Dim index As Integer = ctr
                                              Task.Factory.StartNew(Sub(value)
                                                                        Console.WriteLine("   Attached child task #{0} running",
                                                                                          value)
                                                                        Thread.Sleep(1000)
                                                                    End Sub, index, TaskCreationOptions.AttachedToParent)
                                          Next
                                          Console.WriteLine("Finished launching attached child tasks...")
                                      End Sub)
        Dim continuation = t.ContinueWith(Sub(antecedent)
                                              Console.WriteLine("Executing continuation of Task {0}",
                                                                antecedent.Id)
                                          End Sub)
        continuation.Wait()
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays the following output:
'       Running antecedent task 1...
'       Launching attached child tasks...
'       Finished launching attached child tasks...
'          Attached child task #5 running
'          Attached child task #1 running
'          Attached child task #2 running
'          Attached child task #3 running
'          Attached child task #4 running
'       Executing continuation of Task 1

If child tasks are detached from the antecedent, however, the continuation runs as soon as the antecedent has terminated, regardless of the state of the child tasks. As a result, multiple runs of the following example can produce variable output that depends on how the task scheduler handled each child task.

using System;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class DetachedExample
{
    public static async Task Main()
    {
        Task task =
            Task.Factory.StartNew(
                () =>
                {
                    Console.WriteLine($"Running antecedent task {Task.CurrentId}...");
                    Console.WriteLine("Launching attached child tasks...");
                    for (int ctr = 1; ctr <= 5; ctr++)
                    {
                        int index = ctr;
                        Task.Factory.StartNew(
                            async value =>
                            {
                                Console.WriteLine($"   Attached child task #{value} running");
                                await Task.Delay(1000);
                            }, index);
                    }
                    Console.WriteLine("Finished launching detached child tasks...");
                }, TaskCreationOptions.DenyChildAttach);

        Task continuation =
            task.ContinueWith(
                antecedent =>
                    Console.WriteLine($"Executing continuation of Task {antecedent.Id}"));

        await continuation;

        Console.ReadLine();
    }
}
// The example displays the similar output:
//     Running antecedent task 1...
//     Launching attached child tasks...
//     Finished launching detached child tasks...
//     Executing continuation of Task 1
//        Attached child task #1 running
//        Attached child task #5 running
//        Attached child task #2 running
//        Attached child task #3 running
//        Attached child task #4 running
Imports System.Threading
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Public Module Example
    Public Sub Main()
        Dim t = Task.Factory.StartNew(Sub()
                                          Console.WriteLine("Running antecedent task {0}...",
                                                            Task.CurrentId)
                                          Console.WriteLine("Launching attached child tasks...")
                                          For ctr As Integer = 1 To 5
                                              Dim index As Integer = ctr
                                              Task.Factory.StartNew(Sub(value)
                                                                        Console.WriteLine("   Attached child task #{0} running",
                                                                                          value)
                                                                        Thread.Sleep(1000)
                                                                    End Sub, index)
                                          Next
                                          Console.WriteLine("Finished launching detached child tasks...")
                                      End Sub, TaskCreationOptions.DenyChildAttach)
        Dim continuation = t.ContinueWith(Sub(antecedent)
                                              Console.WriteLine("Executing continuation of Task {0}",
                                                                antecedent.Id)
                                          End Sub)
        continuation.Wait()
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays output like the following:
'       Running antecedent task 1...
'       Launching attached child tasks...
'       Finished launching detached child tasks...
'          Attached child task #1 running
'          Attached child task #2 running
'          Attached child task #5 running
'          Attached child task #3 running
'       Executing continuation of Task 1
'          Attached child task #4 running

The final status of the antecedent task depends on the final status of any attached child tasks. The status of detached child tasks does not affect the parent. For more information, see Attached and Detached Child Tasks.

Associate state with continuations

You can associate arbitrary state with a task continuation. The ContinueWith method provides overloaded versions that each take an Object value that represents the state of the continuation. You can later access this state object by using the Task.AsyncState property. This state object is null if you do not provide a value.

Continuation state is useful when you convert existing code that uses the Asynchronous Programming Model (APM) to use the TPL. In the APM, you typically provide object state in the BeginMethod method and later access that state by using the IAsyncResult.AsyncState property. By using the ContinueWith method, you can preserve this state when you convert code that uses the APM to use the TPL.

Continuation state can also be useful when you work with Task objects in the Visual Studio debugger. For example, in the Parallel Tasks window, the Task column displays the string representation of the state object for each task. For more information about the Parallel Tasks window, see Using the Tasks Window.

The following example shows how to use continuation state. It creates a chain of continuation tasks. Each task provides the current time, a DateTime object, for the state parameter of the ContinueWith method. Each DateTime object represents the time at which the continuation task is created. Each task produces as its result a second DateTime object that represents the time at which the task finishes. After all tasks finish, this example displays the creation time and the time at which each continuation task finishes.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Threading;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

class ContinuationStateExample
{
    static DateTime DoWork()
    {
        Thread.Sleep(2000);

        return DateTime.Now;
    }

    static async Task Main()
    {
        Task<DateTime> task = Task.Run(() => DoWork());

        var continuations = new List<Task<DateTime>>();
        for (int i = 0; i < 5; i++)
        {
            task = task.ContinueWith((antecedent, _) => DoWork(), DateTime.Now);
            continuations.Add(task);
        }

        await task;

        foreach (Task<DateTime> continuation in continuations)
        {
            DateTime start = (DateTime)continuation.AsyncState!;
            DateTime end = continuation.Result;

            Console.WriteLine($"Task was created at {start.TimeOfDay} and finished at {end.TimeOfDay}.");
        }

        Console.ReadLine();
    }
}
// The example displays the similar output:
//     Task was created at 10:56:21.1561762 and finished at 10:56:25.1672062.
//     Task was created at 10:56:21.1610677 and finished at 10:56:27.1707646.
//     Task was created at 10:56:21.1610677 and finished at 10:56:29.1743230.
//     Task was created at 10:56:21.1610677 and finished at 10:56:31.1779883.
//     Task was created at 10:56:21.1610677 and finished at 10:56:33.1837083.
Imports System.Collections.Generic
Imports System.Threading
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

' Demonstrates how to associate state with task continuations.
Public Module ContinuationState
    ' Simluates a lengthy operation and returns the time at which
    ' the operation completed.
    Public Function DoWork() As Date
        ' Simulate work by suspending the current thread 
        ' for two seconds.
        Thread.Sleep(2000)

        ' Return the current time.
        Return Date.Now
    End Function

    Public Sub Main()
        ' Start a root task that performs work.
        Dim t As Task(Of Date) = Task(Of Date).Run(Function() DoWork())

        ' Create a chain of continuation tasks, where each task is
        ' followed by another task that performs work.
        Dim continuations As New List(Of Task(Of DateTime))()
        For i As Integer = 0 To 4
            ' Provide the current time as the state of the continuation.
            t = t.ContinueWith(Function(antecedent, state) DoWork(), DateTime.Now)
            continuations.Add(t)
        Next

        ' Wait for the last task in the chain to complete.
        t.Wait()

        ' Display the creation time of each continuation (the state object)
        ' and the completion time (the result of that task) to the console.
        For Each continuation In continuations
            Dim start As DateTime = CDate(continuation.AsyncState)
            Dim [end] As DateTime = continuation.Result

            Console.WriteLine("Task was created at {0} and finished at {1}.",
               start.TimeOfDay, [end].TimeOfDay)
        Next
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays output like the following:
'       Task was created at 10:56:21.1561762 and finished at 10:56:25.1672062.
'       Task was created at 10:56:21.1610677 and finished at 10:56:27.1707646.
'       Task was created at 10:56:21.1610677 and finished at 10:56:29.1743230.
'       Task was created at 10:56:21.1610677 and finished at 10:56:31.1779883.
'       Task was created at 10:56:21.1610677 and finished at 10:56:33.1837083.

Continuations that return Task types

Sometimes you may need to chain a continuation that returns a Task type. These are referred to as nested tasks, and they are common. When a parent task calls Task<TResult>.ContinueWith, and provides a continuationFunction that is task returning you call Unwrap to create a proxy task that represents the asynchronous operation of the <Task<Task<T>>> or Task(Of Task(Of T)) (Visual Basic).

The following example shows how to use continuations that wrap additional task returning functions. Each continuation can be unwrapped, exposing the inner task that was wrapped.

using System;
using System.Threading;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class UnwrapExample
{
    public static async Task Main()
    {
        Task<int> taskOne = RemoteIncrement(0);
        Console.WriteLine("Started RemoteIncrement(0)");

        Task<int> taskTwo = RemoteIncrement(4)
            .ContinueWith(t => RemoteIncrement(t.Result))
            .Unwrap().ContinueWith(t => RemoteIncrement(t.Result))
            .Unwrap().ContinueWith(t => RemoteIncrement(t.Result))
            .Unwrap();

        Console.WriteLine("Started RemoteIncrement(...(RemoteIncrement(RemoteIncrement(4))...)");

        try
        {
            await taskOne;
            Console.WriteLine("Finished RemoteIncrement(0)");

            await taskTwo;
            Console.WriteLine("Finished RemoteIncrement(...(RemoteIncrement(RemoteIncrement(4))...)");
        }
        catch (Exception e)
        {
            Console.WriteLine($"A task has thrown the following (unexpected) exception:\n{e}");
        }
    }

    static Task<int> RemoteIncrement(int number) =>
        Task<int>.Factory.StartNew(
            obj =>
            {
                Thread.Sleep(1000);

                int x = (int)(obj!);
                Console.WriteLine("Thread={0}, Next={1}", Thread.CurrentThread.ManagedThreadId, ++x);
                return x;
            },
            number);
}

// The example displays the similar output:
//     Started RemoteIncrement(0)
//     Started RemoteIncrement(...(RemoteIncrement(RemoteIncrement(4))...)
//     Thread=4, Next=1
//     Finished RemoteIncrement(0)
//     Thread=5, Next=5
//     Thread=6, Next=6
//     Thread=6, Next=7
//     Thread=6, Next=8
//     Finished RemoteIncrement(...(RemoteIncrement(RemoteIncrement(4))...)
Imports System.Threading

Module UnwrapExample
    Sub Main()
        Dim taskOne As Task(Of Integer) = RemoteIncrement(0)
        Console.WriteLine("Started RemoteIncrement(0)")

        Dim taskTwo As Task(Of Integer) = RemoteIncrement(4).
            ContinueWith(Function(t) RemoteIncrement(t.Result)).
            Unwrap().ContinueWith(Function(t) RemoteIncrement(t.Result)).
            Unwrap().ContinueWith(Function(t) RemoteIncrement(t.Result)).
            Unwrap()

        Console.WriteLine("Started RemoteIncrement(...(RemoteIncrement(RemoteIncrement(4))...)")

        Try
            taskOne.Wait()
            Console.WriteLine("Finished RemoteIncrement(0)")

            taskTwo.Wait()
            Console.WriteLine("Finished RemoteIncrement(...(RemoteIncrement(RemoteIncrement(4))...)")
        Catch e As AggregateException
            Console.WriteLine($"A task has thrown the following (unexpected) exception:{vbLf}{e}")
        End Try
    End Sub

    Function RemoteIncrement(ByVal number As Integer) As Task(Of Integer)
        Return Task(Of Integer).Factory.StartNew(
            Function(obj)
                Thread.Sleep(1000)

                Dim x As Integer = CInt(obj)
                Console.WriteLine("Thread={0}, Next={1}", Thread.CurrentThread.ManagedThreadId, Interlocked.Increment(x))
                Return x
            End Function, number)
    End Function
End Module

' The example displays the similar output:
'     Started RemoteIncrement(0)
'     Started RemoteIncrement(...(RemoteIncrement(RemoteIncrement(4))...)
'     Thread=4, Next=1
'     Finished RemoteIncrement(0)
'     Thread=5, Next=5
'     Thread=6, Next=6
'     Thread=6, Next=7
'     Thread=6, Next=8
'     Finished RemoteIncrement(...(RemoteIncrement(RemoteIncrement(4))...)

For more information on using Unwrap, see How to: Unwrap a nested Task.

Handle exceptions thrown from continuations

An antecedent-continuation relationship is not a parent-child relationship. Exceptions thrown by continuations are not propagated to the antecedent. Therefore, handle exceptions thrown by continuations as you would handle them in any other task, as follows:

  • You can use the Wait, WaitAll, or WaitAny method, or its generic counterpart, to wait on the continuation. You can wait for an antecedent and its continuations in the same try statement, as shown in the following example.
using System;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class ExceptionExample
{
    public static async Task Main()
    {
        Task<int> task = Task.Run(
            () =>
            {
                Console.WriteLine($"Executing task {Task.CurrentId}");
                return 54;
            });

        var continuation = task.ContinueWith(
            antecedent =>
            {
                Console.WriteLine($"Executing continuation task {Task.CurrentId}");
                Console.WriteLine($"Value from antecedent: {antecedent.Result}");

                throw new InvalidOperationException();
            });

        try
        {
            await task;
            await continuation;
        }
        catch (Exception ex)
        {
            Console.WriteLine(ex.Message);
        }
    }
}
// The example displays the similar output:
//       Executing task 1
//       Executing continuation task 2
//       Value from antecedent: 54
//       Operation is not valid due to the current state of the object.
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Module Example
    Public Sub Main()
        Dim task1 = Task(Of Integer).Run(Function()
                                             Console.WriteLine("Executing task {0}",
                                                               Task.CurrentId)
                                             Return 54
                                         End Function)
        Dim continuation = task1.ContinueWith(Sub(antecedent)
                                                  Console.WriteLine("Executing continuation task {0}",
                                                                    Task.CurrentId)
                                                  Console.WriteLine("Value from antecedent: {0}",
                                                                    antecedent.Result)
                                                  Throw New InvalidOperationException()
                                              End Sub)

        Try
            task1.Wait()
            continuation.Wait()
        Catch ae As AggregateException
            For Each ex In ae.InnerExceptions
                Console.WriteLine(ex.Message)
            Next
        End Try
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays the following output:
'       Executing task 1
'       Executing continuation task 2
'       Value from antecedent: 54
'       Operation is not valid due to the current state of the object.
  • You can use a second continuation to observe the Exception property of the first continuation. In the following example, a task attempts to read from a non-existent file. The continuation then displays information about the exception in the antecedent task.
using System;
using System.IO;
using System.Linq;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

public class ExceptionTwoExample
{
    public static async Task Main()
    {
        var task = Task.Run(
            () =>
            {
                string fileText = File.ReadAllText(@"C:\NonexistentFile.txt");
                return fileText;
            });

        Task continuation = task.ContinueWith(
            antecedent =>
            {
                var fileNotFound =
                    antecedent.Exception
                        ?.InnerExceptions
                        ?.FirstOrDefault(e => e is FileNotFoundException) as FileNotFoundException;

                if (fileNotFound != null)
                {
                    Console.WriteLine(fileNotFound.Message);
                }
            }, TaskContinuationOptions.OnlyOnFaulted);

        await continuation;

        Console.ReadLine();
    }
}
// The example displays the following output:
//        Could not find file 'C:\NonexistentFile.txt'.
Imports System.IO
Imports System.Threading.Tasks

Module Example
    Public Sub Main()
        Dim t = Task.Run(Function()
                             Dim s As String = File.ReadAllText("C:\NonexistentFile.txt")
                             Return s
                         End Function)

        Dim c = t.ContinueWith(Sub(antecedent)
                                   ' Get the antecedent's exception information.
                                   For Each ex In antecedent.Exception.InnerExceptions
                                       If TypeOf ex Is FileNotFoundException
                                           Console.WriteLine(ex.Message)
                                       End If
                                   Next
                               End Sub, TaskContinuationOptions.OnlyOnFaulted)

        c.Wait()
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays the following output:
'       Could not find file 'C:\NonexistentFile.txt'.

Because it was run with the TaskContinuationOptions.OnlyOnFaulted option, the continuation executes only if an exception occurs in the antecedent, and therefore it can assume that the antecedent's Exception property is not null. If the continuation executes whether or not an exception is thrown in the antecedent, it would have to check whether the antecedent's Exception property is not null before attempting to handle the exception, as the following code fragment shows.

var fileNotFound =
    antecedent.Exception
        ?.InnerExceptions
        ?.FirstOrDefault(e => e is FileNotFoundException) as FileNotFoundException;

if (fileNotFound != null)
{
    Console.WriteLine(fileNotFound.Message);
}
' Determine whether an exception occurred.
If antecedent.Exception IsNot Nothing Then
    ' Get the antecedent's exception information.
    For Each ex In antecedent.Exception.InnerExceptions
        If TypeOf ex Is FileNotFoundException
            Console.WriteLine(ex.Message)
        End If
    Next
End If

For more information, see Exception Handling.

See also