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The Power of "In Progress"


Option 1: Data + Pending Changes

Perhaps the simplest option is to represent the data along with a (possibly empty) queue of pending updates or other work to be performed against it, as illustrated in Figure 1. This configuration is the most similar to the continuation style in [1]. However, unlike that style where we explicitly created a continuation object and appended it to a queue that was logically separate from the data, here the pending work queue is an intentional first-class part of the data structure integrated into its design and operation.

Figure 1: Deferring work via "data + pending changes."

One potential drawback to Option 1 is that it can be less flexible if we may need to interrupt and restart an operation we've split into pieces and enqueued. For example, if recalculations are affected by further user input, and multiple chunks of the recalculation work are already in the queue, we may need to traverse the queue to remove specific work items. One way to minimize this concern is to only enqueue one "next step" at a time for each long-running operation, and have the end of each chunk of work enqueue its own continuation (see sample code in [1]).


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