See the Finagle user guide and the section on futures in Effective Scala for details on concurrent programming with futures.

Conversions between Twitter’s Future and Scala’s Future

Twitter’s com.twitter.util.Future is similar to, but predates, Scala’s scala.concurrent.Future and as such they are not directly compatible (e.g. support for continuation-local variables and interruptibility).

You can use the Twitter Bijection library to transform one into the other, or use a small bit of code shown below to avoid the extra dependency.


import com.twitter.util.{Future => TwitterFuture, Promise => TwitterPromise, Return, Throw}
import scala.concurrent.{Future => ScalaFuture, Promise => ScalaPromise, ExecutionContext}
import scala.util.{Success, Failure}

/** Convert from a Twitter Future to a Scala Future */
implicit class RichTwitterFuture[A](val tf: TwitterFuture[A]) extends AnyVal {
  def asScala(implicit e: ExecutionContext): ScalaFuture[A] = {
    val promise: ScalaPromise[A] = ScalaPromise()
    tf.respond {
      case Return(value) => promise.success(value)
      case Throw(exception) => promise.failure(exception)

/** Convert from a Scala Future to a Twitter Future */
implicit class RichScalaFuture[A](val sf: ScalaFuture[A]) extends AnyVal {
  def asTwitter(implicit e: ExecutionContext): TwitterFuture[A] = {
    val promise: TwitterPromise[A] = new TwitterPromise[A]()
    sf.onComplete {
      case Success(value) => promise.setValue(value)
      case Failure(exception) => promise.setException(exception)

Blocking or synchronous work

When you have work that is blocking, say I/O or a library not written in an asynchronous style, you should use a com.twitter.util.FuturePool. There are a default implementations that can wrap an java.util.concurrent.ExecutorService as well as a FuturePool.unboundedPool for executing I/O. Note that as the name implies, unboundedPool, is unbounded and you must take care to not enqueue work faster than you can complete the tasks or you will have a memory leak. You can create a bounded FuturePool via FuturePool.apply(ExecutorService).

For better Java compatibility, take a look at com.twitter.util.FuturePools.


import com.twitter.util.{Future, FuturePool}

def someIO(): String =
  // does some blocking I/O and returns a string

val futureResult: Future[String] = FuturePool.unboundedPool {


import com.twitter.util.Function0;
import com.twitter.util.Future;
import com.twitter.util.FuturePools;

Future<String> futureResult = FuturePools.unboundedPool().apply(
  new Function0<String>() {
    public String apply() {
      return someIO();

Future Recursion

Often there is a need for a future to recurse and call itself. Twitter’s Futures implement something akin to tail-call elimination which means you will not see a stack overflow with code written in this manner.


import com.twitter.util.Future
import java.util.concurrent.atomic.AtomicBoolean

val done = new AtomicBoolean(false)

def callThatReturnsFuture(): Future[Unit] = ...

def loop(): Future[Unit] = {
  if (done.get) {
  } else {
    callThatReturnsFuture().before {


import com.twitter.util.Future;
import com.twitter.util.Function;
import java.util.concurrent.atomic.AtomicBoolean;
import scala.runtime.BoxedUnit;

AtomicBoolean done = new AtomicBoolean(false);

public Future<BoxedUnit> loop() {
  if (done.get()) {
    return Future.Done();
  } else {
    return callThatReturnsFuture().flatMap(
      new Function<BoxedUnit, Future<BoxedUnit>>() {
        public Future<BoxedUnit> apply(BoxedUnit unit) {
          return loop();

A call to loop() will return a Future that will not be satisfied until the loop exits with one of these outcomes:

  1. the flag, done, gets set to true; or
  2. callThatReturnsFuture returns a failed Future.

Limiting concurrency via semaphores and mutexes

Use com.twitter.concurrent.AsyncSemaphore or an com.twitter.concurrent.AsyncMutex for this. There is the succinct method acquireAndRun(=> Future[T]) which, as the name implies, asynchronously acquires a permit and runs the given function once acquired, then releases the permit after the future is satisfied. While that should be fine for most use cases acquire() can be used for more fine-grained control.


import com.twitter.concurrent.AsyncSemaphore

val semaphore = new AsyncSemaphore(3)

semaphore.acquireAndRun {

// or, with more control:
semaphore.acquire().flatMap { permit =>
  callCatGifService(someId).ensure { permit.release() }


import com.twitter.concurrent.AsyncSemaphore;
import com.twitter.util.Function0;
import com.twitter.util.Future;

AsyncSemaphore semaphore = new AsyncSemaphore(3);
semaphore.acquireAndRun(new Function0<Future<String>>() {
  public Future<String> apply() {
    return callCatGifService(someId);

Caching Futures

It’s often useful to have an in-process cache of com.twitter.util.Futures. However, it’s tricky to get right especially around the handling of eviction of failed Futures and interruption of any Futures returned. Prefer using com.twitter.cache.FutureCache.default() possibly combined with a Caffeine cache for the correct behavior.


import com.github.benmanes.caffeine.cache._
import com.twitter.util.Future

val loader: CacheLoader[String, Future[String]] =
  new CacheLoader[String, Future[String]] {
    override def load(key: String): Future[String] = anExpensiveRpc(key)

val caffeine: LoadingCache[String, Future[String]] =

val futureCache: LoadingFutureCache[String, String] =
  new LoadingFutureCache(caffeine)

val value: Future[String] = futureCache("key")


import com.github.benmanes.caffeine.cache.CacheLoader;
import com.github.benmanes.caffeine.cache.Caffeine;
import com.github.benmanes.caffeine.cache.LoadingCache;
import com.github.benmanes.caffeine.cache.LoadingFutureCache;
import com.twitter.util.Future;

CacheLoader<String, Future<String>> loader = new CacheLoader<String, Future<String>>() {
  public Future<String> load(String s) throws Exception {
    return anExpensiveRpc(s);

LoadingCache<String, Future<String>> caffeine = Caffeine.newBuilder().build(loader);

Function1<String, Future<String>> futureCache = new LoadingFutureCache(caffeine);

Future<String> value = futureCache.apply("key");