Toggle navigation

Queue example - a concurrent web spider

Tornado’s tornado.queues module implements an asynchronous producer / consumer pattern for coroutines, analogous to the pattern implemented for threads by the Python standard library’s queue module.

A coroutine that yields Queue.get pauses until there is an item in the queue. If the queue has a maximum size set, a coroutine that yields Queue.put pauses until there is room for another item.

A Queue maintains a count of unfinished tasks, which begins at zero. put increments the count; task_done decrements it.

In the web-spider example here, the queue begins containing only base_url. When a worker fetches a page it parses the links and puts new ones in the queue, then calls task_done to decrement the counter once. Eventually, a worker fetches a page whose URLs have all been seen before, and there is also no work left in the queue. Thus that worker’s call to task_done decrements the counter to zero. The main coroutine, which is waiting for join, is unpaused and finishes.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import time
from datetime import timedelta

    from HTMLParser import HTMLParser
    from urlparse import urljoin, urldefrag
except ImportError:
    from html.parser import HTMLParser
    from urllib.parse import urljoin, urldefrag

from tornado import httpclient, gen, ioloop, queues

base_url = ''
concurrency = 10

def get_links_from_url(url):
    """Download the page at `url` and parse it for links.

    Returned links have had the fragment after `#` removed, and have been made
    absolute so, e.g. the URL 'gen.html#tornado.gen.coroutine' becomes
        response = yield httpclient.AsyncHTTPClient().fetch(url)
        print('fetched %s' % url)

        html = response.body if isinstance(response.body, str) \
            else response.body.decode(errors='ignore')
        urls = [urljoin(url, remove_fragment(new_url))
                for new_url in get_links(html)]
    except Exception as e:
        print('Exception: %s %s' % (e, url))
        raise gen.Return([])

    raise gen.Return(urls)

def remove_fragment(url):
    pure_url, frag = urldefrag(url)
    return pure_url

def get_links(html):
    class URLSeeker(HTMLParser):
        def __init__(self):
            self.urls = []

        def handle_starttag(self, tag, attrs):
            href = dict(attrs).get('href')
            if href and tag == 'a':

    url_seeker = URLSeeker()
    return url_seeker.urls

def main():
    q = queues.Queue()
    start = time.time()
    fetching, fetched = set(), set()

    def fetch_url():
        current_url = yield q.get()
            if current_url in fetching:

            print('fetching %s' % current_url)
            urls = yield get_links_from_url(current_url)

            for new_url in urls:
                # Only follow links beneath the base URL
                if new_url.startswith(base_url):
                    yield q.put(new_url)


    def worker():
        while True:
            yield fetch_url()


    # Start workers, then wait for the work queue to be empty.
    for _ in range(concurrency):
    yield q.join(timeout=timedelta(seconds=300))
    assert fetching == fetched
    print('Done in %d seconds, fetched %s URLs.' % (
        time.time() - start, len(fetched)))

if __name__ == '__main__':
    io_loop = ioloop.IOLoop.current()