processx_fifos: Processx FIFOs

conn_create_fifoR Documentation

Processx FIFOs



Create a FIFO for inter-process communication Note that these functions are currently experimental.


  filename = NULL,
  read = NULL,
  write = NULL,
  encoding = "",
  nonblocking = TRUE

  read = NULL,
  write = NULL,
  encoding = "",
  nonblocking = TRUE



File name of the FIFO. On Windows it the name of the pipe within the ⁠\\?\pipe\⁠ namespace, either the full name, or the part after that prefix. If NULL, then a random name is used, on Unix in the R temporary directory: base::tempdir().


If TRUE then connect to the read end of the FIFO. Exactly one of read and write must be set to TRUE.


If TRUE then connect to the write end of the FIFO. Exactly one of read and write must be set to TRUE.


Encoding to assume.


Whether this should be a non-blocking FIFO. Note that blocking FIFOs are not well tested and might not work well with poll(), especially on Windows. We might remove this option in the future and make all FIFOs non-blocking.


conn_create_fifo() creates a FIFO and connects to it. On Unix this is a proper FIFO in the file system, in the R temporary directory. On Windows it is a named pipe.

Use conn_file_name() to query the name of the FIFO, and conn_connect_fifo() to connect to the other end.

conn_connect_fifo() connects to a FIFO created with conn_create_fifo(), typically in another process. filename refers to the name of the pipe on Windows.

On Windows, conn_connect_fifo() may be successful even if the FIFO does not exist, but then later poll() or read/write operations will fail. We are planning on changing this behavior in the future, to make conn_connect_fifo() fail immediately, like on Unix.


In general Unix domain sockets work better than FIFOs, so we suggest

you use sockets if you can. See conn_create_unix_socket().

Creating the read end of the FIFO

This case is simpler. To wait for a writer to connect to the FIFO you can use poll() as usual. Then use conn_read_chars() or conn_read_lines() to read from the FIFO, as usual. Use conn_is_incomplete() after a read to check if there is more data, or the writer is done.

Creating the write end of the FIFO

This is somewhat trickier. Creating the (non-blocking) FIFO does not block. However, there is no easy way to tell if a reader is connected to the other end of the FIFO or not. On Unix you can start using conn_write() to try to write to it, and this will succeed, until the buffer gets full, even if there is no reader. (When the buffer is full it will return the data that was not written, as usual.)

On Windows, using conn_write() to write to a FIFO without a reader fails with an error. This is not great, we are planning to improve it later.

Right now, one workaround for this behavior is for the reader to connunicate to the writer process independenctly that it has connected to the FIFO. (E.g. another FIFO in the opposite direction can do that.)

See Also

processx internals


# Example for a non-blocking FIFO

# Need to open the reading end first, otherwise Unix fails
reader <- conn_create_fifo()

# Always use poll() before you read, with a timeout if you like.
# If you read before the other end of the FIFO is connected, then
# the OS (or processx?) assumes that the FIFO is done, and you cannot
# read anything.
# Now poll() tells us that there is no data yet.
poll(list(reader), 0)

writer <- conn_connect_fifo(conn_file_name(reader), write = TRUE)
conn_write(writer, "hello\nthere!\n")

poll(list(reader), 1000)
conn_read_lines(reader, 1)




processx documentation built on July 9, 2023, 5:34 p.m.