Adding async await to existing completion handler based code

Xcode 13 with Swift 5.5 toolchain brings async-await to the Swift language. The aim of this blog post is not to cover everything it brings, but instead concentrate on seeing how completion handler based code can be wrapped with async await. In the end, we have reused existing code but made it available to be called from async task contexts. For demonstrating this, we’ll take my IndexedDataStore Swift package and add async await supported methods to existing completion handler based API.

The IndexedDataStore package has async methods for loading data and storing data.

func loadData<T>(forIdentifier identifier: Identifier, dataTransformer: @escaping (Data) -> T?, completionHandler: @escaping (T?) -> Void)

func storeData(_ dataProvider: @escaping () -> Data?, identifier: Identifier = UUID().uuidString, completionHandler: @escaping (Result<Identifier, Error>) -> Void) {

We can easily add async await methods to these completion hander based methods. We’ll need to use one of the withCheckedXXXContinuation functions. This allows us to add a method to IndexedDataStore class like this:

public func loadData<T>(forIdentifier identifier: Identifier, dataTransformer: @escaping (Data) -> T?) async -> T? {
return await withCheckedContinuation({ continuation in
self.loadData(forIdentifier: identifier, dataTransformer: dataTransformer) { object in
continuation.resume(returning: object)

What happens here is that we use the async withCheckedContinuation function, which gives us a hook into async await machinery. The function suspends the current task in hand and calls the completion handler with a continuation object. Then we can use our completion handler based async code and resume the suspended task when we are done by calling resume.

When we are dealing with completion handlers which use the Result type or provide an error value, then we’ll need to use withCheckedThrowingContinuation instead. This function provides a continuation object which supports throwing errors. This is exactly the case with the storeData function.

public func storeData(_ dataProvider: @escaping () -> Data?, identifier: Identifier = UUID().uuidString) async throws -> Identifier {
return try await withCheckedThrowingContinuation({ continuation in
self.storeData(dataProvider, identifier: identifier) { result in
continuation.resume(with: result)

When it comes to unit-testing then async await makes the testing code so much shorter. We can annotate test functions with the async keyword and do not need to deal with XCTestExpectations.

func testStoreAndLoadAsync() async throws {
let identifier = try await dataStore.storeData({ "Data".data(using: .utf8) }, identifier: "abc")
XCTAssertEqual(identifier, "abc")
let string = await dataStore.loadData(forIdentifier: "abc", dataTransformer: { String(decoding: $0, as: UTF8.self) })
XCTAssertEqual(string, "Data")

If this was helpful, please let me know on Twitter @toomasvahter. Feel free to subscribe to RSS feed. Thank you for reading.

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