Dagger Producers Semantics

Dagger Producers Semantics

This series of documents describes the semantics of Dagger. It’s not intended for learning how to use Dagger, but rather for what Dagger is.



Dagger has an extension called Dagger Producers, which allows bindings to represent asynchronous operations that can be executed concurrently.

Dagger, up until now, doesn’t make any mention of threads. It allows code to be safely executed in parallel (e.g., with scoped bindings, Dagger will ensure the binding is only executed once even if multiple threads request the same binding), but all Dagger-generated code is synchronous.

Moreover, traditional dependency injection is all about an “object graph”, that is, a graph of object dependencies; @Inject constructors are the primary focus, and Dagger only introduced the other binding kinds (@Provides methods, etc.) as a more flexible way of accommodating related use cases.

Dagger Producers changes both of these assumptions: it lets you (a) run binding method logic on an executor of your choice, and (b) return a future from binding methods, so they can represent asynchronous computations.

A future is a type representing some work to compute a value. The JDK has a Future type, but Dagger Producers doesn’t use that directly; instead, Dagger supports ListenableFuture or FluentFuture, both Guava types that offer better APIs than the JDK’s Future itself. Throughout this document, whenever we say “future” or refer to a type Future<T>, we mean any of the supported future types.

This enables asynchronous computation (since you can run binding method logic in parallel, if you supply the right executor), and it focuses on a “computation graph”, that is, a graph of computation dependencies. What the latter means is that it focuses more on the logic in each binding method, rather than the internal state of the objects produced. In fact, with producers, it’s typically better to only produce immutable value types.

Dagger Producers introduces new annotations as follows.

We disambiguate these types as follows:

  Producer-related Non-producer
Bindings production bindings provision bindings
Modules producer modules provider modules
Components production components provision components

Note: There’s no reason behind the provider/provision or producer/production nomenclature distinctions.

Provision bindings may not depend on production bindings because that would violate the semantics of provision bindings: they must be able to be executed inline, and cannot wait for asynchronous production dependencies to be ready.

In particular, provision component entry points may not depend transitively on production bindings. This means that provision components cannot ever use production bindings; and so to avoid confusion, we forbid provision components from even referencing production bindings. We do this by:


The production executor of a production component is a Java executor that is bound to the key @Production Executor. A production component must have a production executor bound via provision binding (not a production binding); because bindings are inherited in subcomponents, this binding must reside in the top-level production component, or even a provision component that is an ancestor of that. See scope for discussion of this binding’s scope.

The signature of a @Produces method is defined as follows:

Suppose the declared key signature of the method is (@R1 S1, ..., @Rn Sn) -> @Q T.

In addition to the normal unwrapping rules for Provider and Lazy, if Si = Producer<Ti> or Si = Produced<Ti> for some type Ti, then the ith argument in the signature is @Ri Ti; otherwise it’s @Ri Si.

Finally, the first argument in the signature is always @Production Executor, followed by the normal (transformed) arguments.

The rules for the binding key are determined by whether the produces method is a multibinding or not:

Here are some examples of signatures of @Produces methods:

// signature = (@Production Executor, @Blue int, double) -> Foo
@Produces Foo foo(@Blue Producer<Integer> i, double d) { ... }

// signature = (@Production Executor, int, String) -> @Green Foo
@Produces @Green Future<Foo> futureFoo(Produced<Integer> i, Lazy<String> s) { ... }

// signature = (@Production Executor, Stub) -> Set<Bar>
@Produces @IntoSet Future<Bar> bar(Stub stub) { ... }
// signature = (@Production Executor) -> Set<Baz>
@Produces @ElementsIntoSet Set<Future<Baz>> setOfFutureBaz() { ... }

Component dependencies for @ProductionComponent are treated similarly: if a component dependency D has a method that returns @Q T, and T = Future<U> for some type U, then its signature is (D) -> @Q U; otherwise, it is (D) -> @Q T.


All production components and producer methods implicitly have @ProductionScope attached; that scope can be applied to any provision binding in a production component like any normal scope would. This scope is exempt from the rule that subcomponents may not have the same scope as their ancestor component.

The @Production Executor is always treated like it has @ProductionScope applied, even if it does not.

Resolution and Runtime

There are no changes to construction of the graph. However, there is one extra requirement: no provision binding may depend on a production binding; that is, there may not be a directed path from a production binding to a provision binding.

At runtime, provision bindings are executed normally (that is, immediately when the graph traversal requires it). Production bindings, however, are submitted to the production executor rather than being executed inline.

To do so, all of the production binding’s inputs are collected (this process only happens when the binding’s logic is ready to be executed, and hence all of its inputs have been computed) and partially applied to the binding’s method. The resulting zero-arg function either has the signature () -> T or () -> Future<T>, depending on whether the original binding method returned a future or value. We unify these cases by composing the former signature with immediateFuture: T -> Future<T>.

Now, this function () -> Future<T> is submitted to the executor. When the function is completed and the resulting future is done, graph execution proceeds with subsequent bindings that depend on this one.

Exceptions and Produced

There are two ways a production binding method can throw an exception: either the method itself can throw, or it can return a future that fails with an exception. Dagger does not distinguish between these two ways of throwing an exception.

If a production binding method throws an exception, it propagates to the entry point just like exceptions in provision binding methods do, subject to Produced injection (see below). Since production entry points are described by returning futures, the caller won’t see an exception when calling the entry point; instead, the entry point’s future will fail with the exception as its cause.

Unlike with provision bindings, it is common for production binding methods to throw exceptions, since these often model error-prone tasks like network or disk reads.

To support this programming model, Dagger provides the type Produced. If a binding method injects @Q Produced<T>, then Dagger will catch an exception thrown during the production of @Q T and save it. The method then can call Produced#get(), which either returns a successful T or throws an ExecutionException with the original exception as its cause (just like a failed future would).

Note: Implementations of Produced#get() are expected not to block, and it leads to unspecified behavior if they do. This distinguishes it from Future#get(), which has the same return/throw semantics, but may block. Dagger ensures that the value or exception is available before constructing the Produced object, and hence Produced#get() can return or throw immediately.


Producer<T> is the producers-analogue of Provider<T>; it defers all computation of the underlying binding until Producer#get() is called. There are three important things to note about this:

  1. Because it defers all computation, the Producer<T> object itself is always available immediately. Hence, it doesn’t block submission of the binding method to the executor.
  2. Because Producer<T> represents an asynchronous computation, its #get() method returns Future<T>, and hence does not block. However, calling Future#get() on the resulting future may block! It’s usually not a good idea to ever block inside a producer method, and so typically client code would just return this resulting future and let Dagger handle further computation.
  3. Unlike with Provider (see the cycles section), Dagger does not allow cycles to be broken by Producer.


Recall that producers are intended to represent dependency graphs of computations; this means that a substantial portion of a program’s execution might be in producer methods. These can be hard to profile using ordinary tools because of the asynchronous nature of producers: producer methods don’t have their dependencies in the call stack, and time spent waiting for futures is hard to tie to the producer methods that depend on those futures.

Dagger Producers provides a monitoring API to allow hooks into various aspects of producer execution.

The core monitor type is ProducerMonitor, which monitors individual production binding methods. This class looks like:

public abstract class ProducerMonitor {
  public void requested() {}
  public void ready() {}
  public void methodStarting() {}
  public void methodFinished() {}
  public void succeeded(Object value) {}
  public void failed(Throwable t) {}

Clients may extend this class to perform actions at various places relating to the execution of an individual method. To do so, clients should implement the following related classes:

public abstract class ProductionComponentMonitor {
  public abstract ProducerMonitor producerMonitorFor(ProducerToken token);

  public abstract static class Factory {
    public abstract ProductionComponentMonitor create(Object component);

For monitoring, Dagger treats the most ancestral production component as special (that is, a production component which is either top-level, or whose parent is a provision component). If, in this component, the multibinding key Set<ProductionComponentMonitor.Factory> is bound by provision bindings, then:

Then, at the first point in the producer method’s lifecycle (when the producer is “requested” - see below), each ProductionComponentMonitor#producerMonitorFor() method is called, and the resulting ProducerMonitors are collected into a list (ignoring null return values; and of unspecified order). The ProducerToken passed to #producerMonitorFor is an opaque token that will be unique (w.r.t. #equals() and #hashCode()) per producer method, and hence could e.g. be used in a hash map.

Finally, these ProducerMonitors’ methods will be called, either in order or in reverse order, at the various points of the producer method’s lifecycle:

See the javadoc for details, including more threading guarantees.