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Provides methods to declare and use ThreadLocalVar instance variables
 Project Readme


Ruby gem to make ThreadLocalVars easy to use, with either "accessor" methods, or instance methods.

Build Status: CircleCI


This module has methods making it easy to use the Concurrent::ThreadLocalVar as instance variables. This makes instance variables using this code as actually thread-local, without also leaking memory over time.

See Why Concurrent::ThreadLocalVar to understand why we use TLVs instead of Thread.current.thread_variable_(set|get)

Class Methods

Just as Rails provides attribute accessor methods, eg: attr_accessor, attr_reader, and attr_writer, this module provides the following class methods for declaring getter and setter methods based on instance variables that use ThreadLocalVar (TLV) objects.

tlv_reader :var1, :var2, ...
tlv_writer :var3, :var4, ...
tlv_accessor :var5, :var6, ...
  • tlv_reader creates an instance method with the name name, that references the instance variable names '@name', which is expected to be either nil, or already have a Concurrent::ThreadLocalVar instance.

  • tlv_writer creates an instance method with the name name=, which accepts a single argument that is the new value. This method checks for an existing value on the instance variable named @name, which should be a Concurrent::ThreadLocalVar instance. If @name value is nil, then a new Concurrent::ThreadLocalVar instance is assigned to it. In either case, the instance variable's TLV object is assigned the new value, which is returned.

  • tlv_accessor - creates both a tlv_reader and a tlv_writer.

For reference, see ThreadLocalVars.

Instance Methods

The following are a brief list of the instance variable in the ThreadLocalVarAccessors class.

These methods interrogate or set thread-local variable values:

tlv_get NAME                    # => TLV value
tlv_set NAME, VALUE             # => TLV value
tlv_set NAME { VALUE }          # => TLV value
tlv_set_once NAME, VALUE        # => current TLV value, or new VALUE
tlv_set_once NAME { VALUE }     # => current TLV value, or new VALUE

There is a method to fetch the TLV object for a given instance variable name, but only if it is actually a TLV. If the instance variable is unassigned, or contains a non-TLV, then nil is returned.

tlv_get_var NAME                # => TLV object or nil

The methods below manage the default values for thread-local variables:

tlv_new NAME, DEFAULT           # => new TLV
tlv_new NAME { DEFAULT }        # => new TLV
tlv_init NAME, DEFAULT          # => DEFAULT
tlv_init NAME { DEFAULT }       # => DEFAULT
tlv_default NAME                # => TLV default value for NAME
tlv_set_default NAME, VALUE     # => VALUE
tlv_set_default NAME { VALUE }  # => VALUE

Instance Variable Details

With the accessor methods, obtaining values and setting values becomes very simple:

tlv_accessor :timeout
timeout  # fetches the current TLV value, unique to each thread
self.timeout = 0.5  # stores the TLV value just for this thread

The tlv_init method creates a new TLVar and sets its default value.

Note that the default value is used when any thread evaluates the instance variable and there has been no thread-specific value assignment.

Note: It's a best practice to use tlv_init to set the thread-local instance variables with non-nil defaults that may be inherited across multiple threads.

On the other hand, if the ruby developer using threads does not rely on any particular value (other than nil) to be inherited, then using tlv_set is the right way to go.

The TLV default value is used across all threads, when there is no value specifically assigned for a given thread.

tlv_init(:timeout, default)
tlv_init(:timeout) { default }

The tlv_init method is essentially the same as tlv_set_default followed by tlv_get: it sets the default value (or block) of a given TLVar, without affecting any possible thread-local variables already assigned.

Alternative ways to initialize:

tlv_set(:timeout, 0)  # => 0

tlv_set(:timeout)     # @timeout =
@timeout.value = 0

More Details

The following methods are used within the above reader, writer, and accessor methods:

tlv_get(name)        - fetches the value of TLV `name`
tlv_set(name, value) - stores the value into the TLV `name`

There is a block form to tls_set:

tlv_set(name) { |old_val| new_val }

In addition, there is also a tlv_set_once method that can be used to set a TLV value only if has not currently be set already.

tlv_set_once(name, value)

tlv_set_once(name) { |old_val| new_value }

For tlv_accessor instance variables, it's possible to use the assign operators, eg: +=, or ||=. For example:

tlv_accessor :timeout, :count

self.timeout ||= DEFAULT_TIMEOUT

self.count += 1

TLV Name Arguments

The name argument to tlv_get and tlv_set is the same as given on the accessor, reader, and writer methods: either a string or symbol name, automatically converted as needed to instance-variable syntax (eg: :@name), and setter-method name syntax (eg :name=).


gem install thread_local_var_accessors

Within another app, within its Gemfile or *.gemspec file:

gem 'thread_local_var_accessors'


bundle install


To use the class methods, they must be included into the current module or class, with:

class MyNewClass
  include ThreadLocalVarAccessors

With the include above, you can use the class methods to declare instance getter and setter methods:

class MyNewClass
  include ThreadLocalVarAccessors

  tlv_reader   :name1
  tlv_writer   :name2
  tlv_accessor :name3, :name4


The above invocations:

  • create reader methods for name1, name3, and name4.
  • create writer methods for name2, name3, and name4.

The writer methods accept a value as the second argument, or from the result of an optional, associated block.

Note: to use the read-and-operate operators, eg: +=, -=, ||=, etc., the object must have both a reader and writer method. In other words, it needs to have been created as an tlv_accessor.

When adapting legacy code to become thread-safe, it's sometimes necessary to use the underlying instance methods:

tlv_set(name, value)
tlv_set_once(name, value)

Alternative block forms:

tlv_set(name)      { |oldval| newval }
tlv_set_once(name) { |oldval| newval }

In all cases, the name can be a string or symbol, with or without a leading @.

Ultimately, these methods are all performing basic accesses of the corresponding instance variables:

@name1 ||=
@name1.value = per_thread_value
@name1.value # returns the per_thread_value

If you prefer the style above, then you don't really need these accessor methods.

Example Usage

require 'thread_local_var_accessors'

class MyClass
  include ThreadLocalVarAccessors

  tlv_accessor :timeout, :max_time, :count, :limit
  tlv_reader   :sleep_time
  tlv_writer   :locked

  # if the ivars will not be inherited in new threads after initialization
  def initialize(**args)
    # set the current thread's local value for each ivar
    self.limit      = args[:limit]
    self.timeout    = args[:timeout]
    self.max_time   = args[:max_time]
    self.sleep_time = args[:sleep_time]
  # if the ivars might possibly be inherited in new threads after 
  # initialization, then the defaults should be set for each thread to
  # inherit.
  def alt_initialize(**args)
    # for each ivar, set the default value, which is inherited across all threads
    tlv_init :limit,      args[:limit]
    tlv_init :timeout,    args[:timeout]
    tlv_init :max_time,   args[:max_time]
    tlv_init :sleep_time, args[:sleep_time]

  def run
    while count < limit && delay_time < timeout
      self.max_time ||= DEFAULT_MAX_TIME
      sleep sleep_time
      self.locked = true


After checking out the repo, run bin/setup to install dependencies. Then, run rake spec to run the tests. You can also run bin/console for an interactive prompt that will allow you to experiment.

For both development and testing, the environment variables described above must be defined.


Continuous Integration and Deployments

This repo is configured to the gitflow pattern, with the develop branch being the default branch on PRs.

The main branch gets updated with a PR or with a manual merge-and-push from the develop branch by a repo admin.

When any branch is pushed, the continuous integration with causes the branch to be tested with all of the rspec tests (except the integration tests).

When the main branch is updated and after its tests pass, the deploy action is invoked which causes the newest build of the gem to be pushed to

Original Author:

Alan K. Stebbens <>