Streaming in VisTrails

Streaming data may be useful for a number of reasons, such as to incrementally update a visualization, or to process more data than would fit into memory. VisTrails supports streaming data through the workflow. By implementing modules that supports streaming, data items will be passed through the whole workflow one at a time.

Using Streaming

Streaming is similar to list handling (see Chapter List Handling in VisTrails). Modules that create streams should output a port with list depth 1. Downstream modules that do not accept lists will be executed once for each item in the stream. Modules with multiple input streams will combine them pairwise. For this reason the input streams should contain the same number of items (or be unlimited).

Modules accepting a type with list depth 1, but not supporting streaming, will see their input collected into a list, and will execute after the streaming has ended.

Try it Now!

Let’s use PythonSources to create a simple example that incrementally sums up a sequence of numbers. First we will create a module that streams the natural numbers up to some value. Create a new workflow and add a PythonSource module. Give it an input port named inputs of type Integer, which will specify the maximum number to stream, and an output port named out of type Integer with list depth 1, which will be the output stream. An output stream can be created by using self.set_streaming_output, which takes the port name, an iterator object, and an optional length of the input items. To create an integer iterator we can use xrange. Add this to the PythonSource:


Next Step!

Now let’s create a module that processes each item in the sequence. Add a second PythonSource module below the first one. Give it an input port named integerStream of type Integer and list depth 1 that will be our input stream. An input stream can be captured by adding the magic string # pragma: streaming to the PythonSource code and calling self.set_streaming with a generator method as argument. The generator method should take the module as an input. It should first initialize its value, in our case set intsum=0. Then it should receive the inputs in a loop ending with yield. In each iteration the module will be updated to contain a new input in the stream. Similar to a normal module, the loop should:

  1. get inputs
  2. compute outputs
  3. set outputs
  4. call yield

Below is the complete example. Add it to the PythonSource.

# pragma: streaming - This tag is magic, do not change

def generator(module):
    intsum = 0
    while 1:
        i = module.get_input('integerStream')
        intsum += i
        print "Sum so far:", intsum



Connect the two PythonSources, set inputs to 100 in the first PythonSource, open the VisTrails console and execute. See how the output is printed to the console while the stream runs and how the progress of the modules increase. The output should look like this: (open in vistrails)

Sum so far: 0
Sum so far: 1
Sum so far: 3
Sum so far: 4851
Sum so far: 4950