Web Locks API: Cross-Tab Resource Synchronization

Web Locks API: Cross-Tab Resource Synchronization

Web Locks API applies the same overall functionality of locks to web applications. This API allows a script to asynchronously hold a lock over a resource until the process is complete, and release it.

What are Locks?

As computers have now become more powerful, they use several CPU threads to process data. This brings forth newer problems regarding resource sharing as there can be synchronization issues when multiple threads access a single resource.

If you are familiar with threads, you would be aware of the concept of locks. Locks are a method of synchronization that enforces access restrictions to threads such that multiple threads cannot access a single resource at the same time. Although a variant of locks allows multiple threads to access a resource at an instant, it still limits the access to read-only. I highly advise you to read a few resources to understand the concepts of locks in the operating system.

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Single-thread and Multi-thread processes — Source: Dave Kurtz

What is the Web Locks API?

Web Locks API applies the same overall functionality of locks to web applications. This API allows a script to asynchronously hold a lock over a resource until the process is complete, and release it. When a lock is being held, no other script in the same origin can acquire a lock over the same resource although there is an exception which we would later speak about.

What are the steps?

  1. The lock is requested.
  2. Work is done while holding the lock in an asynchronous task.
  3. The lock is automatically released when the task completes.
  4. Other scripts that request a lock will be given access.

When a lock is held over a resource, if another script requests a lock for the same resource from the same execution context or from other tabs/workers, the lock request will be queued. As soon as the lock is released, the first in the queue will be granted a lock and access over the resource.

Locks and their Scopes

The scopes on how the Web Locks API can be quite confusing. Hence here is a summary for you to understand it better.

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