Using Threads in PyQGIS3

While porting a plugin to QGIS3 I decided to also move all it’s threading infrastructure to QgsTasks. Here three possible variants to implement this.
the first uses the static method QgsTask.fromFunction and is simpler to use. A great quick solution. If you want need control you can look at the second solution that subclasses QgsTask. In this solution I also show how to create subtasks with interdependencies. The third variant, illustrates how to run a processing algorithm in a separate thread.
One thing to be very careful about is never to create widgets or alter gui in a task. This is a strict Qt guideline – gui must never be altered outside of the main thread. So your progress dialog must operate on the main thread, connecting to the progress report signals from the task which operates in the background thread. This also applies to “print” statements — these aren’t safe to use from a background thread in QGIS and can cause random crashes. Use the thread safe QgsMessageLog.logMessage() approach instead. Actually you should forget print and always use QgsMessageLog.

using QgsTask.fromFunction

this is a quick and simple way of running a function in a separate thread. When calling QgsTask.fromFunction() you can pass an on_finished argument with a callback to be executed at the end of run.

from time import sleep
import random
MESSAGE_CATEGORY = 'My tasks from a function'
def run(task, wait_time):
"""a dumb test function
to break the task raise an exception
to return a successful result return it. This will be passed together
with the exception (None in case of success) to the on_finished method
QgsMessageLog.logMessage('Started task {}'.format(task.description()),
wait_time = wait_time / 100
total = 0
iterations = 0
for i in range(101):
# use task.setProgress to report progress
total += random.randint(0, 100)
iterations += 1
# check task.isCanceled() to handle cancellation
if task.isCanceled():
return None
# raise exceptions to abort task
if random.randint(0, 500) == 42:
raise Exception('bad value!')
return {
'total': total, 'iterations': iterations, 'task': task.description()
def stopped(task):
'Task "{name}" was cancelled'.format(name=task.description()),
def completed(exception, result=None):
"""this is called when run is finished. Exception is not None if run
raises an exception. Result is the return value of run."""
if exception is None:
if result is None:
'Completed with no exception and no result '\
'(probably the task was manually canceled by the user)',
'Task {name} completed\n'
'Total: {total} ( with {iterations} '
QgsMessageLog.logMessage("Exception: {}".format(exception),
raise exception
# a bunch of tasks
task1 = QgsTask.fromFunction(
'waste cpu 1', run, on_finished=completed, wait_time=4)
task2 = QgsTask.fromFunction(
'waste cpu 2', run, on_finished=completed, wait_time=3)

Subclassing QgsTask

this solution gives you the full control over the task behaviour. In this example I also illustrate how to create subtasks dependencies.

import random
from time import sleep
from qgis.core import (
QgsApplication, QgsTask, QgsMessageLog,
MESSAGE_CATEGORY = 'My subclass tasks'
class MyTask(QgsTask):
"""This shows how to subclass QgsTask"""
def __init__(self, description, duration):
super().__init__(description, QgsTask.CanCancel)
self.duration = duration = 0
self.iterations = 0
self.exception = None
def run(self):
"""Here you implement your heavy lifting. This method should
periodically test for isCancelled() to gracefully abort.
This method MUST return True or False
raising exceptions will crash QGIS so we handle them internally and
raise them in self.finished
QgsMessageLog.logMessage('Started task "{}"'.format(
self.description()), MESSAGE_CATEGORY, Qgis.Info)
wait_time = self.duration / 100
for i in range(101):
# use setProgress to report progress
self.setProgress(i) += random.randint(0, 100)
self.iterations += 1
# check isCanceled() to handle cancellation
if self.isCanceled():
return False
# simulate exceptions to show how to abort task
if random.randint(0, 500) == 42:
# DO NOT raise Exception('bad value!')
# this would crash QGIS
self.exception = Exception('bad value!')
return False
return True
def finished(self, result):
"""This method is automatically called when returns. result
is the return value from
This function is automatically called when the task has completed (
successfully or otherwise). You just implement finished() to do whatever
follow up stuff should happen after the task is complete. finished is
always called from the main thread, so it's safe to do GUI
operations and raise Python exceptions here.
if result:
'Task "{name}" completed\n' \
'Total: {total} ( with {iterations} iterations)'.format(
if self.exception is None:
'Task "{name}" not successful but without exception '\
'(probably the task was manually canceled by the user)'.format(
'Task "{name}" Exception: {exception}'.format(
name=self.description(), exception=self.exception),
raise self.exception
def cancel(self):
'Task "{name}" was cancelled'.format(name=self.description()),
t1 = MyTask('waste cpu long', 10)
t2 = MyTask('waste cpu short', 6)
t3 = MyTask('waste cpu mini', 4)
st1 = MyTask('waste cpu Subtask 1', 5)
st2 = MyTask('waste cpu Subtask 2', 2)
st3 = MyTask('waste cpu Subtask 3', 4)
t2.addSubTask(st1, [t3, t1])

NEVER, EVER, EVER use print in the QgsTask outside from finished(). finished() is called on the main event loop

class MyTask(QgsTask):
def __init__(self, description, flags):
super().__init__(description, flags)
def run(self):
QgsMessageLog.logMessage('Started task {}'.format(self.description()))
return True
t1 = MyTask('waste cpu', QgsTask.CanCancel)

Call a Processing algorithm in a separate thread

You can simply execute a processing algorithm in a separate thread thanks to QgsProcessingAlgRunnerTask. This class takes a processing algorithm, its parameters, a context and a feedback objects and execute the algorithm. QgsProcessingAlgRunnerTask offers an executed signal to which you can connect and execute further code. executed sends two arguments bool successful and dict results. If you want to retrieve a memory layer you can pass the context as well by using partial or lambda.
If you’re wondering what parameter values you need to specify for an algorithm, and what values are acceptable, try running processing.algorithmHelp('qgis:randompointsinextent') in the python console. In QGIS 3.2 you’ll get a detailed list of all the parameter options for the algorithm and a summary of acceptable value types and formats for each. Another nice possibility is to run the algorithm from the gui and check the history after.

from functools import partial
from qgis.core import (QgsTaskManager, QgsMessageLog, QgsProcessingAlgRunnerTask,
QgsApplication, QgsProcessingContext, QgsProcessingFeedback, QgsProject)
MESSAGE_CATEGORY = 'My processing tasks'
def task_finished(context, successful, results):
if not successful:
QgsMessageLog.logMessage('Task finished unsucessfully', MESSAGE_CATEGORY, Qgis.Warning)
output_layer = context.getMapLayer(results['OUTPUT'])
# because getMapLayer doesn't transfer ownership the layer will be
# deleted when context goes out of scope and you'll get a crash.
# takeMapLayer transfers ownership so it's then safe to add it to the
# project and give the project ownership.
if output_layer.isValid():
alg = QgsApplication.processingRegistry().algorithmById(
context = QgsProcessingContext()
feedback = QgsProcessingFeedback()
params = {
'EXTENT': '4.63,11.57,44.41,48.78 [EPSG:4326]',
'TARGET_CRS': 'EPSG:4326',
'OUTPUT': 'memory:My random points'
task = QgsProcessingAlgRunnerTask(alg, params, context, feedback)
task.executed.connect(partial(task_finished, context))

I hope this post can help you porting your plugins to QGIS3 and again if you need professional help for your plugins, don’t hesitate to contact us.

3 Responses

  1. Hi Marco,
    I wonder how I should use fromFunction to run a function of a plugin in a seperate thread.
    class MyPlugin(object):
    def __init__(self, iface):
    self.iface = iface
    def threadFunction(self):
    # this loads some layers from the db
    # is there anything else I need here to make it callable as task?
    # does this function have to return anything?
    def threadFunction2(self,task):
    # I tried this, too
    def myAction(self):
    # called if user clicks on the menu
    task = QgsTask.fromFunction(“do stuff”,self.threadFunction)
    QgsApplication.instance().taskManager().addTask(task) # does nothing
    task2 = QgsTask.fromFunction(“do stuff”,self.threadFunction2)
    QgsApplication.instance().taskManager().addTask(task2) # kills QGIS
    System: QGIS 3.4.1 on Ubuntu1604

  2. Nils

    I think this is a really useful blog. Regarding the content. Regarding the format: it’s illegible and actually rendering the whole post useless unfortunately. One has to guess indentation and well, this is Python… Pleeease install a code prettifier into your WordPress and use indentation!

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