If you’ve ever tried to launch a new process in C#, you’ll probably have noticed that the Process object lacks an asynchronous API. Luckily though, there is an easy way to write an asynchronous wrapper for a process such that you can launch it and await its termination.

## Getting to know Process

The first step in writing the wrapper is seeing how Process works under normal circumstances. If you are writing code which spawns a process and writes to the console window when it finishes, you might do so as follows.

This code works, but it’s not terribly convenient to use. Let’s look at how we can make it async compatible.

The key to our quest for asynchronicity is TaskCompletionSource. TaskCompletionSource is a class which wraps a Task whose state we can manually control. This is more easily understood with an example. Take a look at this console application.

When run, this code outputs “DoWork called”, pauses for approximately one second, and then outputs “6”. This behaviour is all due to the TaskCompletionSource object that is created in the DoWork method.

When a TaskCompletionSource is first instantiated, the status of its underlying Task object is set to WaitingForActivation. In this state, any code which awaits the task will block. However, when SetResult is called, the status of the task changes to Completed and the task’s Result property is set to the value passed to the SetResult call. This causes threads waiting on the task to unblock and program execution to resume. In our example, the call to task.Result in Main blocks until tcs.SetResult(6) is called by the task launched in DoWork.

## Calling a Process asynchronously

So, now that we’ve seen how a TaskCompletionSource can be used to create a manually-controlled asynchronous method, we can apply the same logic to create an awaitable method that abstracts the behaviour of a Process.

This method looks a lot like what we saw earlier. When called, it instantiates a new TaskCompletionSource<object> and sets its result to null when the process’s Exited event is fired. Using this method, we can create a process and await its completion like so.

Needless to say, if we were passing anything meaningful to tcs.SetResult, such as a value obtained from standard output, we could retrieve the value with a simple variable assignment.

Pretty cool if you ask me.

You may be wondering why we use a TaskCompletionSource<object> and not just a TaskCompletionSource. The reason is simply because a non-generic TaskCompletionSource does not exist. Because in this case we have no return value to assign, we have simply opted to use a TaskCompletionSource<object> and to set its result to null upon completion.