How to write an efficient scheduler in Java - Part 2

How to write an efficient scheduler in Java - Part 2

Sep 9, 2022·

2 min read

In part1 I explained there are two options to have a scheduler in Java: SchedulerExecutorService and DelayQueue. I decided to go with the second one even though it is a bit lower level.

The reason is, in SolidInbox the jobs do not always have a fixed interval. The interval might change dynamically during program execution because it sometime can depend on Twitter API's rate limit status.

So, for example when SolidInbox checks user DMs, it needs to check them periodically. Ideally this should be done once every 60-90 seconds, but some times Twitter API may tell the app that "don't query for DMs for this user again for the next 2 minutes". This means that, if using SchedulerExecutorService, I had to kill a task and re-create it with a new interval setting which was not efficient and flexible. Which is why I decided to go with DelayQueue.

When using DelayQueue you need a base class to encapsulate tasks which implements Delayed interface. This is how my implementation looks like for SolidInbox:

public class DelayedTask implements Delayed {
    private final long availableAfter;
    private final Runnable runnable;
    private final int fingerprint;
    private final List<Object> tags;

    public DelayedTask(Runnable runnable, List<Object> tags, long delayInMilliseconds) {
        this.availableAfter = System.currentTimeMillis() + delayInMilliseconds;
        this.runnable = runnable;
        this.fingerprint = tags.hashCode();
        this.tags = tags;

    private int saturatedCast(long value) {
        if ( value > Integer.MAX_VALUE ) {
            return Integer.MAX_VALUE;
        if ( value < Integer.MIN_VALUE ) {
            return Integer.MIN_VALUE;
        return ( int ) value;

    public long getDelay(TimeUnit unit) {
        long diff = availableAfter - System.currentTimeMillis();
        return unit.convert(diff, TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS);

    public int compareTo(Delayed o) {
        return saturatedCast(this.availableAfter - (( DelayedTask ) o).availableAfter);

    //TODO: compare the whole fingerprint?
    public boolean equals(Object o) {
        if ( this == o ) return true;
        if ( o == null || getClass() != o.getClass() ) return false;
        DelayedTask that = ( DelayedTask ) o;
        return fingerprint == that.fingerprint;

    public int hashCode() {
        return fingerprint;

    public void execute() {;

Subsequently, I have this field in my TaskQueue class which stores jobs to be executed in future: private static final DelayQueue<DelayedTask> internalQueue = new DelayQueue<>();

So, whenever a new job is created, I just push it into the internalQueue. And by job, I mean an instance of DelayedTask which has a Runnable inside. Pushing a new job into the queue is done via offer method on internalQueue.

In the next part I will go through the other side of the queue: Polling jobs out from the queue and running them.