Mithril 1.1.6

Promise(executor)


Description

A ES6 Promise polyfill.

A Promise is a mechanism for working with asynchronous computations.


Signature

promise = new Promise(executor)

Argument Type Required Description
executor (Function, Function) -> any Yes A function that determines how the promise will be resolved or rejected
returns Promise Returns a promise

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executor

executor(resolve, reject)

Argument Type Required Description
resolve any -> any No Call this function to resolve the promise
reject any -> any No Call this function to reject the promise
returns The return value is ignored

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Static members

Promise.resolve

promise = Promise.resolve(value)

Argument Type Required Description
value any No A value to resolve to
returns Promise A promise resolved to value

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Promise.reject

promise = Promise.reject(value)

Argument Type Required Description
value any No A value to reject as
returns Promise A rejected promise with value as its reason

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Promise.all

promise = Promise.all(promises)

Argument Type Required Description
promises Array<Promise|any> Yes A list of promises to wait for. If an item is not a promise, it's equivalent to calling Promise.resolve on it
returns Promise A promise that resolves only after all promises resolve, or rejects if any of them are rejected.

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Promise.race

promise = Promise.race(promises)

Argument Type Required Description
promises Array<Promise|any> Yes A list of promises to wait for. If an item is not a promise, it's equivalent to calling Promise.resolve on it
returns Promise A promise that resolves as soon as one of the promises is resolved or rejected.

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Instance members

promise.then

nextPromise = promise.then(onFulfilled, onRejected)

Argument Type Required Description
onFulfilled any -> (any|Promise) No A function that is called if the promise is resolved. The first parameter of this function is the value that this promise was resolved with. If the return value of this function is not a Promise, it is used as the value for resolving nextPromise. If the returned value is a Promise, the value of nextPromise depends on the inner Promise's status. If this function throws, nextPromise is rejected with the error as its reason. If onFulfilled is null, it's ignored
onRejected any -> (any|Promise) No A function that is called when the promise is rejected. The first parameter of this function is a value that represents the reason why the promise was rejected. If the return value of this function is not a Promise, it is used as the value for resolving nextPromise. If the returned value is a Promise, then value of nextPromise depends on the inner Promise's status. If this function throws, nextPromise is rejected with the error as its reason. If onRejected is null, it's ignored
returns Promise A promise whose value depends on the status of the current promise

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promise.catch

nextPromise = promise.catch(onRejected)

Argument Type Required Description
onRejected any -> (any|Promise) No A function that is called when the promise is rejected. The first parameter of this function is a value that represents the reason why the promise was rejected. If the return value of this function is not a Promise, it is used as the value for resolving nextPromise. If the returned value is a Promise, then value of nextPromise depends on the inner Promise's status. If this function throws, nextPromise is rejected with the error as its reason. If onRejected is null, it's ignored
returns Promise A promise whose value depends on the status of the current promise

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How it works

A Promise is an object that represents a value which may be available in the future

// this promise resolves after one second
var promise = new Promise(function(resolve, reject) {
  setTimeout(function() {
    resolve("hello")
  }, 1000)
})

promise.then(function(value) {
  // logs "hello" after one second
  console.log(value)
})

Promises are useful for working with asynchronous APIs, such as m.request

Asynchronous APIs are those which typically take a long time to run, and therefore would take too long to return a value using the return statement of a function. Instead, they do their work in the background, allowing other Javascript code to run in the meantime. When they are done, they call a function with their results.

The m.request function takes time to run because it makes an HTTP request to a remote server and has to wait for a response, which may take several milliseconds due to network latency.


Promise chaining

Promises can be chained. Returning a value from a then callback makes it available as the argument to the next then callback. This allows refactoring code into smaller functions

function getUsers() {return m.request("/api/v1/users")}

// AVOID: hard to test god functions
getUsers().then(function(users) {
  var firstTen = users.slice(0, 9)
  var firstTenNames = firstTen.map(function(user) {return user.firstName + " " + user.lastName})
  alert(firstTenNames)
})

// PREFER: easy to test small functions
function getFirstTen(items) {return items.slice(0, 9)}
function getUserName(user) {return user.firstName + " " + user.lastName}
function getUserNames(users) {return users.map(getUserName)}

getUsers()
  .then(getFirstTen)
  .then(getUserNames)
  .then(alert)

In the refactored code, getUsers() returns a promise, and we chain three callbacks. When getUsers() resolves, the getFirstTen function is called with a list of users as its first argument. This function returns a list of ten items. getUserNames returns a list of names for the 10 items that were passed as the argument to it. Finally, the list of names is alerted.

In the original code above, it's very difficult to test the god function since you must make an HTTP request to run the code, and there's an alert() call at the end of the function

In the refactored version, it's trivial to test whether getFirstTen has any off-by-one errors, or whether we forgot to add a space between the first and last names in getUserName.


Promise absorption

Promises absorb other promises. Basically, this means you can never receive a Promise as an argument to onFulfilled or onRejected callbacks for then and catch methods. This feature allows us to flatten nested promises to make code more manageable.

function searchUsers(q) {return m.request("/api/v1/users/search", {data: {q: q}})}
function getUserProjects(id) {return m.request("/api/v1/users/" + id + "/projects")}

// AVOID: pyramid of doom
searchUsers("John").then(function(users) {
  getUserProjects(users[0].id).then(function(projects) {
    var titles = projects.map(function(project) {return project.title})
    alert(titles)
  })
})

// PREFER: flat code flow
function getFirstId(items) {return items[0].id}
function getProjectTitles(projects) {return projects.map(getProjectTitle)}
function getProjectTitle(project) {return project.title}

searchUsers("John")
  .then(getFirstId)
  .then(getUserProjects)
  .then(getProjectTitles)
  .then(alert)

In the refactored code, getFirstId returns an id, which is passed as the first argument to getUserProjects. That, in turn, returns a promise that resolves to a list of projects. This promise is absorbed, so the first argument to getProjectTitles is not a promise, but the list of projects. getProjectTitles returns a list of titles, and that list is finally alerted.


Error handling

Promises can propagate errors to appropriate handlers.

searchUsers("John")
  .then(getFirstId)
  .then(getUserProjects)
  .then(getProjectTitles)
  .then(alert)
  .catch(function(e) {
    console.log(e)
  })

Here's the previous example with error handling. The searchUsers function could fail if the network was offline, resulting in an error. In that case, none of the .then callbacks would be triggered, and the .catch callback would log the error to console.

If the request in getUserProjects failed, then similarly, getProjectTitles and alert would not be called. Again, the .catch callback would log the error.

The error handler would also catch a null reference exception if searchUsers returned no results, and getFirstId attempted to access the id property of a non-existent array item.

Thanks to these error propagation semantics, it's easy to keep each function small and testable without sprinkling try/catch blocks everywhere.


Shorthands

Sometimes, you already have a value, but want to wrap it in a Promise. It's for this purpose that Promise.resolve and Promise.reject exist.

// suppose this list came from localStorage
var users = [{id: 1, firstName: "John", lastName: "Doe"}]

// in that case, `users` may or may not exist depending on whether there was data in localStorage
var promise = users ? Promise.resolve(users) : getUsers()
promise
  .then(getFirstTen)
  .then(getUserNames)
  .then(alert)

Multiple promises

In some occasions, you may need to make HTTP requests in parallel, and run code after all requests complete. This can be accomplished by Promise.all

Promise.all([
  searchUsers("John"),
  searchUsers("Mary"),
])
.then(function(data) {
  // data[0] is an array of users whose names are John
  // data[1] is an array of users whose names are Mary

  // the returned value is equivalent to [
  //   getUserNames(data[0]),
  //   getUserNames(data[1]),
  // ]
  return data.map(getUserNames)
})
.then(alert)

In the example above, there are two user searches happening in parallel. Once they both complete, we take the names of all the users and alert them.

This example also illustrates another benefit of smaller functions: we reused the getUserNames function we had created above.


Why not callbacks

Callbacks are another mechanism for working with asynchrounous computations, and are indeed more adequate to use if an asynchronous computation may occur more than one time (for example, an onscroll event handler).

However, for asynchronous computations that only occur once in response to an action, promises can be refactored more effectively, reducing code smells known as pyramids of doom (deeply nested series of callbacks with unmanaged state being used across several closure levels).

In addition, promises can considerably reduce boilerplate related to error handling.


License: MIT. © Leo Horie.