Async/Await in Javascript

February 14th, 2020
4 mins read

by Dillion Megida

Category: JAVASCRIPT

#async#javascript

Maximum of 20 articles can be saved!

Async/Await in Javascript

February 14th, 2020
4 mins read

by Dillion Megida

Category: JAVASCRIPT

#async#javascript

Maximum of 20 articles can be saved!

Async/Await method makes working with Promises easy. Added to this is that code is very readable compared to nested .then()s.

No prior knowledge of Promises? Read about promises here - Promises in Javascript.

Syntax

async function myFunc() {
    ...
    await...
    ... 
}

The async keyword before the function declaration states that the function returns a promise., hence treating it asynchronously like promises. The await keyword inside the function allows us to "wait" for values before performing executions.

Note that: await can only be used inside an async function.

The await keyword pauses the execution of the function until the value is gotten (just like then waits) before proceeding to other codes. It transfers the function to the event queue. It doesn't disrupt other codes outside the function.

async/wait codes has a synchronous looking structure (sequential execution of codes). Hence, async makes asynchronous operations readable by making them look synchronous.

What it does is that if the value would delay, the function is moved to the event queue just like promises, and executed after the execution of other codes.

Return Value

The return value of the async function is a promise.

Example

Examine the following code

let ret = new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    setTimeout(() => resolve("I'm done!"), 3000)
});
async function g() {
    console.log("games");
    let result = await ret;
    console.log(result);
}
function hi() {
    console.log("hi");
}
g();
hi();
console.log(5);

The output is

games
hi
5
I'm done!

As you'd observe, g() is called first, then hi() followed by console.log(5). In g, games is printed first, but when it comes accross the await keyword, the function is put on hold (pushed into the event queue) until the result is gotten. This would take 3secs (3000ms), hence, other activities can go on, such as console.log("hi") and console.log(5).

After three seconds, the promise returns a resolved value which is "I'm done!". So, the function continues its execution and executes console.log(result).

Using then()s

Remember that async functions returns a promise. This means that .thens can be attached to them just like in promises.

For our example above, we could adjust function g to return a promise (without using await) which could be a resolved value:

async function g() {
    console.log("games");
    let result = ret;
    console.log(result);
    return result;
}
g()
.then(res => console.log("Then: " + res));

And the result would be:

games
I'm done!
Then: i'm done!

But, since you're using async/await, you do not need .then because await already helps us "wait" before performing any action.

Error Handling

What if the promise is rejected? There are two workarounds to this.

try...catch

It's the same old try...catch. For example (from our code above):

...
// previous codes
...
async function g() {
    console.log("games");
    let result = await ret;
    try {
        console.log(result);
    } catch(err => {
        console.log(`Error: ${err}`);    
    })
}

The try...catch block waits for the async function to return a value, then it "tries" to work with that value. If for any reasons there is an error withing the try block, execution flow is directed immediately to catch block.

Promise.catch

Remember how you could use .then()s because the function returns a promise? You could also use .catch() and just the same way promises transfers execution to .catch if any error is found, the same it is for async.

Which is Better?

Anyone that seems appealing to you!

async/await is just syntactic sugar over promises. It makes it easier to read just as you observed the synchronous-looking nature of async.

It's just like:

Continue execution sequentially, Oh wait, we do not know this value for now, two of you, wait for its value. The three of us, let's move onto other activites. Ok, we're done, where's the other two? What value do you have? Alright, let's continue with that function.

This is exactly what promises do, but you could easily realize this in async.

The downsides of async/await is that unlike promises, await (which is sort of a replacement for .then) cannot be used at top-level. It must be inside an async function.

let result = await value;

WRONG!!

let func = async () => {
    let result =  await value;
} 
//or
(async () => {
    let result = await value;
})

RIGHT!!

Thanks for reading : )

If you have any questions or contributions regarding this article, kindly reach Dillion Megida (@iamdillion) or visit us on twitter - @thewebfor5

Kindly share this article 😃

Do you have any topic in web development which you would love to be written about?
If yes, kindly create a new issue on the repository or fill this form.