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[JavaScript][promise][tutorial] Using promises with "Q"

branch: master
README.md

Using promises with "Q"

JavaScript platform heavily uses asyncronous actions that requires continuation callbacks. Codes using them easily become complex for nested callbacks.

One of profit of using promises is changing the callback nesting style to more clean.

The promises may be integrated to ES6 (harmony). Q is an implementation of the promises.

What is "Q"

Q is a module for promises in JavaScript.

In node.js or JS on HTML, using asynchronous actions is usually coded as the function callback style. e.g.:

// using-callback.js
http.get(url.parse("http://example.org/"), function (res) {
   console.log(res.statusCode);  // maybe 302
});

If you want to chain contimuous asynchronous actions, following callbacks are nested in the callback of the former action; e.g.:

// using-nested-callback.js
http.get(url.parse("http://example.org/"), function (res) {
    console.log(res.statusCode);  // maybe 302
    http.get(url.parse(res.headers["location"]), function (res) {
        console.log(res.statusCode);  // maybe 200
    });
});

Using promises with Q transform*s the nested style to *flatten manner, as:

// using-promise.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.org/")).then(function (res) {
    console.log(res.statusCode);  // maybe 302
    return httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"]));
}).then(function (res) {
    console.log(res.statusCode);  // maybe 200
});

From the flatten style, promises introduce many ways of clearer coding to JavaScript programmings.

At last, the promised action httpGet can be just defined as:

// using-promise.js
var httpGet = function (opts) {
     var deferred = Q.defer();
     http.get(opts, deferred.resolve);
     return deferred.promise;
};

Making promise actions is also transforming from callback style actions.

Setup Q module

If you use in node.js, simply install with npm:

npm install q

then using in js file as an usual module:

var Q = require("q");
...

If you use in browsers, loading q.min.js in former of your JavaScript code:

<!-- using-q.html -->
<script src="q.min.js"></script>
<script>
var loadText = function (url) {
    var deferred = Q.defer();
    var req = new XMLHttpRequest();
    req.onreadystatechange = function () {
        if (req.readyState !== 4) return;
        if (/^[^2]\d\d$/.exec(req.status)) return deferred.reject(req.status);
        deferred.resolve(req.responseText);
    };
    req.open("GET", url, true);
    req.send();
    return deferred.promise;
};
</script>

q.min.js is in the source repository of q.

Making promise based action

At first using Q, you make actions return "promise". For example, make node.js action http.get as promised action:

// using-promise.js
var httpGet = function (opts) {
     var deferred = Q.defer();
     http.get(opts, deferred.resolve);
     return deferred.promise;
};

then you can use as:

httpGet(...).then(function (res) {...});

It is important that functions returns promise.

The first Q.defer() returns set of an empty promise and operations for it. deferred.promise is the empty promise and deferred.resolve(value) makes the promise resolved as the value.

The simplest example of them is:

// promise-resolve-then-flow.js
var deferred = Q.defer();
deferred.promise.then(function (obj) {
    console.log(obj);
});
deferred.resolve("Hello World");

It prints "Hello World" to the console.

In generally, you can transform usual callback actions:

// promise-translate-action.js
action(arg1, arg2, function (result) {
    doSomething(result);
});

to promise actions:

// promise-translate-action.js
var promiseAction = function (arg1, arg2) {
    var deferred = Q.defer();
    action(arg1, arg2, deferred.resolve);
    return deferred.promise;
}

promiseAction(arg1, arg2).then(function (result) {
    doSomething(result);
});

Action chain

Using continuous actions is call next action in the former callback. e.g.:

// chain-nested-callback.js
http.get(url.parse("http://example.org"), function (res) {
    http.get(url.parse(res.headers["location"]), function (res) {
        var body = "";
        res.on("data", function (chunk) {
            body += chunk;
        });
        res.on("end", function () {
            console.log(body);
        });
    });
});

You can simply transform it to promise actions and then callback style:

// chain-nested-promise.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.org")).then(function (res) {
    httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"])).then(function (res) {
        var body = "";
        res.on("data", function (chunk) {
            body += chunk;
        });
        res.on("end", function () {
            console.log(body);
        });
    });
});

If you can "return" any value in then callback, you can catch the value to a nextthen callback:

// chain-by-value.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.org")).then(function (res) {
    return res.headers["location"];
}).then(function (location) {
    httpGet(url.parse(location)).then(function (res) {
        var body = "";
        res.on("data", function (chunk) {
            body += chunk;
        });
        res.on("end", function () {
            console.log(body);
        });
    });
});

If you return a "promise" in then callback, you can catch a resolved value of the promise to the next then callback:

// chain-by-promise.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.org")).then(function (res) {
    return httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"]));
}).then(function (res) {
    var body = "";
    res.on("data", function (chunk) {
        body += chunk;
    });
    res.on("end", function () {
        console.log(body);
    });
});

You can transforn the body loading action to promise action as:

// chain-to-action.js
var loadBody = function (res) {
    var deferred = Q.defer();
    var body = "";
    res.on("data", function (chunk) {
        body += chunk;
    });
    res.on("end", function () {
        deferred.resolve(body);
    });
    return deferred.promise;
};

Apply it:

// chain-to-action.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.org")).then(function (res) {
    return httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"]));
}).then(function (res) {
    loadBody(res).then(function (body) {
        console.log(body);
    });
});

It can also go outside of then callback as:

// chain-to-action-flatten.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.org")).then(function (res) {
    return httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"]));
}).then(function (res) {
    return loadBody(res);
}).then(function (body) {
    console.log(body);
});

Make it more simple as:

// chain-to-action-simplify.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.org")).then(function (res) {
    return httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"]));
}).then(loadBody).then(console.log);

Condition branch in promise action

You can use if branch in promise as:

// chain-branch.js
var getBody = function (uri) {
    return httpGet(url.parse(uri)).then(function (res) {
       if (res.statusCode.toString()[0] === "3") {
           return httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"]));
       } else {
           return res;
       }
    }).then(loadBody);
};

getBody("http://example.org").then(console.log);

The first returns promise of res(http.ClientResponse) that returns res. The second returns just res. every return of branch should finally resolve same type object.

Branch in promise action is with this manner.

Loop in promise action

You can use loop in promise with recursive call:

// chain-loop.js
var redirectGet = function (uri) {
    return httpGet(url.parse(uri)).then(function (res) {
       if (res.statusCode.toString()[0] === "3") {
           return redirectGet(res.headers["location"]);
       } else {
           return res;
       }
    });
};
var getBody = function (uri) {
    return redirectGet(uri).then(loadBody);
};

getBody("http://example.org").then(console.log);

Uniform error handling

Q includes standard error handling ways.

The then method accept two callback args; the first callback catches successful result, and the second catches error as failure.

// promise-failure-action.js
promisedAction(arg1, arg2).then(function (value) {
    doSomething(value);
}, function (error) {
    doErrorHandle(error);
});

Q.defer() set has reject(error) function for passing error handler. A simple example is:

// promise-reject-then-flow.js
var deferred = Q.defer();
deferred.promise.then(null, console.log);
deferred.reject(new Error("failure"));

It prints [Error: failure].

If you can pass only error handing callback, use 'fail(handler)':

// promise-reject-fail-flow.js
var deferred = Q.defer();
deferred.promise.fail(console.log);
deferred.reject(new Error("failure"));

The real example httpGet with error handling becomes as:

// using-promise-with-error.js
var httpGet = function (opts) {
     var deferred = Q.defer();
     try {
         http.get(opts, deferred.resolve).on("error", deferred.reject);
     } catch (error) {deferred.reject(error);}
     return deferred.promise;
};

Promise chain with error handling

In a promise chain, when error occured in middle promise action, following actions not executed, the error is passed through to the latter promises that has an error handler. If all latter promises have not error handler, error is ignored.

For example:

// chain-with-error.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.biz")).then(function (res) {
    return httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"]));
}).then(loadBody).then(console.log).fail(function (error) {
    console.log("error occured: " + error);
});

The last error handler catches an error occured at any point in httpGet, loadBody, or console.log of then.

Error thrown from callback

An error thrown in the then callback also becomes failure flow. e.g.:

// promise-throw-fail-flow.js
var deferred = Q.defer();
deferred.promise.then(function (obj) {
    throw new Error("thrown error");
}).fail(console.log);
deferred.resolve({});

It prints [Error: thrown error].

Notice that a thrown error can be catched in the "following" promise.

So, the code:

// promise-throw-uncaught-flow.js
var deferred = Q.defer();
deferred.promise.then(function (obj) {
    throw new Error("thrown error");
}, console.log);
deferred.resolve({});

It prints nothing.

Retrieve flow from errors

The error flow is also a part of promise. Retrieving from error is just return a value in error callback. as:

// chain-with-error-recover.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.biz")).then(function (res) {
    return httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"]));
}).then(loadBody).fail(function (error) {
    return "Not Found";
}).then(console.log);

If error occured in httpGet or loadBody, it prints "Not Found" as successful flow.

A promise of multiple values and spread

The then callback always accepts just one argument. So you want to pass multiple values as a array like [value1, value2]. In callback, extract with array access like: var value1 = result[0];.

If you want to use multiple arguments directly, you can use spread instead of then:

// promise-multiple-resolve-spread-flow.js
var deferred = Q.defer();
deferred.promise.spread(function (value1, value2) {
    return value1 + value2;
}).then(console.log);
deferred.resolve([10, 30]);

A promise of immediate values

Resolved promise

Not only async action, usual value transform as a promise. Q.resolve transforms value to promise:

// promise-resolve.js
Q.resolve("Hello").then(console.log);

Not only a returned value of then callback, other types of value is handled with same manner of promises.

when

Q.when(value, success, failure) is same as Q.resolve(value).then(success, failure) (but then is implemented with when in really)

// promise-when.js
Q.when("Hello", console.log);

Rejected promise

Q.reject(obj) is "rejected" promise. it spawn only error handler. e.g.:

// promise-reject.js
Q.reject("abc").then(function (value) {
    console.log("OK");
}, function (error) {
    console.log("FAIL");
});

It just prints "FAIL".

If you return rejected promises in then callback, It spawn error handler. e.g.:

// promise-return-reject-flow.js
Q.resolve("abc").then(function (value) {
    return Q.reject("FAIL");
}).then(null, function (error) {
    console.log(error);
});

It also prints "FAIL".

Returning a reject promise is same effect of throw error on flows.

Object handling promises

The then callback can use the result anyway. Each handling is decomposed primitives of property accesses or function calls.

For example:

// object-unsued.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.org")).then(function (res) {
    return res.headers["location"].replace(/^http:/, "");
}).then(console.log);

It can decompose continuous actions of each primitive access as:

// object-decomposed.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.org")).then(function (res) {
    return res.headers;
}).then(function (handlers) {
    return handlers["location"];
}).then(function (location) {
    return location.replace(/^http:/, "");
}).then(console.log);

Promises of Q have support methods of primitive access as a promise.

By them, the decomposed actions also translate to:

// object.primitive.js
httpGet(url.parse("http://example.org"))
    .get("handlers").get("location").post("replace", [/^http:/, ""])
    .then(console.log);

Promise methods of object handling promises

promise.get(name):

promise.then(function (value) {
    return value[name];
})

promise.put(name, value):

promise.then(function (value) {
    return value[name] = value;
})

promise.del(name):

promise.then(function (value) {
    return delete value[name];
})

promise.post(name, arglist)

promise.then(function (value) {
    return value[name].apply(value, arglist);
})

promise.send(name, arg1, arg2,...):

promise.then(function (value) {
    return value[name].call(value, arg1, arg2, ...);
})

promise.fapply(arglist):

promise.then(function (value) {
    return value.apply(undefined, arglist);
})

promise.fcall(arg1, arg2, ...):

promise.then(function (value) {
    return value.call(undefined, arg1, arg2, ...);
})

promise.fbind(arg1, arg2, ...):

(function (promise) {
    var args = Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments, 1);
    return function () {
        var all = args.concat(Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments));
        return promise.then(function (value) {
            return value.apply(undefined, all);
        });
    };
})

(note: result of fbind is a function, not a promise)

promise.apply(thisp, arglist):

promise.then(function (value) {
    return value.apply(thisp, arglist);
})

promise.call(thisp, arg1, arg2, ...):

promise.then(function (value) {
    return value.call(thisp, arg1, arg2, ...);
})

promise.bind(thisp, arg1, arg2, ...):

(function (promise, thisp) {
    var args = Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments, 2);
    return function () {
        var all = args.concat(Array.prototype.slice.call(arguments));
        return promise.then(function (value) {
            return value.apply(thisp, all);
        });
    };
})

(note: result of bind is a function, not a promise)

promise.keys():

promise.then(function (value) {
    return Object.keys(value);
})

view make all methods to promise method

The promise.post(name) or promise.send(name) convert a method of the promise value to a promise of the method result.

A result of view() has methods for all methods of the promise value. You can use view in then callback of view(). e.g.:

// object-view.js
Q.resolve(new Date()).view().then(function (dateView) {
    return dateView.toTimeString().then(function (str) {
        return /\((.*)\)/.exec(str)[0]
    });
}).then(console.log);

Composing flow

The former promise chains are just only single flow style. Q supports flow graph for complex flows.

Concurrent flow from a promise

Not only single flow of promise in chain, you can use a promise for multiple flows.

For example, at processing a result text, one flow is to print to log, other flows are to converting.

// chain-concurrent.js
var text = httpGet(url.parse("http://example.biz")).then(function (res) {
    return httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"]));
}).then(loadBody).fail(function (error) {
    return "Not Found";
});

text.then(console.log);
text.post("toUpperCase").then(console.log);
text.post("toLowerCase").then(console.log);

In the code, printing order is not stable beacuse of the end of three flows are independent each other.

Joined promise of multiple promises

Joining multiple flows also supported with Q.all(promiselist)

For example, the former code of print out at the ordered.

// chain-concurrent-join.js
var text = httpGet(url.parse("http://example.biz")).then(function (res) {
    return httpGet(url.parse(res.headers["location"]));
}).then(loadBody).fail(function (error) {
    return "Not Found";
});

var texts = Q.all([
    text,
    text.post("toUpperCase"),
    text.post("toLowerCase"),
]);

texts.spread(function (normal, upper, lower) {
    console.log(normal);
    console.log(upper);
    console.log(lower);
});

When all of promiselist are resolved, Q.all(promiselist) is resolved. When one of promiselist is rejected, Q.all(promiselist) is rejected.

Other case is join multiple accesses:

Q.all([
    httpGet("fragment.glsl"),
    httpGet("vertex.glsl"),
]).spread(function (fragmentCode, vertexCode) {
    return makeShaderProgram(fragmentCode, vertexCode);
});

Q.allSettled(promiselist) is similar Q.all. Q.all(ps) is a promise of values of ps, but Q.allSettled(ps) is a promise of settled(success or failure) promise list. The then callback arg is an array of result object as:

  • {state: "fulfilled", value: resolvedValue}
  • or
  • {state: "rejected", reason: rejectedError}

Joining with allSettled is better for execution based programs that focus on spawning procedures (not use the result values).

(allSettled is renamed form allResolved after q-0.9.4).

done for abort

promise.done() is for abort the program entirely.

If the promise is rejected (and not catched error before), done() forcely spawn uncaughtable error (e.g. setTimeout(function () {throw ex;}, 0)).

On node.js REPL, run Q.reject("uncaught").done(), then exit with an error.

If error reached to the done(), you could think it just a programming bug (not exception state).

fin for common processing success or fail handlers

fin is for invoking common process for then handelrs. e.g.

// promise-fin-flow.js
promise.fin(function () {
    console.log("resolved");
}).then(function (value) {
    console.log("success " + value);
}, function (error) {
    console.log("failure " + error);
});

If promise = Q.resolve("OK"), prints "resolved\nsuccess OK". If promise = Q.reject("FAIL"), prints "resolved\nfailure FAIL".

fin callback has no arguments.

Timing control promise

promise has two time control methods:

  • promise.delay(ms)
  • promise.timeout(ms)

promise.delay(ms) is a promise that spawns then callback after ms milliseconds. e.g.

// promise-delay.js
Q.resolve("OK").delay(5000).then(console.log)

It prints "OK" when 5-sec after.

promise.timeout(ms) is a promise that spawns reject callback after ms seconds when not yet resolved.

For example,

// promise-timeout.js
Q.resolve("OK").timeout(5000).then(console.log)

It prints "OK" just now. But:

// promise-timeout.js
Q.resolve("OK").delay(10000).timeout(5000).then(null, console.log)

It prints [Error: Timed out after 5000ms] when 5-sec after.

node.js utilities

Q has simple utility for node.js modules.

  • Q.nfapply(func, args)
  • Q.nfcall(func, arg1, arg2, ...)
  • Q.nfbind(func, arg1, arg2,...)
  • Q.npost(obj, name, args)
  • Q.nsend(obj, name, arg1, arg2, ...)

It is just for node.js standard IO module callback style, e.g.:

fs.readFile(filename, encoding, function (error, result) {
   if (!error) console.log(result);
});
  • the callback arg of actions is at the last argument
  • the first argument of callback functions is for error
  • the second argument is a result of action

(You can not use them for http module because its style is different)

The transformed examples are:

Q.nfapply(fs.readFile, [filename, encoding]).then(console.log);
Q.nfcall(fs.readFile, filename, encoding).then(console.log);
Q.nfbind(fs.readFile)(filename, encoding).then(console.log);
Q.npost(fs, "readFile", [filename, encoding]).then(console.log);
Q.nsend(fs, "readFile", filename, encoding).then(console.log);

New method names

ECMAScript5 spritted Identifier and IdentifierName. The IdentifierName allows to use keyword names.

Property names of ECMAScript5 uses IdentifierName (not Identifier). e.g.

var obj = {
    new: function () {return Object.create(null)},
};
obj.new();

Q promise supports new property names that includes some of ES keywords names.

  • Q.begin(obj) is same as Q.resolve(obj)
  • promise.delete(name) is same as promise.del(name)
  • promise.try(arg1, arg2, ...) is same as promise.fcall(arg1, arg2, ...)
  • promise.catch(callback) is same as promise.fail(callback)
  • promise.finally(callback) is same as promise.fin(callback)

Interoperability with other promise implementations

There are many promise implementations in JavaScript.

All of them support CommonJS Promises/A interface.

"CommonJS Promise/A" sets standard interface for promise methods:

  • promise.then(fulfilledHandler, errorHandler, progressHandler)
  • promise.get(propertyName)
  • promise.call(functionName, arg1, arg2, ...)

Q also supports them (progressHandler is just ignored).

Q.when(value) accepts "CommosJS Promise/A" promise (which has the then method). Q promise can chain from other implementation of promises.

from jQuery-Deferred:

// interop-jquery-deferred.js
var Q = require("q");
var $ = require("jquery-deferred");

var otherPromise = $.Deferred();
Q.when(otherPromise).then(console.log);
otherPromise.resolve("OK from other");

from node-promise:

// interop-node-promise.js
var Q = require("q");
var promise = require("node-promise");

var otherPromise = new promise.Promise();
Q.when(otherPromise).then(console.log);
otherPromise.resolve("OK from other");

from when:

var Q = require("q");
var when = require("when");

var otherDeferred = when.defer();
var otherPromise = otherDeferred.promise;
Q.when(otherPromise).then(console.log);
otherDeferred.resolver.resolve("OK from other");
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