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README.md

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For Async v1.5.x documentation, go HERE

Async is a utility module which provides straight-forward, powerful functions for working with asynchronous JavaScript. Although originally designed for use with Node.js and installable via npm install --save async, it can also be used directly in the browser.

Async is also installable via:

  • bower: bower install async
  • component: component install caolan/async
  • jam: jam install async

Async provides around 70 functions that include the usual 'functional' suspects (map, reduce, filter, each…) as well as some common patterns for asynchronous control flow (parallel, series, waterfall…). All these functions assume you follow the Node.js convention of providing a single callback as the last argument of your asynchronous function -- a callback which expects an Error as its first argument -- and calling the callback once.

Quick Examples

async.map(['file1','file2','file3'], fs.stat, function(err, results){
    // results is now an array of stats for each file
});

async.filter(['file1','file2','file3'], function(filePath, callback) {
  fs.access(filePath, function(err) {
    callback(null, !err)
  });
}, function(err, results){
    // results now equals an array of the existing files
});

async.parallel([
    function(callback){ ... },
    function(callback){ ... }
], function(err, results) {
    // optional callback
};

async.series([
    function(callback){ ... },
    function(callback){ ... }
]);

There are many more functions available so take a look at the docs below for a full list. This module aims to be comprehensive, so if you feel anything is missing please create a GitHub issue for it.

Common Pitfalls (StackOverflow)

Synchronous iteration functions

If you get an error like RangeError: Maximum call stack size exceeded. or other stack overflow issues when using async, you are likely using a synchronous iteratee. By synchronous we mean a function that calls its callback on the same tick in the javascript event loop, without doing any I/O or using any timers. Calling many callbacks iteratively will quickly overflow the stack. If you run into this issue, just defer your callback with async.setImmediate to start a new call stack on the next tick of the event loop.

This can also arise by accident if you callback early in certain cases:

async.eachSeries(hugeArray, function iteratee(item, callback) {
    if (inCache(item)) {
        callback(null, cache[item]); // if many items are cached, you'll overflow
    } else {
        doSomeIO(item, callback);
    }
}, function done() {
    //...
});

Just change it to:

async.eachSeries(hugeArray, function iteratee(item, callback) {
    if (inCache(item)) {
        async.setImmediate(function () {
            callback(null, cache[item]);
        });
    } else {
        doSomeIO(item, callback);
        //...
    }
});

Async does not guard against synchronous iteratees for performance reasons. If you are still running into stack overflows, you can defer as suggested above, or wrap functions with async.ensureAsync Functions that are asynchronous by their nature do not have this problem and don't need the extra callback deferral.

If JavaScript's event loop is still a bit nebulous, check out this article or this talk for more detailed information about how it works.

Multiple callbacks

Make sure to always return when calling a callback early, otherwise you will cause multiple callbacks and unpredictable behavior in many cases.

async.waterfall([
    function (callback) {
        getSomething(options, function (err, result) {
            if (err) {
                callback(new Error("failed getting something:" + err.message));
                // we should return here
            }
            // since we did not return, this callback still will be called and
            // `processData` will be called twice
            callback(null, result);
        });
    },
    processData
], done)

It is always good practice to return callback(err, result) whenever a callback call is not the last statement of a function.

Binding a context to an iteratee

This section is really about bind, not about async. If you are wondering how to make async execute your iteratees in a given context, or are confused as to why a method of another library isn't working as an iteratee, study this example:

// Here is a simple object with an (unnecessarily roundabout) squaring method
var AsyncSquaringLibrary = {
    squareExponent: 2,
    square: function(number, callback){
        var result = Math.pow(number, this.squareExponent);
        setTimeout(function(){
            callback(null, result);
        }, 200);
    }
};

async.map([1, 2, 3], AsyncSquaringLibrary.square, function(err, result){
    // result is [NaN, NaN, NaN]
    // This fails because the `this.squareExponent` expression in the square
    // function is not evaluated in the context of AsyncSquaringLibrary, and is
    // therefore undefined.
});

async.map([1, 2, 3], AsyncSquaringLibrary.square.bind(AsyncSquaringLibrary), function(err, result){
    // result is [1, 4, 9]
    // With the help of bind we can attach a context to the iteratee before
    // passing it to async. Now the square function will be executed in its
    // 'home' AsyncSquaringLibrary context and the value of `this.squareExponent`
    // will be as expected.
});

Download

The source is available for download from GitHub. Alternatively, you can install using npm:

$ npm install --save async

As well as using Bower:

$ bower install async

You can then require() async as normal:

var async = require("async");

Or require individual methods:

var waterfall = require("async/waterfall");
var map = require("async/map");

Development: async.js - 29.6kb Uncompressed

In the Browser

Async should work in any ES5 environment (IE9 and above).

Usage:

<script type="text/javascript" src="async.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">

    async.map(data, asyncProcess, function(err, results){
        alert(results);
    });

</script>

ES Modules

We also provide async as a collection of ES2015 modules, in an alternative async-es package on npm.

$ npm install --save async-es
import waterfall from 'async-es/waterfall';
import async from 'async-es';
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