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An implementation of the W3C High Resolution Time Level 2 specification.
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README.md

w3c-hr-time

This module implements the W3C High Resolution Time Level 2 specification. It provides exactly three exports:

  • Performance class
  • getGlobalMonotonicClockMS(): number
  • clockIsAccurate: boolean

In all APIs, a "high-resolution timestamp" means a number in milliseconds that may have a fractional part, if the system clock is accurate enough (see "Clock accuracy" section below). It is identical to the DOMHighResTimeStamp type in the High Resolution Time spec.

Portability is paramount to this module. It uses only APIs exposed from Node.js core like Date.now() and process.hrtime() and does not use or require any native modules. It also employs the browser-process-hrtime module for graceful degrades for platforms that do not have process.hrtime() (such as browsers).

Performance class

const { Performance } = require("w3c-hr-time");
const performance = new Performance();

console.log(performance.timeOrigin);
// Prints a number close to Date.now() but that may have fractional parts, like
// 1514888563819.351.

console.log(new Date(performance.timeOrigin));
// Prints a date close to new Date(), like 2018-01-02T10:22:43.819Z.

setTimeout(() => {
  console.log(performance.now());
  // Prints a number close to 5000, like 5008.023059.
}, 5000);

Perhaps the most interesting export is the Performance class. By constructing the class, you can get an instance quite similar to the window.performance object in browsers. Specifically, the following APIs are implemented:

  • performance.now(): number returns the high-resolution duration since the construction of the Performance object.
  • performance.timeOrigin: number is a high-resolution timestamp of the Performance object's construction, expressed in Unix time.
  • performance.toJSON(): object returns an object with timeOrigin property set to the corresponding value of this object. This allows serializing the Performance object with JSON.stringify(). In browsers, the returned object may contain additional properties such as navigation and timing. However, those properties are specific to browser navigation and are unsuitable for a Node.js implementation. Furthermore, they are specified not in the High Resolution Time spec but in Navigation Timing, and are thereby outside the scope of this module.

Limitations

This module does not aim for full Web IDL conformance, so things like performance.toJSON.call({}) will not throw TypeErrors like it does in browsers. If you need full Web IDL conformance, you may be interested in the webidl2js module.

The Performance class provided also does not have mark(), measure(), getEntries(), and such functions. They are specified in other specs than High Resolution Timing, such as User Timing (marks and measures) and Performance Timeline (entries management). Those specs extend the definition of the Performance class defined in High Resolution Timing, and to implement those specs you can extend the Performance class exported by this module.

Due to the limitations of the APIs exposed through Node.js, the construction of a Performance object may take up to 1 millisecond to gather information for high-resolution timeOrigin.

Global monotonic clock

The High Resolution Time spec defines a global monotonic clock that is "shared by time origin's [sic], is monotonically increasing and not subject to system clock adjustments or system clock skew, and whose reference point is the Unix time."

This module exports a function getGlobalMonotonicClockMS() that is the basis of all timing functions used my this module when a monotonic time is required. It returns a high-resolution timestamp whose zero value is at some arbitrary point in the past. (For the current high-resolution timestamp based on the Unix epoch, use new Performance().timeOrigin instead.)

const { getGlobalMonotonicClockMS } = require("w3c-hr-time");

const start = getGlobalMonotonicClockMS();
console.log(start);
// Prints a millisecond timestamp based on an arbitrary point in the past, like
// 280249733.012151.

setTimeout(() => {
  console.log(getGlobalMonotonicClockMS() - a);
  // Prints a number close to 5000, like 5006.156536.
}, 5000);

Unlike other functions that return only integer timestamps if the system clock does not provide enough resolution, this function may still return timestamps with fractional parts on those systems with less accurate clocks. See "Clock accuracy" section below for more information.

Clock accuracy

The High Resolution Time spec states that

A DOMHighResTimeStamp SHOULD represent a time in milliseconds accurate to 5 microseconds - see 8. Privacy and Security.

If the User Agent is unable to provide a time value accurate to 5 microseconds due to hardware or software constraints, the User Agent can represent a DOMHighResTimeStamp as a time in milliseconds accurate to a millisecond.

This module implements this suggestion faithfully. It executes a test at require()-time to determine if the system clock (both Date.now() and process.hrtime()) is accurate enough to 5 microseconds. The result of this test can be accessed through the exported clockIsAccurate boolean value.

const { Performance, clockIsAccurate } = require("w3c-hr-time");

const performance = new Performance();

if (!clockIsAccurate) {
  console.assert(Number.isInteger(performance.timeOrigin));
  console.assert(Number.isInteger(performance.now()));
}

If clockIsAccurate is false, performance.timeOrigin and performance.now() are always rounded to millisecond accuracy. getGlobalMonotonicClockMS() however is exempt from this requirement due to its best-effort nature, and the fact that it is not an API exposed by the High Resolution Time spec.

Clock drift

Clock drift can be observed through system or user clock adjustments -- that is, the speed at which Date.now() changes may be faster or slower than real time if there is a pending adjustment to the system clock, for example through NTP synchronizing.

In the spec, the global monotonic clock is defined to be immune to such drifts. Correspondingly, the APIs exposed through this module that are defined using the global monotonic clock such as performance.now() and getGlobalMonotonicClockMS() are also guaranteed to reflect real time.

For example, if performance.now() returns 1000, it is guaranteed that the time of this call is exactly one second since the construction of the Performance object. But the difference in Date.now()'s value from the construction of the Performance object to when performance.now() returns 1000 may not be exactly 1000. You may also see performance.now() - Date.now() diverge over time as a result of clock drifts.

On the other hand, performance.timeOrigin returns the Unix time at which the Performance object is constructed and relies on the current time exposed through Date.now(). That means that it is susceptible to clock drifts that has occurred before the Performance object was constructed.

Supporting w3c-hr-time

The jsdom project (including w3c-hr-time) is a community-driven project maintained by a team of volunteers. You could support us by:

  • Getting professional support for w3c-hr-time as part of a Tidelift subscription. Tidelift helps making open source sustainable for us while giving teams assurances for maintenance, licensing, and security.
  • Contributing directly to the project.

License

This software is licensed under the MIT license. See LICENSE.md file for more detail.

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