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Concepts

Events

An event is a value that occurs at a particular instant in time. For example, a mouse click is an event.

Conceptually, you can think of an event as a (time, value) pair, where the event's time is just as important as its value. You can't know the value of a mouse click until the mouse button actually is clicked.

Event Streams

An event stream is a time-ordered sequence of events. For example, all the mouse clicks in a document can be represented as an event stream.

Conceptually, you can think of an event stream as an array of (time, value) pairs. However, whereas an array is ordered by index, an event stream is ordered by its events' occurrence times. You can't observe the second mouse click until after you've observed the first one.

Event streams may be infinite, finite, or may fail.

Infinite Event Streams

An event stream may be infinite. For example, :ref:`periodic` creates an infinite stream of events that occur at a regular period. Limiting operations, such as :ref:`take` or :ref:`until`, are helpful in turning an infinite event stream into a finite one.

Finite Event Streams

An event stream may be finite. A finite event stream will produce an end signal to indicate that it will never produce another event. When an event stream ends, it will free underlying resources.

Failed Event Streams

An event stream may fail. For example, when an event stream represents a resource, such as a WebSocket, and the resource fails or closes unexpectedly, the event stream cannot produce more events. When an event stream fails, it will produce an error signal to indicate that it cannot produce more events. The error signal includes a reason (an Error object) describing the failure.

A failed event stream will attempt to free any underlying resources.

The :ref:`recoverWith` operation allows you to handle an event stream failure.

Stream Failure vs. Application Errors

Stream failures are different from application errors. A stream failure indicates that an event stream cannot produce more events. An application error may or may not indicate an event stream failure.

For example, an event stream of messages from a WebSocket fails if the WebSocket is disconnected unexpectedly because of a dropped network connection.

In contrast, an application error may occur in the application logic when it receives a WebSocket message that it can't process because the application state has changed. The application must deal with this particular state conflict in an application-specific way, but the WebSocket event stream has not failed.

Application error handling is outside the scope of these docs, as it is application-specific. However, there are some general strategies for dealing with application errors with event streams:

  • Use try/catch or Promise catch() to handle the application error and transform it into:
    • a useful event value
    • a sentinel event value that can be :ref:`filtered <filter>`
    • an Either value, or other equivalent structure for representing a value or an error as an event value
  • Use :ref:`throwError` to transform the application error into a stream failure

Streams and Sinks

Applying an operation to a stream derives a new stream with new events. There is no alteration to the original stream (the origin). Multiple operations compose a chain of streams. When a stream is observed, a :ref:`run <Stream>` message is sent “backwards” through the chain to the origin.

As the message travels, it composes a :ref:`Sink` chain analogous to the stream chain. Finally, the origin begins to produce its events when the message reaches it. With the exception of a few combinators (such as :ref:`delay`), events propagate synchronously “forward” through the sink chain.

Always async

Warning

a :ref:`Stream` must not begin producing events synchronously. It must schedule the start of its production by using the :ref:`Scheduler` passed to its :ref:`run <Stream>` method. Once it has started, it may then produce events synchronously.

Most's architecture requires that all :ref:`Streams <Stream>` must never propagate an event (i.e. call any method on the sink they were given) before their :ref:`run <Stream>` method returns.

The reason for this guarantee is that some kinds of events must always be async, such example DOM events. If some other kinds of events were allowed to be synchronous, it would create a serious problem: if some library returned a :ref:`Streams <Stream>` to your code, you could not know whether it will produce events synchronously or asynchronously, and whether its side effects will occur before or after :ref:`run <Stream>` returns.

That "maybe sync, maybe async" behavior leads to race conditions and hard-to-debug problems that may only appear under very specific conditions which are hard to reproduce.

It would mean that developers always have to think about the possibility of both sync and async events when writing any code that uses a :ref:`Stream`, and would make mostjs internals much more difficult to reason about.

For those reasons, mostjs requires :ref:`run <Stream>` never to propagate an event synchronously.

Event propagation

Each event propagation is synchronous by default. One sink calls the :ref:`event <Sink>` method of the next, forming a synchronous call stack.

Some combinators, like :ref:`delay`, introduce asynchrony into the sink chain.

Error propagation

Attention!

Uncaught exceptions in a sink chain are considered to be :ref:`failures <Failed Event Streams>`, and not application errors. See :ref:`Stream Failure vs. Application Errors <Application Errors>` for more information.

If an exception is thrown during event propagation, it will stop the propagation and travel "backwards" through the sink chain, by unwinding the call stack. If that exception is not caught, it will reach the producer, and finally, the scheduler. The scheduler will catch it and send the error "forward" again synchronously, using the error channel of the sink chain.