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Chainable asynchronous flow control for node.js with sequential and parallel primitives and pipeline-style error handling

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Seq

Seq is an asynchronous flow control library with a chainable interface for sequential and parallel actions. Even the error handling is chainable.

Each action in the chain operates on a stack of values. There is also a variables hash for storing values by name.

[TOC]

Examples

stat_all.js

var fs = require('fs');
var Hash = require('hashish');
var Seq = require('seq');

Seq()
    .seq(function () {
        fs.readdir(__dirname, this);
    })
    .flatten()
    .parEach(function (file) {
        fs.stat(__dirname + '/' + file, this.into(file));
    })
    .seq(function () {
        var sizes = Hash.map(this.vars, function (s) { return s.size })
        console.dir(sizes);
    })
;

Output:

{ 'stat_all.js': 404, 'parseq.js': 464 }

parseq.js

var fs = require('fs');
var exec = require('child_process').exec;

var Seq = require('seq');
Seq()
    .seq(function () {
        exec('whoami', this)
    })
    .par(function (who) {
        exec('groups ' + who, this);
    })
    .par(function (who) {
        fs.readFile(__filename, 'ascii', this);
    })
    .seq(function (groups, src) {
        console.log('Groups: ' + groups.trim());
        console.log('This file has ' + src.length + ' bytes');
    })
;

Output:

Groups: substack : substack dialout cdrom floppy audio src video plugdev games netdev fuse www
This file has 464 bytes

API

Each method executes callbacks with a context (its this) described in the next section. Every method returns this.

Whenever this() is called with a non-falsy first argument, the error value propagates down to the first catch it sees, skipping over all actions in between. There is an implicit catch at the end of all chains that prints the error stack if available and otherwise just prints the error.

Seq(xs=[])

The constructor function creates a new Seq chain with the methods described below. The optional array argument becomes the new context stack.

Array argument is new in 0.3. Seq() now behaves like Seq.ap().

.seq(cb)

.seq(key, cb, *args)

This eponymous function executes actions sequentially. Once all running parallel actions are finished executing, the supplied callback is apply()'d with the context stack.

To execute the next action in the chain, call this(). The first argument must be the error value. The rest of the values will become the stack for the next action in the chain and are also available at this.args.

If key is specified, the second argument sent to this goes to this.vars[key] in addition to the stack and this.args. this.vars persists across all requests unless it is overwritten.

All arguments after cb will be bound to cb, which is useful because .bind() makes you set this. If you pass in Seq in the arguments list, it'll get transformed into this so that you can do:

Seq()
    .seq(fs.readdir, __dirname, Seq)
    .seq(function (files) { console.dir(files) })
;

which prints an array of files in __dirname.

.par(cb)

.par(key, cb, *args)

Use par to execute actions in parallel. Chain multiple parallel actions together and collect all the responses on the stack with a sequential operation like seq.

Each par sets one element in the stack with the second argument to this() in the order in which it appears, so multiple pars can be chained together.

Like with seq, the first argument to this() should be the error value and the second will get pushed to the stack. Further arguments are available in this.args.

If key is specified, the result from the second argument send to this() goes to this.vars[key]. this.vars persists across all requests unless it is overwritten.

All arguments after cb will be bound to cb, which is useful because .bind() makes you set this. Like .seq(), you can pass along Seq in these bound arguments and it will get tranformed into this.

.catch(cb)

Catch errors. Whenever a function calls this with a non-falsy first argument, the message propagates down the chain to the first catch it sees. The callback cb fires with the error object as its first argument and the key that the action that caused the error was populating, which may be undefined.

catch is a sequential action and further actions may appear after a catch in a chain. If the execution reaches a catch in a chain and no error has occured, the catch is skipped over.

For convenience, there is a default error handler at the end of all chains. This default error handler looks like this:

.catch(function (err) {
    console.error(err.stack ? err.stack : err)
})

.forEach(cb)

Execute each action in the stack under the context of the chain object. forEach does not wait for any of the actions to finish and does not itself alter the stack, but the callback may alter the stack itself by modifying this.stack.

The callback is executed cb(x,i) where x is the element and i is the index.

forEach is a sequential operation like seq and won't run until all pending parallel requests yield results.

.seqEach(cb)

Like forEach, call cb for each element on the stack, but unlike forEach, seqEach waits for the callback to yield with this before moving on to the next element in the stack.

The callback is executed cb(x,i) where x is the element and i is the index.

If this() is supplied non-falsy error, the error propagates downward but any other arguments are ignored. seqEach does not modify the stack itself.

.parEach(cb)

.parEach(limit, cb)

Like forEach, calls cb for each element in the stack and doesn't wait for the callback to yield a result with this() before moving on to the next iteration. Unlike forEach, parEach waits for all actions to call this() before moving along to the next action in the chain.

The callback is executed cb(x,i) where x is the element and i is the index.

parEach does not modify the stack itself and errors supplied to this() propagate.

Optionally, if limit is supplied to parEach, at most limit callbacks will be active at a time.

.seqMap(cb)

Like seqEach, but collect the values supplied to this and set the stack to these values.

.parMap(cb)

.parMap(limit, cb)

Like parEach, but collect the values supplied to this and set the stack to these values.

.seqFilter(cb)

Executes the callback cb(x, idx) against each element on the stack, waiting for the callback to yield with this before moving on to the next element. If the callback returns an error or a falsey value, the element will not be included in the resulting stack.

Any errors from the callback are consumed and do not propagate.

Calls to this.into(i) will place the value, if accepted by the callback, at the index in the results as if it were ordered at i-th index on the stack before filtering (with ties broken by the values). This implies this.into will never override another stack value even if their indices collide. Finally, the value will only actually appear at i if the callback accepts or moves enough values before i.

.parFilter(cb)

.parFilter(limit, cb)

Executes the callback cb(x, idx) against each element on the stack, but does not wait for it to yield before moving on to the next element. If the callback returns an error or a falsey value, the element will not be included in the resulting stack.

Any errors from the callback are consumed and do not propagate.

Calls to this.into(i) will place the value, if accepted by the callback, at the index in the results as if it were ordered at i-th index on the stack before filtering (with ties broken by the values). This implies this.into will never override another stack value even if their indices collide. Finally, the value will only actually appear at i if the callback accepts or moves enough values before i.

Optionally, if limit is supplied to parEach, at most limit callbacks will be active at a time.

.do(cb)

Create a new nested context. cb's first argument is the previous context, and this is the nested Seq object.

.flatten(fully=true)

Recursively flatten all the arrays in the stack. Set fully=false to flatten only one level.

.unflatten()

Turn the contents of the stack into a single array item. You can think of it as the inverse of flatten(false).

.extend([x,y...])

Like push, but takes an array. This is like python's [].extend().

.set(xs)

Set the stack to a new array. This assigns the reference, it does not copy.

.empty()

Set the stack to [].

.push(x,y...), .pop(), .shift(), .unshift(x), .splice(...), reverse()

.map(...), .filter(...), .reduce(...)

Executes an array operation on the stack.

The methods map, filter, and reduce are also proxies to their Array counterparts: they have identical signatures to the Array methods, operate synchronously on the context stack, and do not pass a Context object (unlike seqMap and parMap).

The result of the transformation is assigned to the context stack; in the case of reduce, if you do not return an array, the value will be wrapped in one.

Seq([1, 2, 3])
    .reduce(function(sum, x){ return sum + x; }, 0)
    .seq(function(sum){
        console.log('sum: %s', sum);
        // sum: 6
        console.log('stack is Array?', Array.isArray(this.stack));
        // stack is Array: true
        console.log('stack:', this.stack);
        // stack: [6]
    })
;

Explicit Parameters

For environments like coffee-script or nested logic where threading this is bothersome, you can use:

  • seq_
  • par_
  • forEach_
  • seqEach_
  • parEach_
  • seqMap_
  • parMap_

which work exactly like their un-underscored counterparts except for the first parameter to the supplied callback is set to the context, this.

Context Object

Each callback gets executed with its this set to a function in order to yield results, error values, and control. The function also has these useful fields:

this.stack

The execution stack.

this.stack_

The previous stack value, mostly used internally for hackish purposes.

this.vars

A hash of key/values populated with par(key, ...), seq(key, ...) and this.into(key).

this.into(key)

Instead of sending values to the stack, sets a key and returns this. Use this.into(key) interchangeably with this for yielding keyed results. into overrides the optional key set by par(key, ...) and seq(key, ...).

this.ok

Set the err to null. Equivalent to this.bind(this, null).

this.args

this.args is like this.stack, but it contains all the arguments to this() past the error value, not just the first. this.args is an array with the same indices as this.stack but also stores keyed values for the last sequential operation. Each element in this.array is set to [].slice.call(arguments, 1) from inside this().

this.error

This is used for error propagation. You probably shouldn't mess with it.

Installation

With npm, just do:

npm install seq

or clone this project on github:

git clone http://github.com/substack/node-seq.git

To run the tests with expresso, just do:

expresso

Dependencies

This module uses chainsaw When you npm install seq this dependency will automatically be installed.

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