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Go-like defer functions in JavaScript.


This package is distributed via npm:

npm install @antoniovdlc/defer


Go provides the very interesting concept of defering functions until the end of a function's execution.

package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
  defer fmt.Println("world")


// hello 
// world

Such built-in construct might be very useful in JavaScript for example, where we sometimes need to do some clean-up, and thus could potentially co-locate it with the instanciation.


You can use this library either as an ES module or a CommonJS package:

import { defer, deferrable } from "@antoniovdlc/defer";

- or -

const { defer, deferrable } = require("@antoniovdlc/defer");

defer(fn: Function, caller: Function) : void

defer takes a function as argument, which will be called at the end of the execution of the caller function, and a caller function.

For sync functions, defer simply puts the fn on the call stack using setTimeout(fn, 0). For async functions, it is a bit more tricky, and we keep track of deferred functions within the caller itself, via the property __$_deferArr.

Using defer in async functions requires them to be wrapper with deferrable to work properly.

deferrable(fn: Function) : Function

defer works out of the box within sync functions. Unfortunately, for async functions, we need to use a wrapper: deferrable. This wrapper returns a function that will compute similarly to its argument, but helps keep track of all the deferred functions within it.

deferred functions are run sequentially, and as such, if one function throws an error, the following deferred functions won't run.

deferred functions in a deferrable will not run if the wrapped function throws an error.


Let's start with a simple translation of the Go code we shared previously:

function main() {
  defer(() => console.log("world"), main);

main(); // hello world

There can be as many defer calls in a function as you'd like:

function f() {
  defer(() => console.log("1"), f);
  defer(() => console.log("3"), f);

f(); // 2 4 1 3

For async functions, we need to use deferrable:

const f = deferrable(async function fn() {
  defer(async() => await new Promise(     
    resolve => resolve(console.log("1"))
  ), fn);
  await new Promise(resolve => setTimeout(() => resolve(console.log("2"))));
  defer(() => console.log("3"), fn);

await f(); // 2 4 1 3

deferred functions can also be async functions!

Previous Art

Besides getting inspiration from Go's error handling, this package also draws inspiration from the following packages:


Why not use any of the existing packages?

Good you ask!

There is probably a bit of selfishness in the belief that maybe I can implement this in a better way, but the main reason is to see if I can implement such a library and maybe add some goodies on top.

This code, even though thoroughly tested with 100% code coverage, has not ran in production yet. As such, either you feel adventurous, or I would invite you to look for more mature libraries providing essentially the same functionalities (I've linked to a few I found myself right above, but there are many more).

Anyway, thanks for stopping by! :)

Why do I need to pass in a caller function to defer?

JavaScript engines used to support a Function.caller property that would have made it trivial to access the function in which defer was being called. Unfortunately, that property (amongst a couple of others) was dropped, hence the only feasible way (at least that I can think of) of getting access to the caller was by adding an extra parameter to defer directly.

This means that defer only work in non-anonymous functions.

Why aren't the deferred functions called in last-in-first-out order like in Go?

Good question!

I'd say it comes down to personal preference, as I think it is easier to reason about the order of the deferred functions when they execute in the same order they appear in the code.





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