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acall

0.1.0 • Public • Published

acall

Utility function to avoid UnhandledPromiseRejection

acall wraps an asynchronous function or Promise to redirect rejections to a specified error handling function.

I ended up using acall in a lot of places for my work, so I decided to move it into a package.

Motivation

async/await is probably The Greatest Big Thing™ ever happened with JavaScript; there are so many tutorials on this out there. At last, programmers can express asynchronous codes just like how we already used to with procedural, sequential code:

async function doSomethingAsync() {
  await doSomething();
 
  const result = shouldDoThat ? await doThat() : null;
  if (result) {
    await doSomethingElse();
  }
}

There is a catch, though: await can only exists inside async, and we have to call the async function somewhere in our sequential code:

// This code won't work and the linter will scream at you
async function asyncFn() {
  // do something
}
 
function nonAsyncFn() {
  await asyncFunction()
}

Some people just get away by doing this:

async function asyncFn() {
  // do something
}
 
function nonAsyncFn() {
  asyncFn();
}

This is dangerous and should be avoided. The problem is that the execution of asyncFn is done in a different sequence (think of threads, except not really), and if that asyncFn throws an error, nothing can handle that error.

Here is another example. Imagine if you do this in your browser code:

async function sendCheckout() {
  await fetchAPI({ product: checkoutThings, userInfo: await getUserInfo() });
  showNotification('success');
}
 
// This function gets attached to a button/React onClick/Vue @click
function onButtonCheckoutClick() {
  sendCheckout();
}

In the example above, if fetchAPI throws an error then nothing can handle that error. Visually nothing will happen, but a PromiseRejectionEvent will show up in the console.

Here is another example with Express:

async function handleCheckout(checkoutData) {
  await storeCheckoutData(checkoutData);
}
 
app.use((req, res, next) => {
  handleCheckout(req.body);
  res.sendStatus(200);
});

If storeCheckoutData(checkoutData) throws an error, the returned response is still HTTP 200 as usual, but an ugly UnhandledPromiseRejectionWarning will pop up on log:

(node:10047) UnhandledPromiseRejectionWarning: DatabaseError: connection failed
    <stack trace>
(node:10047) UnhandledPromiseRejectionWarning: Unhandled promise rejection. This error originated either by throwing inside of an async function without a catch block, or by rejecting a promise which was not handled with .catch(). (rejection id: 1)
(node:10047) [DEP0018] DeprecationWarning: Unhandled promise rejections are deprecated. In the future, promise rejections that are not handled will terminate the Node.js process with a non-zero exit code.

The examples might seem contrived, but with large codebases or frameworks with complex JavaScript-fu, tracking which code does not handle the promise rejection is really a painful process.

This is where acall comes in. You can wrap your async function calls with acall to avoid unhandled promise rejection:

async function sendCheckout() {
  await fetchAPI({ product: checkoutThings, userInfo: await getUserInfo() });
  showNotification('success');
}
 
// This function gets attached to a button/React onClick/Vue @click
function onButtonCheckoutClick() {
  acall(sendCheckout());
}

However, using acall just like this is not really that useful. acall works best if you provide an error handler:

function showErrorNotification(error) {
  // Show a modal about the error, maybe log error to external service
}
 
async function sendCheckout() {
  await fetchAPI({ product: checkoutThings, userInfo: await getUserInfo() });
  showNotification('success');
}
 
// This function gets attached to a button/React onClick/Vue @click
function onButtonCheckoutClick() {
  acall(sendCheckout(), showErrorNotification);
}

This way, if fetchAPI throws an error -- be it a HTTP request error or you just forget to send the authentication token -- showErrorNotification will handle that error and show some UI to user, perhaps a modal with message.

There are more recipes on things you can do with acall below. You might want to check the Alternatives section as well, because there are some cases when you might not need acall at all.

Installation

$ npm i acall

Usage

import acall from 'acall';
 
acall(async () => {
  await doSomethingAsync();
});

API

acall exports a single function acall.

acall(value, [errorHandler])

Given a value, perform some actions and returns a Promise. The behaviour of acall differs depending on the value:

  1. If value is a function, acall will call value without any arguments. acall will return acall(value()).
  2. If value is a thenable, acall will return value.then(undefined, errorHandler).
  3. Otherwise, acall returns Promise.resolve(value).

errorHandler is optional, but it is recommended to provide one because every applications handle errors differently.

  • In browser environment: call alert(error.message) and console.error(error).
  • In Node.js environment: call console.error(error) and exits the application.

This behaviour is intentional to encourage users for providing their own error handling function.

Put it simply, acall is just this function (without safety checks and comments):

function acall(value, errorHandler = defaultErrorHandler) {
  if (typeof value === 'function') {
    return acall(value(), errorHandler);
  }
 
  if (value.then) {
    return value.then(undefined, errorHandler);
  }
 
  return Promise.resolve(value);
}

Recipes

With the above rules, there are a number of useful things we can do with acall.

Performing async tasks at browser event handling

TBD

Using async functions as Express middlewares

TBD

Simple main() entry point for Node.js scripts

TBD

Handling a subset of errors

Sometimes you want to handle a subset of errors differently. For example, if the error is a HTTPError you want to print a connection failure message. In that case, use a try-catch block inside acall to handle the necessary errors:

function myErrorHandler(error) {
  showNotification('error', 'Something bad happened');
}
 
const myAcall = (value, handler = myErrorHandler) => acall(value, handler);
 
myAcall(async () => {
  try {
    await doSomethingAsync();
  } catch (error) {
    if (error instanceof HTTPError) {
      showNotification('error', 'Failed to connect with API server');
      return;
    }
 
    throw error;
  }
});

Alternatives

Sometimes you do not need acall. Basically you do not need to use acall if a mechanism to catch unhandled promise rejection already exists. This means that you do not need to wrap your asynchronous functions; you can simply throw errors normally.

You can try returning a rejected promise in your code and see if anything handled the error:

(() => Promise.reject(new Error('uncaught promise rejection')))();

Global unhandled Promise rejection

Some environments provide a mechanism to handle unhandled promise rejection If you are allowed to use them or someone already handled this for you, you probably do not need acall.

With browsers you can listen for unhandledrejection event:

window.addEventListener('unhandledrejection', (event) => {
  console.warn(`UNHANDLED PROMISE REJECTION: ${event.reason}`);
});

With Node.js you can listen for uncaughtException event:

process.on('uncaughtException', (err, origin) => {
  fs.writeSync(
    process.stderr.fd,
    `Caught exception: ${err}\n` + `Exception origin: ${origin}`
  );
});
 
setTimeout(() => {
  console.log('This will still run.');
}, 500);
 
// Intentionally cause an exception, but don't catch it.
nonexistentFunc();
console.log('This will not run.');

Please note that uncaughtException also catches synchronous uncaught exception, not only unhandled Promise rejection.

Native async frameworks (e.g. Koa)

If you use frameworks that already support Promise/async, you probably do not need acall. acall is intended as an interface to call asynchronous functions from non-asynchronous code; if your framework already do this, there are no need to use acall.

Koa, for example, has a built-in error-handling mechanism:

async function doSomething() {
  throw new Error('eep');
}
 
app.use(async (ctx) => {
  ctx.body = await doSomething();
});
 
app.on('error', (err, ctx) => {
  log.error('server error', err, ctx);
});

License

Licensed under MIT License.

Install

npm i acall

DownloadsWeekly Downloads

20

Version

0.1.0

License

MIT

Unpacked Size

16.1 kB

Total Files

10

Last publish

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