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    proposal-array-from-async

    2.0.0 • Public • Published

    Array.fromAsync for JavaScript

    ECMAScript Stage-2 Proposal. J. S. Choi, 2021.

    Why an Array.fromAsync method

    Since its standardization in JavaScript, Array.from has become one of Array’s most frequently used built-in methods. However, no similar functionality exists for async iterators.

    Such functionality would be useful for dumping the entirety of an async iterator into a single data structure, especially in unit tests or in command-line interfaces. (Several real-world examples are included in a following section.)

    There is an it-all NPM library that performs only this task and which gets about 50,000 weekly downloads daily. This of course does not include any code that uses ad-hoc for awaitof loops with empty arrays:

    const arr = [];
    for await (const item of asyncItems) {
      arr.push(item);
    }

    Further demonstrating the demand for such functionality, several Stack Overflow questions have been asked by various developers, asking how to convert async iterators to arrays.

    There are several real-world examples listed later in this explainer.

    Description

    (A formal draft specification is available.)

    Async-iterable inputs

    Similarly to Array.from, Array.fromAsync would be a static method of the Array built-in class, with one required argument and two optional arguments: (items, mapfn, thisArg).

    But instead of converting an array-like object or iterable to an array, it converts an async iterable (or array-like object or iterable) to a promise that will resolve to an array.

    async function * asyncGen (n) {
      for (let i = 0; i < n; i++)
        yield i * 2;
    }
    // arr will be [0, 2, 4, 6].
    const arr = [];
    for await (const v of asyncGen(4)) {
      arr.push(v);
    }
    // This is equivalent.
    const arr = await Array.fromAsync(asyncGen(4));

    Sync-iterable inputs

    If the argument is a sync iterable (and not an async iterable), then the return value is still a promise that will resolve to an array. If the sync iterator yields promises, then each yielded promise is awaited before its value is added to the new array. (Values that are not promises are also awaited for one microtick to prevent Zalgo.) This matches the behavior of for await.

    function * genPromises (n) {
      for (let i = 0; i < n; i++)
        yield Promise.resolve(i * 2);
    }
    // arr will be [0, 2, 4, 6].
    const arr = [];
    for await (const v of genPromises(4)) {
      arr.push(v);
    }
    // This is equivalent.
    const arr = await Array.fromAsync(genPromises(4));

    Non-iterable array-like inputs

    Array.fromAsync’s valid inputs are a superset of Array.from’s valid inputs. This includes non-iterable array-likes: objects that have a length property as well as indexed elements. The return value is still a promise that will resolve to an array. If the array-like object’s elements are promises, then each accessed promise is awaited before its value is added to the new array. One TC39 representative’s opinion: “[Array-likes are] very much not obsolete, and it’s very nice that things aren’t forced to implement the iterator protocol to be transformable into an Array.”

    const arrLike = {
      length: 4,
      0: Promise.resolve(0),
      1: Promise.resolve(2),
      2: Promise.resolve(4),
      3: Promise.resolve(6),
    }
    // arr will be [0, 2, 4, 6].
    const arr = [];
    for await (const v of Array.from(arrLike)) {
      arr.push(v);
    }
    // This is equivalent.
    const arr = await Array.fromAsync(arrLike);
    See issue #7. Previously discussed at 2021-11 plenary without objections.

    Generic factory method

    Array.fromAsync is a generic factory method. It does not require that its this receiver be the Array constructor. fromAsync can be transferred to or inherited by any other constructor with a single numeric parameter. In that case, the final result will be the data structure created by that constructor (with 0 as its argument), and with each value yielded by the input being assigned to the data structure’s numeric properties. (Symbol.species is not involved at all.) If the this receiver is not a constructor, then fromAsync creates an array as usual. This matches the behavior of Array.from.

    async function * asyncGen (n) {
      for (let i = 0; i < n; i++)
        yield i * 2;
    }
    function Data (n) {}
    Data.from = Array.from;
    Data.fromAsync = Array.fromAsync;
    // d will be a new Data(0), with
    // 0 assigned to 0, 1 assigned to 2, etc.
    const d = new Data(0); let i = 0;
    for await (const v of asyncGen(4)) {
      d[i] = v;
    }
    // This is equivalent.
    const d = await Data.fromAsync(asyncGen(4));

    Optional parameters

    Array.fromAsync has two optional parameters. The first optional parameter is a mapping callback, which is called on each value yielded from the input – the result of which is awaited then added to the array. Unlike Array.from, mapfn may be an async function.) By default, this is essentially an identity function. The second optional parameter is a this value for the mapping callback. By default, this is undefined. These optional parameters match the behavior of Array.from. Their exclusion would be surprising to developers who are already used to Array.from.

    async function * asyncGen (n) {
      for (let i = 0; i < n; i++)
        yield i * 2;
    }
    // arr will be [0, 4, 16, 36].
    const arr = [];
    for await (const v of asyncGen(4)) {
      arr.push(v ** 2);
    }
    // This is equivalent.
    const arr = await Array.fromAsync(asyncGen(4),
      v => v ** 2);

    Errors

    Like other promise-based APIs, Array.fromAsync will always immediately return a promise. It will never synchronously throw an error and summon Zalgo. If its input throws an error while creating its async or sync iterator, then its promise will reject with that error. If its input’s iterator throws an error while yielding a value, then its promise will reject with that error. If its this receiver’s constructor throws an error, then its promise will reject to that error. If its mapping callback throws an error when given an input value, then its promise will reject with that error. If its input is null or undefined, or if its mapping callback is neither undefined nor callable, then its promise will reject with a TypeError.

    const err = new Error;
    const badIterable = { [Symbol.iterator] () { throw err; } };
    function * genError () { throw err; }
    function * genRejection () { yield Promise.reject(err); }
    function badCallback () { throw err; }
    function BadConstructor () { throw err; }
    // These create promises that will reject with err.
    Array.fromAsync(badIterable);
    Array.fromAsync(genError());
    Array.fromAsync(genRejection());
    Array.fromAsync(genErrorAsync());
    Array.fromAsync([1], badCallback);
    BadConstructor.call(Array.fromAsync, []);
    // These create promises that will reject with TypeErrors.
    Array.fromAsync(null);
    Array.fromAsync([], 1);

    Other proposals

    Relationship with iterator-helpers

    The iterator-helpers proposal has toArray, which works with both sync and async iterables.

    Array.from(gen())
    gen().toArray()
    Array.fromAsync(asyncGen())
    asyncGen().toArray()

    toArray overlaps with both Array.from and Array.fromAsync. This is okay. They can coexist. If we have to choose between having toArray and having fromAsync, then we should choose fromAsync. We already have Array.from. We should match the existing language precedent.

    See tc39/proposal-iterator-helpers#156. A co-champion of iterable-helpers seems to agree that we should have both or that we should prefer Array.fromAsync: “I remembered why it’s better for a buildable structure to consume an iterable than for an iterable to consume a buildable protocol. Sometimes building something one element at a time is the same as building it [more than one] element at a time, but sometimes it could be slow to build that way or produce a structure with equivalent semantics but different performance properties.”

    TypedArray.fromAsync, Set.fromAsync, etc.

    The following built-ins also resemble Array.from:

    TypedArray.from
    new Set
    Object.fromEntries
    new Map

    We are deferring any async versions of these methods to future proposals. See issue #8 and proposal-setmap-offrom.

    Async spread operator

    In the future, standardizing an async spread operator (like [ 0, await ...v ]) may be useful. This proposal leaves that idea to a separate proposal.

    Records and tuples

    The record/tuple proposal puts forward two new data types with APIs that respectively resemble those of Array and Object. The Tuple constructor, too, would probably need an fromAsync method. Whether the Record constructor gets a fromEntriesAsync method depends on whether Object gets fromEntriesAsync.

    Real-world examples

    Only minor formatting changes have been made to the status-quo examples.

    Status quo With Array.fromAsync
    const all = require('it-all');
    
    // Add the default assets to the repo.
    const results = await all(
      addAll(
        globSource(initDocsPath, {
          recursive: true,
        }),
        { preload: false },
      ),
    );
    const dir = results
      .filter(file =>
        file.path === 'init-docs')
      .pop()
    print('to get started, enter:\n');
    print(
      `\tjsipfs cat` +
      `/ipfs/${dir.cid}/readme\n`,
    );

    From ipfs-core/src/runtime/init-assets-nodejs.js.

    // Add the default assets to the repo.
    const results = await Array.fromAsync(
      addAll(
        globSource(initDocsPath, {
          recursive: true,
        }),
        { preload: false },
      ),
    );
    const dir = results
      .filter(file =>
        file.path === 'init-docs')
      .pop()
    print('to get started, enter:\n');
    print(
      `\tjsipfs cat` +
      `/ipfs/${dir.cid}/readme\n`,
    );
    const all = require('it-all');
    
    const results = await all(
      node.contentRouting
        .findProviders('a cid'),
    );
    expect(results)
      .to.be.an('array')
      .with.lengthOf(1)
      .that.deep.equals([result]);

    From js-libp2p/test/content-routing/content-routing.node.js.

    const results = await Array.fromAsync(
      node.contentRouting
        .findProviders('a cid'),
    );
    expect(results)
      .to.be.an('array')
      .with.lengthOf(1)
      .that.deep.equals([result]);
    async function toArray(items) {
      const result = [];
      for await (const item of items) {
        result.push(item);
      }
      return result;
    }
    
    it('empty-pipeline', async () => {
      const pipeline = new Pipeline();
      const result = await toArray(
        pipeline.execute(
          [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ]));
      assert.deepStrictEqual(
        result,
        [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ],
      );
    });

    From node-httptransfer/test/generator/pipeline.test.js.

    it('empty-pipeline', async () => {
      const pipeline = new Pipeline();
      const result = await Array.fromAsync(
        pipeline.execute(
          [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ]));
      assert.deepStrictEqual(
        result,
        [ 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ],
      );
    });

    Install

    npm i proposal-array-from-async

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    Version

    2.0.0

    License

    BSD-3-Clause

    Unpacked Size

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    Total Files

    14

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