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`async` Function Support

See original GitHub issue

One of the elephants in the room is the new async/await support that has come to Node and Chrome, and will soon hit every other major browser. I’ve been thinking about what Async can do in the async/await world.

Currently, we can adapt async functions by wrapping them with asyncify. Since an async function is essentially just a function that returns a Promise, that old adapter can easily convert it to a callback-style function. However, it leads to the somewhat absurd looking:

async.mapLimit(arr, 10, async.asyncify(async (val) => {
  let foo = await doSomething(val);
 return bar;
}), done);

However, one of the features in the spec for async functions is that:

Object.getPrototypeOf(asyncFn)[Symbol.toStringTag] === "AsyncFunction"

This gives a way to easily detect (native) async functions. We could use this technique to automatically asyncify them. The example above becomes:

async.mapLimit(arr, 10, async (val) => {
  let foo = await doSomething(val);
 return bar;
}, done);

…which seems to flow much more naturally. I also think we should continue to use callbacks. If a user wanted to await the result, they would have to promisify the function, or pify Async as a whole:

let result = await pify(async.mapLimit)(arr, 10, async (val) => {
  let foo = await doSomething(val);
 return bar;

The above method for detecting async functions only works with native functions. I don’t think there is a way to detect Babel transpiled functions. We certainly can’t detect normal functions that simply return Promises, because we’d have to retroactively not pass a callback. There would he a huge caveat that this would only work without a transpiler in very modern environments, otherwise you still have to manually wrap with asyncify.

Also, admittedly, many Async methods don’t make sense with async/await. Most of the control flow methods (save for things like auto and queue) are more easily replicated with native control flow constructs. map and parallel can be replaced with and Promise.all. However, the limiting collection functions would be very useful, as well as auto and a few others. (Also, autoInject with async functions is a async control flow dream!)

Issue Analytics

  • State:closed
  • Created 7 years ago
  • Reactions:4
  • Comments:10 (1 by maintainers)

github_iconTop GitHub Comments

aearlycommented, Mar 17, 2017

Is there a reason to do Object.getPrototypeOf(asyncFn)[Symbol.toStringTag] === "AsyncFunction" or can we do asyncFn[Symbol.toStringTag] === "AsyncFunction" (seems to work in FF)?

Thats just the canonical ECMA spec way to do it. I guess in theory, someone could overwrite asyncFn[Symbol.toStringTag].

So is the proposal any time someone provides a callback of the format cb(err, arg) we should detect if it is an AsyncFunction; if it is an async function we should apply promisify otherwise use it as is

I think you have it a bit backwards. Wherever we accept an callback-accepting iteratee function (function(args..., callback) {}), we should check to see if it is an async function, and then asyncify it.

The await example is what someone would have do if they wanted to await an Async method. I don’t think we should have Async methods start returning promises so that would work – leave it for the user to do.

manvallscommented, Apr 5, 2017

This was a breaking change and broke our deployed code. Please think twice when doing such things without increasing the major version.

PS: thanks for all the great work you’re doing with this library 😄

Read more comments on GitHub >

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