Asynchronous Reduce in JavaScript

January 27, 2018 0 Comments

Asynchronous Reduce in JavaScript

 

 

Reduce is a very powerful concept, coming from the functional programming (also known as fold), which allows to build any other iteration function – sum, product, map, filter and so on. However, how can we achieve asynchronous reduce, so requests are executed consecutively, so we can, for example, use previous results in the future calls?

In our example, I won’t use previous result, but rely on the fact that we need to execute these requests in this specific order


Let’s start with a naïve implementation, using just normal iteration:

I use async/await here, which allows us to wait inside for ... of, or regular for loop as it was a synchronous call!


async function createLinks(links) { const results = []; for (link of links) { const res = await createLink(link); results.push(res); } return results; 
} const links = [url1, url2, url3, url4, url5];
createLinks(links);

This small code inside is, basically, a reducer, but with asynchronous flow! Let’s generalize it, so we’ll pass handler there:

async function asyncReduce(array, handler, startingValue) { let result = startingValue; for (value of array) { // await will transform result of the function to the promise, // even it is a synchronous call result = await handler(result, value); } return result; 
} function createLinks(links) { return asyncReduce( array, async (resolvedLinks, link) => { const newResolvedLink = await createLink(link); return resolvedLinks.concat(newResolvedLink); }, [] );
} const links = [url1, url2, url3, url4, url5];
createLinks(links);

Now we have fully generalized reducer, but as you can see, the amount of code in our createLinks function stayed almost the same in size – so, in case you use once or twice, it might be not that beneficial to extract to a general asyncReduce function.

No async/await

Okay, but not everybody can have fancy async/await – some projects have requirements, and async/await is not possible in the near future. Well, another new feature of modern JS is generators, and you can use them to essentially repeat the same behaviour (and almost the syntax!) as we showed with async/await. The only problem is the following:

Apparently, not so many projects/people dive into generators, due to their complicated nature and alternatives, and because of that, I’ll separate our asyncReduce immediately, so you can hide implementation details:

import co from 'co'; function asyncReduce(array, handler, startingValue) { return co(function* () { let result = startingValue; for (value of array) { // however, co does not wrap simple values into Promise // automatically, so we need to do so result = yield Promise.resolve(handler(result, value)); } return result; }); 
} function createLinks(links) { return asyncReduce( array, async (resolvedLinks, link) => { const newResolvedLink = await createLink(link); return resolvedLinks.concat(newResolvedLink); }, [] );
} const links = [url1, url2, url3, url4, url5];
createLinks(links);

You can see that our interface remained the same, but the inside changed to utilize co library – while it is not that complicated, it might be pretty frustrating to understand what do you need to do, if we ask all users of this function to wrap their calls in co manually. You also will need to import co or to write your own generator runner – which is not very complicated, but one more layer of complexity.

ES5

Okay, but what about good old ES5? Maybe you don’t use babel, and need to support some old JS engines, or don’t want to use generators. Well, it is still good – all you need is available implementation of promises (which are hard to cancel) – either native or any polyfill, like Bluebird.

function asyncReduce(array, handler, startingValue) { // we are using normal reduce, but instead of immediate execution // of handlers, we postpone it until promise will be resolved array.reduce( function (promise, value) { return promise.then((acc) => { return Promise.resolve(handler(acc, value)); }); }, // we started with a resolved promise, so the first request // will be executed immediately // also, we use resolved value as our acc from async reducer // we will resolve actual async result in promises Promise.resolve(startingValue) ); 
}

While the amount of code is not bigger (it might be even smaller), it is less readable and has to wrap your head around it – however, it works exactly the same.


Tag cloud