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in JavaScript by
Q:

How to return the response from an asynchronous call

I have a function foo which makes an asynchronous request. How can I return the response/result from foo?

I am trying to return the value from the callback, as well as assigning the result to a local variable inside the function and returning that one, but none of those ways actually return the response (they all return undefined or whatever the initial value of the variable result is).

Example using jQuery's ajax function:

function foo() {
    var result;

    $.ajax({
        url: '...',
        success: function(response) {
            result = response;
            // return response; // <- I tried that one as well
        }
    });

    return result; // It always returns `undefined`
}

Example using Node.js:

function foo() {
    var result;

    fs.readFile("path/to/file", function(err, data) {
        result = data;
        // return data; // <- I tried that one as well
    });

    return result; // It always returns `undefined`
}

Example using the then block of a promise:

function foo() {
    var result;

    fetch(url).then(function(response) {
        result = response;
        // return response; // <- I tried that one as well
    });

    return result; // It always returns `undefined`
}

1 Answer

0 votes
by
Embrace the asynchronous nature of JavaScript! While certain asynchronous operations provide synchronous counterparts (so does "Ajax"), it's generally discouraged to use them, especially in a browser context.

Why is it bad do you ask?

JavaScript runs in the UI thread of the browser and any long-running process will lock the UI, making it unresponsive. Additionally, there is an upper limit on the execution time for JavaScript and the browser will ask the user whether to continue the execution or not.

All of this results in a really bad user experience. The user won't be able to tell whether everything is working fine or not. Furthermore, the effect will be worse for users with a slow connection.

In the following we will look at three different solutions that are all building on top of each other:

Promises with async/await (ES2017+, available in older browsers if you use a transpiler or regenerator)

Callbacks (popular in node)

Promises with then() (ES2015+, available in older browsers if you use one of the many promise libraries)

All three are available in current browsers, and node 7+.

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