keshav keshav - 1 month ago 13
Javascript Question

How nodejs domains actually work behind the scenes for multiple requests?

My use case requires node.js domains to share information across server files at a request level.

Sample Implementation in express.js

domain = require('domain');

app.use(function(req, res, next) {
var reqDomain = domain.create();

More explanation at Nodejs Domains Explicit Binding

In controller / service -
process.domain will provide you above created domain
And you can easily bind values to this domain. For eg:

process.domain.obj = {};

This explanation is sufficient to understand the usage of Domains.


  1. Is it safe to use domains for multiple requests ?

  2. How to ensure process.domain is different for different requests and not the same ?

I would also like to know how such issues are handled in continuation local storage


A warning

First of all - domains are deprecated and will be removed in an upcoming release of NodeJS. I would not write new code using them.

How domains work?

Second of all - it's important to understand domains are not magic. They're really a simple concept. Basically, they:

  • Wrap every async call in the platform (the entire NodeJS APIs).
  • Set a "global" variable for the duration of the call.
  • If another async call is being made during that call - keep note to set the global variable to the same value when you enter it.
  • That's it.

Here's how one can implement domains, let's only implement it for setTimeout for simplicity.

const oldTimeout = setTimeout;
setTimeout = function(fn, ms) { // also ...args, but let's ignore that
    var trackedDomain = domain;
    oldTimeout(function() { 
      var oldDomain = domain; // preserve old context
      domain = trackedDomain; // restore context to "global" variable
      fn(); // call the function itself
      domain = oldDomain; // restore old context
    }, ms); // that's it!

Something like express can just do domain = new RequestContext at the start and then all methods called in the request would work since they're all wrapped like in the example above (since again, it's baked into node itself).

That sounds swell, why remove them?

They're being removed because of the implementation complexity they add and the fact they're leaky and error recovery has edge cases where it doesn't work.

So what do I do?

You have alternatives, for example bluebird promises have .bind which brings promise chains context which is a less leaky way to do this.

That said, I would just avoid implicit global context altogether. It makes refactoring hard, it makes dependencies implicit and it makes code harder to reason about. I'd just pass relevant context around to objects when I create them (dependency injection, in a nutshell) rather than set a global variable.