Benjamin Gruenbaum Benjamin Gruenbaum - 7 months ago 73
Javascript Question

What is the explicit promise construction antipattern and how do I avoid it?

I was writing code that does something that looks like:

function getStuffDone(param) { | function getStuffDone(param) {
var d = Q.defer(); /* or $q.defer */ | return new Promise(function(resolve, reject) {
// or = new $.Deferred() etc. | // using a promise constructor
myPromiseFn(param+1) | myPromiseFn(param+1)
.then(function(val) { /* or .done */ | .then(function(val) {
d.resolve(val); | resolve(val);
}).catch(function(err) { /* .fail */ | }).catch(function(err) {
d.reject(err); | reject(err);
}); | });
return d.promise; /* or promise() */ | });
} | }


Someone told me this is called the "deferred antipattern" or the "
Promise
constructor antipattern
" respectively, what's bad about this code and why is this called an antipattern?

Answer

The deferred antipattern (now explicit-construction anti-pattern) coined by Esailija is a common anti-pattern people who are new to promises make, I've made it myself when I first used promises. The problem with the above code is that is fails to utilize the fact promises chain.

Promises can chain with .then and you can return promises directly. Your code in getStuffDone can be rewritten as:

function getStuffDone(param){
    return myPromiseFn(param+1); // much nicer, right?
}

Promises are all about making asynchronous code more readable and behave like synchronous code without hiding that fact. Promises represent an abstraction over a value of one time operation, they abstract the notion of a statement or expression in a programming language.

You should only use deferred objects when you are converting an API to promises and can't do it automatically, or when you're writing aggregation functions that are easier expressed this way.

Quoting Esailija:

This is the most common anti-pattern. It is easy to fall into this when you don't really understand promises and think of them as glorified event emitters or callback utility. Let's recap: promises are about making asynchronous code retain most of the lost properties of synchronous code such as flat indentation and one exception channel.