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Why use Effection?

JavaScript has gone through multiple evolutionary steps in how to deal with concurrency: from callbacks and events, to promises, and then finally to async/await. Yet it can still be difficult to write concurrent code which is both correct and composable, and unless you're very careful, it is still easy to leak resources. Most JavaScript code and libraries do not handle cancellation well, and so failure conditions can easily lead to dangling promises and other unexpected behavior.

Effection brings structured concurrency to JavaScript so that you can guarantee that you don't leak any resources, and that cancellation is properly handled. It helps you build concurrent code that feels rock solid and behaves well under all failure conditions. It does this all while feeling like very normal JavaScript.

Upgrading async/await

If you know how to use async/await, then you're already familiar with most of what you need to know to use Effection. The only difference is that instead of async functions, you use generator functions. Generator functions are similar to async functions but they allow Effection to take greater control over the execution of your code.

To switch from async functions to generator functions, you can replace:

  1. await with yield*
  2. async function() with function*()

For example, using async/await we could write something like this:

import { fetch } from 'isomorphic-fetch';

export async function fetchWeekDay(timezone) {
  let response = await fetch(`http://worldclockapi.com/api/json/${timezone}/now`);
  let time = await response.json();
  return time.dayOfTheWeek;

The same code using Effection looks like this:

import { fetch } from 'effection';

export function *fetchWeekDay(timezone) {
  let response = yield* fetch(`http://worldclockapi.com/api/json/${timezone}/now`);
  let time = yield* response.json();
  return time.dayOfTheWeek;

Your first Effection program

To start using Effection, use the main function as an entry point. In this example, we'll use the previously defined fetchWeekDay.

import { main } from 'effection';
import { fetchWeekDay } from './fetch-week-day';

await main(function*() {
  let dayOfTheWeek = yield* fetchWeekDay('est');
  console.log(`It is ${dayOfTheWeek}, my friends!`);

Even with such a simple program, Effection is still providing critical power-ups that you don't get with callbacks, promises, or async/await. For example, if you run the above code in NodeJS and hit CTRL-C while the request to http://worldclockapi.com is still in progress, it will properly cancel the in-flight request as a well-behaved HTTP client should. All without you ever having to think about it. This is because every Effection operation contains the information on how to dispose of itself, and so the actual act of cancellation can be automated.

This has powerful consequences when it comes to composing new operations out of existing ones. For example, we can add a time out of 1000 milliseconds to our fetchWeekDay operation (or any operation for that matter) by wrapping it with the withTimeout operation from the standard effection module.

import { main, withTimeout } from 'effection';
import { fetchWeekDay } from './fetch-week-day';

await main(function*() {
  let dayOfTheWeek = yield* withTimeout(fetchWeekDay('est'), 1000);
  console.log(`It is ${dayOfTheWeek}, my friends!`);

If more than 1000 milliseconds passes before the fetchWeekDay() operation completes, then an error will be raised.

What's important to note however, is that when we actually defined our fetchWeekDay() operation, we never once had to worry about timeouts, or request cancellation. And in order to achieve both we didn't have to gum up our API by passing around cancellation tokens or abort controllers. We just got it all for free.

Discover more

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the seemingly complex things that Effection can make simple. To find out more, jump into the conversation in our discord server. We're really excited about the things that Effection has enabled us to accomplish, and we'd love to hear your thoughts on it, and how you might see it working for you.

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