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async-js

Slightly Deferent JavaScript loader and dependency manager

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asyncJS - Slightly Deferent JavaScript loader and dependency manager

Continuous Integration status NPM version

asyncJS is a slightly deferent JavaScript loader and dependency manager for browsers. Unlike many other script loaders, asyncJS can asynchronously load inline functions and script strings as well as external JavaScript files.

asyncJS uses a Defer-like queue to keep track of tasks, allowing you to append additional tasks, attaching extra callbacks, and handling error inside callbacks, making it a more versatile and robust solution for complex dependency management.

Why

I use script.js for my last project. I love the idea of lazy loading script, but I'm not a big fan of the laconic coding style and its awkward syntax for nested dependency.

That's why I created asyncJS.

Comparing to script.js and other script loader, the advantages of asyncJS are

  • support inline function and text string as JavaScript
  • support asynchronous functions (such as AJAX request) with Defer-like resolver
  • handle error of the dependency queue
  • better looking, chaining syntax
  • painlessly add async/sync task current queue (due to Defer-like design)
  • better nested dependency management

Just like Promise, requesting AJAX content and loading external scripts are carried out in parallel. When asyncJS finishes all pending tasks, you could just parse the content and present your content to users with a shorter waiting period.

Read about why asyncJS improves performance (in Chinese) on my blog.

Download

Latest version is 0.7.7

With npm

$ npm install async-js

Inline asyncJS yields better performance.

Browser Support

Tested on

  • IE 6+
  • Opera 15+
  • Safari 5+
  • Chrome 30+
  • Firefox 3.6.28+

Test might fail in IE < 8, that is testing framework failing, not asyncjs. Examples run fine. However, ConnectionError is NOT caught in IE.

Example

Old way

Inline script evaluation blocks following script, and external script blocks DOMContentLoaded

<script>
    // this could take quite some time to process
    var data = computation();
</script>
<script src="jquery.js"></script>
<script src="foo.js"></script>
<script>
    // do something with data, $, and foo.js
</script>

Better

External script is non-blocking, but inline script evaluation are still blocking.

// this could take quite some time to process
var data = computation();

asyncJS("jquery.js", function() {
    asyncJS("foo.js", function() {
        // do something with data, $, and foo.js
    }]);
});

Best

Neither inline nor external scripts are blocking, all JavaScript code load asynchronously.

var data;

// q is chain-able
var q = asyncJS();

// async evaluate time-consuming computation
q.add(function() { data = computation(); });

q.add(["jquery.js", "foo.js"]);

q.whenDone(function() {
    // do something with data, $, and foo.js
});

Or use then when dealing with strict dependencies

var q = asyncJS();

q.add("jquery.js");

q.whenDone(function() {
    // jQuery is ready
});

// bootstrap will start to load after jquery is loaded
q.then("bootstrap.js");

q.whenDone(function() {
    // jQuery AND bootstrap are ready
});

API

asyncJS(task[, callback])

Add one or more tasks to the asynchronous loading queue. Returns the queue.

// accepts a single task
asyncJS("jquery.js")

// accepts multiple tasks
asyncJS(["jquery.js", "foo.js"])

// accepts script string
// and inline function
asyncJS([
    "function() { console.log(1); }",
    function() { console.log(2); },
    "jquery.js"
])

asyncJS#add(tasks)

Add non-blocking tasks. It supports external URL, inline function and text string as JavaScript.

Note that add does not guarantee that added function is executed after the previous task. For sequential execution, use async#addSync instead.

When adding asynchronous function, call resolver.resolve when data is ready.

Use AsyncQueue#add(fn, name) to add an asynchronous function to the queue and restore its return value in q.data[name].

For URL, text string or synchronous function:

var q = asyncJS("jquery.js");
q.add("foo.js");
q.add(function() {
    // synchronous function
})

For asynchronous function:

// adding an async function
q.add(function(resolver) {
    setTimeout(function() {
        // when asyn function finished
        // value is stored in q.data[name]
        resolver.resolve(value);
        
        // when things go south
        resolver.reject(error);
    }, 5);
}, "timeout");

// using returned values
q.whenDone(function(data) {
    // using previously returned value
    var value = data.timeout;
})

asyncJS#then(tasks)

Add blocking tasks.

then guarantee that added function is executed after the previous task.

var q = asyncJS("jquery.js");

// tasks added by then will be executed when
// all previous tasks have been completed
q.then("bootstrap.js");

then will not block previous callbacks execution, but it will block all following whenDone functions until then tasks have finished.

asyncJS#whenDone(callback)

Add callback to execute when all previous tasks are finished. taskIndex is the index of the last finished task, while queue is the current loading queue and error the accumulative errors in execution.

var q = asyncJS("jquery.js");

q.whenDone(function(data, taskIndex, errors) {
    // data is the accumulative returned values of current loading queue
    // taskIndex is the index of last finished task
    // errors is the accumulative errors in execution
})

Manipulate queue/q inside whenDone might crash the page.

For example, calling queue.add(…) inside whenDone will cause an infinite loop of re-adding the task after the same task is add and executed, which will eventually bring down the entire page.

In practice, never change the queue/q inside callback. Use addSync if you would like to add a dependent task.

Build

AsyncJS can be minified with Google Closure Compiler using advanced optimization if externs are provided in compilation. Or it could be minified with UglifyJS2 by

$ npm install
$ npm run-script build

Tests

With PhantomJS

$ npm install
$ npm test

With Browser

Open test/index.html in your browser.

License

Copyright (c) 2013 Jingwei "John" Liu

Licensed under the MIT license.

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