Monday 6 August 2018

Promises in node.js: Error Handling

Continuing on with the promise theme, let's have a look at error handling.

When executing this you will get a warning, that starts with:
UnhandledPromiseRejectionWarning: This is a rejected Promise
The warning also tells you that the error was not handled by a .catch() block.

In this case we get a similar message: UnhandledPromiseRejectionWarning: Error: An error happened inside the promise, but not rejected.
Both cases can be handled by adding a catch block to the code.

To add an error handler we just add a .catch() block to the end of the promise execution chain, if reject is called then the parameters passed to reject will come out of the catch handler function.
If an error is thrown then the error will come out of the handler function. So we can see how .catch() blocks are very useful but you need to be careful about nesting promises inside of each other.

In this case, we get an unhandled promise rejection message again, because the .catch() block will not pick up the rejected promise. To solve this we can do a couple of things, in most cases, you can just bubble the promise out of the inner .then() block.

The error handling will now work at a higher level because the promise chains are connected. But sometimes we may want to do some additional handling first.

It is still important to connect the chains by returning the inner promise chain or the outer handler won't fire. When a promise is returned from inside a then block the new promise state will be dependent on the inner one.

In this case, the inner error block will fire but not the outer, as no error was thrown. And the outer .then() block will still fire!

So if you do want to execute both catch blocks make sure to throw an error in the inner one, how much of a good practice this is I'm not sure but it helps to understand what state the promises are in.

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