Michael Bryan

Michael Bryan


Understanding JavaScript Callbacks and best practices

Callbacks are one of the critical elements to understand JavaScript and Node.js. Nearly, all the asynchronous functions use a callback (or promises). In this post, we are going to cover callbacks in-depth and best practices.

This post assumes you know the difference between synchronous and asynchronous code.

JavaScript is an event-driven language. Instead of waiting for things to happen, it executes while listening for events. The way you respond to an event is using callbacks.

JavaScript callbacks

A callback is a function that is passed as an argument to another function.
Callbacks are also known as higher-order function.

An example of a callback is the following:

const compute = (n1, n2, callback) => callback(n1, n2);
const sum = (n1, n2) => n1 + n2;
const product = (n1, n2) => n1 * n2;

console.log(compute(5, 3, sum));     // ↪️  8
console.log(compute(5, 3, product)); // ↪️  15

As you can see the function compute takes two numbers and a callback function. This callback function can be sum, product and any other that you develop that operates two numbers.

1.1 Callback Advantages

Callbacks can help to make your code more maintainable if you use them well. They will also help you to:

  • Keep your code DRY (Do Not Repeat Yourself)
  • Implement better abstraction where you can have more generic functions like computethat can handle all sorts of functionalities (e.g., sum, product)
  • Improve code readability and maintainability.

So far, we have only seen callbacks that are executed immediately; however, most of the callbacks in JavaScript are tied to an event like a timer, API request or reading a file.

1.2 Asynchronous callbacks

An asynchronous callback is a function that is passed as an argument to another function and gets invoke zero or multiple times after certain events happens.
It’s like when your friends tell you to call them back when you arrive at the restaurant. You coming to the restaurant is the “event” that triggers the callback. Something similar happens in the programming world. The event could be you click a button, a file is loaded into memory, and request to a server API, and so on.

Let’s see an example with two callbacks:

const id = setInterval(() => console.log('tick ⏰'), 1e3);
setTimeout(() => clearInterval(id), 5e3);

First, you notice that we are using anonymous functions (in the previous example, we were passing the named functions such as sum and product). The callback passed to setIntervalis triggered every second, and it prints tick. The second callback is called one after 5 seconds. It cancels the interval, so it just writes tick five times.

Callbacks are a way to make sure a particular code doesn’t execute until another has already finished.
The console.log('tick') only gets executed when a second has passed.

The functions setInterval and setTimeout callbacks are very simple. They don’t provide any parameters on the callback functions. But, if we are reading from the file system or network, we can get the response as a callback parameter.

1.3 Callback Parameters

The callback parameters allow you to get messages into your functions when they are available. Let’s say we are going to create a vanilla server on Node.js.

const http = require('http');

const port = 1777;
const host = '';

const proxy = http.createServer((req, res) => {
  res.writeHead(200, { 'Content-Type': 'text/plain' });
  res.end(`Hello World from Node! You used url "${req.url}"\r\n`);

proxy.listen(port, host, () => {
  console.log(`Server running on http://${host}:${port}`);

We have two callbacks here. The http.createServer‘s callback sends the parameters (req)uest and (res)ponse every time somebody connects to the server.

You can test this server using curl (or browser)


There you have it! An HTTP server that replies to everyone that connects to it using a callback. But, What would happen if there’s an error? Let’s see how to handle that next.

1.4 Handling errors with Node.js callbacks

Some callbacks send errors on the first parameter and then the data (callback(error, data)). That’s very common in Node.js API. Let’s say we want to see all the directories on a given folder:

const fs = require('fs');

fs.readdir('/Users/adrian/Code', (error, files) => {
  if (error) { console.error(error); }

As you notice, the first parameter will have an error message. If you run it, you would probably have the error message (unless you have the same name and directory).

{ [Error: ENOENT: no such file or directory, scandir '/Users/noAdrian/Code']
  errno: -2,
  code: 'ENOENT',
  syscall: 'scandir',
  path: '/Users/noAdrian/Code' }

So that’s how you handle errors, you check for that parameter. But (there’s always a but) what if I need to do multiple async operations. The easiest way (but not the best) is to have a callback inside a callback:

const fs = require('fs');

const dir = '/Users/adrian/Code';

function printFilesSize(basePath) {
  fs.readdir(basePath, (err, files) => {
    if (err) {
      console.log(`Error finding files: ${err}`);
    } else {
      files.forEach((filename) => {
        const filePath = `${basePath}/${filename}`;

        fs.lstat(filePath, (err, stat) => {
          if (err) { console.error(err); }
          if (stat.isFile()) {
            console.log(filePath, stat.size.toLocaleString());


As you can see, this program will first read files in a directory and then check the file size of each file, and if it’s a directory, it will be omitted.

When callbacks are nested too many levels deep, we call this callback hell! 🔥 Or the pyramid of doom ⚠️

Because they are hard to maintain, how do we fix the callback hell? Read on!

1.5 Callback Hell problem and solutions

Callback hell is when you have too many nested callbacks.

a(() => {
  b(() => {
    c(() => {

To make your code better, you should:

  1. Keep you code shallow (avoid too many nested functions): keep your code at 1-3 indentation levels.
  2. Modularize: convert your anonymous callbacks into named functions.
  3. Use promises and async/await.

Let’s fix the callback hell from printFilesSize keeping our code shallow and modularizing it.

const fs = require('fs');

const dir = '/Users/adrian/Code';

function printFileSize(filePath) {
  fs.lstat(filePath, (err, stat) => {
    if (err) { console.error(err); }
    if (stat.isFile()) {
      console.log(filePath, stat.size.toLocaleString());

function printFilesSize(files, basePath) {
  files.forEach((filename) => {
    const filePath = `${basePath}/${filename}`;


function printFilesSizeFromDirectory(basePath) {
  fs.readdir(basePath, (err, files) => {
    if (err) {
      console.log(`Error finding files: ${err}`);
    } else {
      printFilesSize(files, basePath);


The original implement had five levels of indentation, now that we modularized it is 1-2 levels.

Callbacks are not the only way to deal with asynchronous code. In the following post we are going to cover:

  • Promises
  • Async/Await
  • Generators

Stay tuned!

Originally published by Adrian Mejia at adrianmejia.com

#javascript #node-js #web-development

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Understanding JavaScript Callbacks and best practices

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Jeromy  Lowe

Jeromy Lowe


Intro to Callback in JavaScript

During my journey of learning JavaScript and a few days in with React, I had to come to terms with callback functions. It was impossible to avoid its existence and blindly using it without understanding. To understand callback function we have to know a bit about functions. Here I want to talk about function expression, arrow function, and callback function.

What is a Callback function?

According to MDN doc:

A callback function is a function passed into another function as an argument, which is then invoked inside the outer function to complete some kind of routine or action.

In JavaScript, functions are objects, which means, like any other objects it can be assigned to a variable and passed as an argument to another function. In a nutshell, a callback function is a function that is provided as a parameter for other methods such as forEach method or addEventListener method and gets invoked at a certain point in time.

Passing functions as arguments

So how do we do this? Let’s see with an example below:


//whoAmI Function Declaration(Function Statement)
function whoAmI(event){

We attached the ‘click’ event listener to document with whoAmI function as a parameter that logs the tag name of the clicked target. Whenever ‘click’ happens whoAmI function will be called with an _event_ argument. We call whoAmI a callback function.

When we call a function by its name followed by ( ), we are telling the function to execute its code. When we name a function or pass a function without the ( ), the function does not execute.** The callback function doesn’t execute right away. Instead, the addEventListener method executes the function when the event occurs.**

One more thing I want to mention is because we used function declaration, we were able to call thewhoAmI function before it was declared. It’s the magic of hoisting in JS. But with function expression, it doesn’t get hoisted. So the order of writing function expressions and using them as callback would be crucial.

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Rahul Jangid


What is JavaScript - Stackfindover - Blog

Who invented JavaScript, how it works, as we have given information about Programming language in our previous article ( What is PHP ), but today we will talk about what is JavaScript, why JavaScript is used The Answers to all such questions and much other information about JavaScript, you are going to get here today. Hope this information will work for you.

Who invented JavaScript?

JavaScript language was invented by Brendan Eich in 1995. JavaScript is inspired by Java Programming Language. The first name of JavaScript was Mocha which was named by Marc Andreessen, Marc Andreessen is the founder of Netscape and in the same year Mocha was renamed LiveScript, and later in December 1995, it was renamed JavaScript which is still in trend.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a client-side scripting language used with HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). JavaScript is an Interpreted / Oriented language called JS in programming language JavaScript code can be run on any normal web browser. To run the code of JavaScript, we have to enable JavaScript of Web Browser. But some web browsers already have JavaScript enabled.

Today almost all websites are using it as web technology, mind is that there is maximum scope in JavaScript in the coming time, so if you want to become a programmer, then you can be very beneficial to learn JavaScript.

JavaScript Hello World Program

In JavaScript, ‘document.write‘ is used to represent a string on a browser.

<script type="text/javascript">
	document.write("Hello World!");

How to comment JavaScript code?

  • For single line comment in JavaScript we have to use // (double slashes)
  • For multiple line comments we have to use / * – – * /
<script type="text/javascript">

//single line comment

/* document.write("Hello"); */


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