A Premise to the Promise: we are in a Node Express router file and we want to write a post route, to submit data coming from a form in the frontend to a Postgres database.

First of all, my code was an inline mess of anonymous functions.

So, step 1, try to extract functions into separate functions, it will make it clearer what function returns what (a promise, a value, etc)

Step 2. We don’t have access to the duration of the audio file we are submitting, as a URL, but we are using a function called getAudioDuration that that does it for us, and that function returns a promise so all my stubborn attempts at slamming the return value of that function to the object I am creating to post to the database errors out all the time. The error I got was something along the lines that the value was not an integer but “{}”

TIL: if the function returns a promise, I need to make it return a value (wait until it’s done doing its thing) before I can use the value.

Some shared code

const buildSong = (body, duration) => {
  return {
    url: body.url,
    duration: duration

const postNewSong = (song) => {
  client.query('INSERT INTO songs (url, duration) VALUES ($1, $2)',
    [song.url, song.duration])

These are the 2 function I extracted from the messy code. Please remember that this is not ruby and we need to explicitly return in buildSong while on postNewSong there is no need to return. We have defined a global variable client, accessible from anywhere in this file, that’s how we connect to the the database. After all, this is a toy app.

Post route using Promise

router.post('/', function(request, response) {
  .then(duration => buildSong(request.body, duration))
  .catch(e => console.error(e.stack))

So many things here:

  1. I am using a regular function function(req, res) {}. If I wanted I could have used the arrow function (req, res) => {}
  2. first we need to get the duration of the song in order to build the new song object to post, so we call getAudioDuration(request.body.url) which, like we said, returns a promise.

    The result of the promise is the duration, which we see in parenthesis in the first .then(duration =>

  3. that duration is passed to the buildSong function (defined on top of this post) together with the rest of the body to build the object.
  4. the next chained .then(postNewSong) takes the result value of the previous .then (buildSong(request.body, duration)) and passes it as an argument to the postNewSong function.

    Here I was confused how my function declaration was const postNewSong = (song) => { and yet I didn’t need to either invoke postNewSong with (), neither explicitly newly created song object, say like this:

    .then((song) => {postNewSong(song)})

    or even

    .then(song => postNewSong(song))

    TIL: Yep, I can ditch the () from around the argument, and the {} and the ; in the callback.

    I could have been more verbose, but it was unnecessary, because I am wrapping the function and referencing it. So I use the function reference directly.

    It was not wrong, but since postNewSong takes only one parameter, that will be automatically the result of the previous .then.

    In the previous case, buildSong took 2 parameters, so I had to spell them out.

  5. in the end, catching error, if it happens, in a pretty useless way (hey, one thing at a time!)

Post route using async and await

router.post('/', async (request, response) => {
  const duration = await getAudioDuration(request.body.url)
  const song = buildSong(request.body, duration)
  await postNewSong(song)
  response.send('song added')
  1. the main differences are that we now use the keyword async (request, response) => on the top function.
  2. then we assign the result of the getAudioDuration function to a variable duration, and prepend with the keyword await. This will make the promise do all its magic, and return a value not a Promise.
  3. at this point we make another variable song that will call the buildSong function, but this time we do not need to await because our function only builds an object, does not return a promise.
  4. finally we can invoke postNewSong with await but anonymously, as this will connect to the client and INSERT into the database. And adding a useless res.send to attach to the response head (hey, one thing at a time 2x!)

Thanks to Joël for explaining all these good things to me.