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Deferred functions

Val Town supports asynchronous functions with the basic primitives of Promises in JavaScript. All kinds of handler vals, including HTTP, Email, and Interval, can be async functions: if they return a Promise, we await it.

We also wait until other, non-awaited asynchronous work is done before exiting from a Val: we wait for the runtime to gracefully exit after all promises have resolved.

You can use this feature to make an HTTP val that responds quickly to an incoming HTTP request, and then does some other work after sending a response.

Here’s an example of deferring work using an anonymous async function. This val responds to HTTP requests with { "ok": true } immediately, and then waits a second, and then logs the word “Hi!“. You can use the same structure to schedule time-consuming work like database queries or network traffic till after the Val’s response is already sent.

The key to both techniques is that the async work does not use the await keyword, so JavaScript does not wait for it to finish before returning the Response object.


This technique is a stopgap until full support for waitUntil lands in Val Town, which will handle this case more explicitly.

Promises should otherwise be awaited

While this is a useful technique, it’s important to emphasize that, in general, you should otherwise await every Promise. If you don’t remember to use await with Promises - besides this narrow usecase, errors that occur in promises won’t be properly handled and functions may run out-of-order.

For example, if you use fetch to request some resource, but forget to await it, then it won’t throw errors when it fails, and you won’t have the values you expect to have:

export async function handle() {
try {
// Result will be an opaque Promise, not a useful value.
const result = fetch('');
} catch (e) {
// Errors will never be caught here because
// fetch is not awaited.