How Asynchronous Javascript Works

Simple Explanation to Callbacks, Promises, and Async Await

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Javascript is the most popular language and also the most confusing language. Javascript can be difficult and weird to understand at first.

Understanding the Asynchronous part of Javascript is the most difficult because unlike other programming languages like java which is multi-threaded, javascript is a single-threaded non-blocking code.

Single-threaded means it executes in a sequence, it has one call stack and one memory heap.

But what if a task like calling API or Database, which takes longer time occurs. Will the user have to wait for that task to complete and then only he can move to others.

Now in other languages, this was achieved by creating a new thread that runs in the background. In javascript, we have something called the execution context and event loop which does not let it block the rest of the code.

when execution context finds such code it sends them to the event loop and after execution returns it to the call stack.

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Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Whenever one function has to wait for another function or task to complete Asynchronous functions are used.

So how do these Asynchronous function calls made?

In this article, I am going to cover three ways to implement these Asynchronous functions.


Simple Definition: When a function is passed as an argument to another function it is called Callback

Whenever you need a certain task (e.g: displaying user details after a database query is performed) or function to be executed after a task like API call or a database query or any other calculation is performed then we use a Callback function

By using asynchronous callbacks, you can register action in advance without blocking the entire operation.

Callbacks have a disadvantage called Callback hell where if we need to perform a lot of tasks and function calls when asynchronous tasks complete we need to nest a lot of functions which leads to nested callbacks.

When you nest many callback functions the code becomes difficult to maintain. The solution to this problem is in the next section.


A Promise is a JavaScript object that links producing code and consuming code

A promise is an object that returns a value that is to be received in the future.

A promise has three states:

  • Pending: loading or waiting stage
  • Fulfilled: completed the task
  • Rejected: error occurred

First, we create a Promise using the Promise Constructor which accepts a function as an argument which is also called the executor. This function also accepts two functions as arguments called ‘resolve’ and ‘reject’.

In the next step, the ‘then()’ method is used to schedule a callback that gets executed when the promise is successfully resolved or rejected. Resolve in case of success and reject it in case of error.

Async Await

Async/Await was introduced in ES2017 which provides a better way of writing asynchronous code. It is built on top of Promises, so whenever a function returns a Promise you can add the await keyword in front of the function call.

The await keyword can be used only inside the async functions.

Thank You for reading till the end and I hope this article was useful to you. Do follow me for more such Tech Articles. All the Best !!!


Self-taught Developer | Tech & Self Help Blogger | Exploring Life and Tech | Aim to Help Upcoming Software Developers in their Journey

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