Node.js Best Practices

Node.js Best Practices — Exceptions

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Like any kind of apps, JavaScript apps also have to be written well.

Otherwise, we run into all kinds of issues later on.

In this article, we’ll look at some best practices we should follow when writing Node apps.

Use Promises for Async Error Handling

We should use promises for async error handling.

Handling async errors in the callback style would be a mess if we have many nested callbacks.

Node style callbacks don’t allow us to chain the async calls without nesting.

To avoid this, we should make sure that we use promises.

For example, instead of writing:

getData(someParameter, function(err, result){
    if(err !== null && err !== undefined)
    getMoreData(a, function(err, result){
          if(err !== null && err !== undefined)
        getMoreData(b, function(c){
                getMoreData(d, function(e){

We have 4 nested callbacks, which is definitely hard to read even if if we omit the logic code.

Instead, we write:


We can make this a long cleaner since promises has a then method which we can pass callbacks into.

If we want to catch errors, we use the catch method.

We can also use the async and await syntax to chang promises and use try-catch to catch errors.

For instance, we can write:

const work = async () =>
  try {
    const r1 = await doWork();
    const r2 = await doMoreWork();
    const r3 = await doWork();
    const r4 = await verify();
  catch (e) {

Each then callback returns a promise so we can use await on them.

Use Only the Built-in Error Object

The built-in error constructor should be used to create errors.

The Error constructor has the error message and stack trace.

They’re useful for troubleshooting issues which will be lost if we throw anything else

For example, instead of writing:

throw 'error';

We write:

throw new Error("error");

It’ll have the stack trace up to where the error is thrown.

Distinguish Operational vs Programmer Errors

We should distinguish operational vs programmer errors.

Operational errors are errors where the impact of the error is fully understood and can be handled.

Programmer errors refer to unknown code failures where we need to gracefully restart the application.

For the errors we can handle, we should be able to handle them and avoid restating our app.

We can throw errors, by writing:

if(!product) {
  throw new Error("no product selected");

const myEmitter = new MyEmitter();
myEmitter.emit('error', new Error('error'));

We can throw errors in synchronous code and event emitters.

We can throw an error in a promise with:

new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    .then((product) =>{
         return reject(new Error("no product added"));

We have a promise that calls reject with an Error instance to throw the error.

These are the right ways to throw errors.

Other ways that are around include listening to the uncaughtException event:

process.on('uncaughtException', (error) => {
  if (!error.isOperational)

Listening to the uncaughtException event changes the behavior of the event so it shouldn’t be listened to.

process.exit is also a bad way to end a program because it abruptly ends the program.


We should throw and catch errors in the right way.

This way our app will handle them gracefully.

By John Au-Yeung

Web developer specializing in React, Vue, and front end development.

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