Timers#

Stability: 2 - Stable

Source Code: lib/timers.js

The timer module exposes a global API for scheduling functions to be called at some future period of time. Because the timer functions are globals, there is no need to call require('timers') to use the API.

The timer functions within Node.js implement a similar API as the timers API provided by Web Browsers but use a different internal implementation that is built around the Node.js Event Loop.

Class: Immediate#

This object is created internally and is returned from setImmediate(). It can be passed to clearImmediate() in order to cancel the scheduled actions.

By default, when an immediate is scheduled, the Node.js event loop will continue running as long as the immediate is active. The Immediate object returned by setImmediate() exports both immediate.ref() and immediate.unref() functions that can be used to control this default behavior.

immediate.hasRef()#

If true, the Immediate object will keep the Node.js event loop active.

immediate.ref()#

When called, requests that the Node.js event loop not exit so long as the Immediate is active. Calling immediate.ref() multiple times will have no effect.

By default, all Immediate objects are "ref'ed", making it normally unnecessary to call immediate.ref() unless immediate.unref() had been called previously.

immediate.unref()#

When called, the active Immediate object will not require the Node.js event loop to remain active. If there is no other activity keeping the event loop running, the process may exit before the Immediate object's callback is invoked. Calling immediate.unref() multiple times will have no effect.

Class: Timeout#

This object is created internally and is returned from setTimeout() and setInterval(). It can be passed to either clearTimeout() or clearInterval() in order to cancel the scheduled actions.

By default, when a timer is scheduled using either setTimeout() or setInterval(), the Node.js event loop will continue running as long as the timer is active. Each of the Timeout objects returned by these functions export both timeout.ref() and timeout.unref() functions that can be used to control this default behavior.

timeout.hasRef()#

If true, the Timeout object will keep the Node.js event loop active.

timeout.ref()#

When called, requests that the Node.js event loop not exit so long as the Timeout is active. Calling timeout.ref() multiple times will have no effect.

By default, all Timeout objects are "ref'ed", making it normally unnecessary to call timeout.ref() unless timeout.unref() had been called previously.

timeout.refresh()#

Sets the timer's start time to the current time, and reschedules the timer to call its callback at the previously specified duration adjusted to the current time. This is useful for refreshing a timer without allocating a new JavaScript object.

Using this on a timer that has already called its callback will reactivate the timer.

timeout.unref()#

When called, the active Timeout object will not require the Node.js event loop to remain active. If there is no other activity keeping the event loop running, the process may exit before the Timeout object's callback is invoked. Calling timeout.unref() multiple times will have no effect.

Calling timeout.unref() creates an internal timer that will wake the Node.js event loop. Creating too many of these can adversely impact performance of the Node.js application.

timeout[Symbol.toPrimitive]()#

  • Returns: <integer> a number that can be used to reference this timeout

Coerce a Timeout to a primitive. The primitive can be used to clear the Timeout. The primitive can only be used in the same thread where the timeout was created. Therefore, to use it across worker_threads it must first be passed to the correct thread. This allows enhanced compatibility with browser setTimeout() and setInterval() implementations.

Scheduling timers#

A timer in Node.js is an internal construct that calls a given function after a certain period of time. When a timer's function is called varies depending on which method was used to create the timer and what other work the Node.js event loop is doing.

setImmediate(callback[, ...args])#

Schedules the "immediate" execution of the callback after I/O events' callbacks.

When multiple calls to setImmediate() are made, the callback functions are queued for execution in the order in which they are created. The entire callback queue is processed every event loop iteration. If an immediate timer is queued from inside an executing callback, that timer will not be triggered until the next event loop iteration.

If callback is not a function, a TypeError will be thrown.

This method has a custom variant for promises that is available using util.promisify():

const util = require('util');
const setImmediatePromise = util.promisify(setImmediate);

setImmediatePromise('foobar').then((value) => {
  // value === 'foobar' (passing values is optional)
  // This is executed after all I/O callbacks.
});

// Or with async function
async function timerExample() {
  console.log('Before I/O callbacks');
  await setImmediatePromise();
  console.log('After I/O callbacks');
}
timerExample();

setInterval(callback[, delay[, ...args]])#

  • callback <Function> The function to call when the timer elapses.
  • delay <number> The number of milliseconds to wait before calling the callback. Default: 1.
  • ...args <any> Optional arguments to pass when the callback is called.
  • Returns: <Timeout> for use with clearInterval()

Schedules repeated execution of callback every delay milliseconds.

When delay is larger than 2147483647 or less than 1, the delay will be set to 1. Non-integer delays are truncated to an integer.

If callback is not a function, a TypeError will be thrown.

setTimeout(callback[, delay[, ...args]])#

  • callback <Function> The function to call when the timer elapses.
  • delay <number> The number of milliseconds to wait before calling the callback. Default: 1.
  • ...args <any> Optional arguments to pass when the callback is called.
  • Returns: <Timeout> for use with clearTimeout()

Schedules execution of a one-time callback after delay milliseconds.

The callback will likely not be invoked in precisely delay milliseconds. Node.js makes no guarantees about the exact timing of when callbacks will fire, nor of their ordering. The callback will be called as close as possible to the time specified.

When delay is larger than 2147483647 or less than 1, the delay will be set to 1. Non-integer delays are truncated to an integer.

If callback is not a function, a TypeError will be thrown.

This method has a custom variant for promises that is available using util.promisify():

const util = require('util');
const setTimeoutPromise = util.promisify(setTimeout);

setTimeoutPromise(40, 'foobar').then((value) => {
  // value === 'foobar' (passing values is optional)
  // This is executed after about 40 milliseconds.
});

Cancelling timers#

The setImmediate(), setInterval(), and setTimeout() methods each return objects that represent the scheduled timers. These can be used to cancel the timer and prevent it from triggering.

For the promisified variants of setImmediate() and setTimeout(), an AbortController may be used to cancel the timer. When canceled, the returned Promises will be rejected with an 'AbortError'.

For setImmediate():

const util = require('util');
const setImmediatePromise = util.promisify(setImmediate);

const ac = new AbortController();
const signal = ac.signal;

setImmediatePromise('foobar', { signal })
  .then(console.log)
  .catch((err) => {
    if (err.message === 'AbortError')
      console.log('The immediate was aborted');
  });

ac.abort();

For setTimeout():

const util = require('util');
const setTimeoutPromise = util.promisify(setTimeout);

const ac = new AbortController();
const signal = ac.signal;

setTimeoutPromise(1000, 'foobar', { signal })
  .then(console.log)
  .catch((err) => {
    if (err.message === 'AbortError')
      console.log('The timeout was aborted');
  });

ac.abort();

clearImmediate(immediate)#

Cancels an Immediate object created by setImmediate().

clearInterval(timeout)#

Cancels a Timeout object created by setInterval().

clearTimeout(timeout)#

Cancels a Timeout object created by setTimeout().

Timers Promises API#

Stability: 1 - Experimental

The timers/promises API provides an alternative set of timer functions that return Promise objects. The API is accessible via require('timers/promises').

const timersPromises = require('timers/promises');

timersPromises.setTimeout([delay[, value[, options]]])#

  • delay <number> The number of milliseconds to wait before resolving the Promise. Default: 1.
  • value <any> A value with which the Promise is resolved.
  • options <Object>
    • ref <boolean> Set to false to indicate that the scheduled Timeout should not require the Node.js event loop to remain active. Default: true.
    • signal <AbortSignal> An optional AbortSignal that can be used to cancel the scheduled Timeout.

timersPromises.setImmediate([value[, options]])#

  • value <any> A value with which the Promise is resolved.
  • options <Object>
    • ref <boolean> Set to false to indicate that the scheduled Immediate should not require the Node.js event loop to remain active. Default: true.
    • signal <AbortSignal> An optional AbortSignal that can be used to cancel the scheduled Immediate.