Promises in JavaScript: A Beginner's Guide


JavaScript is a constantly evolving language, with tools and features designed to make our coding lives simpler. One such feature, which has revolutionized asynchronous programming in JS, is the Promise. For a novice programmer, understanding promises can be a game-changer. This article aims to introduce Promises to those new to programming.

1. What is a Promise?

A Promise in JavaScript represents a value which might be available now, or in the future, or never. It's like promising someone that you'll do something; you either keep the promise (resolve it) or don’t (reject it).

In technical terms, a Promise is an object that returns a value which you hope to receive in the future. This object can have three states:

  1. Pending: The initial state; the promise is neither fulfilled nor rejected.

  2. Fulfilled (Resolved): The operation completed successfully.

  3. Rejected: The operation failed.

2. Why do we need Promises?

Before Promises, we used callbacks to handle asynchronous operations. However, chaining callbacks can lead to a phenomenon known as "callback hell" or "pyramid of doom", which makes the code hard to read and maintain.

Promises were introduced to simplify handling asynchronous operations and to provide better error handling than callbacks.

3. Creating a Promise

Here's how you can create a new Promise:

let myFirstPromise = new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    // some asynchronous operation
    if (/* everything turned out fine */) {
    } else {

In the above code:

  • The Promise constructor takes a function with two parameters: resolve and reject.

  • If the asynchronous operation succeeds, you call resolve() with the resulting value.

  • If the operation fails, you call reject() with the error.

4. Consuming a Promise

Once you have a Promise, you can use .then() to chain asynchronous operations:

    .then(result => {
        console.log(result);  // prints 'Success!'
    .catch(error => {
        console.error(error);  // prints 'Failure!'

The .then() method takes two arguments: a callback for success and another for failure. Alternatively, you can use .then() for success and .catch() for failures, as shown above.

5. Chaining Promises

You can chain Promises to perform a series of asynchronous operations:

function fetchUserData(userId) {
    return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
        // simulate an API call
        setTimeout(() => {
            if (userId === 1) {
                resolve({id: 1, name: 'John'});
            } else {
                reject('User not found!');
        }, 1000);

    .then(user => {
        console.log(user);  // prints {id: 1, name: 'John'}
    .then(name => {
        console.log(name);  // prints 'John'
    .catch(error => {

Notice how we return from the first .then()? This value is passed as an argument to the next .then().

6. Error Handling with Promises

Using .catch() at the end of the chain ensures that any error in the preceding promises gets caught:

fetchUserData(2)  // User with ID 2 doesn't exist
    .then(user => {
    .catch(error => {
        console.error(error);  // prints 'User not found!'

7. Promise Utilities

JavaScript provides utilities for working with multiple promises:

Promise.all: Waits for all promises in an iterable to be resolved or for one to be rejected. If any of the passed-in promises reject, Promise.all rejects with the reason of the first promise that rejected.

Promise.all([Promise.resolve(1), Promise.resolve(2), Promise.resolve(3)])
    .then(values => {
        console.log(values);  // prints [1, 2, 3]

Promise.race: Waits for the first promise to be resolved or rejected.

Promise.race([Promise.resolve(1), Promise.reject(new Error('Error!')), Promise.resolve(3)])
    .then(value => {
        console.log(value);  // prints 1
    .catch(error => {


Promises in JavaScript offer a powerful and flexible way to handle asynchronous operations, bringing clarity and maintainability to your code. They might seem a tad overwhelming at first, but with practice, you'll find them an indispensable tool in your coding arsenal. Embrace promises, and you promise yourself cleaner, more readable asynchronous JavaScript!