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How to read files with Node.js?

In this tutorial, we will explore different ways we can read files in Node.js.  In software development, reading files is a regular part of the job. However, this simple process very often becomes complicated and tedious. Fortunately, that's not the case in Node.js. Node.js provides a built-infile system(fs) module, to carry out file operations. Before we start, let us make sure we have the basic prerequisites. You will need to ensure you have: Node.js  Code Editor (Ex. VS Code, Atom) For this tutorial, my environment setup includes: Node.js - v12.16.1 Code Editor - VS Code fs module fs module is a built-in module in the Node.js. You do notnecessarily need to install it.  The fs module supports both Synchronous and Asynchronous function calls. Getting started I am assuming you have installed the NodeJS. Create a new directory node-fs.  Create 2 files inside the node-fs, data.txt and index.js. Paste the dummy data in the data.txt.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consecteturadipiscingelit, sed do eiusmodtemporincididuntutlabore et dolore magna aliqua. Open this directory in the code editor. From the index.js, we will read the test.txt.  Read file Synchronously using readFileSync The readFileSync is a synchronous method to read a file. Syntax fs.readFileSync(path[, options]) pathfilepath options encoding string or buffer Default null flag string DefaultrOpen index.js in the Code Editor. Paste the below code.// import the fs module const fs = require("fs"); // read file synchronously const readData = fs.readFileSync("./data.txt"); console.log(readData);Open the terminal or cmd in the node-fs directory and run the below command.$ node index.js <Buffer 4c 6f 72 65 6d 20 69 70 73 75 6d 20 64 6f 6c 6f 72 20 73 69 74 20 61 6d 65 74 2c 20 63 6f 6e 73 65 63 74 65 74 75 72 20 61 64 69 70 69 73 63 69 6e 67 ... 73 more bytes>It has returned the content in the buffer format. The readFileSync by default returns the content in the Buffer format.To get the content in normal string format, we need to pass the utf8 encoding as a parameter.Change the code.// import the fs module const fs = require("fs"); // read file synchronously const readData = fs.readFileSync("./data.txt", "utf8"); console.log(readData);run it.$ node index.jsLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.Read file Asynchronously using readFileAsynchronous methods are great when you don’t want to wait for a process to complete.  fs module provides an asynchronous method to read a file. It returns a callback.Syntaxfs.readFileSync(path[, options], callback)pathfilepathoptionsencoding string or buffer Default nullflag string Defaultrcallback functionerr Errordata string | BufferSyntax is similar tothe synchronous method except it returns a callback function.// import the fs module const fs = require("fs"); // read file asynchronously fs.readFile("./data.txt", "utf8", (err, data) => {     if (!err) {         console.log(data);     } else {         console.error("Something went wrong while reading the file.");     } });Run the code.$ node index.jsLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.Read file using Stream Reading file using fs.readFileis an ideal way if the file size is less. If the size is huge, the read will consume the complete Memory and you may find your system hanging. In such scenarios, Stream is the best option. This breaks the file into small chunks of data and sends a piece at a time. In this way, the system can continue with other tasks without allocating the complete memory to it.   Let us code and understand. Node.js provides a createReadStreammethod to stream the file. createReadStreamreturns a fs.ReadStreamobject. The readStream events like data, end, or error. To read the file, we have to listen to these events.  The data event will return the content of the file in chunks.  The end event will notify that, there is no data left in the file to read. The error event returns an error. // import the fs module constfs = require("fs");  // read file using stream const streamRead = async () => {  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {  try {  // create a read stream const streamRead = fs.createReadStream("./data.txt", {  encoding:"utf8",        });  // listen to data event streamRead.on("data", (data) => {  console.log(data);        });  // listen to end event streamRead.on("end", () => {  resolve("File read complete");        });  // listen to error event streamRead.on("error", (error) => {  throw Error(  "Something went wrong while streaming the file.",  error.message         );        });      } catch (error) {  reject(error);      }    });  };  streamRead().then((res, err) => {  if(!err) console.log(res);  else console.error(err);  }); Run the code.$ node index.jsLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. File read completeExperiment time! For the purpose of the experiment, I created a file of 20MB to check the performance of readFileSync, readFileand createReadStream.  The average memory consumption of VS Code is 600-700MB in my machine. This is a screenshot before running any of the commands. readFileSync Check the screenshot. This operation took 373MB and it went on to upto ~450MB. readFile (Asynchronous)Check the screenshot. This operation took 506MB and it went on to upto ~600MB.createReadStream Check the screenshot. This operation took 287MB and it reached upto ~300MB.  Conclusion Node.js provides multiple methods to read a file. It completely depends on the file size and the requirement, which method to choose. From our performance tests, streaming turns out to be the most efficient method to use.  The performance may vary from machine to machine and file size. One must note that what we have demonstrated is just for the sake of a demo, so this must not be taken to be the final words. There are other npm packages available for file system, for example,fs-extra.  Hope this tutorial has helped. Taking a formal training course in Node.js would be a great way to fast-track your career.  Happy coding!Tired of fixing bugs? Find easy solutions to your programming queries with our live, interactive workshops. Explore now.

How to read files with Node.js?

6K
How to read files with Node.js?

In this tutorial, we will explore different ways we can read files in Node.js.  

In software development, reading files is a regular part of the job. However, this simple process very often becomes complicated and tedious. Fortunately, that's not the case in Node.js. Node.js provides a built-infile system(fs) module, to carry out file operations. 

Before we start, let us make sure we have the basic prerequisites. You will need to ensure you have: 

  • Node.js  
  • Code Editor (Ex. VS Code, Atom) 

For this tutorial, my environment setup includes: 

  • Node.js - v12.16.1 
  • Code Editor - VS Code 

fs module 

fs module is a built-in module in the Node.js. You do notnecessarily need to install it.  

The fs module supports both Synchronous and Asynchronous function calls. 

Getting started 

I am assuming you have installed the NodeJS. 

  • Create a new directory node-fs.  
  • Create 2 files inside the node-fs, data.txt and index.js
  • Paste the dummy data in the data.txt.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consecteturadipiscingelit, sed do eiusmodtemporincididuntutlabore et dolore magna aliqua. 

Open this directory in the code editor. 

From the index.js, we will read the test.txt.  

Read file Synchronously using readFileSync 

The readFileSync is a synchronous method to read a file. 

Syntax 

fs.readFileSync(path[, options]) 

  • pathfilepath 
  • options 
    • encoding string or buffer Default null 
    • flag string Defaultr

Open index.js in the Code Editor. 

Paste the below code.

// import the fs module
const fs = require("fs");
// read file synchronously
constreadData = fs.readFileSync("./data.txt");
console.log(readData);

Open the terminal or cmd in the node-fs directory and run the below command.

$ node index.js
<Buffer4c 6f 72 65 6d 20 69 70 73 75 6d 20 64 6f 6c 6f 72 20 73 69 74 20 61 6d 65 74 2c 20 63 6f 6e 73 65 63 74 65 74 75 72 20 61 64 69 70 69 73 63 69 6e 67 ... 73 more bytes>

It has returned the content in the buffer format. The readFileSync by default returns the content in the Buffer format.

To get the content in normal string format, we need to pass the utf8 encoding as a parameter.

Change the code.

// import the fs module
const fs = require("fs");
// read file synchronously
constreadData = fs.readFileSync("./data.txt", "utf8");
console.log(readData);

run it.

$ node index.js
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Read file Asynchronously using readFile

Asynchronous methods are great when you don’t want to wait for a process to complete.  
fs module provides an asynchronous method to read a file. It returns a callback.
Syntax

fs.readFileSync(path[, options], callback)
  • pathfilepath
  • options
    • encoding string or buffer Default null
    • flag string Defaultr
  • callback function
    • err Error
    • data string | Buffer

Syntax is similar tothe synchronous method except it returns a callback function.

// import the fs module
const fs = require("fs");
// read file asynchronously
fs.readFile("./data.txt", "utf8", (err, data) => {
    if (!err) {
        console.log(data);
    } else {
        console.error("Something went wrong while reading the file.");
    }
});

Run the code.

$ node index.js
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Read file using Stream 

Reading file using fs.readFileis an ideal way if the file size is less. If the size is huge, the read will consume the complete Memory and you may find your system hanging. 

In such scenarios, Stream is the best option. This breaks the file into small chunks of data and sends a piece at a time. In this way, the system can continue with other tasks without allocating the complete memory to it.   

Let us code and understand. 

Node.js provides a createReadStreammethod to stream the file. createReadStreamreturns a fs.ReadStreamobject. The readStream events like data, end, or error. To read the file, we have to listen to these events.  

  • The data event will return the content of the file in chunks.  
  • The end event will notify that, there is no data left in the file to read. 
  • The error event returns an error. 
// import the fs module 
constfs = require("fs"); 
// read file using stream 
const streamRead = async () => { 
return new Promise((resolve, reject) => { 
try { 
// create a read stream 
const streamRead = fs.createReadStream("./data.txt", { 
encoding:"utf8", 
      }); 
// listen to data event 
streamRead.on("data", (data) => { 
console.log(data); 
      }); 
// listen to end event 
streamRead.on("end", () => resolve("File read complete"); 
      }); 
// listen to error event 
streamRead.on("error", (error) => { 
throw Error"Something went wrong while streaming the file."error.message 
        ); 
      }); 
    } catch (error) { 
      reject(error); 
    } 
  }); 
}; 
streamRead().then((res, err) => { 
if(!err) console.log(res); 
else console.error(err); 
}); 

Run the code.

$ node index.js
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
File read complete

Experiment time! 

For the purpose of the experiment, I created a file of 20MB to check the performance of readFileSync, readFileand createReadStream 

The average memory consumption of VS Code is 600-700MB in my machine. 

This is a screenshot before running any of the commands. 

How to read files with Node.js

readFileSync 

Check the screenshot. This operation took 373MB and it went on to upto ~450MB

readFileSync

readFile (Asynchronous)

Check the screenshot. This operation took 506MB and it went on to upto ~600MB.

readFile (Asynchronous)

createReadStream 

Check the screenshot. This operation took 287MB and it reached upto ~300MB.  

createReadStream

Conclusion 

Node.js provides multiple methods to read a file. It completely depends on the file size and the requirement, which method to choose. From our performance tests, streaming turns out to be the most efficient method to use.  

The performance may vary from machine to machine and file size. One must note that what we have demonstrated is just for the sake of a demo, so this must not be taken to be the final words. There are other npm packages available for file system, for example,fs-extra.  

Hope this tutorial has helped. Taking a formal training course in Node.js would be a great way to fast-track your career.  

Happy coding!

Tired of fixing bugs? Find easy solutions to your programming queries with our live, interactive workshops. Explore now.

Shubham

Shubham Chadokar

Author

I am a Software Engineer who loves to write articles and tutorials on the latest technologies. I write majorly on Nodejs and Golang. 

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Let’s understand this will an example:         Interested programming language                             JavaScript                                     CSharp                                     Java               When reading the above form by any screen readers, it will read as “Interested programming language JavaScript” for the first radio, “Interested programming language CSharp” and “Interested programming language Java” for second and third radio.Imagine if you have a long form with multiple fields. It would help to improve the usability if we can categorize/section them with the help of . It would even help to improve the accessibility of forms.Talking about accessibility, with the associated correctly with the via its for attribute (which contains the element's id attribute), a screenreader will read out something like "name, edit text" for below one.Enter your name: Another advantage of having label associated with input of type text, radio etc is they are clickable too.  If you click on a label then the associated input control will get the focus. If the input control is of type checkbox or radio, clicking on label will select the check box and radio. This will be useful as clickable area of checkbox or radio is small and having label gives provision to select it easily.Note: We can always associate multiple labels to a single input control but it is not a good idea as it will impact the accessibility and assistive technologies. along with can be used to separate the functionality in a form and group the same purpose elements like radio buttons.Here is an example of the same.               Contact information                   Title                                                                             Mr                                                                                                 Mrs                                                                               Name:                                                           E-mail:                                                           Password:                                                 Additional information                               Social type:                                 LinkedIn             Twitter             Instagram                                                 Phone number:                                                           Submit                   Every time you like to create an HTML form you need to start using element and  nesting all the content controls inside it. Most of the assistive technologies and browser plugins can help to discover elements and implement special hooks to make them easier to use.We have already some of the form elements like , , , , , and . Other common input types are button, checkbox, file, hidden, image, password, radio, reset, submit, and text.Input types.Attributes of Input.Few attributes on element help in validating the data like required, max, maxlength, min, minlength, multiple, pattern, step etc based on their respective type.Also other attributes on of type submit/image like formaction, formmethod, formnovalidate, formenctype etc helps in overriding the form level methods.ValidationBefore submitting the data to the server, it is important to perform some client side validation to avoid unwanted round trips. Client-side validation is needed but it is not a replacement to the server side validation. Advantage of having client side validation is to capture the invalid data and fix it immediately.Some of the important and popular checks which are most commonly used on client areField requiredSpecific data formatEnter valid email addressPassword and more…Let’s build a form with the above validation checks.                         Do you have experience in programming ?*                     Yes           No                             How many years of experience you have ?                                     What's your programming language?*                           TypeScript           Java           CSharp           Ruby           Go           Swift                             What's your company e-mail address?                             Cover letter                             Submit       Say, if we enter an value which is more than 40 in experience field. We should see an inbuilt error as shown below:All these validations and notifications are coming out of the box. Thanks to inbuilt functionality in control. Let’s see how we can perform validation of forms using JavaScript and take control of look and feel of error message.Most browsers support constraint validation API by providing few validation properties on HTML elements like , , , etc.validationMessage: we can customize this message if the control value failed validation otherwise it will return an empty string. It is dependent on other constraint i.e. willValidate and isValid.willValidate: If element is validated then it will be true otherwise false.validity: is the validity state of the element and it is dependent on other properties likepatternMatch for specified pattern attribute,tooLong and tooShort are for string fields based on maxLength and minLengthrangeOverflow and rangeUnderflow for numeric fields based on max and min attributestypeMatch for fields which are based on email or url.valid if all the validation constraints are metvalueMissing if the field is set as required.Along with properties, we do also have methods to perform validation like checkValidity() which returns true or false and setCustomValidity(message) is to set the message if the element is considered invalid. Also if the element is invalid then checkValidity will raise an event called invalid Event.Let’s create a simple form and customize the validation message.       Please enter an email address:             Submit     Add a script tag and customize the message as shown below:     const email = document.getElementById("mail");     email.addEventListener("input", function (event) {       if (email.validity.typeMismatch) {         email.setCustomValidity("I am expecting an e-mail address!");       } else {         email.setCustomValidity("");       }     });   Here we are listening to the input event on email field and checking if the validity on the control is valid or not and based on that we are setting the custom message.Here are we relying on inbuilt validation method. Let’s disable the validation at form level by with the help of ‘novalidate’ and take control over validation. This would mean the browser will not perform auto check on validation before sending the data. But still we have access to constraint validation API to perform validation ourself.Refine the above form to add few addition validation like required and minLength etc.               Please enter an email address:                             Submit     Let’s update the script to handle the validation     const form  = document.getElementsByTagName('form')[0];     const email = document.getElementById('mail');     const emailError = document.querySelector('#mail + span.error');     email.addEventListener('input', function (event) {       // Each time the user types something, we check if the form fields are valid.       if (email.validity.valid) {         // In case there is an error message visible, if the field is valid, we remove the error message.         emailError.textContent = ''; // Reset the content of the message         emailError.className = 'error'; // Reset the visual state of the message       } else {         // If there is still an error, show the correct error         showError();       }     });     form.addEventListener('submit', function (event) {       // if the email field is valid, we let the form submit       if(!email.validity.valid) {         // If it isn't, we display an appropriate error message         showError();         // Then we prevent the form from being sent by cancelling the event         event.preventDefault();       }     });     function showError() {       if(email.validity.valueMissing) {         // If the field is empty display the following error message.         emailError.textContent = 'You need to enter an e-mail address.';       } else if(email.validity.typeMismatch) {         // If the field doesn't contain an email address display the following error message.         emailError.textContent = 'Invalid value is entered, expected an e-mail address.';       } else if(email.validity.tooShort) {         // If the data is too short display the following error message.         emailError.textContent = `Email should be at least ${ email.minLength } characters; you entered ${ email.value.length }.`;       }       // Set the styling appropriately       emailError.className = 'error active';     } Reload the HTML and try entering an invalid email address, the corresponding error message should be displayed.Note: In the current scope of this blog, we are not working on styling.Is it possible to validate forms without built in APIs ? Let’s see with the same example.We would consider the same form again but have lot of functionality in                           Please enter an email address:                                             Submit           const form  = document.getElementsByTagName('form')[0];     const email = document.getElementById('mail');     let error = email.nextElementSibling;     const emailRegExp = /^[a-zA-Z0-9.!#$%&'*+/=?^_`{|}~-]+@[a-zA-Z0-9-]+(?:\.[a-zA-Z0-9-]+)*$/;     function addEvent(element, event, callback) {       let previousEventCallBack = element["on"+event];       element["on"+event] = function (e) {         const output = callback(e);         // A callback that returns `false` stops the callback chain and interrupts the execution of the event callback.         if (output === false) return false;         if (typeof previousEventCallBack === 'function') {           output = previousEventCallBack(e);           if(output === false) return false;         }       }     };     // Now we can rebuild our validation constraint. Because we do not rely on CSS pseudo-class, we have to explicitly set the valid/invalid class on our email field     addEvent(window, "load", function () {       // Here, we test if the field is empty (remember, the field is not required)       // If it is not, we check if its content is a well-formed e-mail address.       const test = email.value.length === 0 || emailRegExp.test(email.value);       email.className = test ? "valid" : "invalid";     });     // This defines what happens when the user types in the fiel     addEvent(email, "input", function () {       const test = email.value.length === 0 || emailRegExp.test(email.value);       if (test) {         email.className = "valid";         error.textContent = "";         error.className = "error";       } else {         email.className = "invalid";       }     });     // This defines what happens when the user tries to submit the data     addEvent(form, "submit", function () {       const test = email.value.length === 0 || emailRegExp.test(email.value);       if (!test) {         email.className = "invalid";         error.textContent = "Expecting an e-mail";         error.className = "error active";         return false;       } else {         email.className = "valid";         error.textContent = "";         error.className = "error";       }     });   On refreshing the page, the output with invalid email address should be displayed as shown below.In real time applications, we can rely on existing libraries like Parsley along with JQuery which would ease our life by taking away lot of complexity.Overview of Parsley:Parsley is a front-end javascript validation library which helps to give proper feedback to user on submission of form. As mentioned earlier, it is not a replacement of server side validation. Parsley library helps us to define our own validation.Parsley uses a DOM API namely ‘data-parsley-’ prefix on the existing properties. For example if we want to add this on a property say ‘sample’ then we would add as [data-parsley-sample=’value’]. This will allow us to configure pretty much everything without any configuration or custom function.There is no specific installation process but adding the corresponding script tags will enable the validation. Parsley is relied on Jquery so it has to be included as well.             ...                 $('#form').parsley();     Assumption is that we have downloaded the Jquery and Parsley minified librarie and added it to our working directory. Otherwise we can refer to CDN location as shown below.   Adding attribute ‘data-parsley-validate’ to each form will allow us to validate. And “$(‘#form’).parsley()” will manually bind Parsley to your forms.Let’s understand further by configuring the attributes via JavaScript. For which, lets add two input fields inside the form element.                 Also let’s update the content to perform some pre-defined validation based on attributes.       var instance = $('#first').parsley();       console.log(instance.isValid()); // maxlength is 42, so field is valid       $('#first').attr('data-parsley-maxlength', 4);       console.log(instance.isValid()); // No longer valid, as maxlength is 4       // You can access and override options in javascript too:       instance.options.maxlength++;       console.log(instance.isValid()); // Back to being valid, as maxlength is 5       // Alternatively, the options can be specified as:       var otherInstance = $('#second').parsley({         maxlength: 10       });       console.log(otherInstance.options);     In the console.log, we should see thistrue false true {maxlength: 10}Options are inherited from the global level to form level and further to field. So if we set the options at global level then the same can be observed at field level.   Parsley.options.maxlength = 42; // maxlength of 42 is declared at global level var formInstance = $('form').parsley(); var field = $('input').parsley(); console.log(field.options.maxlength); // Shows that maxlength is 42 inherited from global Parsley.options.maxlength = 30; console.log(field.options.maxlength); // Shows that maxlength is automatically 30 formInstance.options.maxlength++; console.log(field.options.maxlength); // Shows that maxlength is automatically 31We can also add our own custom validations. Let understand this with an example.                     window.Parsley.addValidator('multipleOf', {         requirementType: 'integer',         validateNumber: function(value, requirement) {           return 0 === value % requirement;         },         messages: {           en: 'This value should be a multiple of %s',         }       });     Here we are adding a new attribute namely ‘data-parsley-multiple-of’ which takes only numeric values which are multiples of 3.In window.Parsley, we added a new validator with name ‘multiple-of’ with an object containing few important properties like ‘requirementType’, ‘validateNumber’ and ‘messages’ to be shown. This properties helps the library to check if the input value is valid or not.Similar to validateNumber, other properties are also there for different types like validateString, validateDate and validateMultiple.Also for requirementType, we have different options like string, number, date, regexp, boolean etc.Messages by default has English format, to support multiple locales we need to add the specific localization and also add specific locale.Events: Parsley triggers events that allows ParsleyUI to work and for performance reasons they don’t rely on JQuery events but the usage is similar to JQuery i.e. parsley events will also bubble up like JQuery events. For example, if a field is validated then the event ‘field:validate’ will be triggred on the field instance then on to form instance and finally to the window.Parsley.$('#some-input').parsley().on('field:success', function() {         // In here, `this` is the parlsey instance of #some-input       });       window.Parsley.on('field:error', function() {         // This global callback will be called for any field that fails validation.         console.log('Validation failed for: ', this.$element);       });Many times, we need some validation based on the response from server. Parsley provides an attributes i.e. data-parsley-remote and data-parsley-remote-validator to perform the same.Let’s consider this HTMLLet’s add the async validator on the window.Parsley object.window.Parsley.addAsyncValidator('customValidator', function (xhr) {           console.log(this.$element); // jQuery Object[ input[name="q"] ]           return 404 === xhr.status;         }, 'customURL');Parsley is a very useful and powerful JavaScript form frontend validation library.Note: For developers building react based web applications, they can rely on FORMIK which is most popular library for building forms in React and React Native.ConclusionForms are important in HTML and it was needed and still needed now. is an html tag that allow us to perform HTTP methods like GET/POST operation without writing any code in JavaScript. Form defines an boundary to identify all set of the form field elements to be submitted to the server. For example, if we perform an enter key or clicking on submit button , the agent triggers form submission data based on each form field value to the server based on the action URL on the form.Before HTML5, all the elements are expected to be part of the to send the data to server. In HTML5, they maintained the backward compatibility and also enhanced the capabilities who may want to use AJAX and don’t want to rely on default behaviours i.e. they have enabled designers who expect more flexibility in having their form elements outside the form and still maintain the connections with the form. 
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How to Work With Forms In JavaScript

Forms also referred as web forms are a very import... Read More

Introduction to Web APIs in JavaScript

Before we talk about APIs in JavaScript and how to use them, we need to know what exactly we mean by APIs. API stands for Application Programming Interface and is a concept that is not limited or specific to JavaScript, but is used in almost all web application languages. Being a web developer, it is expected that you know about API, so let’s try to understand the concept first. As a concept, API has been there since more than 50 years, but in recent years it has become very popular and has outlined a different method for how we create our applications. Now imagine you are creating a web application where users can sign up and talk about their recent travels, write stories, post pictures and share them. As an add-on they should be able to share the same across multiple platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc. How do we do that? We don’t have access to the Instagram application or their data. We don’t know how they are managing their data and whether data from our application will fit into their databases.  Let’s try to imagine how Instagram would allow add-on without APIs. Perhaps we might drop an email to Instagram asking them to allow us access to their databases where we can write content. They may have received millions of other such requests from people who also need to use Instagram add-ons. Instagram will go through our requests and the million others and probably would use a lucky draw to decide who gets access to their databases. This is obviously not a reasonable solution and without any reasonable solution all applications in the world will just become isolated; which means they can’t communicate and can’t support each other’s features. Luckily our imagination is just that!Fortunately, we are living in a world with APIs around us which allow us to easily communicate with other apps. I can create an application where I can use Google’s search, Facebook’s feed, Instagram’s post, twitter’s tweets all in one app. This is all possible using API. As the name suggests, it allows us to open an interface which can then be used by other apps to communicate using the interface. How does an API work?The purpose of API is to communicate between apps with each other as intermediary, where both apps might have been built with different tools and technologies. It can be achieved by using api standards like REST, SOAP which outline protocols or sets of rules which the client (who needs to call) and server (who serves client’s requests) need to follow. These standards are key to communication. These standards outline what a request should look like and the format in which client should expect response from server. Every api exposes its endpoints (also called entrypoints), which allows its client to use it to access features of apis. For example, in JavaScript, to work with DOM, it exposes Document as an entrypoint in order to work with multiple methods. It allows its client to use it in order to manipulate DOM. In JavaScript however we use containers, which are nothing but HTML controls which can call APIs and response can be rendered within that control. JavaScript: An Introduction JavaScript is one of the most widely used programming languages, even though it is mainly used on browsers to render HTML and CSS. It can also run on our servers to handle client requests, connect with databases and do almost everything any other programming language does on the server. This makes it a significant tool that needs to be learned. Here, we are going to discuss about APIs which are provided by JavaScript to work with almost every aspect of a web application. APIs in JavaScript JavaScript, being a very widely used programming language has a very large set of APIs available, which make a JavaScript developer’s life a lot easier. JavaScript is also a multi-purpose language which means it can not only work on browsers, but also on servers or phones. To support different platforms, it has a different set of APIs to work with. It also provides a rich set of controls and other features like storage on client which are all easily availed by JavaScript.  Browser APIs in JavaScript Browsers use JavaScript to display web pages, handle user interactions, send requests to servers and to receive responses. To make all this possible, JavaScript provides browser APIs which can be used to perform browser related functions:  Working with DOM  DOM stands for Document Object Model, which is a structure that holds all HTML controls on a web page. It not only holds but also allows us to add remove controls from it. You might have worked with document API which is used to get, push or even remove elements from DOM, all of this is coming from JavaScript DOM API. Example: document.getElementById(“header”).text(“This is a header”); Request data from server JavaScript is widely used to optimize web pages by updating only a part of a webpage instead of loading the entire page. for example, when you like a post on Facebook, it doesn’t load the entire page again, it only updates that particular post. Similarly, when we tweet on Twitter it doesn’t reload the entire page to show new tweets. This is how JavaScript makes partial calls to the server using popular fetch, AJAX apis. Example: const response= await fetch(url); // when response is success which is status 200 if (response.ok) {     // receive response from server.   let json = await response.json(); } else {   // if there are errors returned by server, show the error   alert("Error occured" + response.status); }Store data at client Even though we have our databases working smoothly on servers processing terabytes of data every day, you might still want to store a chunk of data on the client’s browsers to optimize the application performances. How do we do that? Again JavaScript will show us the way, by providing APIs like localStorage, sessionStorage which we can use to store data on client’s browser and remove it whenever we want. The difference between localStorage and sessionStorgae is that data which we store in localStorage persists even after closing the browser or tab,  whereas data stored in sessionStorage gets cleared as soon as the tab or browser is closed. Now both of these have its own advantages depending on your requirement.sessionStorage.setItem('key', value); sessionStorage.getItem('key')   localStorage.setItem('key', value); sessionStorage.getItem('key';)Work with Graphics There are lot of popular applications where you might have seen  2D or 3D graphics created using user’s interaction allowing users to create such drawings, and I am not talking about just CSS (Cascaded Style Sheets). Yes, CSS has its role to play, but to allow users to create 2D/3D drawings on the web we need more than just CSS. JavaScript provides canvas api which can be used to work with pixels on web page to draw 2D/ 3D images which will be within html tag.Third Party APIs.  Integration with other applications, the structures of which we don’t have much information about, can be difficult. But JavaScript allows us to integrate with many popular third-party apps like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook. For example, you have your company’s website where you also want to display recent tweets that your company’s Twitter account has tweeted. How do we do that? JavaScript’s Twitter API is the answer. This is not only for Twitter, but a lot of other popular apps can be integrated into your own web page using JavaScript’s third party APIs. Web Audio API  Audio API in JavaScript provides a smooth implementation of audio controls over a webpage. This includes multiple play controls on audio, and audio effects on the web. Web Audio API has multiple interfaces which include operations related to visualization effects, audio destinations, merging audio channels and audio processing. Example      Play   Geolocation APIThere are many web apps which work best with information of user’s locations, for example, if you are looking for restaurants nearby, you will get better results if Google knows your location. It is obviously up to the user’s consent if they want to share their location or not due to privacy concerns, but if they do want to share, geolocation API provides location of users to web applications. Example: var address = document.getElementById("address"); function accessUserLocation() {   if (navigator.geolocation) { navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition(displayLocation); } } function displayLocation(location) { address.innerHTML = "Latitude: " + location.coords.latitude +   "Longitude: " + location.coords.longitude;   }History API  History API is another useful although rarely used API, used if you want to allow user to traverse back and forth on a web application. History API runs with window objects using three different methods available-- go, back and forward. Example: // Visit page visited previously  window.history.back();  // Traverse to forward on web page.  window.history.forward();  // Move forward by 1 page  window.history.go(1); Web Workers API  Workers can be created using constructors in JavaScript, which can run a JavaScript file under worker thread context, which is different from the context of windows in JavaScript. There are a few exceptions on what kind of code we can run under worker thread, for example we can’t manipulate DOM using worker thread. With this a question arises-- if worker thread is different form main window thread, then how do they communicate? Because even though it is running in a different thread, the worker can still execute many window methods. To make this possible, the worker and main thread communicate using postMessage() method; to send data whenever onmessage event is called and handled. Example: const worker = new Worker('input.js'); Here input file which is a JavaScript file will contain the code which you need the worker thread to execute. Most Popular JavaScript APIs Browser APIs – We have discussed them in detail and since JavaScript leads how web applications are rendered on browser, the popularity of browser APIs is obvious. Canvas APIs – This is another favorite API of many developers who work in the graphics domain and need interactive applications for their client to easily work with drawings and graphics on web pages. SocialMedia APIs – This is very common nowadays. Any web application that targets an audience, needs social media integrations in their app, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram APIs, where they can showcase recent activities on their web page. Storage APIs – Every site I browse now a days pops up a panel asking me to accept cookies settings. Why? Because it helps the applications work well with user’s interaction and responses to the app, and the storage is not limited to cookies. sessionStorage and localStorage are widely used in JavaScript applications to store user’s info on client’s browsers. We just can’t imagine a life without storage APIs in JavaScript! JavaScript tools and relationship between themJavaScript Libraries There are JavaScript libraries like jQuery and React which implement JavaScript with their own new syntax. For example, the way we access our DOM using vanilla JavaScript and the way jQuery does it is different, but in the end, both use the same API which we have discussed above. Another example is when using React, where it extends JavaScript with JSX to embed JavaScript with HTML in React components.JavaScript FrameworksJavaScript Frameworks like Angular and Vue make most of the JavaScript APIs as they are built on top of JavaScript. The difference between the frameworks is in the structure, data flow and different patterns which they use to make it easier to work with JavaScript and implement its APIs.  For example, Angular uses Dependency Injection to inject services into the component’s constructors, making it a sophisticated form of implementing inversion control which would be not this smooth with vanilla JavaScript. Frameworks like Angular try to prevent users from manipulating DOM directly as it is an expensive operation. However, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t update DOM at all. In the end, Angular uses DOM manipulation internally in quite an effective way, using the same APIs we have discussed above.Conclusion An API can be compared to a phone with unlimited talk time that is given to an application, allowing it to communicate with all other applications in the world. Why do we need this? Because one application doesn’t need to and can’t do everything. They need each other’s help. APIs can be for external as well internal use. External APIs allows an app to communicate with other apps, and internal or built-in APIs allow developers to work effectively with the tools. JavaScript being the most popular language in the world is aware of this and hence presents plenty of interfaces for us as developers to use in our applications. Be it working with storage, creating controls, integrating with Twitter, presenting media, or drawing graphics, JavaScript will not let you down.  
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Introduction to Web APIs in JavaScript

Before we talk about APIs in JavaScript and how to... Read More