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Avoiding a Javascript race condition

My users are presented a basically a stripped down version of a spreadsheet. There are textboxes in each row in the grid. When they change a value in a textbox, I’m performing validation on their input, updating the collection that’s driving the grid, and redrawing the subtotals on the page. This is all handled by the OnChange event of each textbox.

When they click the Save button, I’m using the button’s OnClick event to perform some final validation on the amounts, and then send their entire input to a web service, saving it.

At least, that’s what happens if they tab through the form to the Submit button.

The problem is, if they enter a value, then immediately click the save button, SaveForm() starts executing before UserInputChanged() completes — a race condition. My code does not use setTimeout, but I’m using it to simulate the sluggish UserInputChanged validation code:

 <script>
  var amount = null;
  var currentControl = null;

  function UserInputChanged(control) {
      currentControl = control;
      // use setTimeout to simulate slow validation code
      setTimeout(ValidateAmount, 100);
  }

  function SaveForm() {
      // call web service to save value
      document.getElementById("SavedAmount").innerHTML = amount;
  }

  function ValidateAmount() {
      // various validationey functions here
      amount = currentControl.value; // save value to collection
      document.getElementById("Subtotal").innerHTML = amount;
  }
</script>

Amount:   <input type="text" onchange="UserInputChanged(this)">
Subtotal: <span id="Subtotal"></span>
<button onclick="SaveForm()">Save</button>
Saved amount: <span id="SavedAmount"></span>

I don’t think I can speed up the validation code — it’s pretty lightweight, but apparently, slow enough that code tries to call the web service before the validation is complete.

On my machine, ~95ms is the magic number between whether the validation code executes before the save code begins. This may be higher or lower depending on the users’ computer speed.

Does anyone have any ideas how to handle this condition? A coworker suggested using a semaphore while the validation code is running and a busy loop in the save code to wait until the semaphore unlocks – but I’d like to avoid using any sort of busy loop in my code.

Answer

Use the semaphore (let’s call it StillNeedsValidating). if the SaveForm function sees the StillNeedsValidating semaphore is up, have it activate a second semaphore of its own (which I’ll call FormNeedsSaving here) and return. When the validation function finishes, if the FormNeedsSaving semaphore is up, it calls the SaveForm function on its own.

In jankcode;

function UserInputChanged(control) {
    StillNeedsValidating = true;
    // do validation
    StillNeedsValidating = false;
    if (FormNeedsSaving) saveForm(); 
}

function SaveForm() {
    if (StillNeedsValidating) { FormNeedsSaving=true; return; }
    // call web service to save value
    FormNeedsSaving = false;
}