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await is only valid in async function

I wrote this code in lib/helper.js

var myfunction = async function(x,y) {
   ....
   return [variableA, variableB]
}
exports.myfunction = myfunction;

and then I tried to use it in another file

 var helper = require('./helper.js');   
 var start = function(a,b){
     ....
     const result = await helper.myfunction('test','test');
 }
 exports.start = start;

I got an error

“await is only valid in async function”

What is the issue?

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Answer

The error is not refering to myfunction but to start.

async function start() {
   ....

   const result = await helper.myfunction('test', 'test');
}

// My function
const myfunction = async function(x, y) {
  return [
    x,
    y,
  ];
}

// Start function
const start = async function(a, b) {
  const result = await myfunction('test', 'test');
  
  console.log(result);
}

// Call start
start();


I use the opportunity of this question to advise you about an known anti pattern using await which is : return await.


WRONG

async function myfunction() {
  console.log('Inside of myfunction');
}

// Here we wait for the myfunction to finish
// and then returns a promise that'll be waited for aswell
// It's useless to wait the myfunction to finish before to return
// we can simply returns a promise that will be resolved later

// useless async here
async function start() {
  // useless await here
  return await myfunction();
}

// Call start
(async() => {
  console.log('before start');

  await start();
  
  console.log('after start');
})();

CORRECT

async function myfunction() {
  console.log('Inside of myfunction');
}

// Here we wait for the myfunction to finish
// and then returns a promise that'll be waited for aswell
// It's useless to wait the myfunction to finish before to return
// we can simply returns a promise that will be resolved later

// Also point that we don't use async keyword on the function because
// we can simply returns the promise returned by myfunction
function start() {
  return myfunction();
}

// Call start
(async() => {
  console.log('before start');

  await start();
  
  console.log('after start');
})();

Also, know that there is a special case where return await is correct and important : (using try/catch)

Are there performance concerns with `return await`?

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