Avoid duplicate backend fetches or expensive operations by “forking” a promise.

On a recent project, I needed to fetch some large resource from the backend and use it to render multiple views. Each view transforms the resource independently, and some views take longer to transform the resource than others.

My goals are:

  • Only fetch resource from the backend once.
  • Each view should render as soon as data is available, without waiting for other views.

The solution, it turns out, is as simple as making copies of Promise in javascript. Each copy of the Promise object is an independent view of the data returned by the original Promise.

Here’s a demo in node.js:

async function f1(p) {
  // f1 can process the data returned by the promise independently of f2,
  // meaning it can do useful work even when f2 is slow.
  const result = await p.then((v) => v + 'from f1');
  console.log("f1 done");
  return result;

async function f2(p) {
  // f2 takes a long time to process the data.
  const result = await p.then(async (v) => {
    await new Promise(r => setTimeout(r, 2000));
    return v + 'from f2';
  console.log("f2 done");
  return result;

async function main() {
  const p = new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    console.log("expensive operation only runs once");

  console.log(await Promise.all([f1(p), f2(p)]));


Running the script above yields:

$ node fork_promise.js 
expensive operation only runs once
f1 done
f2 done
[ 'from f1', 'from f2' ]