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Understanding the Node.js event loop phases and how it executes the JavaScript code.

Sumedh Nimkarde on February 08, 2020

I believe if you are reading this, you must have heard about the famous event loop that Node.js has, how it handles the concurrency mechanism in No... [Read Full]
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I love this explanation from Jake Archibald with great visuals.

I mention it in my frontend resources post with some other goodies


It is great indeed! Thanks for sharing it here.


Hello nice article. I have clarifying question process.nextTick() happens after all the event loop phases or before the phases?


Hi, process.nextTick callbacks are executed immediately. As mentioned, whenever the event loop encounters process.nextTick, it finishes its current callback execution(no matter what phase it is in), then pauses and executes our process.nextTick callback first after which it resumes to the phase which it left its work on.

I hope you this answers your question.


Thank you for the response sir. Last question it only happens in their execution context right? say I have this code:


function f() {

setImmediate( ()=> console.log('immediate') )


even though I called f() first before setImmediate

Hey, pardon for the late reply. Yes, it happens in the execution context. Thanks for reminding, I think I forgot to mention this term in the article! By the way, I think you may have mistaken for the output, after executing, the output seems to be:


Here is how it happens:

  1. console.log gets logged
  2. f is called. f()
  3. now, everything happens according to the f() context. i.e process.nextTick will execute with priority. If there are any other setTimeout, setImmediate callbacks, they will be pushed to the respective queues and executed.
  4. lastly, when the function returns, we come back to the last setImmediate, and execute the callback.

I never tried my code. I thought process.nextTick will be push to event loop and setImmediate will run next since its in the higher or outer execution context.

anyway thanks for explaining. :)



The blog is very helpful but the outputs of 2 small code snippets in your blog is where i am getting confused. Could you please tell me where I am going wrong ? Your help will be REALLY valuable. Im getting confused in process.nextTick() .

function main() {
  setTimeout(() => console.log('1'), 50);
  process.nextTick(() => console.log('2'));
  setImmediate(() => console.log('3'));
  process.nextTick(() => console.log('4'));

In the above code all the callbacks from microtasks queue are executed first so the below output :


But in the the last code snippet you mentioned as example :

const fs = require('fs');

function main() {
 setTimeout(() => console.log('1'), 0);
 setImmediate(() => console.log('2'));

 fs.readFile('./xyz.txt', (err, buff) => {
  setTimeout(() => {
 }, 1000);

 process.nextTick(() => {

 setImmediate(() => console.log('4'));

setImmediate(() => console.log('5'));

setTimeout(() => {
 process.on('exit', (code) => {
  console.log(`close callback`);
}, 1100);


In the above code process.nextTick does not seem to be executed first as seen in the below output :

close callback

Could you please explain why process.nextTick is not being executed first ??


I think because process.nextTick is in fs.readFile block, so when event loop comes to poll phase, it has to wait for i/o task is completed before executing anything else so every callbacks in this block are put to corresponding phase queue, now, there is nothing to do more in this phase, the event loop will move to check phase and print 5 to console, next iteration when event loop comes to i/o phase, it check that i/o task is done so it prints 'process.nextTick' -> check phase( print '4') -> closing phase -> timer phase (print '3')


Okay ! Did not read the code carefully that's y d confusion . Thanks a lot :)

Hey! Pardon for the late reply. As trunghahaha said, process.nextTick is wrapped inside the fs.readFile, hence, the event loop gets to know about it only when the callback of fs.readFile is executed, right? Hence, such behaviour.


One of the best explanation for the event loop.

Are the following will execute in the same fashion?
1.With main
function main() {
........Some Code.......
2.Without main
........Some Code.......


Thank you, great one 💙
But I have a little question..
What's the difference between fs.readFile and fs.Promises.readFile , in other words where will be fs.Promises.readFile priority in the context of this post


Since, promises come under microtasks, as far as my knowledge, fs.Promises.readFile gets the priority but the only catch is that the handler passed to .then(fn) i.e fn here is pushed to the queue (registered) only after the promise is resolved/rejected.

Whereas, if it is a fs.readFile, its callback is immediately registered by the event loop when it(the event loop) encounters the fs.readFile operation.

Thus, if you do something like:

fs.promises.readFile(`./file.txt`).then((buff) => {
    console.log(`> resolved promise`);

  fs.readFile(`./file.txt`, (err, buff) => {
    if (err) throw err;
    console.log(`> not a promise`);

You may see that the output will be:

> not a promise
> resolved promise

Hope this helps!


Thank you for replying 💙 , but for this piece of code I put fs.promise.readFile upfront so it would(should) be resolved and pushed to the queue early before settimeout, can you clarify why this output .. !

const fs=require('fs')

// text.txt file just contains 'Hello World'
const read=fs.promises.readFile('./text.txt','utf-8')

    console.log('from promise')

//just looping to ensure that the file has finished reading
for(let i=0;i<10000;i++){

setTimeout(() => {
    console.log('from setTimeout')
}, 0);

// looping...
// from setTimeout
// from promise


Isn't it great how setImmediate is less immediate than nextTick which isn't executed in the next tick but in the current? ðŸĪŠ


Yes, it is indeed. It is also said that they should have been named the other way i.e setImmediate should have been named process.nextTick and vice versa.


Thank you for this amazing post 🙋ðŸŧ‍♂ïļ


Hey Abdelrahman, Thanks for reading! Glad you liked it!

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