Table of content:


JavaScript, renowned for its versatility and ease of use, boasts various features that empower novice and experienced developers. One such feature is generators. Introduced in ECMAScript 2015 (ES6), generators offer a unique way to handle iteration and asynchronous programming. This article will explore what generators are, how they work, and their practical applications.

What Are Generators?

Generators are a special type of function that can pause and resume execution. Unlike regular functions, which run to completion when called, generators yield control back to the caller at designated points. This ability to pause and resume makes them particularly useful for tasks that require a sequence of values or need to handle asynchronous operations more elegantly.

Syntax and Basic Usage

A generator function is defined using the function* syntax, and it uses the yield keyword to pause execution.

function* myGenerator() {
  yield 1;
  yield 2;
  yield 3;

const gen = myGenerator();

console.log(; // { value: 1, done: false }
console.log(; // { value: 2, done: false }
console.log(; // { value: 3, done: false }
console.log(; // { value: undefined, done: true }

In this example, myGenerator is a generator function that yields three values. The gen object is an iterator created by invoking the generator function. Calling returns an object with two properties: value, the yielded value, and done, a boolean indicating whether the generator has finished.

The Power of yield

The yield keyword not only pauses the generator but also allows values to be sent back into the generator.

function* countingGenerator() {
  let count = 0;
  while (true) {
    count = yield count + 1;

const counter = countingGenerator();

console.log(; // { value: 1, done: false }
console.log(; // { value: 11, done: false }
console.log(; // { value: 21, done: false }

Here, each call to resumes the generator and can pass a value to replace the variable count. This demonstrates how generators can maintain and update their state across pauses.

Practical Applications

Custom Iteration Logic

Generators shine in scenarios where you need custom iteration logic. For instance, you can create a generator to iterate over a range of numbers or even complex data structures.

function* range(start, end) {
  for (let i = start; i <= end; i++) {
    yield i;

for (const num of range(1, 5)) {
  console.log(num); // 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Asynchronous Programming

Generators, combined with promises, can simplify asynchronous code. Libraries like co use this pattern to manage async flows more naturally than nested callbacks or promise chains.

const fetch = require('node-fetch');

function* fetchData(url) {
  const response = yield fetch(url);
  const data = yield response.json();
  return data;

const co = require('co');

co(fetchData, '')
  .then(data => console.log(data))
  .catch(err => console.error(err));

Infinite Sequences

Generators can create infinite sequences, which are impossible with arrays due to their finite nature. This is useful in simulations, data streams, or any scenario where you need an unbounded series of values.

function* fibonacci() {
  let [prev, curr] = [0, 1];
  while (true) {
    yield curr;
    [prev, curr] = [curr, prev + curr];

const fib = fibonacci();

console.log(; // 1
console.log(; // 1
console.log(; // 2
console.log(; // 3
console.log(; // 5


Generators in JavaScript provide a robust mechanism for handling sequences, managing state across function calls, and simplifying asynchronous code. Their introduction in ES6 has added significant flexibility and power to the language, making complex iteration and async patterns more approachable. As you delve deeper into JavaScript, mastering generators can enhance your ability to write efficient and maintainable code. Whether you're dealing with streams of data, custom iterators, or asynchronous operations, generators offer a powerful tool to elevate your programming toolkit.