Synchronous and asynchronous categorize two distinct programming styles, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
You may not know what these terms mean just yet, but once you do, you’ll understand why knowing the difference between them is important for the success of your team.
Stay tuned to learn more about synchronous vs. asynchronous programming!
What Is Asynchronous Programming?
Asynchronous programming relies on a non-blocking input and output (I/O) protocol. This signifies that an asynchronous program does not execute operations in a hierarchical or sequential order.
The resulting parallelization means an asynchronous program can take on multiple requests simultaneously and independently.
When one request fails, it has no effect on another request. And the program can move to another task before finishing the last.
In software development, an advantage of this kind is called loose coupling. Loosely coupled communication and/or programming allows for decentralized processes.
Fewer dependencies lead to higher fault tolerance and increased flexibility.
For businesses that prioritize getting things done, asynchronous programming can be a fundamental building block in meeting project requirements.
If you’re still struggling to fully grasp how asynchronous operations work, think outside of the box.
Imagine a non-technical example of how asynchronous communication would look like in a real-world scenario.
As an illustration, envision you’re at a restaurant. Your waiter has just taken multiple orders at your table and brings out your appetizer as soon as it’s ready, instead of waiting for your main entree to be prepared as well.
Not only is this simply efficient service, but it’s an exemplary demonstration of a non-blocking I/O or asynchronous architecture.
Pros of Asynchronous Programming
There is a common misconception that asynchronous programming means greater performance and speed. In reality, executing several tasks at once does not have a direct impact in these areas.
But there are quite a few benefits to asynchronous programming, which you can glimpse below.
➤ User Experience
In comparing asynchronous and synchronous programming, asynchronous programs improve user experience in a variety of ways.
First, all the scripts of a program or web page can load at one time, resulting in better responsiveness and decreased page load delays.
And the failure of a thread has no consequence on the ability of other threads to run or render. Therefore, there is more availability overall with asynchronous applications.
In practice, asynchronous programming requires writing callback functions in line with errors that may occur and disrupt a program.
These callbacks instruct the machine to move past the error and run the next task. This also gives programmers the opportunity to write a personalized error message.
As a result, errors do not mean that your program altogether fails to run. Users get a nice note while all the other features of the program work just fine.
Async/await is a well-known syntax structure of many programming languages that enables asynchronous functions to work with promises comfortably.
Promises are objects that encapsulate the desired behavior of an asynchronous operation.
Both of these concepts are integral to the notion of scalability. Scalability can take place in two ways — horizontally and vertically.
Synchronous and asynchronous programs can leverage horizontal scaling by adding additional servers to scale services.
On the other hand, vertical scaling is a simpler process that asynchronous programs can take advantage of to permit one server to augment the number of requests a server can handle.
By plugging in an async function using the async/await keyword, developers can simplify programs that would otherwise be synchronous using promise-based callback methods.
Cons of Asynchronous Programming
Asynchronous programming may seem like the obvious solution to any bottlenecks that may appear in your software development projects.
But there are reasons why developers avoid using asynchronous programming. Check them out.
To successfully program asynchronous operations, developers must have an in-depth knowledge of callbacks and recursive functions.
And even if they do, programming this into an application can be a cumbersome task during development.