Cancellation with switchMap and custom promises โ›”

29 September 2020ย ย โ€ขย ย 1 min read

RxJS ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿš’

For some time I've used RxJS together with redux-observable and it's truly a beast of combination. In their own words:

RxJS is a library for composing asynchronous and event-based programs by using observable sequences.

RxJS-based middleware for Redux. Compose and cancel async actions to create side effects and more.

Cancellation โ›”

The greatness of switchMap is its cancelling effect. On each emission the previous inner observable is cancelled and the new observable is subscribed.

A common use case is to call ajax to perform http requests. It's nothing wrong with that, it has a built-in functionality that takes care of the cancellation. But what if we want to perform a custom promise and respect the power of switchMap's cancellation?

Here you have a simple snippet that uses axios to perform the custom promise:

import axios, { AxiosResponse, AxiosRequestConfig } from 'axios';
import { Observable, PartialObserver } from 'rxjs';

export const getAsObservable = (url: string, config?: AxiosRequestConfig) =>
  Observable.create((observer: PartialObserver<AxiosResponse>) => {
    const cancelToken = axios.CancelToken.source();

      .get(url, {
        cancelToken: cancelToken.token,
        (result) => {
        (error) => {
          if (axios.isCancel(error)) {
          } else {

    return () => cancelToken.cancel();

Then you just have to include the snippet together with from.

import { switchMap } from 'rxjs/operators';
import { from } from 'rxjs';
import { getAsObservable } from './getAsObservable';

  switchMap(() =>

So what happens here? Well, I'll try to explain it briefly.

When a new emission appears switchMap's previous inner observable is cancelled and the new observable is subscribed. When the new emission appears we'll let axios know about this, axios then uses its own cancelling features to cancel the pending http request and initialize the next.

Want to learn more? ๐Ÿ“š

This was just the tip of the iceberg.

RxJS and redux-observable have a pretty steep learning curve, but when you've mastered it you can accomplish greatness. Visit their GitHub pages and navigate from there to learn more.