Promises: resolve is not the opposite of reject

When I first started working with promises I had the overly simplistic view that passing a value into reject would mark the promise as "failed", and passing a value into resolve would mark it as "successful". However, the latter isn't always true.

new Promise(function(resolve, reject) {
}).then(function() {
}, function() {

Even though we aren't calling reject(), the rejection callback console.log("Boo") will be called if either:

  • something is not defined, resulting in an error being thrown, which is caught by the promise and turned into a rejection, or
  • something is a promise that rejects


new Promise(function(resolve, reject) {
}).catch(function() {
  // This is called

This is a good thing, as it behaves the same as Promise.resolve() and the return value from callbacks:

var promise1 = Promise.resolve(Promise.reject());
var promise2 = Promise.resolve().then(function() {
  return Promise.reject();
var promise3 = Promise.reject().catch(function() {
  return Promise.reject();

All promises above are rejected. When you resolve a value with a "then" method, you're deferring the resolution to the eventual non-promise value.

In Practice

You can resolve a value without worrying if it's a value, a promise, or a promise that resolves to a promise that resolves to a promise etc etc.

function apiCall(method, params) {
  return new Promise(function(resolve, reject) {
    if (!method) {
      throw TypeError("apiCall: You must provide a method");

    var data = {
      jsonrpc: "2.0",
      method: method

    if (params) {
      data.params = params;

    resolve(postJSON('/my/api/', data));

Now apiCall will reject if method isn't provided, or if postJSON rejects for whatever reason. You've safely handed off the resolution of the promise onto postJSON.

Further reading

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