22. Dispatching Actions Asynchronously with Thunks

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To show the loading indicator in our current implementation, we dispatch the requestTodos action before we fetch the todos with fetchTodos. It would be great if we could make requestTodos dispatch automatically when we fetch the todos because we never want them to fire separately.

VisibleTodoList.js Before

// inside of `VisibleTodoList`
fetchData() {
  const { filter, fetchTodos, requestTodos } = this.props;

To start, we will remove the explicit requestTodos dispatch from the component. Now we no longer need to export the requestTodos action creator inside of actions/index.js (but don't erase the code for it).

Our goal is to dispatch requestTodos() when we start fetching, and receiveTodos() when they finish fetching, but our fetchTodos action creator only resolves through the receiveTodos action.

Current fetchTodos Action Creator

export const fetchTodos = (filter) =>
  api.fetchTodos(filter).then(response =>
    receiveTodos(filter, response)

An action Promise resolves through to a single action at the end, but we want an abstraction that represents multiple actions dispatched over a period of time. This is why rather than returning a Promise, I want to return a function that accepts a dispatch callback argument.

This change lets us call dispatch() as many times as we want at any point of time during the async operation. We can dispatch the requestTodos action in the beginning, then when the Promise resolves we can explicitly dispatch another receiveTodos action.

Updated fetchTodos

export const fetchTodos = (filter) => (dispatch) => {

  return api.fetchTodos(filter).then(response => {
    dispatch(receiveTodos(filter, response));

This is more typing than returning a Promise, but it gives us more flexibility. Since a Promise can only express one async value, fetchTodos now returns a function with a callback argument so that it can call it multiple times during the async operation.

Introducing Thunks

Functions returned from other functions like in fetchTodos are often called thunks. Now we're going to implement a middleware to support using thunks in our code.

Updating configureStore.js

Inside of configureStore.js we'll remove the redux-promise middleware and replace it with the thunk middleware we'll write now.

The thunk middleware supports the dispatching of thunks. It takes the store, the next middleware (next), and the action as arguments, just like any other middleware.

If action is a function instead of an action, we're going to assume that this is a thunk that wants the dispatch function to be injected into it. In this case, we'll call the action with store.dispatch.

Otherwise, we just return the result of passing the action to the next middleware in chain.

thunk Middleware in configureStore.js

const thunk = (store) => (next) => (action) =>
  typeof action === 'function' ?
    action(store.dispatch) :

As a final step, we need to add our new thunk middleware to the array of middlewares inside configureStore so that it gets applied to the store.

const configureStore = () => {
  const middlewares = [thunk];
  // rest of configureStore

Recap at 2:45 in video

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