The Basics Of ES6 Generators

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One of the most exciting new features coming in JavaScript ES6 is a new breed of function, called a generator. The name is a little strange, but the behavior may seem a lot stranger at first glance. This article aims to explain the basics of how they work, and build you up to understanding why they are so powerful for the future of JS.


The first thing to observe as we talk about generators is how they differ from normal functions with respect to the "run to completion" expectation.

Whether you realized it or not, you've always been able to assume something fairly fundamental about your functions: once the function starts running, it will always run to completion before any other JS code can run.


    console.log("Hello World");

function foo() {
    // NOTE: don't ever do crazy long-running loops like this
    for (var i=0; i<=1E10; i++) {

// 0..1E10
// "Hello World"

Here, the for loop will take a fairly long time to complete, well more than one millisecond, but our timer callback with the console.log(..) statement cannot interrupt the foo() function while it's running, so it gets stuck at the back of the line (on the event-loop) and it patiently waits its turn.

What if foo() could be interrupted, though? Wouldn't that cause havoc in our programs?

That's exactly the nightmares challenges of multi-threaded programming, but we are quite fortunate in JavaScript land to not have to worry about such things, because JS is always single-threaded (only one command/function executing at any given time).

Note: Web Workers are a mechanism where you can spin up a whole separate thread for a part of a JS program to run in, totally in parallel to your main JS program thread. The reason this doesn't introduce multi-threaded complications into our programs is that the two threads can only communicate with each other through normal async events, which always abide by the event-loop one-at-a-time behavior required by run-to-completion.


With ES6 generators, we have a different kind of function, which may be paused in the middle, one or many times, and resumed later, allowing other code to run during these paused periods.

If you've ever read anything about concurrency or threaded programming, you may have seen the term "cooperative", which basically indicates that a process (in our case, a function) itself chooses when it will allow an interruption, so that it can cooperate with other code. This concept is contrasted with "preemptive", which suggests that a process/function could be interrupted against its will.

ES6 generator functions are "cooperative" in their concurrency behavior. Inside the generator function body, you use the new yield keyword to pause the function from inside itself. Nothing can pause a generator from the outside; it pauses itself when it comes across a yield.

However, once a generator has yield-paused itself, it cannot resume on its own. An external control must be used to restart the generator. We'll explain how that happens in just a moment.

So, basically, a generator function can stop and be restarted, as many times as you choose. In fact, you can specify a generator function with an infinite loop (like the infamous while (true) { .. }) that essentially never finishes. While that's usually madness or a mistake in a normal JS program, with generator functions it's perfectly sane and sometimes exactly what you want to do!

Even more importantly, this stopping and starting is not just a control on the execution of the generator function, but it also enables 2-way message passing into and out of the generator, as it progresses. With normal functions, you get parameters at the beginning and a return value at the end. With generator functions, you send messages out with each yield, and you send messages back in with each restart.

Syntax Please!

Let's dig into the syntax of these new and exciting generator functions.

First, the new declaration syntax:

function *foo() {
    // ..

Notice the * there? That's new and a bit strange looking. To those from some other languages, it may look an awful lot like a function return-value pointer. But don't get confused! This is just a way to signal the special generator function type.

You've probably seen other articles/documentation which use function* foo(){ } instead of function *foo(){ } (difference in placement of the *). Both are valid, but I've recently decided that I think function *foo() { } is more accurate, so that's what I'm using here.

Now, let's talk about the contents of our generator functions. Generator functions are just normal JS functions in most respects. There's very little new syntax to learn inside the generator function.

The main new toy we have to play with, as mentioned above, is the yield keyword. yield ___ is called a "yield expression" (and not a statement) because when we restart the generator, we will send a value back in, and whatever we send in will be the computed result of that yield ___ expression.


function *foo() {
    var x = 1 + (yield "foo");

The yield "foo" expression will send the "foo" string value out when pausing the generator function at that point, and whenever (if ever) the generator is restarted, whatever value is sent in will be the result of that expression, which will then get added to 1 and assigned to the x variable.

See the 2-way communication? You send the value "foo" out, pause yourself, and at some point later (could be immediately, could be a long time from now!), the generator will be restarted and will give you a value back. It's almost as if the yield keyword is sort of making a request for a value.

In any expression location, you can just use yield by itself in the expression/statement, and there's an assumed undefined value yielded out. So:

// note: `foo(..)` here is NOT a generator!!
function foo(x) {
    console.log("x: " + x);

function *bar() {
    yield; // just pause
    foo( yield ); // pause waiting for a parameter to pass into `foo(..)`

Generator Iterator

"Generator Iterator". Quite a mouthful, huh?

Iterators are a special kind of behavior, a design pattern actually, where we step through an ordered set of values one at a time by calling next(). Imagine for example using an iterator on an array that has five values in it: [1,2,3,4,5]. The first next() call would return 1, the second next() call would return 2, and so on. After all values had been returned, next() would return null or false or otherwise signal to you that you've iterated over all the values in the data container.

The way we control generator functions from the outside is to construct and interact with a generator iterator. That sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. Consider this silly example:

function *foo() {
    yield 1;
    yield 2;
    yield 3;
    yield 4;
    yield 5;

To step through the values of that *foo() generator function, we need an iterator to be constructed. How do we do that? Easy!

var it = foo();

Oh! So, calling the generator function in the normal way doesn't actually execute any of its contents.

That's a little strange to wrap your head around. You also may be tempted to wonder, why isn't it var it = new foo(). Shrugs. The whys behind the syntax are complicated and beyond our scope of discussion here.

So now, to start iterating on our generator function, we just do:

var message =;

That will give us back our 1 from the yield 1 statment, but that's not the only thing we get back.

console.log(message); // { value:1, done:false }

We actually get back an object from each next() call, which has a value property for the yielded-out value, and done is a boolean that indicates if the generator function has fully completed or not.

Let's keep going with our iteration:

console.log( ); // { value:2, done:false }
console.log( ); // { value:3, done:false }
console.log( ); // { value:4, done:false }
console.log( ); // { value:5, done:false }

Interesting to note, done is still false when we get the value of 5 out. That's because technically, the generator function is not complete. We still have to call a final next() call, and if we send in a value, it has to be set as the result of that yield 5 expression. Only then is the generator function complete.

So, now:

console.log( ); // { value:undefined, done:true }

So, the final result of our generator function was that we completed the function, but there was no result given (since we'd already exhausted all the yield ___ statements).

You may wonder at this point, can I use return from a generator function, and if I do, does that value get sent out in the value property?


function *foo() {
    yield 1;
    return 2;

var it = foo();

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

... and no.

It may not be a good idea to rely on the return value from generators, because when iterating generator functions with for..of loops (see below), the final returned value would be thrown away.

For completeness sake, let's also take a look at sending messages both into and out of a generator function as we iterate it:

function *foo(x) {
    var y = 2 * (yield (x + 1));
    var z = yield (y / 3);
    return (x + y + z);

var it = foo( 5 );

// note: not sending anything into `next()` here
console.log( );       // { value:6, done:false }
console.log( 12 ) );   // { value:8, done:false }
console.log( 13 ) );   // { value:42, done:true }

You can see that we can still pass in parameters (x in our example) with the initial foo( 5 ) iterator-instantiation call, just like with normal functions, making x be value 5.

The first next(..) call, we don't send in anything. Why? Because there's no yield expression to receive what we pass in.

But if we did pass in a value to that first next(..) call, nothing bad would happen. It would just be a tossed-away value. ES6 says for generator functions to ignore the unused value in this case. (Note: At the time of writing, nightlies of both Chrome and FF are fine, but other browsers may not yet be fully compliant and may incorrectly throw an error in this case).

The yield (x + 1) is what sends out value 6. The second next(12) call sends 12 to that waiting yield (x + 1) expression, so y is set to 12 * 2, value 24. Then the subsequent yield (y / 3) (yield (24 / 3)) is what sends out the value 8. The third next(13) call sends 13 to that waiting yield (y / 3) expression, making z set to 13.

Finally, return (x + y + z) is return (5 + 24 + 13), or 42 being returned out as the last value.

Re-read that a few times. It's weird for most, the first several times they see it.


ES6 also embraces this iterator pattern at the syntactic level, by providing direct support for running iterators to completion: the for..of loop.


function *foo() {
    yield 1;
    yield 2;
    yield 3;
    yield 4;
    yield 5;
    return 6;

for (var v of foo()) {
    console.log( v );
// 1 2 3 4 5

console.log( v ); // still `5`, not `6` :(

As you can see, the iterator created by foo() is automatically captured by the for..of loop, and it's automatically iterated for you, one iteration for each value, until a done:true comes out. As long as done is false, it automatically extracts the value property and assigns it to your iteration variable (v in our case). Once done is true, the loop iteration stops (and does nothing with any final value returned, if any).

As noted above, you can see that the for..of loop ignores and throws away the return 6 value. Also, since there's no exposed next() call, the for..of loop cannot be used in situations where you need to pass in values to the generator steps as we did above.


OK, so that's it for the basics of generators. Don't worry if it's a little mind-bending still. All of us have felt that way at first!

It's natural to wonder what this new exotic toy is going to do practically for your code. There's a lot more to them, though. We've just scratched the surface. So we have to dive deeper before we can discover just how powerful they can/will be.

After you've played around with the above code snippets (try Chrome nightly/canary or FF nightly, or node 0.11+ with the --harmony flag), the following questions may arise:

  1. How does error handling work?
  2. Can one generator call another generator?
  3. How does async coding work with generators?

Those questions, and more, will be covered in subsequent articles here, so stay tuned!

Kyle Simpson

About Kyle Simpson

Kyle Simpson is a web-oriented software engineer, widely acclaimed for his "You Don't Know JS" book series and nearly 1M hours viewed of his online courses. Kyle's superpower is asking better questions, who deeply believes in maximally using the minimally-necessary tools for any task. As a "human-centric technologist", he's passionate about bringing humans and technology together, evolving engineering organizations towards solving the right problems, in simpler ways. Kyle will always fight for the people behind the pixels.

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  1. Bhanu Pratap Chaudhary

    Nice Article. Cleared up for..of loop for me. I also wrote an article on JS generators which can easily qualify as part 2 of this article Would love to know your take on my article.

    • Thanks Bhanu. Nice article you’ve written. As for this series here, this is part 1 in a 4-part series that will be published over the next few weeks here. I’ve already written all the posts, we’re just spacing them out to give people a chance to digest. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of coverage of advanced topics in the rest of the series, including yield*, throw(..), async generators (generators+promises), and even CSP-style co-routines. Stay tuned! :)

  2. Really enjoyed this article! Thanks a lot! :)

  3. > The second next(12) call sends 12 to the first yield (x + 1) expression. The third next(13) call sends 13 to the second yield (y / 3) expression.

    Not very clear here.
    The second next(12) resume the generator as if the previous yield expression( yield (x + 1)) return 12

    • You’ve correctly interpreted it. I suppose the wording is a tad clumsy, but then again, so is the concept itself, at first. Thanks for the feedback!

    • I just spent like a half an hour on this because I couldn’t figure out how 8 is returned. Plus you told us to “Re-read that a few times.” as I was hoping it would click. Thanks Zhiyelee for the comment it helped me out.

    • David

      Release this is 2 years ago but it helps if I converse and think through it by explaining my conclusions from what I think I understand…

      I got it with some 30mins of looking as well thinking about it in
      a substitution and evaluation way

        yield (x+1) = 6 because you immediately yield but constructor x = 5
        call has to evaluate y subbing the yield (x+1) with the next val
        with 12 so y = 12*2 = 24 and the yield would be 24/3 = 8
        resume and evaluate z the substitution next of 13 z = 13
  4. Chetan Dhembre
    function* foo(x) {
        var y = 2 * (yield (x + 1));
        var z = yield (y / 3);
        return (x + y + z);
    var it = foo( 5 );
    // note: not sending anything into `next()` here
    console.log( );       // { value:6, done:false }
    console.log( 12 ) );   // { value:8, done:false }
    console.log( 13 ) );   // { value:42, done:true }

    in above example you mention

    “The first next(..) call, we don’t send in anything. Why? Because there’s no yield expression to receive what we pass in.”

    I am confuses by this statement. What is relation between number of next() function i can call on generator function and number yield generator function have in its definition?

    • Great question!

      1. Not all generators have to be fully exhausted, so there’s no requirement that next(..) calls “match” yield statements 1-for-1.

      2. But, if you are going to exhaust a generator (that can be exhausted — no infinite loop) you will need one more next(..) call than the number of `yield` expressions. In the example you cited, there’s 2 yields and 3 next(..) calls.

    • Chetan Dhembre

      Thank for such quick reply… what is use to first next() call (actually i do not understand by “exhaust generator” and it’s relation to first next() call).. as next two next() call actually related to yield in function definition.

    • @Chetan:

      The generator starts out paused when you call foo(5) (that is, nothing has run inside it yet). Why? Because you need foo(5) to give you the iterator, but if any of the contents also ran, whenever the first yield __ expression was sent out, you’d lose that value (because you only got the iterator it in the assignment).

      So, the first next() unpauses the initially paused generator, and starts it going. It's the "extra next() call" in a sense, where you end up with one more next() than yield. The subsequent next() calls all line up 1-for-1 with the currently paused yield, respectively.

    • Garrett Dawson

      This is also confusing for me. I don’t understand why the first next() doesn’t give back the first yield expression, when it did in the first iterator example.

    • @Garrett

      It **does** give back the first yield expression, exactly as it did in the first iterator example.

      See this line:

      console.log( );       // { value:6, done:false }

      See how value:6 came out? That’s because the first yield expression was yield (x + 1), which was yield (5 + 1), which was yield 6. :)

    • Before, there were two functions:next and send .
      * next can not receive any arguments , and is used to resume and iterate a generator object.
      * send can receive one argument which will be treated as the result of the last yield expression. send can not be used with a newborn generator , in other word we can only call send after we have called one or more next

      Later, the send function was eliminated and replaced by an argument to next.

      Hope that helps.

    • nightire

      What do you mean by “before”? Is there another version of generators?

      What about the future? Is the current spec stable?

      However, nice explaination, now I think 2 methods would be better to understand.

  5. As noted above, you can see that the for..of loop ignores and throws away the return 6 value. Also, since there’s no exposed next() call, the for..of loop cannot be used in situations where you need to pass in values to the generator steps as we did above.

    You can always change it to return yield 6

    • return yield 6 is likely going to end up as yield 6; return undefined; which is the same thing as yield 6; return; which is the same thing as yield 6;.

      Of course you can change the final return to yield, but my whole point is to not rely on return IF you’re going to consume it with for..of. :)

  6. Okay, I think I’m starting to wrap my brain around it. You can’t think of yield like a function. With a regular function, we think “pass a value in, then get a value out”. With yield, this is sort of reversed: “get a value out, then pass a value in”. It might also help if you think of that first, empty next() call as the trigger to assign the argument values to the function? (I’m sure that’s not correct in practice, but it’s helping me to think of it that way)

    So the first time you call next(), you unpause the generator function, and it parses up until it hits the first yield, at which point it yields the value of the x+1 expression and stops, *waiting for an incoming value*.

    The second time you call next(), the incoming value 12 is substituted for the *first* waiting yield, and y is calculated as 2 * 12, or 24.

    Execution then continues until it hits the yield on the next line (the second one), at which point we yield the value of y / 3, and the second next() receives the value 8. Execution pauses again, with this yield waiting for an incoming value.

    Then we get the third next() call, which passes the value 13 in to the (second) waiting yield, and z is now assigned that value.

    Execution continues. There are no more yields, so the third next() receives the value of the return statement, x + y + z, which at this point is 5 + 24 + 13, or 42.

    • You’ve got it exactly correct! :)

    • @Dougal

      Actually, let me build on/clarify something you’ve asserted here.

      If you’re thinking about the code inside the generator (the code with yield), then the proper way to think is “yield a value out, get a value back” — and you don’t care or think about how that “get a value back” actually happens — (kinda like functions, but not really).

      But if you’re thinking about the iterator interface, it IS reversed as you asserted: you get a value out of the previous next(..), you send a value back in with the next next(..).

      IOW, to call a next(..) call, you need to give it an an “answer” to the “question” the previous next(..)s return value “asked”, and what you’ll get back is a new return value “question”. You’ll need to answer THAT new question with the next next(..).

      Yay! :)

    • Thanks for the great explanation Doug. I had trouble understanding this part of the post, until I read your comment.

    • Anonymous

      > The second time you call next(), the incoming value 12 is substituted for the *first* waiting yield, and y is calculated as 2 * 12, or 24.

      I’m confused here… I thought 12 was passed to 2 * (x+1) thus resulting in 2 * (12 +1) which is 26 not 24.

    • Ahh… I can see how that’s confusing. Here’s what’s happening:

      (x + 1) is whatever x is at that moment, which is 5 from the foo(5) call. So, the 5 + 1 value is 6, and that value is yielded out, thus you see the { value:6, done:false }.

      Now, when we call 12 ), 12 goes back in as the final result of the whole yield ____ expression. So, it’s 12, not 12 + 1.

      If the code had said (yield x) + 1 then you’d be correct, but order-of-operations wise, yield (x + 1) does the x + 1 before the yield, not after it.

      Make sense now?

    • Gregory Orton

      @Kyle Simple (and others) – I have a question / want to state my understanding:

      Would a useful analogy / paradigm be to think of the

      yield _____

      expression to almost be a hybrid / mash-up of both a variable identifier and an expression?

      The left side is the variable identifier for the message that goes back in, and the right side is the message that goes out?

      e.g. (I’m using vertical bars here to split up the yield expression

      let y  = yield | (x+2) 
      //  'next' call before this yield expression sends out (x+2) (assuming X was set)
      // the next 'next' call means anything left of | gets evaluated and assigned to y, and yield is the identifier for the passed in value

      Does this make sense?

    • Gregory-

      Yep, that’s a pretty good way of modeling the behavior in a mental model. Good job!

    • Zeeshan

      For the 12 that’s being passed in the second, where is 12 coming from? Is that an arbitrary number you are passing in to showcase you can pass in whatever you want into the generator?

    • Consider this:

      function* foo() {
        var a = yield "Hi there!";
        console.log("a = ", a);
        var b = a * 3 + (yield a+ 5);
        console.log("b = ", b);
        return b - 7;

      There are 2 yields in the function, so we know we’ll have to call next 3 times (the first one just to kick things off).

      var it = foo(); // get our iterator
      console.log( "First next:", ); // don't pass anything in the first call
      // First next: Object {value: "Hi there!", done: false} // from the first yield
      console.log( "Second next:", );
      // a = 4
      // Second next: Object {value: 9, done: false} // from 'yield a + 5'
      console.log( "Third next:", );
      // b = 13  // a * 3 + 1 -> 4 * 3 + 1 -> 12 + 1
      // Third next: Object {value: 6, done: true} // from return b - 7 -> 13 - 7

      Does that help any?

    • Matt

      Sorry if I’m a tad late to this thread…

      But the last example (Third next) do we not get the console log for a?.. (a = 4) then b then the yield result?

  7. Loads of great discussion here — glad to see people learning!

  8. Chetan Dhembre

    IMO console.log in example explaining what is going on will help a lot

  9. Thanks for the explanation. At first, it was very difficult to get behind the generator iterator but after i have read it a few times i figured it out :)

    Thank you very much!

  10. After it started to seep in a little, I was trying to think of good uses for generators. The first things I thought of were state machines, an in particular, a state machine as part of a task manager. I guess that instinct was pretty good, because a little googling turned up this article about various uses of generators in Python:

  11. Zoom

    Thanks for the great introduction, generators rock! I’d love to see an example of how generators can be used as a state-machine solution. How would transitioning between yields work? It remains unclear at this point.

    The current FSM options for JS seem overly complex or else they are not well supported. It would be great to see this design pattern solved elegantly by generators.

  12. Haoqun Jiang

    >In any expression location, you can just use yield by itself in the expression/statement, and there’s an assumed undefined value yielded out.

    That statement seems not correct. Neither Node.js 0.11 or Firefox 31 can run the following sample code.

    And the wiki page of ES6 Draft on generator ( only says that ‘return; is equivalent to return (void 0);’ I don’t think the same rule applies to the yield keyword.

    • > That statement seems not correct.

      It is. :)

      All of these are valid (just double-checked with @awbjs):

      x = yield;
      foo( yield );
      x = [ yield, yield ]

      > Neither Node.js 0.11 or Firefox 31 can run

      Chrome accepts them all. Firefox and node (since it’s using an older v8 still) haven’t caught up.

      > And the wiki page of ES6 Draft on generator

      That’s pretty old. The most authoritative source (besides a TC39 member himself, like @awbjs) is the working draft for ES6:

    • Haoqun Jiang

      Thank you for the explanation. :)
      I’ve just installed Chrome Canary and tried it out. All these expression are accepted.
      Seems Chrome Stable haven’t caught up either, which misled and drew me to the wrong conclusion.

  13. Please write more on generator…

  14. idearat

    Nice article! Helped get me started on these finally :).

    It’s a minor style nit but since the resulting Generator function’s name will not include the ‘*’ I think the function* foo syntax could be interpreted as being a bit more “accurate” in terms of what is ultimately created (e.g. a special function whose name is ‘foo’).

  15. jacob

    hey Kyle, possible to add some console.log(; example outputs in the Syntax Please! section?

  16. Rob Simpson

    I had a very hard time understanding *foo but I think I might have a better grasp on it. I wrote a blog post where I try to step into it each time and what the context is before suspended and then the execution context that is returned after it resumed. Let me know if you read this whether I have my logic correct.

  17. Alberto Cole

    Can you give some real life examples where generators are a better solution that what we have now in ES5?

    Regards :)

    • Alberto-

      Essentially, every single snippet of “real life” code that you’ve ever written which was async and had two or more steps to it. You’ll need to read the rest of the posts in this series to get a an idea of what I mean by that. But as a brief glimpse:

      function ajax(url,cb) {
         // do some ajax request
         var content = ..
      ajax("http://some.url.1", function(text1) {
         ajax("http://some.url.2/?v=" + text1,function(text2) {

      That sucks. Generators:

      function ajax(url) {
         return new Promise(function(resolve){
            // do so some ajax request
            var content = ..
         var text1 = yield ajax("http://some.url.1");
         var text2 = yield ajax("http://some.url.2/?v=" + text1);

      Hopefully that glimpse plus the rest of the blog posts here will answer why generators will revolutionize “real world” async code all over the JS world.

    • Simon

      I think you are confusing this with the await keyword?

    • Asim


  18. function *foo() {
    const it = foo();
    let i = 0;
    while (! * 10).done) {

    this dumb test helped me figure out the relation between next and yield call and return values, thanks a ton for the very well written article.

  19. jikleshoog

    I think a more inspired keyword would have been something like initGen() or startGen() instead of a no-arg next() in JS. Sending next() is almost like a hack to me.

  20. jikleshoog

    You mentioned you prefer to add the asterisk (*) to the function name rather than the function keyword, but for anonymous functions, you have no choice, but to place it around function keyword. Which makes your preference inconsistent a bit :)

    Thanks for the great intro!

  21. Nice article, I’ve got a lot from this and I just a little bit curious that I want to know why isn’t use new keyword for create generator iterator. Could you give me some keyword for search or post.

    Thanks your article again :)

    btw Coz I really like your article so I translate ur article to Traditional Chinese [here](

  22. Jay Doubleyou

    Thanks for the great article.

    function *foo(x) {
        var y = 2 * (yield (x + 1));
        var z = yield (y / 3);
        return (x + y + z);
    var it = foo( 5 );
    // note: not sending anything into next() here
    console.log( );       // { value:6, done:false }
    console.log( 12 ) );   // { value:8, done:false }
    console.log( 13 ) );   // { value:42, done:true }
  23. Thanks for the article. This verbiage is what I’ve come up with to help me grok and regrok this concept:

    ‘yield’ can be read as “Return what follows and stop; when .next is called, evaluate to whatever is passed in as an argument to next.”

  24. Alex

    Hi. how i can change init example script with hello world message with generators?

  25. wmehanna

    Is there a way to use generator function with yied inside a class in Es2015 ?

    I’m trying calling a generator function inside a class from the constructor, it runs but nothing happens (my console.log are not printing).

    Here’s an example of my code.

    "use strict";
    var parse = require("co-body");
    var monk = require("monk");
    var wrap = require("co-monk");
    var db = monk("localhost/test");
    var users  = wrap(db.get("users"));
    class User {
        constructor(id) {
                var id = user;
            var userData = yield users.findOne(id);
            this._user = userData;
            return this;
    var _user = new User(1111);
    export default User;
  26. I think it would be less confusing if you chose different values to pass the next() calls. Passing in 12 which matches with 2 * (x + 1) from the first call makes it a bit tricky on a first glance.

    I guess that’s just the pitfall of human pattern matching kicking in too early, but I also remember our math teacher showing us how in these ‘learn by example’ situations it is best to avoid such coincidences.

  27. Ovi-Wan Kenobi

    var it = foo( 5 );

    it does not execute any line of code inside the iterator. first next() is actually executing the iterator up to the first yield…


    also first next throws away the value passed in.


    the rest is OK simple :)
    thanks for explaining this. but without comments the article (for me at least) would not cleared all things up. comments and answer to comments made light in my head :)

  28. Avinash Thakur

    @kyle you don’t know generators :)

  29. KB

    Excellent article. Demystified yield and generations.
    Furthermore, your discussion with Doug in comments section added to the clarity.

    Thank you.

  30. Gersom

    Great article! These are the kind of documentations that I would be willing to pay for ;) Helped a lot to wrap my head around the concept.

  31. BB

    Super helpful intro to generators!

  32. Hello Kyle Simpson,

    Just wanted to express my gratitude. This article contains an excellent overview of generators.

    Best Regards

  33. Treefish

    Does the word yield in ES6 mean ‘give way to` or ‘harvest, return’ ?

    • Both. You can both yield out a value to the consumer of the generator-iterator, but then you can also wait to get back a value from the consumer when it resumes the generator (by passing an argument to next(..)) and resolves the waiting yield expression.

  34. Vinicius Camargo

    Hey, Kyle! Glad to see you here! :D

    You guys know something that would be really handy here? A read mode! A lightweight design that would make the reading experience of lengthy material pleasing to the eyes and distraction-free.

    I’ve removed some styles and captured the screen here to give you guys an idea:

    I hope you consider the idea :) Wish you the best and thanks for the awesome posts!

  35. Can anybody explain why the 2nd call:


    doesn’t yield the value of 4.(3)? It’s kinda strange that expression

    var y = 2 * (yield (x + 1));

    doesn’t respect x + 1 ;/

    • Kai

      “12” replace “yield (x + 1)”, not “x”.

  36. Love Hasija

    Great Article Kyle.

  37. Esteban

    Great article. I had 0 knowlodge of generators and I was able to understand it perfectly.

  38. Artek

    This is a nice explanation. I wish you used this style in your books.

  39. niks

    Very nice article.

  40. Pedro

    Very well written article. It was awesome to learn a pretty complex new concept/feature in such a short amount of time. Thank you!

  41. Rob

    I would argue that

    function* foo() {}

    is “more correct,” simply because it sets a better practice when defining functions other ways (i.e.

    var foo = function*() {}
  42. Bob

    Thanks! I thought I was dumb for a while until everyone’s comments cleared up the “6,8,42” example. It might really shed some light if you could clarify that one better, because it’s way more complex and counterintuitive based on the other simpler examples.

  43. Shad

    Finally, I understood the generator after so many tries. You are a savior.

  44. Jordan

    Just a note, and you probably already figured this out, but your code examples are sometimes confusing because the math you are using is a bit tricky. Couple that with a tricky concept, and your math examples don’t allow people to be intuitive.

    Greatly simplify the math in the code examples. This is not where you want people to fail at the concept, and… Yet this is where people are failing at the concept.

    Everything else in your article is well written. Just that no one can walk through your code examples because the math used doesn’t allow for intuitive interpretation.

    If you had simple stuff like 2 + 2 = 4, that was really easy to work out along side with the yield/next, the concept would become much more clear.

    This is like when I was a junior designer and I’d not consider pacing for my audience and throw in all the challenges in a single test, when all I really wanted to do was ensure my players understood how to corner and so simplifying to the one thing I wanted them to understand made the design more robust.

Wrap your code in <pre class="{language}"></pre> tags, link to a GitHub gist, JSFiddle fiddle, or CodePen pen to embed!