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Graceful Shutdown in Node.js: Handling Stranger Danger

When a stranger comes to town, it's important to know how to handle them gracefully. The same goes for processes in Node.js - sometimes we need to shut them down gracefully when we detect a problem or when we receive a signal to terminate the process. In this article, we'll explore how to implement a graceful shutdown in a Node.js application using TypeScript.

What a graceful shutdown means

When a Node.js process is terminated, there might be some ongoing tasks or connections that need to be closed before the process can exit completely. A graceful shutdown ensures that these tasks are completed before the process is terminated. It also avoids any abrupt closing of connections, which can lead to data loss or corruption.

To implement a graceful shutdown, we need to handle the SIGINT and SIGTERM signals that are sent to the process when it's time to terminate. SIGINT and SIGTERM are signals used in Unix-based systems to interrupt or terminate a process.

SIGINT: This is a signal that is typically sent to a process when a user types Ctrl+C in the terminal. It is often used to request that a process terminate gracefully. When a process receives a SIGINT signal, it can catch it and perform any necessary cleanup operations before terminating.

SIGTERM: This is a signal that is typically sent to a process by the operating system to request that the process terminate. It is often used as a graceful way to ask a process to terminate, allowing it to perform any necessary cleanup operations before exiting. Processes can catch this signal and perform cleanup operations before terminating.

In Node.js, you can listen for these signals using the process.on method. We can define a function that handles these signals and performs the necessary cleanup operations before exiting the process.

Here is an example of how to handle SIGINT and SIGTERM signals:

import { Server } from 'http';

const server: Server = /* create your server here */;

function gracefulShutdown() {
  console.log('Shutting down gracefully...');

  server.close(() => {
    console.log('Server closed.');

    // Close any other connections or resources here


  // Force close the server after 5 seconds
  setTimeout(() => {
    console.error('Could not close connections in time, forcefully shutting down');
  }, 5000);

process.on('SIGTERM', gracefulShutdown);
process.on('SIGINT', gracefulShutdown);
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In this code snippet, we're defining a gracefulShutdown function that logs a message to the console and then closes the HTTP server. After the server is closed, any other connections or resources can be closed as well. Finally, we call process.exit(0) to exit the process with a success code.

We also set a timeout of 5 seconds to force close the server if it's not closed gracefully within that time. This ensures that the process exits even if there are ongoing connections or resources that cannot be closed gracefully.

A graceful shutdown is important to ensure that a Node.js application terminates cleanly and without any data loss or corruption. By handling SIGINT and SIGTERM signals, we can implement a graceful shutdown that closes ongoing tasks and connections before exiting the process. With this knowledge, we can handle stranger danger in our Node.js applications with grace and elegance.

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