Introducing: Spasm

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Spasm is a super-primitive asynchronous state machine for Node.js. While working on another yet-to-be-announced open-source project, I was looking for a way to manage logic for a CLI. For whatever reason, I thought using a state machine might be an interesting approach. I created the module in a single Seattle-to-Kent train commute and spent the following commute packing it up as a proper npm module. It’s a whopping 37 lines of code (plus 214 for tests).


$ npm install spasm


Spasm is extremely simple to use. Here’s an example using Commander.js to prompt the user for input from the command line until a non-empty string is provided:

var spasm   = require('spasm');
var program = require('commander');

var machine = spasm({
  'prompt': function(next, context) {
    program.prompt('What’s your name? ', function(name) {
      if ('' === name) {
      } else { = name;

  'display': function(next, context) {


machine('prompt', {
  salutation: 'Hello, %s.'

spasm() can be passed any object as a set of states, but it must have at least one state (a property with a function for a value). Each state will be passed a next function and the context of the state machine when it’s invoked. next uses process.nextTick() to ensure that each state is invoked asynchronously. The default context is an empty object ({}) if one isn’t passed when the machine is started. If a state makes any changes to context, it will automatically be reflected in any subsequent states. Alternatively, you can pass an entirely new context to next() as a second argument.

I didn’t bother putting any effort into ensuring that the state machine can’t be forked to multiple concurrent states, but maybe that’s a feature — not a bug.

Give it a spin and let me know what you think.