Aral Balkan

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A simple Node transform stream with the new Node 10 pipeline() function

As part of my research for Hypha (RSS), I just completed the Kappa Architecture Workshop and I’m continuing to dive deeper down the stack to brush up on the fundamental concepts I need to be comfortable with going forward.

Next up is Node streams.

Streams are used everywhere in Node and while I’ve made extensive use of them in the past, there’s always been parts that seemed magical1. I don’t really grok them and I’m working to change that.

So this morning I whipped up a little custom transform stream and got up to speed with the new pipeline() function in Node 10 that adds the functionality of Matthias’s pump module to Node proper2.

The simple example takes the raw stream of characters (Buffer objects) you type from stdin, pipes them through a transform stream that uppercases the lowercase characters (and handles CTRL + C for exit) and then pipes it to stdout to display in your console.

const { pipeline, Transform } = require('stream')
const { StringDecoder } = require('string_decoder')

// Handle the raw output from standard input
// (characters, not lines, as is the default).

class UppercaseCharacters extends Transform {
  constructor(options) {
    super (options)

    // The stream will have Buffer chunks. The
    // decoder converts these to String instances.
    this._decoder = new StringDecoder('utf-8')

  _transform (chunk, encoding, callback) {
    // Convert the Buffer chunks to String.
    if (encoding === 'buffer') {
      chunk = this._decoder.write(chunk)

    // Exit on CTRL + C.
    if (chunk === '\u0003') {

    // Uppercase lowercase letters.
    if (chunk >= 'a' && chunk <= 'z') {
      chunk = chunk.toUpperCase()

    // Pass the chunk on.
    callback(null, chunk)

// pipeline() is new in Node 10
  new UppercaseCharacters(),
  err => {
    if (err) {
      console.log('Pipeline failed: ')
    } else {
      console.log('Pipeline succeeded.')

You can achive the same thing on earlier versions of Node using the pump module simply by replacing the pipeline function with the pump function:

const pump = require('pump')
  new UppercaseCharacters(),
  // …

  1. Especially duplex/transform streams – a.pipe(b).pipe(a) is still a royal mindfuck, made a little more sane via pump syntax. ↩︎

  2. See Why use pump? from the Gulp documentation for an explainer. ↩︎