Revolutionize Your JavaScript: Eliminate SetInterval for Smoother Code (Plus Examples)

Table of content

  1. Introduction
  2. Challenges with setInterval
  3. Alternatives to setInterval
  4. Advantages of using alternative methods
  5. Example 1: Timer without setInterval
  6. Example 2: Animations without setInterval
  7. Example 3: Real-time updates without setInterval
  8. Conclusion


Are you tired of constantly checking your watch, waiting for the next interval of your JavaScript code to run? It's time to revolutionize your approach to coding and eliminate the need for setInterval.

Contrary to popular belief, productivity is not about doing more, but about doing less. As the great philosopher Socrates once said, "Beware the barrenness of a busy life." It's time to rethink our approach to productivity and eliminate unnecessary tasks from our to-do lists.

In JavaScript, setInterval can be a tempting solution to automate repetitive tasks. However, it can lead to choppy animations and sluggish performance. By eliminating setInterval and using more efficient techniques like requestAnimationFrame or event listeners, you can create smoother animations and more responsive code.

In this article, we'll explore these more efficient techniques and provide examples of how to implement them. Let's revolutionize our approach to JavaScript coding and eliminate the need for setInterval for smoother and more efficient code.

Challenges with setInterval

Using setInterval in JavaScript may seem like an easy solution for creating timed events, but it comes with a set of challenges. One of the main issues with setInterval is that it is not accurate. JavaScript is a single-threaded language, and setIntervals do not take into account the time it takes for other code to execute. This means that the interval may actually take longer than the time specified, resulting in inaccurate timing. This problem can be amplified if the code being executed in the interval takes a long time to complete, causing the interval to fall behind schedule.

Another challenge with setInterval is that it is not very flexible. Once an interval is set, it will continue until cleared or the script ends. This can be problematic if the events being timed change or if a user interacts with the page in a way that would require the interval to be adjusted. In some cases, multiple intervals may be needed to handle different tasks, which can become cumbersome to manage.

Ultimately, the use of setInterval can lead to slower and more complex code. Instead of relying on this method, there are more efficient ways to achieve timed events in JavaScript. By using requestAnimationFrame, web workers, or setTimeout with a recursive function, developers can create smoother and more accurate code that is not held back by the limitations of setInterval. As Albert Einstein once said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." By simplifying our code and removing unnecessary methods, we can revolutionize the way we approach JavaScript development.

Alternatives to setInterval

Traditional methods of using setInterval for JavaScript animations or actions are notorious for causing lag and making for clunky user experiences. But did you know that there are that can help eliminate these issues?

One such alternative is requestAnimationFrame, a method that was introduced to JavaScript in 2011. It's a more efficient way of animating because it only updates the animation when the browser is ready to do so. According to Paul Irish, a web developer at Google, "requestAnimationFrame is essentially a much quicker and more resource-friendly way of running animations."

Another alternative is to use event listeners instead of setInterval. For example, instead of using setInterval to update a clock every second, you could attach an event listener to the window's load event and use Date() to keep track of the time. This method is less taxing on the CPU and ensures that the clock will always update accurately.

Overall, it's important to consider when developing JavaScript code to ensure a smoother user experience. As Steve Jobs once said, "It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it." Taking the time to implement efficient coding techniques is about putting the user experience first, and that's something that can't be measured in dollars and cents.

Advantages of using alternative methods

You may be wondering, what's the point of eliminating SetInterval if it seems to get the job done? Well, there are actually several advantages to using alternative methods.

Firstly, if your application is performance-sensitive, using SetInterval can actually degrade its performance. This is because SetInterval executes its function at a constant interval, regardless of whether or not the previous execution has completed. This can lead to a backlog of functions waiting to be executed, causing delays and slowdowns in your application.

Secondly, SetInterval can be unreliable when it comes to timing. This is because it doesn't take into account the time it takes for the function to execute. For example, if your function takes longer than the interval time to execute, SetInterval will still execute the next iteration on schedule, leading to inconsistencies in execution timing.

Lastly, alternative methods such as requestAnimationFrame and setTimeout offer more precise timing and control over function execution. These methods take into account the time it takes for the function to execute and ensure that the next iteration is executed at the appropriate time. This can lead to smoother animations and overall better user experience.

As Albert Einstein once said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." By using alternative methods to SetInterval, we can simplify our code while also improving its performance and reliability. So why not give it a try?

Example 1: Timer without setInterval

Let's say you have a timer on your website that updates every second. Traditionally, you would use setInterval to accomplish this. However, setInterval can be problematic because it can cause memory leaks and create performance issues. Instead, we can use a new method called requestAnimationFrame.

RequestAnimationFrame is a newer method that allows us to execute a function right before the browser repaints the screen. This means that we can create animations and timers that are smoother and more efficient than using setInterval. Here's an example:

let start = null;
let timerElement = document.getElementById('timer');

function timer(timestamp) {
  if (!start) start = timestamp;
  let elapsed = timestamp - start;

  timerElement.innerHTML = Math.floor(elapsed / 1000);

  if (elapsed < 5000) {


In this example, we declare a start time and get the timer element from the DOM. We then define a timer function that takes a timestamp parameter. Inside the timer function, we check whether start has been set. If it hasn't, we set it to the current timestamp. We calculate the elapsed time and update the timer element. Finally, we check whether the elapsed time is less than 5 seconds. If it is, we call requestAnimationFrame to run the timer function again on the next repaint.

This approach is more performant than using setInterval because we are only updating the timer element when necessary, not every second regardless of whether anything has changed. It also avoids the memory leaks that can occur with setInterval.

As Steve Jobs famously said, "Innovation is saying no to a thousand things." In this case, saying no to setInterval and embracing requestAnimationFrame can revolutionize your JavaScript and make your code smoother and more efficient.

Example 2: Animations without setInterval

One common use case for setInterval is for creating animations. However, as we've seen, setInterval can lead to uneven and jerky animations. So how can we achieve smooth animations without relying on setInterval?

One approach is to use requestAnimationFrame (rAF), a browser API that handles animation loops more efficiently than setInterval. Here's a simple example:

function animate() {
  // Perform animation logic here


In this example, we define an animate function that performs our animation logic. We then call requestAnimationFrame at the end of animate, which schedules the function to be called again on the next frame. This creates a smooth animation loop that runs at the browser's optimal frame rate.

In fact, many popular animation libraries like GreenSock and Anime.js already use requestAnimationFrame under the hood to create smooth animations.

As the famous physicist Richard Feynman once said, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool." By relying on setInterval for animations, we may be fooling ourselves into thinking we're being productive when in reality, we're just hindering our code's performance. By embracing alternatives like requestAnimationFrame, we can revolutionize our JavaScript and create smoother, more efficient code.

Example 3: Real-time updates without setInterval

Let's take a look at the third example, which showcases how to achieve real-time updates without relying on setInterval. Traditionally, developers have used setInterval to periodically check for new data and update the webpage accordingly. However, this can result in inefficient code and a lot of unnecessary requests to the server.

The alternative approach is to use what's known as WebSockets. As the name suggests, this technology allows for a continuous two-way communication channel between the client and server, which means that the server can push new data to the client as soon as it becomes available. This eliminates the need for the client to constantly check for updates and ensures that the data is always up-to-date.

As Steve Jobs once said, "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." By embracing new technologies like WebSockets, we can revolutionize the way we develop websites and create smoother, more efficient code. So let's challenge the status quo and rethink the way we approach JavaScript development.


In , while using setInterval may seem like a convenient solution to handling time-based events in JavaScript, it can ultimately lead to poor performance and a choppy user experience. By using alternative methods such as requestAnimationFrame, setTimeout with promises, or the Web Animations API, developers can eliminate the need for setInterval and create smoother, more efficient code.

As James Clear said, "It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?" Removing unnecessary tasks, like setInterval, from our coding processes can free up valuable time and energy to focus on more important tasks.

So, let's challenge the status quo and revolutionize our approach to JavaScript programming. Let's eliminate setInterval and embrace more efficient methods that ensure a smooth, enjoyable user experience. As Albert Einstein once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results." It's time to try something new and see the results for ourselves.

As an experienced Senior Software Engineer, I have a proven track record of success in the hospital and healthcare industry as well as the telecom industry. With a strong skill set in JAVA, LINUX, and SPRING, I am well-equipped to handle complex software engineering challenges. My passion for software engineering started early, and I pursued a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Science from Chitkara University. Throughout my academic and professional career, I have honed my skills in software development, including application design, coding, testing, and deployment. In addition to my technical expertise, I am a strong communicator and collaborator. I believe in working closely with my team members and clients to ensure that all project goals are met efficiently and effectively.
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