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    A reactive programming library for JavaScript applications, built with TypeScript.


    I'm Sherlock, the world's best deduction expert.

    I'm not going to go into detail about how I do what I do because chances are you wouldn't understand.

    This is what I do:

    1. I observe mutable state (Atoms)
    2. From what I observe, I deduce everything else. (Derivations)
    3. I don't glitch, my deductions are always correct and up to date, and I'm really fast!

    [Adapted from The Science of Deduction]

    Special thanks to @ds300 for creating derivablejs which was the main inspiration for Sherlock. Sherlock was originally designed to be API compatible with derivablejs, but has been rewritten from the ground up (in TypeScript) to address a number of fundamental issues that prevented its use in our projects. See Differences with derivablejs for more information.


    Application state

    Sherlock Holmes, the fictional consulting detective, is known for his power of deduction. The Sherlock library applies the power of deduction to application state. This is best explained using a small example. Let's say we're developing an eBook reader (to read about Sherlock Holmes of course). Our naive version is as follow:

    /** Calculates an array of pages (['Title page...', 'page 1...', ...]). */
    function calculatePages(book: Book, fontsize: number): string[] { /* secret internal code. ;-) */ }
    // Initialisation:
    let currentBook: Book = ...; // magically appears
    let currentFontSize = 12;
    let currentPageNumber = 0;
    let currentPages = calculatePages(currentBook, currentFontSize);
    let currentPage = currentPages[currentPageNumber];
    function selectPage(pageNr: number) {
        currentPageNumber = pageNr;
        currentPage = currentPages[currentPageNumber];
    function selectFontSize(newSize: number) {
        currentFontSize = newSize;
        currentPages = calculatePages(book, currentFontSize);
        currentPage = currentPages[currentPageNumber];

    Here we can observe two kinds of variables. The first kind contains the real mutable state of the application, that is:

    • currentBook
    • currentFontSize
    • currentPageNumber

    The rest of the variables is derived state:

    • currentPages
    • currentPage

    The derived state can be derived from the real state. As you can see in this example, we need to make sure to always update the derived state whenever the real state changes. If, for example, we forget to update currentPages after changing currentFontSize we end up with an invalid state.

    Another way to explain the difference between real state and derived state is to look at the way a spreadsheet works. Any cell in a spreadsheet that contains a value contains real state, any cell that contains a formula contains derived state. A spreadsheet is very powerful like that because it automatically updates formula-cells whenever needed. Wouldn't it be nice to have that power in our code as well?

    Another thing we can see in the eBook code is that this magic updateScreen function needs to be called whenever currentPage changes.

    The power of deduction

    The idea behind Sherlock (and other reactive libraries) is to make all derivations (i.e. calculating derived state) and reactions (calling some function whenever something changes) explicit and automatic.

    All real state is put in so-called Atoms, all other state is derived. An Atom has a #get and a #set method to access or change its state. Using Sherlock, the code could look as follows (the dollar-suffix is a syntactic indication that a variable has been "sherlocked", i.e. that a variable is derivable):

    /** same as before */
    function calculatePages(book: Book, fontsize: number): string[] { /* secret internal code. ;-) */ }
    // Initialisation:
    let currentBook$: Atom<Book> = ...; // magically appears
    let currentFontSize$ = atom(12);
    let currentPageNumber$ = atom(0);
    // We simply use a lambda function to define currentPage$ as a derivation of currentBook$
    // and currentFontSize$ using calculatePages. Sherlock automatically records all dependencies.
    let currentPages$ = derivation(() => calculatePages(currentBook$.get(), currentFontSize$.get()));
    // currentPage$ is always equal to the element in currentPages$ at position currentPageNumber$.
    let currentPage$ = currentPages$.pluck(currentPageNumber$);
    // Automatically call updateScreen whenever neccessary.
    currentPage$.react(() => updateScreen());
    function selectPage(pageNr: number) {
    function selectFontSize(newSize: number) {

    The initial setup is slightly more complex because we make all dependencies explicit at initialization time, but the selectPage and selectFontSize functions have suddenly become preposterously simple.


    The base concept of Sherlock is the Derivable. A Derivable is a piece of application state that can be combined and used to derive other pieces of application state.

    There are three types of Derivables:

    • Atoms

      Atoms are the basic building blocks of a reactive application. They are mutable references to immutable values. Atoms represent the ground truth from which the rest of the application state is derived.

      import { atom, Atom } from '@politie/sherlock';
      const name$: Atom<string> = atom('Sherlock');
      name$.get(); // => 'Sherlock'
      name$.get(); // => 'Moriarty'
    • Constant

      Constants are simple immutable references to immutable values.

      import { constant, Derivable } from '@politie/sherlock';
      const emptyString$: Derivable<string> = constant('');
      emptyString$.get(); // => ''
    • Derivations

      Derivations are calculated derived state (deductions if you will) based on other Atoms of Derivations. They can be created with the #derive method that is present on all derivables.

      const isBrilliant$ = name$.derive(name => name === 'Sherlock');
      isBrilliant$.get(); // false
      isBrilliant$.get(); // true

      Derivations can also be created with the generic derivation function as seen earlier. This function can be used to do an arbitrary calculation on any number of derivables. @politie/sherlock automatically records which derivable is dependent on which other derivable to be able to update derived state when needed.


    To execute side effects, you can react to changes on any derivable as seen in an earlier example.

    More documentation coming soon


    More documentation coming soon

    Interoperability with RxJS using sherlock-rxjs

    Coming soon

    Proxies using sherlock-proxies

    Coming soon


    @politie/sherlock should be used in combination with immutable data structures such as the excellent Immutable library by Facebook.

    Differences with derivablejs

    Fixes to the change propagation algorithm

    Coming soon

    Cyclic reactors

    Coming soon


    npm i @politie/sherlock

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