boc

0.9.15 • Public • Published

BocJS

BocJS is a unified NodeJS framework for both web server and client. It relies on ReactJS.

Version 1.0.0 will be released when documentation and an initialization script is completed. This is a work in progress.


The core idea behind BocJS is that both the server and client of a website are one app. Writing client-side code with no knowledge of the server's API is impossible, and writing a server API without consideration for how it will be consumed on the client side is pointless. Rather than separating the two, this framework extends the monolith from server to client and allows you to write as much common code as possible.

The true conceptual gulf is between data retrieval and presentation. Each server call will execute a dynamic tree of dependencies based on the request, and output the correct data. That data then gets bundled and sent off to the client for rendering.

Refreshable single page app

Create a web app that allows pure, instant client-side navigation, but still handles page refreshes and back/forward navigation correctly. Only make server calls when you need more data or have to modify it. The rest of the time, the user can click around like they are using a desktop app.

Automatic hydration of templates

Any server calls that modify data will then automatically refresh every usage of it, saving you the trouble of writing glue that listens to changes. It doesn't matter what caused the data to change - the usage is decoupled from the processes that create and edit it.

Server-side rendering

Define the functionality of your site via React components that are executed on both the server side and client side. The data consumed by the components on both server and client is identical, so your static HTML will reflect actual data, allowing the user to see a fully-formed site before javascript finishes loading.

No more REST

Rather than creating endless boilerplate RESTful endpoints for every single operation, simply define actions that can be called by the client. These modify the state your components consume, and can make server calls or stay purely client side.

Often one user action needs to do multiple tasks that span multiple entities - shoehorning normal workflow into pure CRUD endpoints doesn't always make sense. Do all your work in one server call, and return whatever data needs to be modified.

Modular data assembly

If you segment your back-end structure along the same fault lines as your data, your server side code can end up a lot more modular and reusable. Define statelets that output particular datasets, then call them whenever you need that data sent to the client.

Installation

Navigate to an empty directory. Install the initializer with:

npm install boc

Then choose if you want to seed your project with "minimal", "minimal-sass", "base" or "example". The recommendation is "minimal-sass" for bare-bones projects, "example" to learn BocJS, or "base" to start with most of what you need for a new project.

boc-init minimal-sass
npm install
webpack
npm run dev-watch

That last command will start the server, and restart it when changes to the code are detected. You should now be able to access the app on localhost.

Usage

During development, you can either run:

npm run dev-watch

Or in three different command line shells:

webpack --watch
npm run dev
npm run sass-watch

These will watch for code changes and compile your javascript, your sass (if you're using it), and run/restart your server.

Go to localhost in your browser when the server is running and in the console, type:

g_InitialData

This is the data structure that gets filled with your data blobs and defined automatically on page load. It's also the same one that gets 'decorated' (more on that later), so it's helpful to have a look at it when debugging.

The various components of BocJS will be explained below using examples from the 'example' project - the one copied over for you if you chose to use 'boc-init example'. This is a simple forum webapp.

Overview

The entry point is the key-value list of actions. This gets passed into the server on initialization, and defines the URL's and endpoints of your app.

var actions = {
    "thread": { url: "/thread/:thread_id/:page", defaults: { page: null }, server: true, post: true }
    ,"forum": { url: "/:forum_name/:page", defaults: { page: null }, server: true, post: true, entry: "boot" }
    ,"home_page": { url: "/" }
};

Above, you can see that the name of the last action is the key "home_page", and it defines the root URL. When the user requests a page, the server iterates through the actions until it finds a match, and then launches the associated statelet. In this case, no entry point is defined, so it defaults to "boot".

The server then asynchronously loads the boot statelet. Here's an example:

// boot.js
module.exports = {
    dependencies: ["user", "forum"]
    ,process: async function(builder, db, route, user, forum) {
        builder.output({ static_params: {
            default_page_size: 10
        }});
    }
};

A statelet consists of an object with two keys: a list of dependencies (in this case, "user" and "forum") and a process function. The process function is where you do whatever the server needs to do, and output your data blobs.

The dependencies refer to other statelets, which get executed before process runs and the results injected into the function as arguments. Statelets don't actually need to return anything - the work is mainly done by the builder.output(key, value) function, which sends a data blob to the client. Those other statelets called by boot can and will output their own data blobs using the same mechanism.

Once the entry point statelet is resolved, and all data blobs has been output, the data decoration begins. Decoration is the process of modifying the data blobs so they can be easily used by the render components. Usages include caching calculated values, creating references between related objects, or providing back-references from child to parent objects (thus creating cyclic data structures). The data sent from server to client is undecorated (it is JSON stringified before decoration), so don't worry about sending too much data, as it exists only temporarily in memory. This process is also repeated on the client side with the exact same data, so make sure your decoration functions are runnable in the browser too.

Here is a typical decorator:

const decorators = [
    {
        input: ["forum", "threads"]
        ,output: function(forum, threads) {
 
            if((!forum) || (!threads)) {
                return;
            }
            threads.forEach(function(thread) {
                if(thread.forum_id === forum.id) {
                    thread.forum = forum;
                    forum.forum_threads.push(thread);
                }
            });
        }
    }

The inputs are forum and threads, which are data blobs output by the statelets. Here, although they are separate data blobs, we link them via the decorator. This way, if you have access to the thread, you have access to the forum and vice versa.

The final step is to use this data blob in a render component. You must provide a single root component to the server on startup - this then becomes the entry point for all rendering of state.

const React = require('react');
const CreateReactClass = require('create-react-class');
const CreateComponent = require('boc/component')(React, CreateReactClass);
 
import Forum from './forum.jsx';
import Thread from './thread.jsx';
 
export default CreateComponent({ user : "user", route: "route", forums: "forum_list" }, {
    renderForum(item) {
        // ...
    }
    ,render() {
 
        var page = null;
        if(this.props.route.name === "forum") {
            page = <Forum store={ this.props.store }/>;
        } else if(this.props.route.name === "thread") {
            page = <Thread store={ this.props.store } />;
        } else {
            page = (
                <div>
                    <h1>Example</h1>
                    { this.props.forums.map(this.renderForum) }
                </div>
            );
        }
 
        return (
            <div id="app-container">
                { page }
            </div>
        );
    }
});
 
 

Here, this one component acts like a switch for directing rendering to the correct component. The switching is done by route name matching, thus creating the behaviour of showing different pages when you navigate to different URL's. Up top, the CreateComponent function takes a key-value mapping of data blobs to component props. The keys define the prop keys, and the values define what data blob to hook up. So in this example, a data blob "forum_list" was output by one of the statelets, and then it was decorated. You then have access to it in any component than needs it, not just the top level component.

The final aspect of the system that completes the loop is calling actions. Within a component's event handlers (never the render function!), you can call this.action. For example:

this.action("thread", { thread_id: "abc-123" });

Since the action thread has been defined above with server: true, a server call will be made with this route name and data. The boot statelet will execute, and "thread_id" will be available. It is then the statelet's job to respond correctly, doing access/security checks, and then output the correct data blob. The decorators will then run and all components that have subscribed to that data blob will update.

Actions

Actions are a key-value object of objects that specify the endpoints of your app.

var actions = {
    action_one: {}
    ,action_two: { url: "/", server: true, post: true, entry: "statelet_name" }
    ,action_three: { server: true, post: true }
};
url optional [string]

Setting a URL on an action allows it to trigger on a GET request with a matching url pattern. To parameterize all or part of the url string, add : in front of the segment string, and whatever the user sends within that segment gets added as a route parameter. URL's are matched in the order provided, and the first one that matches will trigger that action.

    // will not have thing_id entry in route params
    // ensure this is earlier, to ensure "all" goes to this action and not the next one
    ,action_all: { url: "/home/look-at/all" }
 
    // if given "/home/look-at/123", route params will have { thing_id: "123" }
    // "/home/look-at/all" will not end up in this action
    ,action_specific: { url: "/home/look-at/:thing_id" }

Not specifying a URL means it can only be accessed via a POST request. Note that currently this framework does not allow DELETE, PUT or any other types of HTTP requests, and there are no plans to support it. Any action can delete, update, create or do whatever it wants on the serverside - just try and keep the action name meaningful.

defaults optional [object]

Use this in conjunction with a URL value, and you want various url segments to have default values when the URL would otherwise not match. For example:

    // given a URL of "/things/123", this will pass route params of { project_id: "123", thing_id: null }
    // given a URL of "/things/123/abc", this will pass route params of { project_id: "123", thing_id: "abc" }
    // a URL of "/things" will not match, because project_id has no default
    ,action_name: { url: "/things/:project_id/:thing_id", defaults: { thing_id: null } }
server optional [boolean | string array]

If set to true, this action will always make a server call. If given an array, it will only trigger a server call when that specific parameter changes.

    ,action_client_only: { url: "/smerg" }
    ,action_always_server: { url: "/blah", server: true }
 
    // server will be called when the thing_id part of the URL changes
    ,action_sometimes_server: { url: "/blah/:project_id/:thing_id", server: ["thing_id"] }
post optional [boolean]

Set this to true when you want an action with a URL to be called as a simple POST request without navigation.

entry optional [string]

The name of the statelet the server call should start in. Any data blob output by previous calls will persist in client-side memory, so pushing all data blobs every time is not necessary. This allows you to target a specific statelet to update only the data blobs you need.

store optional [function]

This function takes action parameters and returns a key-value object of items you want stored as cookies.

    // sets the selected_project_id cookie, and makes a server call
    ,change_project: { server: true, store: function(input) {
        return { selected_project_id: input.project_id };
    }}

This is a useful pattern for when you want some persistent variables that can also be accessed on the server side.

upload optional [string]

If you want this action to accept uploaded files, this string will become the key in the route params that contains the files uploaded.

file optional [MIME type string]

If this action is the direct endpoint of a file you can view or download, this string is the MIME type send to the client in the headers.

Statelets

Statelets are passed into the server initialization as a key-value object of objects. Each one can only be executed once per server call. How you do this is up to you, but the recommendation is to have each statelet live in it's own file, like so:

// thing.js
module.exports = {
    dependencies: ["user", "project"]
    ,process: async function(builder, db, route, project) {
 
        if(!project.is_alright) {
            return;
        }
 
        var things = await db.things.findAll();
 
        builder.output("things", things.map(function(item) {
            return item.get('public');
        }));
    }
};

Each statelet has two mandatory values:

dependencies [array]

An array of statelet names. If you were to define statelets like so:

const statelets = {
    statelet_one: {
        dependencies: []
        ,process: async function(builder, db, route) {
            // do something...
            return { ok: true, hi: "there" };
        }
    }
    ,statelet_two: {
        dependencies: ["statelet_one"]
        ,process: async function(builder, db, route, statelet_one) {
            // the value of statelet_one should be { ok: true, hi: "there" }
            // do something...
        }
    }
    ,statelet_three: {
        dependencies: ["statelet_one", "statelet_two"]
        ,process: async function(builder, db, route, statelet_one, statelet_two) {
            // do something...
        }
    }
};

Then entering a server call at statelet_three (like with action_name: { entry: "statelet_three" } in actions) would execute "statelet_one" first, then "statelet_two", then "statelet_three" last. This is because of the dependencies list. If you want more dynamic dependency behaviour, you can leave that list empty and call other statelets dynamically inside the process function.

process [function]

This is where the server does all the work. Here, you create database entities, make external API calls, delete entities, read files, build empires, etc. Split up the server code into logical modular blocks and give each one a statelet - then they can call each other when needed. The process function takes three mandatory arguments: builder, db and route. Each dependency then gets added to the list of arguments. builder is the serverside state builder, and has lots of useful utility functions. db is whatever ORM you passed into the server init - the example projects uses Sequelize. route is an object that contains parameters about the server call, and should be used to make decisions about what to execute. A typical route looks like:

// route =
{
    name: 'action_name',
    params: {
        some_client_side_data: 123
    },
    page: 'action_name_of_current_page',
    files: { action_upload_string: [] } // optional, only exists when upload is defined
}

Serverside State Builder

All statelets have the serverside state builder passed in as the first argument of their process function. It is a singular object constructed at the beginning of a server request and persists until the end of the request. The main purpose is to give dynamic access to other statelets inside the process function. These are the available functions:

output (string, object) or (object) =>

This is the most critical function the builder has, and is the main way the server communicates with the client. When you call it with a string and an object, the server will send the object to the client attatched to the string.

// key value synax
builder.output("things", [1, 2, 3, { a: 10, b: 20 }]);
builder.output("other_thing", 1234);
// object syntax
builder.output({ things: [1, 2, 3, { a: 10, b: 20 }], other_thing: 1234 });

When called with just a key-value object, this outputs a series of data blobs with each value attached to it's key. The data blob is not sent immediately - only when the entry statelet finishes execution. In the meantime, it can be overwritten as much as you want.

get async (string) => return value of statelet

Gets the return value of another statelet. If it has been executed already during this server request, it returns immediately. Otherwise you should await the result. Any outputs that statelet creates works exactly as normal. A common use case might be to call the statelet and not even use the return value - simply calling it so that it outputs it's data blobs to the client.

isGetRequest () => boolean

Returns true if the request is a GET as opposed to a POST.

getParam (string) => object

Gets a value with the given key from the config file.

getRequest () => request object

Gets the NodeJS request object that started this server call.

getSequelizeInstance () => ORM instance

Gets the ORM instance. You could probably use a different ORM.

getLogger () => logger instance

Gets the logger instance.

getCookie (string) => string

Gets a cookie of the given key.

getOutputCookies () => object

Gets all the cookies that have currently been output by statelets.

getAllCookies () => object

Gets all the cookies that have currently been output by statelets as well as originally submitted.

getRedirect () => object

Gets the object that contains the action name and parameters of the redirect given by a statelet.

redirect (string, object) =>

When called by a statelet, this redirects the client to this action with an object containing the parameters.

transaction async () => transaction object

Creates a new transaction using the ORM

log (string, string, optional object) =>

Given a log level and message, this calls the function with the key given by the first arg of the current logger with the second arg, and optionally the third arg as well.

outputCookie (string, string, boolean) =>

Given a name and a value, this sets a cookie on the client side. This cookie defaults to read-only (HTTP only), unless false is passed in as the third parameter.

outputToFile (buffer, optional string) =>

Use this to return a file. If you it a filename, the file is downloaded, otherwise it's displayed. Can be called multiple times, and each time the data will be appended.

setOutputFileName (string) =>

Yep.

outputHeader (string, string, boolean) =>

Given the name of the header, the value, outputs that header in the response to the client. If the third arg is true, multiple instances of that header will be output, which is useful for cookies and so forth.

manualResponse (string, object, buffer) =>

When all else fails, you can respond with an HTTP response code, an object key-value set of headers, and a response body buffer.

getManualResponse () => boolean

Checks to see if a manual response has been outputted.

decorateData (object) => object

This function is useful for when you need access to data blobs in it's decorated form, as opposed to the raw form you usually get in statelets. Pass in a key-value object with the data blobs and the decorators will run for you.

getOutput (optional string) => object

Retrieve the data blob in it's raw form before it's sent to the client. If you pass in a string, you only get the data blob for that key. If you pass nothing in, you get the whole set of key-values.

getAllOutputHeaders (object) => object

Given an object, this appends the currently set output headers (including cookies), and returns the result. Mainly for internal use, but it's there if you want it for some reason.

getFileOutput () => object

Gets the output buffer created by outputToFile.

Components

You can use regular react components, but in order to take full advantage of BocJS, it is recommended that you use the framework's wrapper for them.

 
const React = require('react');
const CreateReactClass = require('create-react-class');
// since you pass React into the framework, this means you can chose what version you want to use. v16 and above need the CreateReactClass external library
const CreateComponent = require('boc/component')(React, CreateReactClass);
 
export default CreateComponent({ prop_key: "data_key", things: "things", route: "route", pending: "_pending" }, {
    getInitialState() {
        return {};
    }
    ,componentDidMount() {
        console.log("Hi, this will only execute on the client");
    }
    ,handleThing() {
        this.action("action_name", { thing_id: 123 });
    }
    ,render() {
        return (
            <div onClick={ this.handleThing } >
                You are at { this.props.route.name }
                <OtherComponent store={ this.props.store }>
            </div>
        );
    }
});
 

The CreateComponent function takes two arguments: a key-value object of prop keys and data keys which maps data blobs to the component's props, and a object that defines a React class. When the server updates one of the data blobs mapped by a component, all the components that rely on it will re-render with the new, updated and decorated state. This is where it all comes together: you write the component without having to worry about data lifecycles. Anywhere you use a data blob, you can be assured that it will always have the latest data that the server comes back with.

Each component created in this way needs to have the store object passed into it, except the root component, where this will be done for you. You can then access the store via the props, so as to pass it into the child components.

If you want to call an action, do it from an event handler or similar - never call it from a render function! Actions can be called with callback functions as well:

this.action("action_name", { thing_id: 123 }, function(success) {
    // normally you don't need callback functions - rendering the current state should be enough
    if(success) {
        console.log("sweet");
    }
});

Some data blobs are built-in, and can be used regardless of what you output in statelets:

route

This is an object that has two keys: name and params. Name refers to the action name, and params are the parameters either extracted from the URL, or set by whatever called that action/route.

_pending

This is an object with keys set for all pending actions. The values will be the number of pending calls, and will always be at least 1. If no actions are pending, then this will be equal to {}.

_error

This is an object with keys set for all actions that have errors. The values will be the error strings returned by the server.

_success

Coming soon

Clientside Store

All BocJS components have access to this via their props. The main use is to TODO

action (string, object, optional callback) =>

This is a more formal way of initiating an action. Components will have an action function already defined, which is simple a wrapper for this one. This is the core method by which you interact with the server, or change the state on the clientside, or navigate.

The callback function only takes one parameter - a boolean for success.

actionFile (string, object, optional callback) =>

Calling this will initiate a file download. This works almost exactly like an action, except for the callback function. If a statelet defines a filename, this will trigger the download of the file to the user's file system. If no filename is given, the data will be returned to the client as an arraybuffer via the callback function.

The callback function takes an error and a data buffer. If an error is thrown, the error will be a string returned by the server and the buffer will be null. On success, the opposite will be true.

this.props.store.actionFile("file_access", { file_id: file.file_id }, function(err, data) {
    if(err) {
        console.log("ERROR: " + err);
        return;
    }
    var data_buffer = new Uint8Array(data);
    // do something...
});
 
isClientContext () => boolean

Useful for determining if this render is occurring on the client or the server. This is the only store function you can call from the render function.

generateURL (string, object) => string

Given an action name and an object of parameters, if the action found has a URL, this will return a relative URL string for that action.

processURL (string) => object

This does the reverse of generateURL - it takes a URL parameter and returns an object with name equal to the matching action name and params equal to the route parameters.

get (string) => object

Use this to get a data blob directly by passing in the key. This will be an instantaneous snapshot only.

subscribe (string, callback) =>

Mostly for internal use by components, you can use this to be notified of changes in a data blob. Pass in the key and a callback function that accepts a data blob.

unsubscribe (string, callback) =>

Unsubscribe by passing in the same key and function you passed into subscribe. Ensure the function is the same instance - comparisons are done using ===.

broadcast (string, object) =>

To all subscribers of a data blob, send out an instantaneous update. Pass in the key and the data itself - the data blob key doesn't have to exist, either. This is useful for communicating between distant components. This works with the automatic subscription done by a component when you define it, as well as calling the subscribe function manually.

setInitialData (object, boolean) =>

Don't mess with this function, it's for internal use.

Decorators

Decorators are an array of objects, each specifying some kind of data mutation on data blobs. This is the least "functional programming" aspect of BocJS - but you could write these as pure functions if so inclined.

Each decorator needs an input and an output. input is an array of strings, each one corresponding to a data blob key. If any of those data blobs change, that decorator will be re-run. output is a function that accepts the data blobs as arguments.

var decorators = [
    // first decorator
    {
        input: ["projects", "things"]
        ,output: function (projects, things) {
            if((!projects) || (!things)) {
                // you don't have to return anything
                return;
            }
            var processed = things.map(function(thing) {
                var processed_thing = ...
 
                // mutate the data if you like
                thing.flag = Math.random() > 0.5;
 
                return processed_thing;
            });
            // this will create a new data blob with the key "other_things"
            return { other_things: processed };
        }
    }
    // second decorator
    ,{
        input: ["things", "other_things"]
        ,output: function (things, other_things) {
            if((!things) || (!other_things)) {
                return;
            }
            // here you have access to the newly created "other_things" data blob, as well as the mutated "things" data blob
        }
    }
];

The decorators will be called in order. They will all be called at once on page load, and then every time one of the inputs changes due to an action. You can also return an object with new data blobs. If you prefer to keep your decorators pure, you could avoid mutating data and only output cloned data under new keys.

The most common use case of decorators is creating links back from child objects to their parents, and connecting data blobs that have foreign keys. For example, you might output projects, users, and user_project tables. Then in the decorators, you use the foreign keys in user_project to look up both users and projects, and create object references on all three data types to the other ones. Then writing components becomes much easier, as you have access to a whole interconnected data blob tree. For example:

var decorators = [
    {
        input: ["projects", "users", "user_projects"]
        ,output: function (projects, users, user_projects) {
            if((!projects) || (!users) || (!user_projects)) {
                return;
            }
            var project_id_hash = {};
            var user_id_hash = {};
            projects.forEach(function(project) {
                // initialize the users array to empty, to account for multiple decorator runs
                project.users = [];
                // cache the project reference in a lookup object
                project_id_hash[project.id] = project;
            });
            users.forEach(function(user) {
                // initialize the users array to empty, to account for multiple decorator runs
                user.projects = [];
                // cache the user reference in a lookup object
                user_id_hash[user.id] = user;
            });
 
            user_projects.forEach(function(user_project) {
                // do the lookups based on foreign keys
                var project = project_id_hash[user_project.project_id];
                var user = user_id_hash[user_project.user_id];
                if(project && user) {
                    user_project.project = project;
                    user_project.user = user;
 
                    project.users.push(user);
                    user.projects.push(project);
 
                    // add references from projects and users to user_projects as well if needed
                }
            });
        }
    }
];

License

BocJS is open source under the MIT Licence.

Read the license here

Readme

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Install

npm i boc

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Version

0.9.15

License

MIT

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193 kB

Total Files

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  • graborenko