fancy-state-machine
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1.0.1 • Public • Published

Fancy State Machine

Type-safe, composable, seamless data flow Finite-state machine implementation in TypeScript.

Installation

npm i fancy-state-machine
yarn add fancy-state-machine

Simple usage

Traffic light

A traffic light consist of 3 colors red, green and yellow normally will have the following flow.

%% ./examples/charts/traffic-light.mermaid

flowchart LR
  node0["red-light"]
  node1["green-light"]
  node2["yellow-light"]

  node0-- "next-light" --> node1

  node1-- "next-light" --> node2

  node2-- "next-light" --> node0

This flow can be model using fancy-state-machine as follows:

// ./examples/traffic-light.ts#L1-L14

import { FSMBuilder } from 'fancy-state-machine';

const trafficLightFsmBuilder = FSMBuilder.create()
    .addEvent<'next-light'>()

    .addState('red-light')
    .addState('green-light')
    .addState('yellow-light')

    //             fromState       event       targetState
    .addTransition('red-light', 'next-light', 'green-light')
    .addTransition('green-light', 'next-light', 'yellow-light')
    .addTransition('yellow-light', 'next-light', 'red-light');
  • addEvent is called with generic paremters because it is only used for decorating the type of the FSM. The events are not stored directly, but only in the transitions.
  • The addTransition is type-safe. Meaning you can only pass in the defined events and states.

This builder can be used to build FSM and run like this:

// ./examples/traffic-light-usage.ts#L3-L13

async function main() {
    const fsm = trafficLightFsmBuilder.build('green-light'); // pass in initial state

    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['green-light']
    await fsm.dispatch('next-light');
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['yellow-light']
    await fsm.dispatch('next-light');
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['red-light']
    await fsm.dispatch('next-light');
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['green-light']
}
  • The dispatch function accept a predefined event. It is also type-safe.
  • The dispatch function is async, allowing more complex usage later on.
  • The stateData is a tuple. This is because it can hold additional data. It will be explained in the later example.

Simple turnstile

The coin-operated turnstile will have the following flow:

%% ./examples/charts/simple-turnstile.mermaid

flowchart LR
  node0["locked"]
  node1["unlocked"]

  node0-- "coin" --> node1

  node1-- "push" --> node0

Here the self-loop is omitted, for the shake of code illustration 😃. It can be model with fancy-state-machine as follows:

// ./examples/simple-turnstile.ts

import { FSMBuilder } from 'fancy-state-machine';

export const simpleTurnstileFsmBuilder = FSMBuilder.create()
    .addEvents<{
        coin: [];
        push: [];
    }>()

    .addState('locked')
    .addState('unlocked')

    .addTransition('locked', 'coin', 'unlocked')
    .addTransition('unlocked', 'push', 'locked');
  • Here addEvents can be used to define multiple events at the same time. Both addEvent and addEvents return this object but casted to the newly decorated type, so calling these function multiple time might have overhead. addEvents can be use to reduce these calls into one, while addEvent can be used for readability. Since this is up to the compiler, which one to use is only the stylistic choice.
  • addEvents accepts a mapping in its generic parameters, and the values are also tuples! This part declare which data can be pass along with an event. Since the event in our model does not have any additional data, we can leave them blank.

We can start using the builder just like the traffic light example, but if we dispatch an event that causes an undefined transition, we will have an error:

// ./examples/simple-turnstile-usage.ts#L3-L6

async function failed() {
    const fsm = simpleTurnstileFsmBuilder.build('locked');
    await fsm.dispatch('push'); // this throw error
}

Don't worry though, fancy-state-machine allow this to be ignore. When there is an undefined transition, the state remains the same. This effectively close the loop for us in the model.

// ./examples/simple-turnstile-usage.ts#L8-L21

async function pass() {
    const fsm = simpleTurnstileFsmBuilder.build('locked').setOptions({ ignoreInvalidTransition: true });

    await fsm.dispatch('push');
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['locked']
    await fsm.dispatch('coin');
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['unlocked']
    await fsm.dispatch('coin');
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['unlocked']
    await fsm.dispatch('push');
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['locked']
    await fsm.dispatch('push');
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['locked']
}

If you find the set option part is lengthy, fsm.clone() can be used to clone the fsm from the existing FSM.

Passing data between states and events

Forward data flow

Imagine are wring a CLI app that asks for user name and address. We can have the simple model as follows:

%% ./examples/charts/simple-cli-app.mermaid

flowchart LR
  node0["start"]
  node1["pending-user-name"]
  node2["pending-user-address"]
  node3["display-user-info"]

  node0-- "redirect" --> node1

  node1-- "input" --> node2

  node2-- "input" --> node3


So when the app started, it is redirected to ask the user name. After that it will ask the user's address, and when these information are gathered, the will display it back to the user.

The input event, in most of the implementation, will come with the user input, meaning this event will come with data. fancy-state-machine allows to model the event come with additional data and can be passed in the state!

// ./examples/simple-cli-app.ts

import { FSMBuilder } from 'fancy-state-machine';

export const simpleCliFsmBuilder = FSMBuilder.create()
    .addEvent<'input', [line: string]>()
    .addEvent<'redirect'>()

    .addState('start')
    .addState('pending-user-name', () => {
        console.log('What is your name?');
    })
    .addState('pending-user-address', async (userName: string) => {
        console.log(`Nice to meet you, ${userName}! Where do you live?`);
    })
    .addState('display-user-info', (userName: string, address: string) => {
        console.log(`I see. I will visit your home at ${address}. See ya, ${userName}!`);
    })

    .addTransition('start', 'redirect', 'pending-user-name')
    .addTransition('pending-user-name', 'input', 'pending-user-address')
    .addTransition('pending-user-address', 'input', 'display-user-info');
  • The event input come with an input line: string.
  • Each state can be defined with an additional handler. This is called enterHandler, and will be called each time the state is visited.
  • The enderHandler can be async. When dispatch is called, the enterHandler will also be called and awaited before returning to the caller.
  • The enterHandler accepts some arguments. These are arguments are the state data.
  • The state data must be either passed in fsm when initialized, or pass along the transition.

The data forwarding rule

How exactly the data is passed along the transition in this example? Formally, suppose we have a transition from state A to state B with the event E. As you can see, all of the state data and the event data are tuples. So the state data of B must be the concatenation of the state data of A and event data of E. That is:

StateData[B] = [...StateData[A], ...EventData[E]]

If you take a look at the previous example, the data forwarding rule is also satisfied, as all the state data and event data are empty tuples.

Note that addTransition is also type-safe and follows this rule. If a transition is created that does not follow the mentioned data forwarding rule, addTransition will return never.

Dispatching events

Now our events also has data along side with its, we can also pass it to the dispatch function.

// ./examples/simple-cli-app-usage.ts#L3-L17

async function main() {
    const fsm = simpleCliFsmBuilder.build('start');

    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['start']
    await fsm.dispatch('redirect');
    // What is your name?
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['pending-user-name']
    await fsm.dispatch('input', 'John');
    // Nice to meet you John! Where do you live?
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['pending-user-address', 'John']
    await fsm.dispatch('input', 'the moon');
    // I see. I will visit your home at the moon. See ya, John!
    console.log(fsm.stateData); // ['display-user-info', 'John', 'the moon']
}
  • The event data is pass after the event name. This can be archived thanks to rest-parameters!
  • Also note that this function is also type-safe: the event data must have the corresponding type to its event name.
  • In the same vein, the state data is also stored in the same manner: using tuple. When visiting a state, the enterHandler will be called with this state data (minus the state name of course).

Custom transition handler: transition everywhere

Let's take a look at a more realistic example. The following is a simple login flow.

%% ./examples/charts/login-flow.mermaid

flowchart TD
  node0["home page"]
  node1{"verifying password?"}
  node2["error page"]
  node3["dashboard page"]

  node0-- "enter login" --> node1

  node1-- "login fail" --> node2
  node1-- "login success" --> node3

  node2-- "retry" --> node0

  node3-- "logout" --> node0

This login flow is actually popular when talking about FSM in UI design. But I still find this example is very abstract. Let's take a closer look at this flow by analyzing the event data:

  • The home page should not contains any user data.
  • The enter login event should be dispatched along side with the user login to the verifying password state.
  • The login fail event should be dispatched along side with the reason.
  • The login success event should be dispatched along side with the login tokens to the dashboard page.
  • The logout event should free the login tokens, so that when the user returned to the home page, there is no data.

This flow does not follow the data forwarding rule at all! In this case, fancy-state-machine allow explicit custom transition handler for the transition data transformation. The login flow can be modeled as follows:

// ./examples/login-flow.ts

import { FSMBuilder } from 'fancy-state-machine';

const loginFlowFsm = FSMBuilder.create()
    .addEvent<'enter login', [{ userName: string; password: string }]>()
    .addEvent<'login fail', [reason: string]>()
    .addEvent<'login success', [userToken: string]>()
    .addEvent<'logout'>()
    .addEvent<'retry'>()

    .addState('home page')
    .addState('verifying password?', (userData: { userName: string; password: string }) => {})
    .addState('error page', (reason: string) => {})
    .addState('dashboard page', (userToken: string) => {})

    .addTransition('home page', 'enter login', 'verifying password?')
    .addTransition('verifying password?', 'login fail', 'error page', (_userData, reason) => {
        // drop userData and return the reason only
        return [reason];
    })
    .addTransition('verifying password?', 'login success', 'dashboard page', (_userData, userToken) => {
        // drop userData and return the token only
        return [userToken];
    })
    .addTransition('error page', 'retry', 'home page', () => {
        // drop everything, return to blank state
        return [];
    })
    .addTransition('dashboard page', 'logout', 'home page', () => {
        // drop everything, return to blank state
        return [];
    });

export { loginFlowFsm };
  • Transition that does not follow the data forwarding rule MUST contains the an additional function called the transition handler. When transitioning from the state A to state B when the event E is dispatched, the transition handler is used to transform the concatenation of [...StateData[A], ...EventData[E]] into StateData[B].
  • Transition that follows the data forwarding rule can still has the transition handler, but its return type must match StateData[B].
  • The default transition handler of the transition handler following the data forwarding rule is the echo function: (...params) => params.
  • The current way to define the state data type is to define the enter handler. To be honest I can't find a better way to do this without specifying the function. To do this, one can call .addState<'state', [...]>('state'), but the 'state' will be repeated twice.

Here is the usage of the FSM:

// ./examples/login-flow-usage.ts

import { loginFlowFsm } from './login-flow';
import assert from 'assert';

async function login() {
    const fsm = loginFlowFsm.build('home page');

    async function tryLogin() {
        assert(fsm.stateData[0] === 'verifying password?');
        // get the state right from fsm.
        const accessTokenOrError = await verifyLogin(fsm.stateData[1].userName, fsm.stateData[1].password);

        if (accessTokenOrError instanceof Error) {
            await fsm.dispatch('login fail', accessTokenOrError.message);
            await fsm.dispatch('retry');
        } else {
            await fsm.dispatch('login success', accessTokenOrError);
            // now user will use the app for a while
            // then logout
            await fsm.dispatch('logout');
        }
    }

    // wrong login
    await fsm.dispatch('enter login', { userName: 'user1', password: 'bruh' });
    await tryLogin();
    await fsm.dispatch('enter login', { userName: 'whoami', password: 'idontknow' });
    await tryLogin();

    // correct login
    await fsm.dispatch('enter login', { userName: 'demo_account', password: '1234pass5678' });
    await tryLogin();
}

const Users = new Map([
    ['user1', 'Password123'],
    ['testuser', '9876abcd'],
    ['sample_user', 'passWORD456'],
    ['newuser123', 'mySecret789'],
    ['demo_account', '1234pass5678'],
    ['access_granted', 'secureAccess99'],
    ['alpha_beta', 'BetaAlpha#1'],
    ['user42', 'Pass123word!'],
    ['temp_user', 'samplePass789'],
    ['guest123', 'Welcome567!'],
]);

async function verifyLogin(userName: string, password: string) {
    const userData = Users.get(userName);
    if (userData !== password) return new Error(`wrong username or password`);
    return '<ACCESS_TOKEN>';
}

Self-emitting event

Let's take a look at the login flow example. Currently the verification logic is separated from the state. This is fine, but sometimes we want to have more flexibility, by embedding the logic alongside the state. fancy-state-machine allowing this. The enter handler, additionally can return the event data that it want to be fired right after.

The login can be re-model like this:

// ./examples/login-flow-2.ts

import { FSMBuilder } from 'fancy-state-machine';

const loginFlowFsm = FSMBuilder.create()
    .addEvent<'enter login', [{ userName: string; password: string }]>()
    .addEvent<'login fail', [reason: string]>()
    .addEvent<'login success', [userToken: string]>()
    .addEvent<'logout'>()
    .addEvent<'retry'>()

    .addState('home page')
    .addState('verifying password?', async ({ userName, password }: { userName: string; password: string }) => {
        const Users = new Map([
            ['user1', 'Password123'],
            ['testuser', '9876abcd'],
            ['sample_user', 'passWORD456'],
            ['newuser123', 'mySecret789'],
            ['demo_account', '1234pass5678'],
            ['access_granted', 'secureAccess99'],
            ['alpha_beta', 'BetaAlpha#1'],
            ['user42', 'Pass123word!'],
            ['temp_user', 'samplePass789'],
            ['guest123', 'Welcome567!'],
        ]);

        const userData = Users.get(userName);
        if (userData !== password) return ['login fail', 'wrong username or password'];
        return ['login success', '<ACCESS_TOKEN>'];
    })
    .addState('error page', (reason: string) => {})
    .addState('dashboard page', (userToken: string) => {})

    .addTransition('home page', 'enter login', 'verifying password?')
    .addTransition('verifying password?', 'login fail', 'error page', (_userData, reason) => {
        // drop userData and return the reason only
        return [reason];
    })
    .addTransition('verifying password?', 'login success', 'dashboard page', (_userData, userToken) => {
        // drop userData and return the token only
        return [userToken];
    })
    .addTransition('error page', 'retry', 'home page', () => {
        // drop everything, return to blank state
        return [];
    })
    .addTransition('dashboard page', 'logout', 'home page', () => {
        // drop everything, return to blank state
        return [];
    });

export { loginFlowFsm };

Notice now the verification logic is embed right in the verifying password? state. Its enter handler return the event (eventName and event data) that it wants to be fired afterward.

When dispatch is called, if the new visited state's enter handler returned the new events, dispatch will continue transition, until it has visited the state with enter handler that returns nothing. So now, when calling await fsm.dispatch('enter login', { ... }), the resulting state will be either error page or dashboard page.

Composing FSM

fancy-state-machine also has capability to compose smaller FSM into a larger one via .embed and .scope method. Let's take a look at the following example: password.

The user is allowed to enter a 4-digit password, each digit is from 1 to 4. The checking flow will be as follows:

%% ./examples/charts/password.mermaid

flowchart LR
  subgraph subgraph0 ["first-digit"]
    node0["start"]
    node1["unlocked"]
    node2["fail"]
    node3{"verifying?"}
  end
  subgraph subgraph1 ["second-digit"]
    node4["start"]
    node5["unlocked"]
    node6["fail"]
    node7{"verifying?"}
  end
  subgraph subgraph2 ["third-digit"]
    node8["start"]
    node9["unlocked"]
    node10["fail"]
    node11{"verifying?"}
  end
  subgraph subgraph3 ["forth-digit"]
    node12["start"]
    node13["unlocked"]
    node14["fail"]
    node15{"verifying?"}
  end
  node16["start"]
  node17((("unlocked!")))
  node18((("fail!")))

  node0-- "digit" --> node3

  node1-- "redirect" --> node4

  node2-- "redirect" --> node18

  node3-- "wrong" --> node2
  node3-- "correct" --> node1

  node4-- "digit" --> node7

  node5-- "redirect" --> node8

  node6-- "redirect" --> node18

  node7-- "wrong" --> node6
  node7-- "correct" --> node5

  node8-- "digit" --> node11

  node9-- "redirect" --> node12

  node10-- "redirect" --> node18

  node11-- "wrong" --> node10
  node11-- "correct" --> node9

  node12-- "digit" --> node15

  node13-- "redirect" --> node17

  node14-- "redirect" --> node18

  node15-- "wrong" --> node14
  node15-- "correct" --> node13

  node16-- "redirect" --> node0


  node18-- "digit" --> node18

Here I'm using digit event instead, since we already have event with data attached. Here each digit is a single FSM to check if the inputting digit is the correct one, and it short-circuits to fail in case of incorrect. We can see that all 4 sub-FSM have the same structure, so we can see that we should be able to compose them somehow.

fancy-state-machine comes to rescue with the following model:

// ./examples/password.ts

import { FSMBuilder } from 'fancy-state-machine';

type Digit = 1 | 2 | 3 | 4;
function createSingleDigitPassword(pass: Digit) {
    return FSMBuilder.create()
        .addEvent<'digit', [d: Digit]>()
        .addEvent<'wrong'>()
        .addEvent<'correct'>()
        .addEvent<'redirect'>()

        .addState('start')
        .addState('unlocked', () => ['redirect'])
        .addState('fail', () => ['redirect'])
        .addState('verifying?', (d: Digit) => {
            return d === pass ? ['correct'] : ['wrong'];
        })
        .addTransition('start', 'digit', 'verifying?')
        .addTransition('verifying?', 'wrong', 'fail', () => [])
        .addTransition('verifying?', 'correct', 'unlocked', () => []);
}

export const passwordFSMBuilder = FSMBuilder.create()
    .embed(createSingleDigitPassword(4).scope('first-digit.'))
    .embed(createSingleDigitPassword(2).scope('second-digit.'))
    .embed(createSingleDigitPassword(1).scope('third-digit.'))
    .embed(createSingleDigitPassword(3).scope('forth-digit.'))

    .addState('start', () => ['redirect'])
    .addState('unlocked!')
    .addState('fail!')

    .addTransition('start', 'redirect', 'first-digit.start')
    .addTransition('first-digit.unlocked', 'redirect', 'second-digit.start')
    .addTransition('second-digit.unlocked', 'redirect', 'third-digit.start')
    .addTransition('third-digit.unlocked', 'redirect', 'forth-digit.start')
    .addTransition('forth-digit.unlocked', 'redirect', 'unlocked!')
    .addTransition('first-digit.fail', 'redirect', 'fail!')
    .addTransition('second-digit.fail', 'redirect', 'fail!')
    .addTransition('third-digit.fail', 'redirect', 'fail!')
    .addTransition('forth-digit.fail', 'redirect', 'fail!')
    .addTransition('fail!', 'digit', 'fail!', () => []);

Here is a model to check if the password 4, 2, 1, 3 is inputted.

Let's take a look at createSingleDigitPassword:

  • This function creates the sub-FSM to check the single digit.
  • The verifying? state checks if the inputted digit d is the same as the parameters, and fire the corresponding events.
  • The out states fail and unlock fire the event redirect immediately. This will be used to plug the states in the large FSM.

Now for the large FSM:

  • There are 4 statements .embed(createSingleDigitPassword(...).scope(...)), that will embed 4 sub-FSM into this large FSM.
  • The scope(s) function will transform the state of the sub-FSM to have the prefix of s. So when calling .scope('first-digit.'), we have the following transformation:
    • start -> first-digit.start
    • verifying? -> first-digit.verifying?
    • unlocked -> first-digit.unlocked
    • fail -> first-digit.fail
  • With all 4 sub-FSM embedded with renamed states, we can redirect the states:
    • All the fail states will be redirect to the final fail! state.
    • The unlocked states of the previous digit will be redirected to the next start state of the next digit.

This gives us a very powerful tool to compose FSM that can only be found in textbook, and it is now realized in TypeScript! But beware that the number of states will be exponentially increased when more layer of FSM are composed with each other.

Other functionalities

Clone FSMBuilder

Every FSMBuilder method is multable, except clone that does what it says. So be careful not to share FSMBuilder, including alternate it after a FSM instance was built.

FSM#fullDispatch

FSM instance has a better dispatch method called fullDispatch, which accepts more parameters. It has the following signature:

FSM#fullDispatch(events, options?)
  • Events is the event name with event data tuple, that is, fsm.dispatch('event', data1, data2, ...) is equivalent to fsm.fullDispatch(['event', data1, data2]).
  • options is an object, allowing to specify additional functionality:
    • ignoreInvalidTransition?: boolean - this property is the same one as the FSM#options. Setting this to true to ignore the invalid transition. The default is of course FSM#options#ignoreInvalidTransition.
    • onTransition?: (fromState, event, targetState) => void - callback to listen when a transition happens. The state is the state name with state data tuple, and event is the event name with event data tuple.
    • onInvalidTransition?: (fromState, event) => void - callback to listen when an invalid transition happens. The state is the state name with state data tuple, and event is the event name with event data tuple.

FSM#drain

Come back to the simple CLI app example. The start state has one transition, which is when redirect was fired. Normally start is also the initial start that we set. But what happens when start start's enter handler return redirect immediately? This means when fsm is initialized, we are at start, not where start is redirected.

I intend to not make that immediate transition.

  • The initialization is a sync process, while dispatch is async.
  • Standing right at the initialized state still make more sense and the behavior is more consistent. Think of the initialized state as not entered, and we simply just stand there.

However, immediately transition might be the desired behavior. In this case, FSM#drain can be called right after initialization (and in an async context) to get the immediate events.

FSM#drain accepts an additional optional param called options, which is the same options as FSM#fullDispatch, since it will be passed in FSM#fullDispatch.

renderToMermaid

All the above flow/state chart are rendered into mermaid using the renderToMermaid utility. It has the following signature:

renderToMermaid(fsm, options?)
  • fsm is either FSMBuilder or FSM instance.
  • options is an optional object with the following property:
    • direction?: 'LR' | 'TD' | 'BT' | 'RL - specify the chart direction. Default is TD.

    • subgraphNameSeparator?: string - use to group states into subgraph. If unspecified, the state name stays the same. If specified, it is used as separate to split state name into parts, and state with similar parts will be grouped. For example, if subgraphNameSeparator is . and there are 4 states:

      • foo.x.a
      • foo.x.b
      • foo.y.c
      • bar.x.d

      Then foo.x.a, foo.x.b and foo.y.c will be grouped in a subgraph called foo. Further more, foo.x.a and foo.x.b will be grouped into a smaller subgraph in foo called x.

      An example is the password chart above, with sub-FSM grouped into subgraph, and this property is intended to be used with FSMBuilder#scope method.

More application: state data transfer

Besides modeling perspective and state data management perspective, there is one more perspective that this library can be used, which is state data storage and transfer.

This library does not forbid which type can be used for state data and event data, but if state data is POJO, it can be easily serialized into JSON and stored elsewhere, effectively storing the program state. For event data, if it is POJO, it can be serialized and send over network, making this the command pattern.

More example

Check out the test for some more interesting example 😎.

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