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    hf

    0.3.0 • Public • Published

    Hf

    Build Status

    Hf is a library for working with Hf representations. It provides functions that take regular JavaScript objects rather than using constructors and prototypes. Most of the functions are format-specific wrappers for Lodash functions, such as find, filter, and get.

    Overview

    "It is better to have 100 functions operate on one data structure than 10 functions on 10 data structures." —Alan Perlis

    Problems Using JSON

    Using dot notation to interface with JSON is nice at first. If we get a response back with { foo: 'bar'}, it is quick and easy to do response.foo to get bar. But there are some difficulties that this practice can bring, especially if the response can change. In JavaScript, these difficulties slowly push us towards interacting with the response by adding conditionals to make sure the structure is what we expected, or letting some library handle it for us.

    For example, a client will throw an error the moment that a given path does not exist. Let's say we get the following as a response from the server.

    {
      "foo": {
        "bar": "baz"
      }
    }

    We may access the baz value by using response.foo.bar. But the moment the response does not include foo, our code will throw an error that it can't read the property from bar of undefined. To get around this, we check to make sure foo is there, and while this works, it requires us to always check values exist before we start traversing them with dot notation. It also means our code has a lot of if statements scattered throughout, moving us away from interacting directly with the data.

    We can also run into problems when a property can have a value of varying types. There are many hypermedia formats that use a property to define a rel for a link transition, and this value can usually either be an object or an array of objects.

    A customer response from a server may look as follows, with some data left out of course. Note: this is a fictional format for use as an example.

    {
      "links": {
        "order": {
          "href": "/order/1"
        }
      }
    }

    If we desire to add more orders, the convention is usually to make the order link an array of order links.

    {
      "links": {
        "order": [
          {
            "href": "/order/1"
          },
          {
            "href": "/order/2"
          }
        ]
      }
    }

    If the code we originally used was customer.links.order.href, our code no longer works with this response. This forces us to either check the type of the value each time or rely on a library to handle parsing this for me. Either way, the niceness of the dot notation is now buried within several if statements or is hidden behind a library's API.

    One small difficult that is created with this is that the link relation is used a property, which along with the potential value being an array, requires multiple levels of iterating.

    Design of Hf

    The hope is that Hf will be able to address the problems by providing a simple hypermedia format and using functions rather than objects and methods. The idea is to give up on interacting with the JSON structure directly and provide some safety while doing so.

    A Companion Hypermedia Format

    The first step in working toward addressing the problems above was to put together a very simple format for hypermedia. It is not the most robust by any means, but it:

    1. Includes all relevant information for a transition in each object
    2. Includes all transition in the same array for easy iterating and transforming

    While this makes it difficult to access href values as shown above, it does allow us to future-proof our lookups a little and rely on simple functions are pulling out data.

    Functions Acting on Data

    The next step was to build a library for helping with common use cases. For instance, there is a lot of times you'll need all of the links from a response. The code for that would be as simple as this:

    resource.transitions.filter(transition => transition.tag === 'link');

    But here we fall into similar traps we walked through above. For instance, if transitions is not in the response at a future time, our code will fail. To get around this, we pass the response to a function that always returns an array, no matter what it gets.

    hf.filterBy(resource, {tag: 'link'});

    Additionally, we have functions for handling path lookups in an object. For instance, let's say we receive this response from the server.

    {
      "attributes": {
        "foo": {
          "bar": "baz"
        }
      }
    }

    If we used response.attributes.foo.bar, the code is very tightly coupled with this response, and relies on that exact path to be there. If that path is missing, things fail again. To help with this, we can use the path function.

    hf.path(response, ['attributes', 'foo', 'bar']);

    This function will return baz if the value is there, but if any step of the path is not found, it automatically returns undefined unless we pass in a default as the third argument. If we were to then get some response from the server that isn't what we were expecting—even if attributes is not present, our code does not fail. We also don't have if statements scattered throughout our code checking to ensure the correct type and the path exist.

    Made for Filtering

    Another idea was to put as many transition types into a single array for filtering while providing lot of values to filter upon. Many formats break transitions into links, forms, embedded resources, etc., and require iterating and filtering multiple arrays to find relevant information. This structure puts everything in a transitions array and keeps all values as strings or objects for easy lookups.

    Safety and Failing Gracefully

    The functions provided here only take certain types and only return certain types. They fail gracefully when they get types they don't expect while returning the correct type anyway. For example, say we get this response back from the server.

    {
        "attributes": {
        "foo": {
          "bar": "baz"
        }
      },
      "transitions": [
            {
                "tag": "link",
                "ref": "self",
                "href": "/foo"
            }
        ]
    }

    We may be tempted to write code as such to get the value of bar and get the href of the link with rel as self.

    var bar = response.attributes.foo.bar;
    var selfLink = response.transitions.filter(function(transition) {
        return transition.rel === 'self';
    })[0];

    This code looks fine. But what if we get back this response later?

    {
      "attributes": {},
      "transitions": []
    }

    This response will break our code. Using the functions provided in this library, we can do:

    var bar = hf.path(response, ['attributes', 'foo', 'bar']);
    var selfLink = hf.getBy(response, {rel: 'self'});

    This code would work for the first response, and return undefined for both bar and selfLink for the second.

    Summary

    This library and format come from headaches encountered with working directly with JSON. It is made to provide simple functions for interacting with a single data structure. It's meant to be very almost-laughably simple.

    Install

    npm install hf --save

    Usage

    hf.has

    Takes an Hf object or transitions array and a conditions object and returns true if it finds at least one matching transition.

    // returns true if next is in the document
    hf.has(hfObj, {rel: 'next'});

    hf.find

    Takes an Hf object or transitions array as the first argument and a conditions object or function as the second argument. It returns the first matching transition or undefined. A wrapper for lodash.find.

    // returns first transition with rel next and tag link
    hf.find(hfObj, {rel: 'next', tag: 'link'});
     
    // returns first transition with rel next regardless of tag
    hf.find(hfObj, {rel: 'next'});
     
    // returns first transition with rel next
    hf.find(hfObj, function(transition) {
      return transition.rel === 'next';
    });

    hf.filter

    Takes an Hf object or transitions array as the first argument and a conditions object or function as the second argument. It returns all transitions with matching conditions or an empty array. A wrapper for lodash.filter.

    // returns all transitions with rel next and tag link
    hf.filter(hfObj, {rel: 'next', tag: 'link'});
     
    // returns all transitions with rel next regardless of tag
    hf.filter(hfObj, {rel: 'next'});
     
    // returns all transitions with rel next
    hf.filter(hfObj, function(transition) {
      return transition.rel === 'next';
    });

    hf.metaAttributes

    Takes an Hf object and returns the meta attributes if there are any or an empty object. You use this instead of hfObj.meta.attributes because this returns an empty object even if meta.attributes isn't found.

    // returns a meta attributes object
    hf.metaAttributes(hfObj);

    hf.metaLinks

    Takes an Hf object and returns the meta links if there are any or an empty array. You use this instead of hfObj.meta.links because this returns an empty object even if meta.links isn't found.

    // returns a meta links array
    hf.metaLinks(hfObj);

    hf.attributes

    Takes an Hf object and returns the attributes if there are any or an empty object. You use this instead of hfObj.attributes because this returns and empty object if attributes isn't found.

    // returns an attributes object
    hf.attributes(hfObj);

    hf.transitions

    Takes an Hf object and returns the transitions if there are any. You use this instead of hfObj.transitions because this returns and empty array if transitions are't found.

    // returns an array of transition objects
    hf.transitions(hfObj);

    hf.get

    Takes an object or array and an array of steps. It returns the value if found or undefined if not.

    // Returns 'one'
    hf.get({
      attributes: {
        bar: 'foo',
        foo: [{bar: ['zero', 'one', 'two']}],
      },
    }, ['attributes', 'foo', 0, 'bar', 1]);

    The get function also takes a default value as the last argument in the event the path was not found.

    // Returns 'foobar'
    hf.get({}, ['attributes', 'foo', 0, 'bar', 1], 'foobar');

    Example Hf object

    let hfObj = {
      meta: {
        links: [
          {
            rel: 'profile',
            href: 'http://example.com/profile'
          }
        ]
      },
      attribute: {
        name: 'John Doe'
      },
      transitions: [
        {
          tag: 'link',
          rel: 'orders',
          href: '/user/1/orders'
        },
        {
          tag: 'form',
          rel: 'update',
          href: '/user/1',
          method: 'POST',
          data: {
            name: 'John Doe'
          }
        }
      ],
    };

    Hf Data Structure

    Proposed media type: application/vnd.hf+json

    Hf (object)

    • meta (object)
      • attributes (object) - Meta attributes for a given resource
      • links (array[Link]) - Meta links for a given resource
    • attributes (object) - Attributes for a given resource
    • transitions (array[Link, Form, Embed]) - Transitions from state

    Link (object)

    • tag: link (string, fixed) - Link classifier
    • href (string, required) - Resolvable URL
    • rel (string, required) - Link relations

    Form (Link)

    • tag: form (string, fixed) - Form classifier
    • method (string, required) - HTTP method for the form
    • encType (string) - Media type for encoding request
    • data (object) - Data object for form

    Embed (Hf, Link)

    • tag: embed (string, fixed) - Embed classifier

    Developing and Contributing

    To test, you can run:

    npm test

    If you install nodemon, you can run npm run develop.

    npm install nodemon -g
    npm run develop

    Contributions are welcome! Please open a pull request.

    Keywords

    none

    Install

    npm i hf

    DownloadsWeekly Downloads

    2

    Version

    0.3.0

    License

    MIT

    Last publish

    Collaborators

    • smizell