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ngx-sub-form

5.1.2 • Public • Published

NgxSubForm

ngx-sub-form logo

Utility library to manage forms with Angular.

Really small bundle (< 15kb) and no module to setup. Pick the class you need and extend it.

Built for all your different forms (tiny to extra large!), this library will deal with all the boilerplate required to use a ControlValueAccessor internally and let you manage your most complex forms in a fast and easy way.

From creating a small custom input, to breaking down a form into multiple sub components, ngx-sub-form will give you a lot of functionalities like better type safety to survive future refactors (from both TS and HTML), remapping external data to the shape you need within your form, access nested errors and many more. It'll also save you from passing a FormGroup to an @Input 🙏.

It also works particularly well with polymorphic data structures.

npm version Build Status Commitizen friendly

Blog post

This README focuses on explaining how to use ngx-sub-form.

If you first want to know more about the context, what we tried before creating that library and discover it through detailed examples, you can read a blog post about it here: https://dev.to/maxime1992/building-scalable-robust-and-type-safe-forms-with-angular-3nf9

Install

Install the npm package: ngx-sub-form

Note about the versions:

Angular <= 7: 2.7.1
Angular 8.x : 4.x
Angular >= 9: Latest

Demo

Before we get started with how to use the library and give some examples, a complete demo is available on this repo, within the src folder.
Demo is built around a concept of galactic sales. You can sell either Droids (Protocol, Medical, Astromech, Assassin) or Vehicles (Spaceship, Speeder).
This will also be used for the following examples.
If you want to see the demo in action, please visit https://cloudnc.github.io/ngx-sub-form.

Setup

ngx-sub-form provides

  • 2 classes for top level form components: NgxRootFormComponent, NgxAutomaticRootFormComponent
  • 2 classes for sub level form components: NgxSubFormComponent, NgxSubFormRemapComponent
  • 7 interfaces: Controls<T>, ControlsNames<T>, FormGroupOptions<T>, TypedFormGroup<T>, TypedFormArray<T>, TypedFormControl<T>, TypedAbstractControl<T>
  • 1 function: subformComponentProviders

So there's actually nothing to setup (like a module), you can just use them directly.

Usage

When should I use ngx-sub-form?

Short answer: As soon as you've got a form!

Detailed answer:

  • When you want to create a ControlValueAccessor
  • When you want to create a simple form, it'll give you better typings
  • When you want to create a bigger form that you need to split up into sub components
  • When dealing with polymorphic data that you want to display in a form

Type safety you said?

When extending one of the 4 core classes:

  • NgxRootFormComponent
  • NgxAutomaticRootFormComponent
  • NgxSubFormComponent
  • NgxSubFormRemapComponent

You'll have access to the following properties (within your .ts and .html files):

  • formGroup: The actual form group, useful to define the binding [formGroup]="formGroup" into the view
  • formControlNames: All the control names available in your form. Use it when defining a formControlName like that <input [formControlName]="formControlNames.yourControl">
  • formGroupControls: All the controls of your form, helpful to avoid doing formGroup.get(formControlNames.yourControl), instead just do formGroupControls.yourControl
  • formGroupValues: Access all the values of your form directly without doing formGroup.get(formControlNames.yourControl).value, instead just do formGroupValues.yourControl (and it'll be correctly typed!)
  • formGroupErrors: All the errors of the current form including the sub errors (if any), just use formGroupErrors or formGroupErrors?.yourControl. Notice the question mark in formGroupErrors?.yourControl, it will return null if there's no error

With AOT turned on you'll get proper type checking within your TS and HTML files.
When refactoring your interfaces/classes, your form will error at build time if a property should no longer be here or if one is missing.

Angular hooks

ngx-sub-form uses ngOnInit and ngOnDestroy internally.
If you need to use them too, do not forget to call super.ngOnInit() and super.ngOnDestroy() otherwise you might end with with the form not working correctly or a memory leak.
Unfortunately, there's currently no way of making sure that inheriting classes call these methods, so keep that in mind.

First component level

Within the component where the (top) form will be handled, you have to define the top level structure. You can do it manually as you'd usually do (by defining your own FormGroup), but it's better to extend from either NgxRootFormComponent or NgxAutomaticRootFormComponent as you'll get some type safety and other useful helpers. If dealing with polymorphic data, each type must have it's own form control:
(even if it doesn't match your model, we'll talk about that later)

Before explaining the difference between NgxRootFormComponent or NgxAutomaticRootFormComponent, let's look at an example with a polymorphic type:

// src/readme/listing.component.ts#L8-L58
 
enum ListingType {
  VEHICLE = 'Vehicle',
  DROID = 'Droid',
}
 
export interface OneListingForm {
  id: string;
  title: string;
  price: number;
  imageUrl: string;
 
  // polymorphic form where product can either be a vehicle or a droid
  listingType: ListingType | null;
  vehicleProduct: OneVehicle | null;
  droidProduct: OneDroid | null;
}
 
@Component({
  selector: 'app-listing',
  templateUrl: './listing.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./listing.component.scss'],
})
export class ListingComponent extends NgxAutomaticRootFormComponent<OneListing, OneListingForm> {
  // as we're renaming the input, it'd be impossible for ngx-sub-form to guess
  // the name of your input to then check within the `ngOnChanges` hook whether
  // it has been updated or not
  // another solution would be to ask you to use a setter and call a hook but
  // this is too verbose, that's why we created a decorator `@DataInput`
  @DataInput()
  // tslint:disable-next-line:no-input-rename
  @Input('listing')
  public dataInput: OneListing | null | undefined;
 
  // tslint:disable-next-line:no-output-rename
  @Output('listingUpdated') public dataOutput: EventEmitter<OneListing> = new EventEmitter();
 
  // to access it from the view
  public ListingType = ListingType;
 
  protected getFormControls(): Controls<OneListingForm> {
    return {
      vehicleProduct: new FormControl(null),
      droidProduct: new FormControl(null),
      listingType: new FormControl(null, Validators.required),
      id: new FormControl(null, Validators.required),
      title: new FormControl(null, Validators.required),
      imageUrl: new FormControl(null, Validators.required),
      price: new FormControl(null, Validators.required),
    };
  }
}

Then, within the .component.html we:

  • Define the formGroup
  • Create a select tag to choose between the 2 types
  • Use ngSwitch directive to create either a DroidProductComponent or a VehicleProductComponent
<!-- src/readme/listing.component.html -->
 
<form [formGroup]="formGroup">
  <select [formControlName]="formControlNames.listingType">
    <option *ngFor="let listingType of ListingType | keyvalue" [value]="listingType.value">
      {{ listingType.value }}
    </option>
  </select>
 
  <div [ngSwitch]="formGroupValues.listingType">
    <app-droid-product
      *ngSwitchCase="ListingType.DROID"
      [formControlName]="formControlNames.droidProduct"
    ></app-droid-product>
 
    <app-vehicle-product
      *ngSwitchCase="ListingType.VEHICLE"
      [formControlName]="formControlNames.vehicleProduct"
    ></app-vehicle-product>
  </div>
</form>

One thing to notice above: <app-droid-product> and <app-vehicle-product> are custom ControlValueAccessors and let us bind them to formControlName, as we would with a regular input tag.

Every time the form changes, that component will emit a value from the dataOutput output (that you can rename). On the other hand, if there's an update, simply pass the new object as input and the form will be updated.

From the parent component you can do like the following:

<!-- src/readme/listing-form-usage.html -->
 
<app-listing-form
  [disabled]="false"
  [listing]="listing$ | async"
  (listingUpdated)="upsertListing($event)"
></app-listing-form>

Note the presence of disabled, this is an optional input provided by both NgxRootFormComponent and NgxAutomaticRootFormComponent that let you disable (or enable when true) the whole form.

Differences between:

  • NgxRootFormComponent: Will never emit the form value automatically when it changes, to emit the value you'll have to call the method manualSave when needed
  • NgxAutomaticRootFormComponent: Will emit the form value as soon as there's a change. It's possible to customize the emission rate by overriding the handleEmissionRate method

The method handleEmissionRate is available across all the classes that ngx-sub-form offers. It takes an observable as input and expect another observable as output. One common case is to simply debounce the emission. If that's what you want to do, instead of manipulating the observable chain yourself you can just do:

// src/readme/handle-emission-rate.ts#L6-L9
 
protected handleEmissionRate(): (obs$: Observable<OneListingForm>) => Observable<OneListingForm> {
  // debounce by 500ms
  return NGX_SUB_FORM_HANDLE_VALUE_CHANGES_RATE_STRATEGIES.debounce(500);
}

Second component level (optional)

Only useful if you're breaking up a form into sub components.

All you have to do is:

  1. Add required providers using the utility function subformComponentProviders:
// src/readme/steps/add-providers.ts#L2-L10
 
import { subformComponentProviders } from 'ngx-sub-form';
 
@Component({
  selector: 'app-vehicle-product',
  templateUrl: './vehicle-product.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./vehicle-product.component.scss'],
  providers: subformComponentProviders(VehicleProductComponent), // <-- Add this
})
export class VehicleProductComponent {}
  1. Make your original class extend NgxSubFormComponent or NgxSubFormRemapComponent if you need to remap the data (will be explained later):
  2. Implement the required interface by defining the controls of your form (as we previously did in the top form component):
// src/readme/steps/add-controls.ts#L12-L20
 
export class VehicleProductComponent extends NgxSubFormComponent<OneVehicleForm> {
  protected getFormControls(): Controls<OneVehicleForm> {
    return {
      speeder: new FormControl(null),
      spaceship: new FormControl(null),
      vehicleType: new FormControl(null, { validators: [Validators.required] }),
    };
  }
}

Simplified from the original example into src folder to keep the example as minimal and relevant as possible.

Remapping Data

It is a frequent pattern to have the data that you're trying to modify in a format that is inconvenient to the angular forms structural constraints. For this reason, ngx-form-component offers a separate class NgxSubFormRemapComponent which will require you to define two interfaces:

  • One to model the data going into the form
  • The other to describe the data that will be set as the value

Example, take a look at VehicleProductComponent:

// src/readme/vehicle-product.component.simplified.ts#L7-L74
 
// merged few files together to make it easier to follow
export interface BaseVehicle {
  color: string;
  canFire: boolean;
  crewMemberCount: number;
}
 
export interface Spaceship extends BaseVehicle {
  vehicleType: VehicleType.SPACESHIP;
  wingCount: number;
}
 
export interface Speeder extends BaseVehicle {
  vehicleType: VehicleType.SPEEDER;
  maximumSpeed: number;
}
 
export type OneVehicle = Spaceship | Speeder;
 
interface OneVehicleForm {
  speeder: Speeder | null;
  spaceship: Spaceship | null;
  vehicleType: VehicleType | null;
}
 
@Component({
  selector: 'app-vehicle-product',
  templateUrl: './vehicle-product.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./vehicle-product.component.scss'],
  providers: subformComponentProviders(VehicleProductComponent),
})
export class VehicleProductComponent extends NgxSubFormRemapComponent<OneVehicle, OneVehicleForm> {
  public VehicleType = VehicleType;
 
  protected getFormControls(): Controls<OneVehicleForm> {
    return {
      speeder: new FormControl(null),
      spaceship: new FormControl(null),
      vehicleType: new FormControl(null, { validators: [Validators.required] }),
    };
  }
 
  protected transformToFormGroup(obj: OneVehicle | null): OneVehicleForm | null {
    if (!obj) {
      return null;
    }
 
    return {
      speeder: obj.vehicleType === VehicleType.SPEEDER ? obj : null,
      spaceship: obj.vehicleType === VehicleType.SPACESHIP ? obj : null,
      vehicleType: obj.vehicleType,
    };
  }
 
  protected transformFromFormGroup(formValue: OneVehicleForm): OneVehicle | null {
    switch (formValue.vehicleType) {
      case VehicleType.SPEEDER:
        return formValue.speeder;
      case VehicleType.SPACESHIP:
        return formValue.spaceship;
      case null:
        return null;
      default:
        throw new UnreachableCase(formValue.vehicleType);
    }
  }
}

You're always better off making your data structure better suit Angular forms, than abusing forms to fit your data pattern

For a complete example of this see https://github.com/cloudnc/ngx-sub-form/blob/master/src/app/main/listing/listing-form/vehicle-listing/vehicle-product.component.ts (repeated below):

// src/app/main/listing/listing-form/vehicle-listing/vehicle-product.component.ts#L7-L55
 
export interface OneVehicleForm {
  speeder: Speeder | null;
  spaceship: Spaceship | null;
  vehicleType: VehicleType | null;
}
 
@Component({
  selector: 'app-vehicle-product',
  templateUrl: './vehicle-product.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./vehicle-product.component.scss'],
  providers: subformComponentProviders(VehicleProductComponent),
})
export class VehicleProductComponent extends NgxSubFormRemapComponent<OneVehicle, OneVehicleForm> {
  public VehicleType = VehicleType;
 
  protected getFormControls(): Controls<OneVehicleForm> {
    return {
      speeder: new FormControl(null),
      spaceship: new FormControl(null),
      vehicleType: new FormControl(null, { validators: [Validators.required] }),
    };
  }
 
  protected transformToFormGroup(obj: OneVehicle | null): OneVehicleForm | null {
    if (!obj) {
      return null;
    }
 
    return {
      speeder: obj.vehicleType === VehicleType.SPEEDER ? obj : null,
      spaceship: obj.vehicleType === VehicleType.SPACESHIP ? obj : null,
      vehicleType: obj.vehicleType,
    };
  }
 
  protected transformFromFormGroup(formValue: OneVehicleForm): OneVehicle | null {
    switch (formValue.vehicleType) {
      case VehicleType.SPEEDER:
        return formValue.speeder;
      case VehicleType.SPACESHIP:
        return formValue.spaceship;
      case null:
        return null;
      default:
        throw new UnreachableCase(formValue.vehicleType);
    }
  }
}

Our "incoming" object is of type OneVehicle but into that component we treat it as a OneVehicleForm to split the vehicle (either a speeder or spaceship) in 2 separate properties.

Dealing with arrays

When your data structure contains one or more arrays, you may want to simply display the values in the view but chances are you want to bind them to the form.

In that case, working with a FormArray is the right way to go and for that, we will take advantage of the remap principles explained in the previous section.

If you have custom validations on the form controls, implement the NgxFormWithArrayControls<FormType> interface, which gives the library a hook with which to construct new form controls for the form array with the correct validators applied.

Example:

// src/app/main/listing/listing-form/vehicle-listing/crew-members/crew-members.component.ts#L13-L76
 
interface CrewMembersForm {
  crewMembers: CrewMember[];
}
 
@Component({
  selector: 'app-crew-members',
  templateUrl: './crew-members.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./crew-members.component.scss'],
  providers: subformComponentProviders(CrewMembersComponent),
})
export class CrewMembersComponent extends NgxSubFormRemapComponent<CrewMember[], CrewMembersForm>
  implements NgxFormWithArrayControls<CrewMembersForm> {
  protected getFormControls(): Controls<CrewMembersForm> {
    return {
      crewMembers: new FormArray([]),
    };
  }
 
  public getDefaultValues(): Partial<CrewMembersForm> | null {
    return {
      crewMembers: [],
    };
  }
 
  protected transformToFormGroup(obj: CrewMember[] | null): CrewMembersForm | null {
    return {
      crewMembers: !obj ? [] : obj,
    };
  }
 
  protected transformFromFormGroup(formValue: CrewMembersForm): CrewMember[] | null {
    return formValue.crewMembers;
  }
 
  public removeCrewMember(index: number): void {
    this.formGroupControls.crewMembers.removeAt(index);
  }
 
  public addCrewMember(): void {
    this.formGroupControls.crewMembers.push(
      this.createFormArrayControl('crewMembers', {
        firstName: '',
        lastName: '',
      }),
    );
  }
 
  // following method is not required and return by default a simple FormControl
  // if needed, you can use the `createFormArrayControl` hook to customize the creation
  // of your `FormControl`s that will be added to the `FormArray`
  public createFormArrayControl(
    key: ArrayPropertyKey<CrewMembersForm> | undefined,
    value: ArrayPropertyValue<CrewMembersForm>,
  ): FormControl {
    switch (key) {
      // note: the following string is type safe based on your form properties!
      case 'crewMembers':
        return new FormControl(value, [Validators.required]);
      default:
        return new FormControl(value);
    }
  }
}

Then our view will look like the following:

<!-- src/app/main/listing/listing-form/vehicle-listing/crew-members/crew-members.component.html#L1-L26 -->
 
<fieldset [formGroup]="formGroup" class="container">
  <legend>Crew members form</legend>
 
  <div
    class="crew-member"
    [formArrayName]="formControlNames.crewMembers"
    *ngFor="let crewMember of formGroupControls.crewMembers.controls; let i = index"
  >
    <app-crew-member [formControl]="crewMember"></app-crew-member>
 
    <button mat-mini-fab color="primary" (click)="removeCrewMember(i)" [disabled]="formGroup.disabled">
      <mat-icon>delete</mat-icon>
    </button>
  </div>
 
  <button
    mat-raised-button
    data-btn-add-crew-member
    color="primary"
    class="add-crew-member"
    (click)="addCrewMember()"
    [disabled]="formGroup.disabled"
  >
    Add a crew member
  </button>
</fieldset>

The app-crew-member component is a simple NgxSubFormComponent as you can imagine:

// src/app/main/listing/listing-form/vehicle-listing/crew-members/crew-member/crew-member.component.ts#L6-L19
 
@Component({
  selector: 'app-crew-member',
  templateUrl: './crew-member.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./crew-member.component.scss'],
  providers: subformComponentProviders(CrewMemberComponent),
})
export class CrewMemberComponent extends NgxSubFormComponent<CrewMember> {
  protected getFormControls(): Controls<CrewMember> {
    return {
      firstName: new FormControl(null, [Validators.required]),
      lastName: new FormControl(null, [Validators.required]),
    };
  }
}

Helpers

Properties

  • emitNullOnDestroy: By default is set to true for NgxSubFormComponent, NgxSubFormRemapComponent and to false for NgxRootFormComponent and NgxAutomaticRootFormComponent. When set to true, if the sub form component is being destroyed, it will emit one last value: null. It might be useful to set it to false for e.g. when you've got a form across multiple tabs and once a part of the form is filled you want to destroy it
  • emitInitialValueOnInit: By default is set to true for NgxSubFormComponent, NgxSubFormRemapComponent and to false for NgxRootFormComponent and NgxAutomaticRootFormComponent. When set to true, the sub form component will emit the first value straight away (default one unless the component above as a value already set on the formControl)

Hooks

  • onFormUpdate [deprecated]: Allows you to react whenever the form is being modified. Instead of subscribing to this.formGroup.valueChanges or this.formControls.someProp.valueChanges you will not have to deal with anything asynchronous nor have to worry about subscriptions and memory leaks. Just implement the method onFormUpdate(formUpdate: FormUpdate<FormInterface>): void and if you need to know which property changed do a check like the following: if (formUpdate.yourProperty) {}. Be aware that this method will be called only when there are either local changes to the form or changes coming from subforms. If the parent setValue or patchValue this method won't be triggered
  • getFormGroupControlOptions: Allows you to define control options for construction of the internal FormGroup. Use this to define form-level validators
  • createFormArrayControl: Allows you to create the FormControl of a given property of your form (to define validators for example). When you want to use this hook, implement the following interface NgxFormWithArrayControls
  • handleEmissionRate: Allows you to define a custom emission rate (top level or any sub level)
  • getDefaultValues: Allows you to set defaults values for the form. This method will be called when the form is created and applied to the form straight away. To avoid any confusion or repetitions when defining that method, we recommend in the getFormControls method to set all the default values of the controls to null. This method will also be called to reset the sub form if you try to set a formControl from the parent to null (which in some cases might be useful). You can also use that method to reset your form with default values, e.g. this.formGroup.reset(this.getDefaultValues())

e.g.

// src/readme/password-sub-form.component.ts#L5-L39
 
interface PasswordForm {
  password: string;
  passwordRepeat: string;
}
 
@Component({
  selector: 'app-password-sub-form',
  templateUrl: './password-sub-form.component.html',
  styleUrls: ['./password-sub-form.component.scss'],
  providers: subformComponentProviders(PasswordSubFormComponent),
})
class PasswordSubFormComponent extends NgxSubFormComponent<PasswordForm> {
  protected getFormControls() {
    return {
      password: new FormControl(null, [Validators.required, Validators.minLength(8)]),
      passwordRepeat: new FormControl(null, Validators.required),
    };
  }
 
  public getFormGroupControlOptions(): FormGroupOptions<PasswordForm> {
    return {
      validators: [
        formGroup => {
          if (formGroup.value.password !== formGroup.value.passwordRepeat) {
            return {
              passwordsMustMatch: true,
            };
          }
 
          return null;
        },
      ],
    };
  }
}

Errors are exposed under the key errors.formGroup e.g.

<!-- src/readme/password-sub-form.component.html -->
 
<input type="text" placeholder="Password" [formControlName]="formControlNames.password" />
<mat-error *ngIf="formGroupErrors?.password?.minlength">Password too short</mat-error>
 
<input type="text" placeholder="Repeat Password" [formControlName]="formControlNames.passwordRepeat" />
<mat-error *ngIf="formGroupErrors?.formGroup?.passwordsMustMatch">Passwords do not match</mat-error>

Be aware of

There's currently a weird behavior issue (?) when checking for form validity.
CF that issue and that comment.
It is also detailed into listing.component.html.

Contribution

Please, feel free to contribute to ngx-sub-form.
We've done our best to come up with a solution that helped us and our own needs when dealing with forms. But we might have forgotten some use cases that might be worth implementing in the core or the lib rather than on every project.
Remember that contributing doesn't necessarily mean to make a pull request, you can raise an issue, edit the documentation (readme), etc.

Install

npm i ngx-sub-form

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