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    phrase-engine
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    0.2.0 • Public • Published

    Phrase Engine Logo


    UIs that say the same thing over and over again every time are just not fun and writing a few thousand sentences must suck. That leaves us with an AI that enslaves us all or PhraseEngine.

    Welcome to PhraseEngine's docs.

    You can read the same Doc but with pretty colors here: PhraseEngine

    Or, you could try it out in your browser right now here: Try PhraseEngine

    Features

    • Familiar XML Syntax
    • Intuitive Tag Names
    • Smart Data Interpolation
    • Built in Randomization
    • Code Reuseability
    • Conditional Statements
      • Basic Operators
      • Selection
      • Compound conditions
      • Ability to act upon Internal State
    • Generators (for efficient sentence generation)
    • Helper Tags to workaround the limitations of XML
    • Chain Optimizer to Purge unused Nodes

    Installation

    yarn add phrase-engine

    Or if you're not using yarn (which you should be, it's awesome):

    npm install phrase-engine --save

    That's it. You're ready to go.

    Getting Started

    Let's compile a PhraseScript and generate exactly one sentence.

    import PhraseEngine from 'phrase-engine';
     
    const engine = PhraseEngine.compile(`
        <sentence>
            I like Trains.
        </sentence>
    `);
     
    console.log(engine.random()); // I like Trains.

    Okay, now let's do two sentences.

    <sentence>
        I <maybe>really</maybe> like Trains.
    </sentence>
    console.log(engine.random());

    the output will be either one of the following sentences.

    I like trains.
    I really like trains.
    

    Nesting

    All tags support nesting so you can mix and match as you please. To give an example let's put <maybe/> inside another <maybe/> for kicks.

    <sentence>
        I
        <maybe>
         really <maybe>do</maybe>
        </maybe>
        like Trains.
    </sentence>

    This is totally valid. Use this often.

    Generating

    then let's get a list of all the sentences with engine.iterate()

    const engine = PhraseEngine.compile(xml_string);
     
    // .iterate() returns a generator.
    // console.log() on the generator won't be useful.
     
    for (let sentence of engine.iterate()) { 
        console.log(sentence);
    }
     

    Output:

    I like Trains.
    I really like Trains.
    I really do like Trains.
    

    .iterate() returns a generator in order to be efficient. In order to convert it into an array you could use ES6 syntax like...

    let array_of_sens = [...engine.iterate()];
     
    // or 
    let array_of_sens = Array(engine.iterate());

    Tags

    <maybe/>

    You've met this tag before.

    <sentence>
        I <maybe>really</maybe> like Trains.
    </sentence>

    output...

    I like Trains.
    I really like Trains.

    <either/>

    So we know how to branch off into two paths, one with a few characters and another without. But what if we wanna select from a few different choices at random?

    <sentence>
        I
        <maybe>really <maybe>do</maybe></maybe>
        <either>
         <this>like</this>
            <or>love</or>
        </either>
        Trains.
    </sentence>

    Output:

    I really do love Trains.
    I really do like Trains.
    I really love Trains.
    I really like Trains.
    I love Trains.
    I like Trains.
    

    <this/> and <or/> are actually aliases so you can use either one interchangeably. They exist to provide semantic value.

    Nesting is possible here too!

    <sentence>
        I
        <either>
         <this>like</this>
            <or>
             <either>
                 <or>love</or>
                    <or>
                        have a
                        <either>
                         <or>love-hate</or>
                            <or>lovely</or>
                            <or>good</or>
                        </either>
                        relationship with
                    </or>
                </either>
            </or>
        </either>
        Trains.
    </sentence>

    output:

    I have a good relationship with Trains.
    I have a lovely relationship with Trains.
    I have a love-hate relationship with Trains.
    I love Trains.
    I like Trains.

    <text/>

    If you think naked text in XML is ugly. We can't blame you. That is why a completely inert tag called <text/> has been included.

    <sentence>
        <text>I</text>
        <maybe>really <maybe>do</maybe></maybe>
        <either>
         <this>like</this>
            <or>love</or>
        </either>
        <text>Trains.</text>
    </sentence>

    It has other uses when used with <ref/> or <if/> but we'll get to that later in this document.

    <spaceless/>

    Don't you hate it when adding a line break adds a space? <spaceless/> solves that.

    <sentence>
        Me. Trians.
        <either>
            <this>
                <text>To</text>
                <text>gether</text>
            </this>
            <or>
                <spaceless>
                    <text>To</text>
                    <text>gether</text>
                </spaceless>
            </or>
        </either>
        forever.
    </sentence>
    Me. Trians. Together forever.
    Me. Trians. To gether forever.
    

    Tadda!

    <ref/>

    But isn't writing the same tags over and over again a pain? especially if the blocks are large? Habe no fear, <ref/> tags are here.

    <sentence>
        I
        <either id="affection">
            <this>love</this>
            <or>like</or>
        </either>
        Trains. My cousin
        <ref id="affection" />s
        then too.
    </sentence>

    Output:

    I like Trains. My cousin likes then too.
    I like Trains. My cousin loves then too.
    I love Trains. My cousin likes then too.
    I love Trains. My cousin loves then too.

    This tag is PhraseEngine's solution to the DRY approach. It enables code reuse.

    All you have to do is put an id attribute on a tag you want to reuse. Then create a <ref/> tag with the same attribute where you wanna reuse it.

    It supports every tag except <or>, <this>, <then>, <else>

    Another example:

    <sentence>
        Omran
        <text id="likes">
            <maybe>really </maybe> likes trains
        </text>.
        Narmo <ref id="likes"/> too.
    </sentence>
    Omran really likes trains. Narmo really likes trains too.
    Omran really likes trains. Narmo likes trains too.
    Omran likes trains. Narmo really likes trains too.
    Omran likes trains. Narmo likes trains too.

    <data/>

    Let's mix info from the outside world into the sentences!

    <sentence>
        <data key="first_name"/>
        <maybe>really</maybe>
        likes trains.
    </sentence>
    const engine = PhraseEngine.compile(xml_string);
    const sentences = engine.iterate({
        first_name: "Omran"
    });
     
    for (let sentence of sentences) { 
        console.log(sentence);
    }

    Yeah just send the data in as a Javascript object into the .iterate() method or .random() method.

    Output:

    Omran really likes trains.
    Omran likes trains.
    

    with fallbacks

    Imagine this scenario: You want to write a language file that says "Mr [x] likes trains." you want to refer to them by their last name and only default to the first name if for some reason the last name isn't known.

    <sentence>
        Mr.
        <data key="last_name|first_name"/>
        <maybe>really</maybe>
        likes trains.
    </sentence>

    if data is:

    {
        first_name: "Omran",
        last_name: "Jamal"
    }

    output will be:

    Mr. Jamal really likes trains.
    Mr. Jamal likes trains.

    if only first name is available:

    {
        first_name: "Omran"
    }
    Mr. Omran really likes trains.
    Mr. Omran likes trains.

    <if/>

    It's time to make the tough decisions in life. How to make sure your language files address Sir Lancelot as 'Sir' and not 'Mr'.

    Let's set the flag in our data.

    {
        sir: true,
        name: "Lancelot"
    }
    <sentence>
        <if condition="sir">
            <then>Sir</then>
            <else>Mr.</else>
        </if>
        <data key="name"/>
        <maybe>really</maybe> likes Trains.
    </sentence>

    output:

    Sir Lancelot likes Trains.
    Sir Lancelot really likes Trains.

    let's try that with sir as false

    {
        sir: false,
        name: "Omran"
    }
    Mr. Omran likes Trains.
    Mr. Omran really likes Trains.

    If statements only support booleans, and no support for comparison operators for now, this may change in the future but we don't see much of a use for comparison operators at the moment. We don't intend to replace Javascript just supplement it.

    If you think we're stupid, we probably are! Send us a pull request! Show us how it's done!

    Strings?

    Okay, booleans are easily resolved, what about strings? All strings, even empty ones are truthy.

    {
        name: "Omran"
    }
    <sentence>
        <if condition="name">
            <then>
                <data key="name"/>
            </then>
            <else>He</else>
        </if>
        likes Trains.
    </sentence>
    Omran likes Trains.

    What is false?

    <if/> actually fails silently by considering keys that don't exist as false. For example if we don't include sir at all...

    {
        name: "Omran"
    }
    Mr. Omran likes Trains.
    Mr. Omran really likes Trains.

    Implicit <if/>

    Writing a <then> or an <else> or both, is a tedious task, that is why implicit <if/>s are a thing.

    {
        sir: true,
        name: "Lacelot"
    }
    <sentence>
        <if condition="sir">Sir</if>
        <data key="name"/>
        likes Trains.
    </sentence>
    Sir Lancelot likes Trains.

    Negating <if/>

    Okay there are three ways to negate an <if/>

    NOT Operator
    {
        sir: false,
        name: "Omran"
    }
    <sentence>
        <if condition="!sir">Mr.</if>
        <data key="name"/>
        likes Trains.
    </sentence>
    Mr. Omran likes Trains.

    How the not operator works and how much you can do with it, will be discussed later in this document.

    <else/> only
    {
        sir: false,
        name: "Omran"
    }
    <sentence>
        <if condition="sir">
         <else>Mr.</else>
        </if>
        <data key="name"/>
        likes Trains.
    </sentence>
    Mr. Omran likes Trains.
    
    <unless/> tag
    {
        sir: false,
        name: "Omran"
    }
    <sentence>
        <unless condition="sir">Mr.</unless>
        <data key="name"/>
        likes Trains.
    </sentence>
    Mr. Omran likes Trains.
    

    The <unless/> tag is actually an alias (with negative logic) for <if/> that means unless supports <then/>s and <else/>s',

    Compound Conditions

    So in the previous section you got familiar with the NOT operator !. Let's see a list of what other operators <if/> has.

    Name Operator Example Use
    NOT ! condition="!sir"
    AND & condition="female & !married"
    OR | condition="engineer | scientist"
    BRACKETs ( ) condition="(a & !b) | (!a & b)"

    Let's see them in action.

    <sentence>
        <text>
            <if condition="female & married">Mrs.</if>
            <if condition="female & !married">Ms.</if>
            <if condition="!female">Mr.</if>
        </text>
        <data key="last_name"/>
        likes Trains.
    </sentence>
    {
        "female": true,
        "married": true,
        "last_name": "Jamal"
    }
    Mrs. Jamal likes Trains.

    Internal State Conditions

    Wouldn't it be great if we could act upon the state of another part of a sentence?

    Consider these two sentences:

    They love trains.
    She loves trains.

    You see the s in loves after They but not She? That can be achieved completely in PhraseEngine.

    IDs

    It can act on IDs if a certain Id has been rendered. It evaluated to true. For example if the ID is tomato then #tomato in <if/> condition translates to true

    <sentence>
        <either>
            <this id="they">They</this>
            <this id="she">She</this>
            <this id="he">He</this>
            <this id="self">I</this>
        </either>
        <spaceless>
            <text>love</text>
            <unless condition="#they | #self">s</unless>
        </spaceless>
        Trains.
    </sentence>
    I love Trains.
    He loves Trains.
    She loves Trains.
    They love Trains.

    MAGIC.

    Classes

    Classes work the same way but the condition variable has to be prefixed with . like .fruit. For example if the class is tomato then .tomato in <if/> condition translates to true

    <sentence>
        <either>
            <this class="singular">They</this>
            <this>She</this>
            <this>He</this>
            <this class="singular">I</this>
        </either>
        <spaceless>
            <text>love</text>
            <unless condition=".singular">s</unless>
        </spaceless>
        Trains.
    </sentence>
    I love Trains.
    He loves Trains.
    She loves Trains.
    They love Trains.

    MAGIC AGAIN.

    A tag can hace multiple classes. Just like HTML it works by space separating the classes like "food fruit tomato"

    <select/>

    Okay writing a large block of if conditions suck. How about something like a switch/case statement?

    <sentence>
        My
        <select key="pet_type">
            <for value="canine">dog</for>
            <for value="feline">cat</for>
            <default>pet</default>
        </select>
        <maybe>really</maybe>
        likes Trains.
    </sentence>
    {
        pet_type: "feline"
    }
    My cat really likes Trains.
    My cat likes Trains.
    

    default example:

    {
        pet_type: "bovine"
    }
    My pet really likes Trains.
    My pet likes Trains.
    

    The select statement does NOT fail silently. It will throw an error when the key it switches is not foundind data.

    <br/>

    Every needs line breaks.

    <sentence>
        My Trains <br> Hurt.
    </sentence>

    output:

    My Trains
    Hurt
    

    Misc

    List Variables

    It is sometimes useful to be able to get a list of all the variables that the language files use.

    For that the .vars() method is included on a compiled engine.

    const engine = PhraseEngine.compile(`
        <sentence>
            <data key="name"/>'s
            <select key="pet_type">
                <for value="feline">cat</for>
                <for value="canine">dog</for>
            </select>
            likes Trains.
        </sentence>
    `);
     
    console.log(
        engine.vars()
    );

    the output should be something like...

    {
        vars: {
            name: [
                {
                    type: "string",
                    last: true
                }
            ],
            pet_type: [
                {
                    type: "enum",
                    values: [
                        "feline",
                        "canine"
                    ]
                }
            ]
        }
    }

    Yes, when it encounters a key on a <select/> tag, it grabs all the values in the <for/> tags under it and labels the variable to be a enum.

    In the case of <data/> tags the keys are labeled as string types and the last fallback has the extra last: true property to signify "if this is not defined there's a chance an Exception will be thrown"

    To formally define the return type we should show you the Typescript interfaces we used.

    interface StringVar {
        type: 'string';
        last: boolean;
    }
     
    interface EnumVar {
        type: 'enum';
        values: string[];
    }
     
    interface BooleanVar {
        type: 'boolean';
    }
     
    type VarType = StringVar | EnumVar | BooleanVar;
     
    interface VarsPacket {
        vars: {
            [key: string]: Array<VarType>;
        };
    }

    It happens to be an array because it is entirely possible for a key to be used for <data/>, <select/>, and even <if/> all in the same PhraseScript file.

    Count Paths

    It is also useful to know the number of paths sometimes. .count(data) helps with that.

    const engine = PhraseEngine.compile(`
        <sentence>
            I <maybe>really</maybe> likes Trains.
        </sentence>
    `);
     
    engine.count() // 3

    > Using count is actually a very bad idea because > it calculates that count by traveling every path in > the PhraseScript, which happens to be a very expensive > operation. We highly advice against using it. > > **Reason**: We're actually trying to solve this issue > and making this operation more efficient > but our attempts with caching and a few other methods > fail thanks to PhraseEngine's ability to act upon > Internal State.

    You are much better off, counting and maybe caching the output from the generator.

    Why?

    We actually develop and maintain a chat bot called Blood Bot. So, a few months ago we decided we should vary our dumb bot's responses, but we were faced with a dillema.

    A: We were too stupid to build full fledged AIs.
    B: We didn't want to write a thousand sentences, 'cause we're also lazy.

    So we did what every noob programmer does. Apply tons of Javascript. It was all fun and sunshines until our language files started to grow. Every branch of a sentence doubled our Javascript code. Every time we needed to conditionally render based on internal state, out code almost tripled. Even with the really nice helper functions and classes we built for ourselves, it was a nightmare to maintain. Our language files had BUGs. Go figure.

    As our Bot mostly operates in Bangladesh we needed to translate our language files to Bengali. Where do we even begin to talk about translators. Even the techsavy-est of translators failed to translate our English language files.

    So we thought, "eyy, what would happen if we hooked up an XML parser to some magical JS code and made a programming-ish language that was easy and familiar to programmers and translators alike."

    Three Months Later: PhraseEngine is Born.

    License

    MIT. Go crazy.

    Install

    npm i phrase-engine

    DownloadsWeekly Downloads

    2

    Version

    0.2.0

    License

    MIT

    Last publish

    Collaborators

    • omranjamal