1.0.0 • Public • Published


    Strict topological sorting, with API inspired by topo.

    Basic Usage

    The basic API is fairly similar to topo. You can create an instance of Problem and add items to it, then solve using the Problem#solve method:

    const { Problem } = require('topo-strict');
    const morning = new Problem();
    morning.add('Nap', { after: [ 'breakfast', 'prep' ] });
        'Make toast',
        'Pour juice',
    ], { before: 'breakfast', group: 'prep' });
    morning.add('Eat breakfast', { group: 'breakfast' });
    // [ 'Make toast', 'Pour juice', 'Eat breakfast', 'Nap' ]

    The Rules

    True to the name, topo-strict enforces several rules that are not enforced by topo, and leverages Nani to produce detailed errors whenever something goes wrong. The rules are as follows:

    • Strings added to a Problem-- henceforth known as ids-- must be unique, and must not be empty.

    • Strings provided to the group option-- henceforth known as group keys-- must also be non-empty and may not share a value with any ids in the Problem.

    • Strings provided to the before and after options-- henceforth known as constraint keys-- need not reference existing ids or group keys at the time they are added, but must do so by the the time solve is called.

    Violating any of these rules-- or providing non-string values to any of these options-- will cause a ValidationError that contains KeyErrors identifying all bad keys-- that is, ids, group keys, or constraint keys-- making it easy to tell exactly what went wrong.

    Advantages vs. topo

    • The strict enforcement of the rules above makes topo-strict more appropriate for situations where you really want to make sure nothing unexpected ever happens-- where failing fast with detailed errors is preferable-- such as dependency ordering that occurs when a server starts up.

    • topo only allows referencing of group keys through before and after constraints. Any ungrouped items cannot be sorted topologically. This means that in order to make a truly extensible dependency order, you have to specify a group with everything you add, even if you don't intend to add anything else to the group.

    • The final order of ids from topo-strict is completely independent of insertion order. Instead, a single canonical solution is found by prioritizing ids alphabetically. This is critical if you don't want the order of your add calls-- essentially an implementation detail-- to influence the result.

    • topo-strict supports several additional signatures to the add method, described below.

    • topo-strict also comes with some features for easily viewing the Problem and the graph that will be used to solve it, also described below.

    • topo-strict does not attempt to solve the problem until you call solve, whereas topo solves it after every single call to add. This is unlikely to make a significant difference performance-wise unless you have a huge number of add calls, so it's hardly worth noting. I noted it anyway, though. :)

    Disadvantages vs topo

    • topo-strict does not yet support merging, as topo does. The rules and validation approach make this feature quite a bit more complicated, so I've put off implementing it until I personally need it for something. I'm happy to accept contributions from anybody who might want it sooner.

    • The rules of topo-strict are obviously not always appropriate, and in situations where you'd rather be loose and simple you should probably use topo.

    • topo-strict has a much larger footprint than topo, not least of which because it depends on the whole of lodash, so topo will usually be more appropriate for use in browsers.

    • Because topo-strict does not attempt to solve the Problem until you call solve, it won't detect cycles at the moment you create them, the way topo does.

    More Stuff

    A few more features of topo-strict will be discussed here. You can read about anything else in the api docs.

    Alternate add Signatures

    When you're adding stuff to a Problem, you can use the signatures demonstrated in Basic Usage above, or you can do these:

    // Options-only form
        ids: [ 'foo', 'bar', 'baz' ],
        group: 'qux',
    // Shorthand form with multiple ids.
    problem.add('foo', 'bar', 'baz', { group: 'qux' });
    // Multiple arrays of ids.
    problem.add([ 'foo', 'bar' ], [ 'baz', 'qux' ]);
    // Go crazy with it if you want...
    problem.add('foo', [ 'bar', 'baz' ], {
        ids: [ 'qux' ],
        group: 'yay',
        before: [ 'omg', 'wow' ],
        after: 'wtf',

    Debugging and Visualization Features

    If you want to see a summary of the the whole problem, you can use the Problem#toString method:

    Eat breakfast
    Make toast
        before: breakfast
        after: breakfast
        after: prep
    Pour juice
        before: breakfast
        Eat breakfast
        Make toast
        Pour juice

    The Problem class also exposes the #toGraph method, which returns an instance of Graph which also implements the #toString and #solve methods. This allows you to preview the directed graph that's used to solve the problem before solving it:

    const morningGraph = morning.toGraph();
    Eat breakfast
    Make toast
    Pour juice
    from: Eat breakfast, to: Nap
    from: Make toast, to: Eat breakfast
    from: Make toast, to: Nap
    from: Pour juice, to: Eat breakfast
    from: Pour juice, to: Nap
    // [ 'Make toast', 'Pour juice', 'Eat breakfast', 'Nap' ]

    Like Problem#solve, Problem#toGraph with throw a ValidationError if any constraint keys reference ids or group keys do not exist in the problem, and like Graph#solve will throw a CycleError if a cycle is detected in the graph.

    Both the Problem and Graph classes also expose #toObject methods, which are the basis for the #toString methods. This saves you the trouble of parsing the above strings, if you're looking to implement your own visualization:

    const { inspect } = require('util');
    console.log(util.inspect(morning.toObject(), { depth: null }));
    { ids:
       [ { key: 'Eat breakfast', constraints: [] },
         { key: 'Make toast',
           constraints: [ { type: 'before', key: 'breakfast' } ] },
         { key: 'Nap',
            [ { type: 'after', key: 'breakfast' },
              { type: 'after', key: 'prep' } ] },
         { key: 'Pour juice',
           constraints: [ { type: 'before', key: 'breakfast' } ] } ],
       [ { key: 'breakfast', ids: [ 'Eat breakfast' ] },
         { key: 'prep', ids: [ 'Make toast', 'Pour juice' ] } ] }
    console.log(util.inspect(morningGraph.toObject(), { depth: null }));
    { nodes: [ 'Eat breakfast', 'Make toast', 'Nap', 'Pour juice' ],
       [ { from: 'Eat breakfast', to: 'Nap' },
         { from: 'Make toast', to: 'Eat breakfast' },
         { from: 'Make toast', to: 'Nap' },
         { from: 'Pour juice', to: 'Eat breakfast' },
         { from: 'Pour juice', to: 'Nap' } ] }


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