values

Implementation of ValueObjects for Javascript and node

Values

Values is a library for improving your application code by adding value semantics. Lots of concepts in our apps don't have a specific 'identity' - for instance every new Point({x: 0, y: 0}) is conceptually the same point. It's more natural if these concepts uphold these value semantics in our code, namely that "two value objects are equal if all their fields are equal". But by default in Javascript object equality is based on identity, so:

 
function Point(x,y) {
  this.x = x;
  this.y = y;
}
 
var a = new Point(0,0);
var b = new Point(0,0);
 
assert( a == b ); // fails - based on object identity 

In contrast, Values ensures that we can compare two value objects based on their value:

var Point = vo.define("x","y");
var a = new Point(0,0);
var b = new Point(0,0);
 
assert( a == b ); // succeeds - follows value semantics 

So values should be comparable by value. valueOf is the method JS gives us to control how our objects are compared, but unfortunately it doesn't work for == and ===, only the inquality operators. Equality operations for objects are always based on identity. Values.js works around this by ensuring the same object is returned for the same arguments to a value object constructor.

var a = new Range(1,10);
var b = new Range(1,10);
 
assert( a === b );

If your value object can meaningfully use the inequality operators <, > - for instance a set can be bigger than another set - then define a valueOf method to return a comparable value (a String or Number). That'll cover all comparisons for your value object!

var Line = vo.define("x1","y1","x2","y2");
Line.prototype.valueOf = function() {
  // pythagoras' theorem 
  return Math.sqrt( Math.pow(this.y2 - this.y1,2) + Math.pow(this.x2 - this.x1,2) );
}
 
var a = new Line(0, 0,   0, 10);
var b = new Line(19,19,  20,20);
 
assert( a > b );

ValueObjects should be immutable. Like numbers, it doesn't make sense to 'change' (mutate) a value, you simply have a new one. Allowing values to change in place leads to confusing semantics:

var today = MutableDateLibrary.today();
var event = { at: today, text: "started using values" };
 
// `addDays()` is implemented mutably, changing the date in place and returning it 
var remindAt = event.at.addDays(1);
 
// fails! today has been changed 
assert( today === MutableDateLibrary.today() );

This really happens, and we've probably all made something that should be a value type mutable. The above is equally true for: intervals, ranges, dates and sets of any type.

Rather than requiring you to use a subclassing mechanism, Values.js exposes functions that allow you to compose your own value objects and setup their constructor and prototype as usual. vo.memoizedConstructor is used fulfil the value equality semantics and vo.set sets the field values immutably, also adding the derive non-enumerable method.

var Period = function() {
  var existing = vo.memoizedConstructor(Period,arguments);
  if(existing) return existing;
  vo.set(this,"from","to",arguments);
};
 
Period.prototype = vo.createPrototype();

A quick way to define VOs which don't require custom constructors (effectively just doing the above) is also provided.

var Period = vo.define("from","to");

To create a new version of a value object based on an old one, use the derive method. This eases the creation of modified value objects, without losing the benfits of their immutability.

var periodA = new Period(2012,2015);
var periodB = periodA.derive({from:2013});
 
assert(periodA.from === 2012);
assert(periodB.from === 2013);
 
var periodC = periodB.derive({from: 2012});
 
assert(periodA === periodC);

The derive method takes a map of named arguments.

You'd use the derive method to update references to values in variables or as object properties. Values are used in mutable systems, they're just immutable themselves.

vo.memoizedConstructor(constructor,params [, parameterHasher] )

If a value object of same type with the same fields exists, returns that value object. If not, will create and return a new instance.

You can supply a function as an optional third argument to specify how the paramters are hashed. This is useful if your value objects have fields that can be more quickly hashed than via JSON.stringify (the default hasher).

vo.set(instance,fields,fieldValues)

Sets immutable fields on instance. Also adds the derive method as a non-enumerable property.

vo.define(fieldName1 [, fieldNameN ... ])

Defines a new value object constructor with the specified field names.

aValueObject.derive(newValuesMap)

Instance method that returns a new value object with field values taken by preference from newValuesMap, with any missing fields taken from the existing value object derive is called on.

  • Small
  • Contracts upheld strongly in all ES5 environments
  • Immutability is about ensuring application level validity, so your unit tests will catch any problems when run in es5/6. If you have good coverage, it doesn't matter if older browsers (IE7) won't enforce immutability themselves.