(Insightful) Ramblings by batasrki

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Experiments Part 2

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Previously in Experiments,…

I set up a Clojure backend and installed ReactJS front-end. I also created a basic skeleton, but that didn’t actually show up, because JSX.

In tonight’s installment…

Firstly, I’m going to fix up the transpiling from JSX to JS, so that changes to the React front-end are picked up and shown. I’ll add the expected route, but serve dummy data. Then, I’ll get the front-end to consume that data.

Onward, then…

OK, so, ReactJS tutorial site is a bit misleading. I am guessing they expect me to use straight-up HTML and add the text/babel script tag. However, I don’t know how to do that through Hiccup. Moreover, that seems a bit weird, anyway. There’s a way to do it without using the specialized tag, but it’ll take a bit more effort.

Using the Offline transform section of the Getting Started page, I’m going to…ugh…install an NPM module globally (seriously, tho?) and use it to transform my core.js JSX joint into a pure JavaScript file.

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$ npm install -g babel-cli babel-preset-react
$ cd resources/public/js
$ mkdir build
$ babel --presets react core.js --watch --out-dir build

Now that babel is transpiling my JSX into compatible JS, I need to adjust where I look for that JS file.

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(include-js "/js/build/core.js")

Running lein ring server opens up a browser tab pointing to http://localhost:3000. As usual, I immediately open the Web Inspector tab and notice the following error: ReferenceError: LinkList is not defined. This is good news! It means that the JSX was successfully transpiled into JS and the browser has attempted to build a ReactJS component.

I’m going to fix the error quickly, by adding the missing component, which is just an empty table tag, for now.

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var LinkList = React.createClass({
  render: function() {
    return (
      <table></table>
    );
  }
});

Cool. That brings the next error, TypeError: this.state is null. If you recall, that’s from the following line:

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<LinkList data = {this.state.data} />

It makes sense, I didn’t initalise the state to anything, but I want an element of it, data. That’s fine, I can set it to something empty. ReactJS has a handy function, called getInitialState that I can use to set…well, the initial state for each component.

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// This is done on the outer component, LinkListContainer
getInitialState: function() {
  return { data: [] };
}

And with that, no more errors in Web Inspector console!

An interlude

I want to stop here, for a second, and clarify something about ReactJS. ReactJS is a front-end technology. It only cares about consuming data. As such, the JavaScript snippets of code I am presenting can be used with any web framework.

This is one of the things that I like about it and its competitors. However, unlike BackboneJS (though, I admit, it’s been a long while since I’ve used it) and AngularJS, giving ReactJS data to consume is very easy. Insert your favourite “Facebook is a data consuming monster” joke here.

Continuing….

Back in Clojure-land, I’m going to get the api/links route working. Initially, it’ll just deliver a static list of links, each link being a hashmap. The nice thing about Clojure and its libraries is consistency of data structures. Querying a database returns a hashmap representation of a record. That representation is easily turned into a JSON response, which is itself a hashmap!

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;; in require, need to add a JSON library
(:require [clojure.data.json :as json])

;; appending a route to defroutes
(GET "/api/links" []
  (let [links '({:url "https://google.ca" :title "Google" :client "static" :created_at "2015-12-01"}
                {:url "https://twitter.com :title "Twitter" :client "static" :created_at "2015-12-01"})]
    (json/write-str links)))

Giving it a quick run in the console, curl -vi http://localhost:3000/api/links, I see the desired results. With that done, I need to add a way to consume this data on the client and finish for tonight.

Oh, I forgot. I need to wrap the response as JSON, otherwise things go wonky.

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(:require [ring.middleware.json :as wrapper])

;; then down at the bottom

(def app
  (wrap-defaults
    (wrapper/wrap-json-body app-routes {:keywords? true})
    site-defaults))

Back to the client…

I specified the URL to the data as a property of the outermost container. I would like to query that URL now and populate this.state.data variable of the component with the data from the URL. For that, I’m going to use the componentDidMount function. Within, I am using the standard $.ajax call from jQuery and then binding the results to the data property of the state object.

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componentDidMount: function() {
  $.ajax({
    url: this.props.url,
    dataType: "json",
    success: function(data) {
      this.setState({ data: data });
    }.bind(this),
    error: function(xhr, status, err) {
      console.error(this.props.url, status, err.toString());
    }.bind(this)
});

ReactJS frowns upon the usage of = as the assignment operator. Instead, I can use the setState function.

Reloading the page, I still see nothing, but that’s fine, I haven’t built a component to consume the data. In the Network tab of Web Inspector, though, I see the API call.

Last thing in this installment…

So, the only thing left is render out a table of links. For that, I need to fill out the LinkList component and add a Link component. The former describes a list of links, while the latter is specific to one link record only. Old-timers reading this post will recognize as the master-detail layout.

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var Link = React.createClass({
  render: function() {
    return (
      <tr>
        <td><a target="_blank" href={this.props.url}>{this.props.title}</a></td>
        <td>{this.props.client}</td>
        <td>{this.props.created_at}</td>
      </tr>
    );
  }
});

var LinkList = React.createClass({
  render: function() {
    var linkNodes = this.props.data.map(function (link) {
      return (<Link key={link.id} title={link.title} url={link.url} client={link.client} created_at={link.created_at} />);
    });
    return (
      <table className={"table table-striped table-hover"}>
        <thead>
          <tr>
            <th>URL</th>
            <th>From</th>
            <th>On</th>
          </tr>
        </thead>
        <tbody>
          {linkNodes}
        </tbody>
      </table>
    );
  }
});

I am fairly certain using that map function isn’t the “ideal” way of building sub-components, but it works. Refreshing the tab, I see the 2 hard-coded links I added and, the UI looks like the existing UI.

That’s it for now, then.

Good day/night/whatever.

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