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Little toy demos for Phoenix LiveView
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assets Adds adorable bear keyboard demo Mar 19, 2019
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lib Adds brief note update Mar 21, 2019
priv/gettext init Mar 15, 2019
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A little toy repo to show off a very unnecessarily fast-rendering clock, done with Phoenix LiveView. There's also a keyboard demo in here, just haven't had a chance to write it up yet, but it does have a super cute bear 🐻.

Please note that LiveView hasn't been officially released yet!

Overall the setup is quite straightforward, I'm just real verbose. The blurbs below don't match the repo exactly, as a heads up, but only in that I added an extra function, a variable, etc.

The current LiveView docs are inline yet, I think, but you can see them here.

None of this is necessary if you're cloning down the repo (I think), but this is what I did to actually get everything set up from a basic Phoenix project.

Nothing interesting beyond what the LiveView docs already say, but I like having things in one place.

Initial steps

First, create a new Phoenix project.

For this one, I ran mix live_tinkering --no-ecto. (The --no-ecto option is to skip adding Ecto as a dependency, since I'm not using a database here.) Go ahead and follow any prompts that come up; I think there's one about installing dependencies.

We need to add phoenix_live_view as a dependency in our assets -- remember to run npm install after this from your assets folder. Update your package.json file so that "dependencies" looks like this.

(Please note the trailing comma on the last line if you are copying and pasting; JSON is real touchy about commas.)

"dependencies": {
    "phoenix": "file:../deps/phoenix",
    "phoenix_html": "file:../deps/phoenix_html",
    "phoenix_live_view": "file:../deps/phoenix_live_view"

Javascript setup

Since we're checking out assets anyways, let's update our assets/js/app.js file while we're here:

// assets/js/app.js

// ... rest of your js file here ...

import LiveSocket from 'phoenix_live_view';

let liveSocket = new LiveSocket("/live");

There! That's it. That's all the JS we're writing today.

Elixir setup


You can get a secret key by running mix phx.gen.secret 32 in a terminal.

The new bit added to your config/config.exs is a signing salt for live view -- you need to add an option of live_view: [signing_salt: <SALT_GOES_HERE_IN_QUOTES>. e.g., if your salt was "sodium_chloride" you'd add this to your config portion under config <your_app_name>, <YourAppNameWebModule.Endpoint> as live_view: [signing_salt: "sodium_chloride"]. (Don't forget to add a comma to the line before -- here that was after ... Phoenix.PubSub.PG2])

# config/config.exs

config :live_tinkering, LiveTinkeringWeb.Endpoint,
  url: [host: "localhost"],
  secret_key_base: "GDMQPLUkLSPoqUT8vaimRrwv6oFFFWn3ooE/g9fd6aU95V3yeTBabNCj4zc70MkZ",
  render_errors: [view: LiveTinkeringWeb.ErrorView, accepts: ~w(html json)],
  pubsub: [name: LiveTinkering.PubSub, adapter: Phoenix.PubSub.PG2],
  # this next line is the new bit
  live_view: [signing_salt: "gqKkGatgzyF+N1umutKWxm5fuaAKDFDR"]

# ... rest of your config file here ...

# these next lines are the new bit
config :phoenix,
    template_engines: [leex: Phoenix.LiveView.Engine]

Update your dev config, if you would like live-reloading for your leex files. (Full disclosure, I haven't gotten leex files to work yet, so, uh, keep that in mind here.)

# config/dev.exs

config :live_tinkering, LiveTinkeringWeb.Endpoint,
  live_reload: [
    patterns: [
      # this next line is the new bit

Update your base web app file (for me, this is at lib/live_tinkering_web.ex). This is the file that has the various definitions for the Phoenix magic you get when you do something like use LiveTinkeringWeb, :controller.

In the definition for view -- so in def view do ... -- add this line within the quote do ... end, after aliasing the router.

import Phoenix.LiveView, only: [live_render: 2, live_render: 3]

e.g, mine looks like:

  def view do
    quote do
      use Phoenix.View,
        root: "lib/live_tinkering_web/templates",
        namespace: LiveTinkeringWeb

      import Phoenix.Controller, only: [get_flash: 1, get_flash: 2, view_module: 1]

      use Phoenix.HTML

      import LiveTinkeringWeb.ErrorHelpers
      import LiveTinkeringWeb.Gettext
      alias LiveTinkeringWeb.Router.Helpers, as: Routes
      # this next line is the new bit
      import Phoenix.LiveView, only: [live_render: 2, live_render: 3]


Okay, so setup is done.

Code time! (Do note that I am doing literally zero error-handling, etc.)

There are two things we need to do to make our clock in this case:

  1. make a live module that will contain most of the code today
  2. add a call to live_render to, well, render


If you look in the views folder in your web app lib -- usually that is in a folder like lib/<your_app_name>_web -- you'll see a number of .ex files, all with names like page_view.ex or error_view.ex.

We want something similar, but in a folder parallel to it called live. So, once we have a folder called lib/<your_app_name>_web/live, let's go ahead and make our module in there. Just like we want files like page_view.ex for the PageView module in views, we want one called ClockLive here, and a file in that folder called clock_live.ex.

Our ClockLive module needs to do a few things:

  1. use Phoenix.LiveView
  2. implement mount/2 (the callback for when the socket connects on page load)
  3. implement render/1
  4. implement some handlers -- handle_info/2 and/or handle_event/3. We're just gonna use handle_info/2 here.

(There are some rules about what will and won't trigger a rerender; I haven't gotten into those much because I haven't needed to thus far, but they are spelled out in the Phoenix docs for LiveView.)


When a view is rendered from the controller, the mount/2 callback is invoked with the provided session data and the Live View's socket. The mount/2 callback wires up socket assigns necessary for rendering the view.

This is where we start -- we get our socket, we get it all set up with any initialization we want. This is also where we set the timer -- we can check if the socket successfully connected, so it's a great/ideal place to get things set up.

Your mount/2 definition must return {:ok, socket}. Anything else will be considered by the underlying code to be an indicator that Something Went Very Wrong in your app. (assign/3 returns the socket, which is why the code below works.)

  def mount(_session, socket) do
    if connected?(socket) do
      :timer.send_interval(1, self(), :update)

    {:ok, assign(socket, :time, Time.utc_now)}

(You can't go smaller than 1 ms; I tried, it doesn't work. Not because of Phoenix, because of Erlang.)

:timer.send_interval(1, self(), :update) says in plain-ish English: "every 1 (first argument) ms, send a message (:update, third argument) to ourselves (self(), second argument)." This will request an :update to our server every 1ms -- when our server receives that message, it will then re-evaluate our render and push that new content up to the client, where the page will show it.

FYI, :update is not a keyword or anything -- you could do :update_timer, :tick, :meow, etc. Any atom will work, as long as you use the same atom when you handle_info.


The first parameter for this function is the message we want to handle -- in our case, we are sending an :update message up in mount/2, so here we want to match for that. (As with any other Elixir stuff, you don't have to pattern match like this in the definition, but it's nice to because then you get an error if you receive a message you weren't expecting.)

The second parameter is the socket.

Just like in mount/2, Phoenix expects a certain kind of reply. Here, you should return a result of {:noreply, socket} -- anything else will be an error.

  def handle_info(:update, socket) do
    {:noreply, assign(socket, :time, Time.utc_now)}

(Remember -- :update is not a keyword, any atom will work, as long as you use the same atom in mount when you set the message in the timer. Pattern matching does require matching, after all!)


After mounting, render/1 is invoked and the HTML is sent as a regular HTML response to the client .... in the connected client case, a Live View process is spawned on the server, pushes the result of render/1 to the client and continues on for the duration of the connection

The render/1 callback receives the socket.assigns and is responsible for returning rendered content. You can use Phoenix.LiveView.sigil_L/2 to inline Live View templates.

sigil_L is the name of the function that we call by doing ~L{some content here} -- other sigils you might know are ones like ~s, ~T, etc.

We're not going to do anything interesting here; just show the time we get from the server.

One note: assigns are in fact what we are assigning to in the other functions by calling assign(socket, :time, Time.utc_now), i.e. socket.assigns.

Since we did assign(socket, :time, Time.utc_now) we can access it using @ by doing @time. If we'd done assign(socket, :secret_message, "hello world"), we would use @secret_message below where we wanted that secret message.

Just like in Eex, we use <%= @time %> to print out the time. That = is very important -- if you don't have it, nothing will show up.

  def render(assigns) do
    ~L{Current time: <%= @time %>}

(Neat fact -- you can do different delimiters for the sigils. So you could do ~L"some secret thing", etc; there's a number of valid delimiters. It's handy if you want to use a different symbol because you're sick of having to escape a certain character.)

Here's what the whole live module looks like:

defmodule LiveTinkeringWeb.ClockLive do
  use Phoenix.LiveView

  def render(assigns) do
    ~L{Current time: <%= @time %>}

  def mount(_session, socket) do
    if connected?(socket) do
      :timer.send_interval(1, self(), :update)

    {:ok, assign(socket, :time, Time.utc_now)}

  def handle_info(:update, socket) do
    {:noreply, assign(socket, :time, Time.utc_now)}


Last step: presumably, we'd like to, well, use and see the clock.

You can do this in other files as well, of course, I'm just using the basic index page because I'm lazy.

In lib/<your_app>_web/templates/page/index.html.eex, you can add this bit wherever; I just deleted everything in that file and replaced it with this:

<%= live_render(@conn, LiveTinkeringWeb.ClockLive) %>

...and that's it!

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