AJAX elements with anonymous handlers for Snap (based on Scala's Lift)
Haskell JavaScript
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.gitignore Initial commit Aug 17, 2012
README.md Renamed splices Aug 22, 2012
liftAjax.js added liftAjax.js Aug 17, 2012



This Snaplet provides splices for AJAX-enabled forms and buttons, modeled off of AJAX elements in the Lift web framework for Scala. A nice feature of Lift is the ability to associate server-side callbacks directly with html elements, abstracting over the details of writing the appropriate client-side javascript and matching server-side routes. More detail is given in the book Exploring Lift.


Here's an example of an ajax form using the digestive-functors package. We'll write a form to parse and add two integers server-side. If everything goes well, we alert the user with the result. If not, we show an alert with the errors.

First, some imports

import           Control.Applicative
import           Data.Monoid
import           Data.Text                    (Text)
import qualified Data.Text                    as T
import           Language.Javascript.JMacro
import qualified Snap.Snaplet.LiftAjax.Js     as Js
import qualified Snap.Snaplet.LiftAjax.Splice as Ajax
import           Text.Digestive
import           Text.Digestive.Heist
import           Text.Templating.Heist
import           Application

Now, define a form to add two integers

addInts :: Monad m => Form Text m Int
addInts = (+)
          <$> "x" .: stringRead "x must be an integer" Nothing
          <*> "y" .: stringRead "y must be an integer" Nothing

To this form, associate a function process which takes the result (or an error) and returns javascript to be executed client-side.

addIntsSplice :: Splice AppHandler
addIntsSplice = Ajax.formWithSplices digestiveSplices addInts process
      process :: Either (View Text) Int -> AppHandler JStat
      process (Right z) = return $ Js.alert $ "the sum is " <> T.pack (show z)
      process (Left v)  = return $ Js.alert $ T.intercalate ", " $ childErrors "" v

If we bind addIntsSplice to the tag <addIntsForm>, then our heist template would look like this:

<addIntsForm class="classes for styling">
x = <dfInputText ref="x" />,
y = <dfInputText ref="y" />
<input type="submit" value="Add" />


Add the snaplet to your application's state, and define a HasAjax instance:

data App = App
    { _heist :: Snaplet (Heist App)
    , _ajax  :: Snaplet (Ajax App)

makeLens ''App

instance HasHeist App where
    heistLens = subSnaplet heist

instance HasAjax App where
    ajaxLens = ajax

type AppHandler = Handler App App

Call nestSnaplet appropriately in your application's initializer:

app = makeSnaplet "app" "An snaplet example application." Nothing $ do
    h <- nestSnaplet "" heist $ heistInit "templates"
    a <- nestSnaplet "ajax" ajax $ ajaxInit defaultAjaxState
    addRoutes [("/", serveDirectory "static")]
    addSplices [("addIntsForm", liftHeist addIntsSplice)]
    return $ App h a

Add jquery and liftAjax.js to your site's header (and place the files where they'll be served):

<script type="text/javascript" src="jquery-1.7.2.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="liftAjax.js"></script>

Add the <ajaxFooter /> just before your site's </body> tag.


  • Currently, Jmacro is used for client-side javascript, but this package can be easily adapted to work with some other way of generating javascript. It would be nice to see if there's a natural way to incorporate a more haskelly solution like Fay.

  • liftAjax.js is taken almost verbatim from the lift web framework. I have intentionally made only minimal modifications.

  • the LiftAjax snaplet assigns each page a unique pageId, and keeps a map from pageIds to ajax handlers. In order to decide when to garbage collect these handlers, it also keeps track of "heartbeats" from each open page -- these are ajax calls automatically sent every minute or so (configurable in ajaxInit) to say "I'm still open!". A background process continually checks for pages with old heartbeats and discards their ajax handlers.

  • Since this snaplet is still in development, its behavior may not be completely consistent with Lift's.