re-frame with batteries included
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kee-frame

re-frame with batteries included.

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Quick walkthrough

  • If you prefer, you can go straight to some articles or the demo app

  • Require core namespace

(require '[kee-frame.core :as k])
  • Start your re-frame app and mount it into the DOM with sensible defaults for routing, logging, spec validation, etc. Call this function on figwheel reload.
(k/start!  {:routes         [["/" :live]
                             ["/league/:id/:tab" :league]]
            :app-db-spec    :my-app/db-spec
            :initial-db     {:some-prop true}
            :root-component [my-root-reagent-component]
            :debug?         true})
  • Declare that you want some data to be loaded when the user navigates to the league page
(k/reg-controller :league
                  {:params (fn [route-data}]
                             (when (-> route-data :handler (= :league))
                                (:id route-params)))
                   :start  (fn [ctx id] [:league/load id])})
  • Declare how to get those data from the server
(k/reg-chain :league/load
            
             (fn [ctx [id]]
               {:http-xhrio {:method          :get
                             :uri             (str "/leagues/" id)}})
            
             (fn [{:keys [db]} [_ league-data]]
               {:db (assoc db :league league-data)}))
  • Make a URL for your <a href=""> using nothing but data
(k/path-for [:league {:id 14 :tab :fixtures}]) => "/league/14/fixtures"
  • Let your event handler trigger browser navigation as a side effect, using nothing but data
(reg-event-fx :todo-added
              (fn [_ [todo]]
                {:navigate-to [:todo {:id (:id todo)}]]}))
  • Let the route data decide what view to display
(defn main-view []
  [k/switch-route (fn [route] (:handler route))
   :index [index-page] 
   :orders [orders-page]])

Benefits of leaving the URL in charge

Kee-frame wants you to focus on the URL and let it contain all data necessary to load a view. When you let the URL guide you app architecture like this, strange things start to happen:

  • Back/forward and bookmarking in general just works. The internet is back!
  • Figwheel reloading gets even better
  • UI code gets more declarative
  • Cohesion goes up, coupling goes down

That's it!

You've reached the end of the quick summary. Keep reading for a more in-depth guide!

Articles

Learning kee-frame in 5 minutes

Introduction and background for kee-frame controllers

Controller tricks

Demo application

I made a simple demo app showing football results. Have a look around, and observe how all data loading just works while navigating and refreshing the page.

Online demo app

Demo app source

Feel free to clone the demo app and do some figwheelin' with it!

Support

Contact the author on Twitter or join the discussion on Slack. Don't be afraid to create issues. Lack of user friendliness is also a bug!

Installation

There are 2 simple options for bootstrapping your project:

1. Manual installation

Add the following dependency to your project.clj file:

[kee-frame "0.3.1"]

2. Luminus template

Luminus is a framework that makes it easy to get started with web app development in clojure. It comes with kee-frame if you do this:

lein new luminus your-app-name-here +kee-frame

API stability

This library tries hard conform to the high standards of many Clojure libraries, by not breaking backwards compatibility. I believe this is very important, an application made several years ago should be able to upgrade with close to zero effort.

Given the experimental nature of the project, the initial API has proven to be surprisingly stable. It mimics the well proven API-style of re-frame, being data-driven and generic. Hopefully this will enable an equally stable API for the years to come. See below for a list of breaking changes introduced so far:

Getting started

The kee-frame.core namespace contains the public API. It also contains wrapped versions of reg-event-db and reg-event-fx.

(require '[kee-frame.core :as k :refer [reg-controller reg-chain reg-event-db reg-event-fx]])

Routes

Kee-frame uses reitit for routing (since 0.3.0). Read the reitit docs for more details on the syntax, here are the routes from the demo app:

(def routes [["/" :live]
             ["/league/:id/:tab" :league]])

Starting your app

The start! function starts the router and configures the application.

(k/start!  {:routes         my-routes
            :app-db-spec    :my-app/db-spec
            :initial-db     your-blank-db-map
            :root-component [my-root-reagent-component]
            :debug?         true})

Subsequent calls to start are not a problem, so call this function as often as you want. Typically on every figwheel reload.

The routes property causes kee-frame to wire up the browser to navigate by those routes. Skip this property if you want to do your own routing. See the "Introducing kee-frame into an existing app" section.

You can set the hash-routing? property to true for /#/todos/1 style urls. Otherwise kee-frame defaults to using the browser history without the hash. The hash bit should not be included in your route definition, kee-frame strips it off before matching the route.

If you provide :root-component, kee-frame will render that component in the DOM element with id "app". Make sure you have such an element in your index.html. You are free to do the initial rendering yourself if you want, just skip this setting. If you use this feature, make sure that k/start! is called every time figwheel reloads your code.

The debug boolean option is for enabling debug interceptors on all your events, as well as traces from the activities of controllers.

If you provide an app-db-spec, the framework will let you know when a bug in your event handler is trying to corrupt your DB structure. This is incredibly useful, so you should put down the effort to spec up your db!

Controllers

A controller is a connection between the route data and your event handlers. It is a map with two required keys (params and start), and one optional (stop).

The params function receives the route data every time the URL changes. Its only job is to return the part of the route that it's interested in. This value combined with the previous value decides the next state of the controller. I'll come back to that in more detail.

The start function accepts the full re-frame context and the value returned from params. It should return nil or an event vector to be dispatched.

The stop function receives the re-frame context and also returns nil or an event vector.

(reg-controller :league
                {:params (fn [{:keys [handler route-params]}]
                           (when (= handler :league)
                             (:id route-params)))
                 :start  (fn [_ id]
                           [:league/load id])})

For start and stop it's very common to ignore the parameters and just return an event vector, and for that you can use a vector instead of a function:

(reg-controller :leagues
                {:params (constantly true) ;; Will cause the controller to start immediately, but only once
                 :start  [:leagues/load]})

Controller state transitions

This rules of controller states are stolen entirely from Keechma. They are:

  • When previous and current parameter values are the same, do nothing
  • When previous parameter was nil and current is not nil, call start.
  • When previous parameter was not nil and current is nil, call stop.
  • When both previous and current are not nil, but different, call stop, then start.

Event chains

Kee-frame uses re-chain to chain event handlers together for increased readability less boilerplate for common cases. See the example below for how to use it, visit the re-chain page for details and documentation

(k/reg-chain :league/load
            
             (fn [ctx [id]]
               {:http-xhrio {:method          :get
                             :uri             (str "/leagues/" id)}})
            
             (fn [{:keys [db]} [_ league-data]]
               {:db (assoc db :league league-data)}))

Browser navigation

Using URL strings in your links and navigation is error prone and quickly becomes a maintenance problem. Therefore, kee-frame encourages you to only interact with route data instead of concrete URLs. It provides 2 abstractions to help you with that:

The kee-frame.core/path-for function accepts a reitit route and returns a URL string:

(k/path-for [:todos {:id 14}]) => "/todos/14"

Kee-frame also includes a re-frame effect for triggering a browser navigation, after all navigation is a side effect. The effect is :navigate-to and it accepts a reitit route. The example below shows a handler that receives some data and navigates to the view page for those data.

(reg-event-fx :todo-added
              (fn [_ [todo]]
                {:db          (update db :todos conj todo)
                 :navigate-to [:todo :id (:id todo)]]})) ;; "/todos/14"

Routing in your views

Most apps need to different views for different URLs. This isn't too hard to solve in re-frame, just subscribe to your route and implement your dispatch logic like this:

(defn main-view []
  (let [route (subscribe [:kee-frame/route])]
    (fn []
      [:div
       (case (:handler @route)
         :index [index-page]
         :orders [orders-page])])))

Kee-frame provides a simple helper to do this:

(defn main-view []
  [k/switch-route (fn [route] (:handler route))
   :index [index-page] ;; Explicit call to reagent component, ignoring route data
   :orders orders-page]) ;; Orders page will receive the route data as its parameter because of missing []

It looks pretty much the same, only more concise. But it does help you with a few subtle but important things:

  • Forces you into a known working pattern
  • No explicit reference to the route. The first argument to switch-route is a function that accepts the route and returns the value you are dispatching on
  • If you pass only a function reference to your reagent components (no surrounding []), kee-frame will invoke them with the route as the first parameter.
  • It will give you nice error messages when you make a mistake.

Introducing kee-frame into an existing app

Several parts of kee-frame are designed to be opt-in. This means that you can include kee-frame in your project and start using parts of it.

If you want controllers and routes, you need to replace your current routing with kee-frame's routing. If your current routing requires a lot of work to fit with the standard reitit routing solution, you may implement a custom router. See the next section for more details.

Alternatively, make your current router dispatch the event [:kee-frame.router/route-changed route-data] on every route change. That should enable what you need for the controllers.

Using a different router implementation (since 0.2.0)

You may not like reitit, or you are already using a different router. In that case, all you have to do is implement your own version of the protocol kee-frame.api/Router and pass it in with the rest of your config:

(k/start!  {:router         (->BidiRouter bidi-style-routes)
            :root-component [my-root-reagent-component]
            ...})

Here are some example (not fully tested) router implementations. If you are upgrading from a pre 0.3.0 version of kee-frame, you probably want to keep your current bidi routes. The old bidi router implementation can be found here, just make a copy and use it as your :router.

If you choose to use a different router than reitit, you also need to use the corresponding routing data format when using path-for and the :navigate-to effect.

Server side routes

If you want to use links without hashes (/some-route instead of /#/some-route), you need a bit of server setup for it to work perfectly. A React SPA is typically loaded from the "app" element inside index.html served from the root / of your server. If the user navigates to some client route /leagues/465 and then hits refresh, the server will be unable to match that route as it exists only on the client. We will get a 404 instead of the index.html that we need. We want this to work, so that URLs can still be deterministic, even if they exist only on the client.

You can solve this in several ways, the simplest way is to include a wildcard route as the last route on the server. The server should serve index.html on any route not found on the server. This works, the downside is that you won't be able to serve a 404 page for non-matched URLs on the server.

In compojure, the wildcard route would look like this:

(GET "*" req {:headers {"Content-Type" "text/html"}
                  :status  200
                  :body    (index-handler req)})

Screen size breakpoints (since 0.2.5)

Most web apps benefit from having direct access to information about the size and orientation of the screen. Kee-frame ships with the nice and simple breaking-points library that provides subscriptions for the screen properties you're interested in.

The screen breakpoints are completely configurable, you can pass your preferred ones to the start! function. The ones listed in the example below are the defaults, so if you're happy with those you can just pass true to the :screen parameter. If you omit it altogether, or pass false - the screen breakpoints will be disabled.

(k/start!  {:screen {:breakpoints 
                        [:mobile
                         768
                         :tablet
                         992
                         :small-monitor
                         1200
                         :large-monitor]
                     :debounce-ms 166}
              ;; Other settings here
              })

The subscriptions available are:

(rf/subscribe [:breaking-point.core/screen-width]) ;; will be an int
(rf/subscribe [:breaking-point.core/screen-height]) ;; will be an int
(rf/subscribe [:breaking-point.core/screen]) ;; will be one of the following: :mobile, :tablet, :small-monitor, :large-monitor

(rf/subscribe [:breaking-point.core/orientation]) ;; will be either :portrait or :landscape
(rf/subscribe [:breaking-point.core/landscape?]) ;; true if width is >= height
(rf/subscribe [:breaking-point.core/portrait?]) ;; true if height > width

;; these will be based on the breakpoint names that you provide
(rf/subscribe [:breaking-point.core/mobile?]) ;; true if screen-width is < 768
(rf/subscribe [:breaking-point.core/tablet?]) ;; true if screen-width is >= 768 and < 992
(rf/subscribe [:breaking-point.core/small-monitor?]) ;; true if window width is >= 992 and < 1200
(rf/subscribe [:breaking-point.core/large-monitor?]) ;; true if window width is >= 1200

Websockets (since 0.2.2)

Websocket support is activated by requiring the websocket namespace

(require '[kee-frame.websocket :as websocket])

Kee-frame hides the details of the websocket connection, leaving you with a couple of effects and events to control the situation. First, but not necessarily first, you want to establish the connection. That is done through a custom effect in your event handler, like this:

(reg-event-fx ::start-socket
               (fn [{:keys [db]} _]
                 {::websocket/open {:path         "/ws/"
                                    :dispatch     ::your-socket-receiver-event ;; The re-frame event receiving server messages.
                                    :format       :transit-json ;; Can be omitted, defaults to :edn
                                    :wrap-message (fn [message] (assoc message :authToken (-> db :user :auth-token)))}}))

:dispatch is the re-frame event that should receive server-sent messages.

wrap-message is a function used to transform the message just before sending to server. A typical use case is authentication tokens or other identifiers.

This is how you send a message to the server:

(reg-event-fx ::send-message
              (fn [{:keys [db]} _]
                {:dispatch [::websocket/send "/ws/" {:this-is "the message"
                                                     :will-be "Automatically translated to edn/json/transit/etc"}]}))

You do not have to think about establishing the websocket before sending messages to it. Messages will be queued and sent when the socket becomes available.

You might want to track the status of your socket. There's a subscription for that, goes like this:

 @(subscribe [:kee-frame.websocket/sub "/ws/"])

;; {:output-chan #object[cljs.core.async.impl.channels.ManyToManyChannel], 
;; :state :connected, 
;; :ws-chan #object[chord.channels.t_chord$channels19899]}

Error messages

Helpful error messages are important to kee-frame. You should not get stuck because of "undefined is not a function". If you make a mistake, kee-frame should make it very clear to you what you did wrong and how you can fix it. If you find pain spots, please post an issue so we can find better solutions.

Scroll behavior on navigation (since 0.2.3)

In a traditional static website, the browser handles the scrolling for you nicely. Meaning that when you navigate back and forward, the browser "remembers" how far down you scrolled on the last visit. This is convenient for many websites, so Kee-frame utilizes a third-party JS lib to get this behavior for a SPA. The only thing you need to do is this in your main namespace:

(:require [kee-frame.scroll])

Credits

The implementation of kee-frame is quite simple, building on rock solid libraries and other people's ideas. The main influence is the Keechma framework. It is a superb piece of thinking and work, go check it out! Apart from that, the following libraries make kee-frame possible:

  • re-frame and reagent. The world needs to know about these 2 kings of frontend development, and we all need to contribute to their widespread use. This framework is an attempt in that direction.
  • reitit. Simple and easy bidirectional routing, with very little noise in the syntax.
  • accountant. A navigation library that hooks to any routing system. Made my life so much easier when I discovered it.
  • chord. A server/client websocket library. Uses core.async as the main abstraction.
  • etaoin and lein-test-refresh. 2 good examples of how powerful Clojure is. Etaoin makes browser integration testing fun again, while lein-test-refresh provides you with a development flow that no other platform will give you.

Thank you!