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  • Start Date: 2020-02-28
  • Target Major Version: Router v4
  • Reference Issues: vuejs/vue-router#2040
  • Implementation PR:

Summary

Change how router-link-active is applied to align more with the router concepts. Right now, a link is active if the generated url is a partial version of the current location. This creates a few issues:

  • Aliases are not (necessarily) matched
  • While being on a child with a leading slash, a link to its parent won't show as active because the urls are different
  • Query is used to make the link active

Motivation

The issues mentioned above are hard or impossible to implement in userland whereas implementing the current behavior is very straightforward:

<router-link v-slot="{ route }">
  partial path: {{ $route.path.startsWith(route.path) }}
  <br />
  partial path + partial query: {{ $route.path.startsWith(route.path) && includesQuery($route.query, route.query) }}
</router-link>
// this is only necessary if we care about matching the query
function includesQuery(outter, inner) {
  for (let key in inner) {
    let innerValue = inner[key]
    let outterValue = outter[key]
    if (typeof innerValue === 'string') {
      if (innerValue !== outterValue) return false
    } else {
      if (
        !Array.isArray(outterValue) ||
        outterValue.length !== innerValue.length ||
        innerValue.some((value, i) => value !== outterValue[i])
      )
        return false
    }
  }

  return true
}

They also make more sense from a router perspective because links will be active based on the route record being active or not. This is specially important for nested routes and aliases which currently are not active if they do not share a part of the current url with the router-link location. It also makes more sense from a navigation perspective for an active link not to trigger a new navigation (except in the case of nested routes where it could be a navigation).

Detailed design

The active behavior should be more connected to the Matcher part of the router, this means it should be related to what is being rendered by the current url, which is part of the Route Record. Therefore, the query and hash should not influence this. It also seems to be something people are really interested in but I don't know if people actually benefit from active working with query.

router-link-exact-active

This change also affects the behavior of exact active. The class router-link-exact-active is applied only if the current route is exactly the same as the one from the link, from a Matcher perspective. This means that query and hash are not relevant (same as active).

This new active behavior completely eliminates the caveat of the exact prop for the root link (/) and makes #36 unecessary without introducing an inconsistency.

Nested Routes

It's worth noting that nested routes will match only if the params relevant to the rendered route are the same.

E.g., given these routes:

const routes = [
  {
    path: '/parent/:id',
    children: [
      // empty child
      { path: '' },
      // child with id
      { path: 'child/:id' },
      { path: 'child-second/:id' }
    ]
  }
]

If the current route is /parent/1/child/2, these links will be active:

url active exact active
/parent/1/child/2
/parent/1/child/3
/parent/1/child-second/2
/parent/1
/parent/2
/parent/2/child/2
/parent/2/child-second/2

Unrelated but similiar routes

Routes that are unrelated from a record point of view but share a common path are no longer active.

E.g., given these routes:

const routes = [
  { path: '/movies' },
  { path: '/movies/new' },
  { path: '/movies/search' }
]

If the current route is /movies/new, these links will be active:

url active exact active
/movies
/movies/new
/movies/search

Note: This behavior is different from actual behavior.

It's worth noting, it is possible to nest them to still benefit from links being active:

// Vue 3
import { h } from 'vue'
import { RouterView } from 'vue-router'

const routes = [
  {
    path: '/movies',
    // we need this to render the children (see note below)
    component: { render: () => h(RouterView) },
    // for vue 2 use render: h => h('RouterView')
    children: [
      { path: 'new' },
      // different child
      { path: 'search' }
    ]
  }
]

If the current route is /movies/new, these links will be active:

url active exact active
/movies
/movies/new
/movies/search

Note: To make this easier to use, we could maybe allow component to be absent and internally behave as if there where a component option that renders a RouterView component

Alias

Given that an alias is only a different path while keeping everything else on a record, it makes sense for aliases to be active when the path they are aliasing is matched and vice versa.

E.g., given these routes:

const routes = [{ path: '/movies', alias: ['/films'] }]

If the current route is /movies or /films, both links will be active:

url active exact active
/movies
/films

Nested aliases

The behavior is similar when dealing with nested children of an aliased route.

E.g., given these routes:

const routes = [
  {
    path: '/parent/:id',
    alias: '/p/:id',
    children: [
      // empty child
      { path: '' },
      // child with id
      { path: 'child/:id', alias: 'c/:id' }
    ]
  }
]

If the current route is /parent/1/child/2, /p/1/child/2, /p/1/c/2, or, /parent/1/c/2 these links will be active:

url active exact active
/parent/1/child/2
/parent/1/c/2
/p/1/child/2
/p/1/c/2
/p/1/child/3
/parent/1/child/3
/parent/1
/p/1
/parent/2
/p/2

Absolute nested aliases

Nested children can have an absolute path by making it start with /, in this scenario the same rules apply. Given these routes:

E.g., given these routes:

const routes = [
  {
    path: '/parent/:id',
    alias: '/p/:id',
    name: 'parent',
    children: [
      // empty child
      { path: '', alias: ['alias', '/p_:id'], name: 'child' },
      // child with absolute path. we need to add an `id` because the parent needs it
      { path: '/p_:id/absolute-a', alias: 'as-absolute-a' },
      // same as above but the alias is absolute
      { path: 'as-absolute-b', alias: '/p_:id/absolute-b' }
    ]
  }
]

If the current route is /p_1/absolute-a, /p/1/as-absolute-a, or, /parent/1/as-absolute-a, these links will be active:

url active exact active
/p/1/as-absolute-a
/p_1/absolute-a
/parent/1/absolute-a
/parent/2/absolute-a
/parent/1/absolute-b
/p/1/absolute-b
/p_1/absolute-b
/parent/1
/p/1
/parent/1/alias
/p/1/alias
/p_1
/parent/2
/p/2

Notice how the empty path record is active but not exact active differently from the other child /p/1/absolute-b. All its aliases are active as well because they are aliases of an empty path. If it was the other way around: the path wasn't empty but one of the aliases was an empty path, then none of them would be active because the original path takes precedence over aliases.

Named nested routes

If the url is resolved through the name of the parent, in this case parent, it will not include the empty path child route. This is important because they both resolve to the same url but when used in router-link's to prop, they would yield different results when it comes to being active and/or exact active. This is consistent with what they render being different and the rest of the active behavior.

E.g., given the routes from the previous example, if the current location is /parent/1 and, both the parent and child views are rendering, meaning we are effectively at { name: 'child' } and not at { name: 'parent' }, here is a similar table to the ones before but also including to:

to's value resolved url active exact active
{ name: 'parent', params: { id: '1' } } /parent/1 (parent)
'/parent/1' /parent/1 (child)
{ name: 'child', params: { id: '1' } } /parent/1 (child)
'/p_1' /p_1 (child)
'/parent/1/alias' /parent/1/alias (child)

But if the current location is { name: 'parent' }, it will still yield the same url, /parent/1, but a different table:

to's value resolved url active exact active
{ name: 'parent', params: { id: '1' } } /parent/1 (parent)
'/parent/1' /parent/1 (child)
{ name: 'child', params: { id: '1' } } /parent/1 (child)
'/p_1' /p_1 (child)
'/parent/1/alias' /parent/1/alias (child)

Repeated params

With repeating params like

  • /articles/:id+
  • /articles/:id*

All params must match, with the same exact order for a link to be both, active and exact active.

exact prop

Before these changes, exact worked by matching the whole location. Its main purpose was to get around the / caveat but it also checked query and hash. Because of this, with the new active behavior, the exact prop only purpose would be for a link to display router-link-active only if router-link-exact-active is also present. But this isn't really useful anymore as we can directly target the element using the router-link-exact-active class. Because of this, I think the exact prop can be removed from router-link. This outdates #37 while still introducing the behavior of exact for the path section of the loction like explained above.

Some users will probably have to change the class used in CSS from router-link-exact-active to router-link-active to adapt to this change.

Drawbacks

  • This is not backwards compatible. It's probably worth adding exact-path in Vue Router v3.
  • Users using the exact prop will have to rely on the router-link-exact-active or use the exact-active-class prop.
  • The function includesQuery must be added by the user.

Alternatives

  • Leaving the exact prop to only apply router-link-active when router-link-exact-active as also applied.
  • Keep active behavior of doing an inclusive match of query and hash instead of just relying on the params.
  • Changing active behavior to only apply to the path section of a route (this includes params) and ignore query and hash.

Adoption strategy

  • Add exact-path to mitigate existing problems in v3