react-flux-1.0.5: A binding to React based on the Flux application architecture for GHCJS

Safe HaskellNone




A binding to React based on the Flux design. The flux design pushes state and complicated logic out of the view, allowing the rendering functions and event handlers to be pure Haskell functions. When combined with React's composable components and the one-way flow of data, React, Flux, and GHCJS work very well together.

Prerequisites: This module assumes you are familiar with the basics of React and Flux. From the React documentation, you should read at least "Tutorial", "Displaying Data", "Multiple Components", and "Forms". Note that instead of JSX we use a Writer monad, but it functions very similarly so the examples in the React documentation are very similar to how you will write code using this module. The other React documentation you can skim, the Haddocks below link to specific sections of the React documentation when needed. Finally, you should read the Flux overview, in particular the central idea of one-way flow of data from actions to stores to views which produce actions.

Organization: Briefly, you should create one module to contain the dispatcher, one module for each store, and modules for the view definitions. These are then imported into a Main module, which calls reactRender and initializes any AJAX load calls to the backend. The source package contains some example applications.

Web Deployment: reactRender is used to render your application into the DOM. Care has been taken to make sure closure with ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS correctly minimizes a react-flux application. No externs are needed, instead all you need to do is protect the React variable (and ReactDOM if you are using version >= 0.14). The TODO example does this as follows:

(function(global, React, ReactDOM) {
contents of all.js
})(window, window['React'], window['ReactDOM']);

Node Deployment: reactRenderToString is used to render the application to a string when running in node (not the browser). To execute with node, you need to get global.React (and global.ReactDOM for 0.14) before executing all.js. The TODO example application does this by creating a file run-in-node.js with the contents

React = require("react");
ReactDOM = require("react-dom");

Testing: I use the following approach to test my react-flux application. First, I use unit testing to test the dispatcher and store transform functions. Since the dispatcher and the store transform are just data manipulation, existing Haskell tools like hspec, QuickCheck, SmallCheck, etc. work well. Note that stores and dispatch work in GHC and GHCJS, so this unit testing can be done either in GHC or GHCJS. I don't do any unit testing of the views, because any complicated logic in event handlers is moved into the dispatcher and the rendering function is difficult to test in isolation. Instead, I test the rendering via end-2-end tests using hspec-webdriver. This tests the React frontend against the real backend and hspec-webdriver has many utilities for easily checking that the DOM is what you expect. I have found this much easier than trying to unit test each view individually, and you can still obtain the same coverage for equal effort. The file test/spec/TodoSpec.hs in the source code contains a hspec-webdriver test for the TODO example application.



The dispatcher is the central hub that manages all data flow in a Flux application. It has no logic of its own and all it does is distribute actions to stores. There is no special support for a dispatcher in this module, since it can be easily implemented directly using Haskell functions. The event handlers registered during rendering are expected to produce a list of SomeStoreAction. The dispatcher therefore consists of Haskell functions which produce these lists of SomeStoreAction. Note that this list of actions is used instead of waitFor to sequence actions to stores: when dispatching, we wait for the transform of each action to complete before moving to the next action.

In the todo example application there is only a single store, so the dispatcher just passes along the action to the store. In a larger application, the dispatcher could have its own actions and produce specific actions for each store.

dispatchTodo :: TodoAction -> [SomeStoreAction]
dispatchTodo a = [SomeStoreAction todoStore a]


data ReactStore storeData Source

A store contains application state, receives actions from the dispatcher, and notifies controller-views to re-render themselves. You can have multiple stores; it should be the case that all of the state required to render the page is contained in the stores. A store keeps a global reference to a value of type storeData, which must be an instance of StoreData.

Stores also work when compiled with GHC instead of GHCJS. When compiled with GHC, the store is just an MVar containing the store data and there are no controller views. alterStore can still be used, but it just transforms the store and does not notify any controller-views since there are none. Compiling with GHC instead of GHCJS can be helpful for unit testing, although GHCJS plus node can also be used for unit testing.

data Todo = Todo {
    todoText :: String
  , todoComplete :: Bool
  , todoIsEditing :: Bool
} deriving (Show, Typeable)

newtype TodoState = TodoState {
    todoList :: [(Int, Todo)]
} deriving (Show, Typeable)

data TodoAction = TodoCreate String
                | TodoDelete Int
                | TodoEdit Int
                | UpdateText Int String
                | ToggleAllComplete
                | TodoSetComplete Int Bool
                | ClearCompletedTodos
  deriving (Show, Typeable, Generic, NFData)

instance StoreData TodoState where
    type StoreAction TodoState = TodoAction
    transform action (TodoState todos) = ...

todoStore :: ReactStore TodoState
todoStore = mkStore $ TodoState
    [ (0, Todo "Learn react" True False)
    , (1, Todo "Learn react-flux" False False)

class Typeable storeData => StoreData storeData where Source

The data in a store must be an instance of this typeclass.

Associated Types

type StoreAction storeData Source

The actions that this store accepts


transform :: StoreAction storeData -> storeData -> IO storeData Source

Transform the store data according to the action. This is the only place in your app where IO should occur. The transform function should complete quickly, since the UI will not be re-rendered until the transform is complete. Therefore, if you need to perform some longer action, you should fork a thread from inside transform. The thread can then call alterStore with another action with the result of its computation. This is very common to communicate with the backend using AJAX. Indeed, the jsonAjax utility function implements exactly this strategy since it is so common.

Note that if the transform throws an exception, the transform will be aborted and the old store data will be kept unchanged. The exception will then be thrown from alterStore.

For the best performance, care should be taken in only modifying the part of the store data that changed (see below for more information on performance).

mkStore :: StoreData storeData => storeData -> ReactStore storeData Source

Create a new store from the initial data.

getStoreData :: ReactStore storeData -> IO storeData Source

Obtain the store data from a store. Note that the store data is stored in an MVar, so getStoreData can block since it uses readMVar. The MVar is empty exactly when the store is being transformed, so there is a possiblity of deadlock if two stores try and access each other's data during transformation.

alterStore :: StoreData storeData => ReactStore storeData -> StoreAction storeData -> IO () Source

First, transform the store data according to the given action. Next, if compiled with GHCJS, notify all registered controller-views to re-render themselves. (If compiled with GHC, the store data is just transformed since there are no controller-views.)

Only a single thread can be transforming the store at any one time, so this function will block on an MVar waiting for a previous transform to complete if one is in process.

data SomeStoreAction Source

An existential type for some store action. It is used as the output of the dispatcher. The NFData instance is important for performance, for details see below.


forall storeData . (StoreData storeData, NFData (StoreAction storeData)) => SomeStoreAction (ReactStore storeData) (StoreAction storeData) 

executeAction :: SomeStoreAction -> IO () Source

Call alterStore on the store and action.


data ReactView props Source

A view is conceptually a rendering function from props and some internal state to a tree of elements. The function receives a value of type props from its parent in the virtual DOM. Additionally, the rendering function can depend on some internal state or store data. Based on the props and the internal state, the rendering function produces a virtual tree of elements which React then reconciles with the browser DOM.

This module supports 3 kinds of views. All of the views provided by this module are pure, in the sense that the rendering function and event handlers cannot perform any IO. All IO occurs inside the transform function of a store.

defineControllerView Source


:: (StoreData storeData, Typeable props) 
=> String

A name for this view, used only for debugging/console logging

-> ReactStore storeData

The store this controller view should attach to.

-> (storeData -> props -> ReactElementM ViewEventHandler ())

The rendering function

-> ReactView props 

A controller view provides the glue between a ReactStore and the DOM. The controller-view registers with the given store, and whenever the store is transformed the controller-view re-renders itself. Each instance of a controller-view also accepts properties of type props from its parent. Whenever the parent re-renders itself, the new properties will be passed down to the controller-view causing it to re-render itself.

Events registered on controller-views are expected to produce lists of SomeStoreAction. Since lists of SomeStoreAction are the output of the dispatcher, each event handler should just be a call to a dispatcher function. Once the event fires, the actions are executed causing the store(s) to transform which leads to the controller-view(s) re-rendering. This one-way flow of data from actions to store to controller-views is central to the flux design.

It is recommended to have one controller-view for each significant section of the page. Controller-views deeper in the page tree can cause complexity because data is now flowing into the page in multiple possibly conflicting places. You must balance the gain of encapsulated components versus the complexity of multiple entry points for data into the page. Note that multiple controller views can register with the same store.

todoApp :: ReactView ()
todoApp = defineControllerView "todo app" todoStore $ \todoState () ->
    div_ $ do
        mainSection_ todoState
        todoFooter_ todoState

defineView Source


:: Typeable props 
=> String

A name for this view, used only for debugging/console logging

-> (props -> ReactElementM ViewEventHandler ())

The rendering function

-> ReactView props 

A view is a re-usable component of the page which accepts properties of type props from its parent and re-renders itself whenever the properties change.

One option to implement views is to just use a Haskell function taking the props as input and producing a ReactElementM. For small views, such a Haskell function is ideal. Using a ReactView provides more than just a Haskell function when used with a key property with viewWithKey. The key property allows React to more easily reconcile the virtual DOM with the browser DOM.

The following is two example views: mainSection_ is just a Haskell function and todoItem is a React view. We use the convention that an underscore suffix signifies a combinator which can be used in the rendering function.

mainSection_ :: TodoState -> ReactElementM ViewEventHandler ()
mainSection_ st = section_ ["id" $= "main"] $ do
    input_ [ "id" $= "toggle-all"
           , "type" $= "checkbox"
           , "checked" $= if all (todoComplete . snd) $ todoList st then "checked" else ""
           , onChange $ \_ -> dispatchTodo ToggleAllComplete

    label_ [ "htmlFor" $= "toggle-all"] "Mark all as complete"
    ul_ [ "id" $= "todo-list" ] $ mapM_ todoItem_ $ todoList st

todoItem :: ReactView (Int, Todo)
todoItem = defineView "todo item" $ \(todoIdx, todo) ->
    li_ [ classNames [("completed", todoComplete todo), ("editing", todoIsEditing todo)]
        , "key" @= todoIdx
        ] $ do
        div_ [ "className" $= "view"] $ do
            input_ [ "className" $= "toggle"
                   , "type" $= "checkbox"
                   , "checked" @= todoComplete todo
                   , onChange $ \_ -> dispatchTodo $ TodoSetComplete todoIdx $ not $ todoComplete todo

            label_ [ onDoubleClick $ \_ _ -> dispatchTodo $ TodoEdit todoIdx] $
                elemText $ todoText todo

            button_ [ "className" $= "destroy"
                    , onClick $ \_ _ -> dispatchTodo $ TodoDelete todoIdx
                    ] mempty

        when (todoIsEditing todo) $
            todoTextInput_ TextInputArgs
                { tiaId = Nothing
                , tiaClass = "edit"
                , tiaPlaceholder = ""
                , tiaOnSave = dispatchTodo . UpdateText todoIdx
                , tiaValue = Just $ todoText todo

todoItem_ :: (Int, Todo) -> ReactElementM eventHandler ()
todoItem_ todo = viewWithKey todoItem (fst todo) todo mempty

defineStatefulView Source


:: (Typeable state, Typeable props) 
=> String

A name for this view, used only for debugging/console logging

-> state

The initial state

-> (state -> props -> ReactElementM (StatefulViewEventHandler state) ())

The rendering function

-> ReactView props 

A stateful view is a re-usable component of the page which keeps track of internal state. Try to keep as many views as possible stateless. The React documentation on interactivity and dynamic UIs has some discussion of what should and should not go into the state.

The rendering function is a pure function of the state and the properties from the parent. The view will be re-rendered whenever the state or properties change. The only way to transform the internal state of the view is via an event handler, which can optionally produce new state. Any more complicated state should be moved out into a (possibly new) store.

data TextInputArgs = TextInputArgs {
      tiaId :: Maybe String
    , tiaClass :: String
    , tiaPlaceholder :: String
    , tiaOnSave :: String -> [SomeStoreAction]
    , tiaValue :: Maybe String
} deriving (Typeable)

todoTextInput :: ReactView TextInputArgs
todoTextInput = defineStatefulView "todo text input" "" $ \curText args ->
    input_ $
        maybe [] (\i -> ["id" @= i]) (tiaId args)
        [ "className" @= tiaClass args
        , "placeholder" @= tiaPlaceholder args
        , "value" @= curText
        , "autoFocus" @= True
        , onChange $ \evt _ -> ([], Just $ target evt "value")
        , onBlur $ \_ _ curState ->
             if not (null curState)
                 then (tiaOnSave args curState, Just "")
                 else ([], Nothing)
        , onKeyDown $ \_ evt curState ->
             if keyCode evt == 13 && not (null curState) -- 13 is enter
                 then (tiaOnSave args curState, Just "")
                 else ([], Nothing)

todoTextInput_ :: TextInputArgs -> ReactElementM eventHandler ()
todoTextInput_ args = view todoTextInput args mempty

type ViewEventHandler = [SomeStoreAction] Source

Event handlers in a controller-view and a view transform events into actions, but are not allowed to perform any IO.

type StatefulViewEventHandler state = state -> ([SomeStoreAction], Maybe state) Source

A stateful-view event handler produces a list of store actions and potentially a new state. If the new state is nothing, no change is made to the state (which allows an optimization in that we do not need to re-render the view).

Changing the state causes a re-render which will cause a new event handler to be created. If the handler closes over the state passed into the rendering function, there is a race if multiple events occur before React causes a re-render. Therefore, the handler takes the current state as input. Your handlers therefore should ignore the state passed into the render function and instead use the state passed directly to the handler.


data ReactElement eventHandler Source

A React element is a node or list of nodes in a virtual tree. Elements are the output of the rendering functions of classes. React takes the output of the rendering function (which is a tree of elements) and then reconciles it with the actual DOM elements in the browser. The ReactElement is a monoid, so dispite its name can represent more than one element. Multiple elements are rendered into the browser DOM as siblings.

newtype ReactElementM eventHandler a Source

A writer monad for ReactElements which is used in the rendering function of all views.

do notation or the Monoid instance is used to sequence sibling elements. Child elements are specified via function application; the combinator creating an element takes the child element as a parameter. The OverloadedStrings extension is used to create plain text.

ul_ $ do li_ (b_ "Hello")
         li_ "World"
         li_ $
             ul_ (li_ "Nested" <> li_ "List")

would build something like


The React.Flux.DOM module contains a large number of combinators for creating HTML elements.




runReactElementM :: Writer (ReactElement eventHandler) a


(~) * child (ReactElementM eventHandler a) => Term eventHandler [PropertyOrHandler eventHandler] (child -> ReactElementM eventHandler a) Source 
Term eventHandler (ReactElementM eventHandler a) (ReactElementM eventHandler a) Source 
Monad (ReactElementM eventHandler) Source 
Functor (ReactElementM eventHandler) Source 
Applicative (ReactElementM eventHandler) Source 
Foldable (ReactElementM eventHandler) Source 
(~) * a () => IsString (ReactElementM eventHandler a) Source 
(~) * a () => Monoid (ReactElementM eventHandler a) Source 

elemText :: String -> ReactElementM eventHandler () Source

Create a text element from a string. This is an alias for fromString. The text content is escaped to be HTML safe. If you need to insert HTML, instead use the dangerouslySetInnerHTML property.

elemShow :: Show a => a -> ReactElementM eventHandler () Source

Create an element containing text which is the result of showing the argument. Note that the resulting string is then escaped to be HTML safe.

view Source


:: Typeable props 
=> ReactView props

the view

-> props

the properties to pass into the instance of this view

-> ReactElementM eventHandler a

The children of the element

-> ReactElementM eventHandler a 

Create an element from a view. I suggest you make a combinator for each of your views, similar to the examples above such as todoItem_.

viewWithKey Source


:: (Typeable props, ReactViewKey key) 
=> ReactView props

the view

-> key

A value unique within the siblings of this element

-> props

The properties to pass to the view instance

-> ReactElementM eventHandler a

The children of the view

-> ReactElementM eventHandler a 

Create an element from a view, and also pass in a key property for the instance. Key properties speed up the reconciliation of the virtual DOM with the DOM. The key does not need to be globally unqiue, it only needs to be unique within the siblings of an element.

class ReactViewKey key Source

Keys in React can either be strings or integers

Minimal complete definition


childrenPassedToView :: ReactElementM eventHandler () Source

Transclude the children passed into view or viewWithKey into the current rendering. Use this where you would use this.props.children in a javascript React class.

foreignClass Source


:: JSVal

The javascript reference to the class

-> [PropertyOrHandler eventHandler]

properties and handlers to pass when creating an instance of this class.

-> ReactElementM eventHandler a

The child element or elements

-> ReactElementM eventHandler a 

Create a ReactElement for a class defined in javascript. See foreign_ for a convenient wrapper and some examples.


reactRender Source


:: Typeable props 
=> String

The ID of the HTML element to render the application into. (This string is passed to document.getElementById)

-> ReactView props

A single instance of this view is created

-> props

the properties to pass to the view

-> IO () 

Render your React application into the DOM. Use this from your main function, and only in the browser.

reactRenderToString Source


:: Typeable props 
=> Bool

Render to static markup? If true, this won't create extra DOM attributes that React uses internally.

-> ReactView props

A single instance of this view is created

-> props

the properties to pass to the view

-> IO Text 

Render your React application to a string using either React.renderToString if the first argument is false or React.renderToStaticMarkup if the first argument is true. Use this only on the server when running with node.


React obtains high performance from two techniques: the virtual DOM/reconciliation and event handlers registered on the document.

To support fast reconciliation, React uses key properties (set by viewWithKey) and a shouldComponentUpdate lifetime class method. The React documentation on performance and immutable-js talks about using persistent data structures, which is exactly what Haskell does. Therefore, we implement a shouldComponentUpdate method which compares if the javascript object representing the Haskell values for the props, state, and/or storeData have changed. Thus if you do not modify a Haskell value that is used for the props or state or storeData, React will skip re-rendering that view instance. Care should be taken in the transform function to not edit or recreate any values that are used as props. For example, instead of something like

[ (idx, todo) | (idx, todo) <- todos, idx /= deleteIdx ]

you should prefer

filter ((/=deleteIdx) . fst) todos

After either of these transforms, the list of todos has changed so mainSection will be re-rendered by React. mainSection calls todoItem with the tuple (idx,todo) as the props. In the latter transform snippet above, the tuple value for the entries is kept unchanged, so the shouldComponentUpdate function for todoItem will return false and React will not re-render each todo item. If instead the tuple had been re-created as in the first snippet, the underlying javascript object will change even though the value is equal. The shouldComponentUpdate function for todoItem will then return true and React will re-render every todo item. Thus the latter snippet is preferred. In summary, if you are careful to only update the part of the store data that changed, React will only re-render those part of the page.

For events, React registers only global event handlers and also keeps event objects (the object passed to the handlers) in a pool and re-uses them for successive events. We want to parse this event object lazily so that only properties actually accessed are parsed, but this is a problem because lazy access could occur after the event object is reused. Instead of making a copy of the event, we use the NFData instance on SomeStoreAction to force the evaluation of the store action(s) resulting from the event. We therefore compute the action before the event object returns to the React pool, and rely on the type system to prevent the leak of the event object outside the handlers. Thus, you cannot "cheat" in the NFData instance on your store actions; the event objects dilerbertly do not have a NFData instance, so that you must pull all your required data out of the event object and into an action in order to properly implement NFData. Of course, the easiest way to implement NFData is to derive it with Generic and DeriveAnyClass, as TodoAction does above.