Monthly Downloads: 5
Programming language: Haskell
License: BSD 3-clause "New" or "Revised" License
Tags: Web     Language     FRP     Reflex     GUI     JSX    

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Reflex JSX

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reflex-jsx is a parser and quasiquoter that lets you write html-like syntax inside of a reflex MonadWidget t m instance.

What's reflex, you ask? In short, it's a Functional Reactive Programming library in Haskell that compiles to JavaScript for use on websites. You'd use it anywhere you might otherwise use React or Angular.

Here's a quick motivating example. The following code shows a Github badge based on the username you enter, updated as you type.

Demo of github profile viewer

In regular Reflex, here's what the code looks like (leaving out data types and the XHR)

[reflex example](images/regular-reflex-code.png)

Here's what that same widget looks like with reflex-jsx:

[reflex-jsx example](images/reflex-jsx-code.png)


  1. Get a build working with Reflex. Due to GHCJS, this isn't as trivial as normal libraries. I recommend going through Ryan Trinkle's reflex instructions first, and getting a basic app up and running (using the try-reflex command).
  2. From there, you can depend on the reflex-jsx library inside of build-depends of your cabal file as usual, and use the work-on command from the above platform. It looks something like this:

    /path/to/reflex-platform/work-on ghcjs ./your-project
    cd your-project/src
    ghcjs Main.hs

This would work if your code lives in src and your main file is Main.hs. Make sure you invoke work-on from the parent directory.

  1. At the top of the file, enable quasi-quoting, and import the lib:
   {-# LANGUAGE QuasiQuotes #-}

   import ReflexJsx
  1. Use the code in a function, like so:
   mainLayout :: MonadWidget t m => String -> m () ->  m ()
   mainLayout title content = do
     [jsx| <div>
             <div class="header">{text title}</div>
             <div class="body">{content}</div>

## Examples

### Basic HTML with attributes

Something like:

[jsx| <div class="red" style="color:blue"></div> |]

is converted into

el "div" (Map.fromList [("class", "red"), ("style", "color:blue")]) $ text ""

So there's no restriction on the element type, and the attributes are (String, String) as it is in Reflex itself.

Splicing in an expression as a node

Splicing or Antiquoting is where you can embed a haskell expression inside of the quasiquoted value. You can embed an expression anywhere you'd normally put a DOM node, and you escape it with {}. The constraint is that any expression you pass in needs to evaluate to MonadWidget t m => m a - which is the normal type for any elements, static or dynamic.

For example, you could embed a simple text "value" that is unchanging, or a textInput element that changes over time. The only thing to remember is that you can't currently get values out of the nodes you insert, so for more complicated data flows, you might not be able to use a jsx block at all. In that case, it is probably easier to use functions anyway.

Here's a more meaty example from a food tracking app:

consumedFoodView :: MonadWidget t m => ConsumedFood -> m ()
consumedFoodView (ConsumedFood id name nutrition amount) =
  do [jsx| <div class="consumed-food">
          <div class="line">
            <div class="stats">
              <span class="food-name">{text name}</span>
              <div class="calories">
                {nutritionData (calories nutrition) "cals"}
            {macrosPie nutrition 50}
          <div class="line">
            <div class="macros">
              {nutritionData (proteinGrams nutrition) "protein (g)"}
              {nutritionData (fatGrams nutrition) "fat (g)"}
              {nutritionData (carbGrams nutrition) "carbs (g)"}
        </div> |]

Or, take a look at the syntax-highlighted version in Emacs if you tweak your haskell-mode slightly. JSX syntax-highlighted

Notice we have a component that takes in a ConsumedFood with some values, and splices them into the jsx body. First we have {text name}, which is using the reflex function text :: MonadWidget t m => String -> m () to take a constant string and display it inside the span.

Next, you can see some more complicated splicing. nutritionData is itself a custom component created in this file, and is a MonadWidget t m as well. You can put any haskell expression inside the curly braces, as long as it evaluates to a reflex widget. The other examples here are just more of the same type of calls.

Splicing in a String attribute

The example above lets you splice in your own nodes, but you can also splice in an attribute value. For instance, you can do something like this:

[jsx| <div style={"color: " ++ myColor ++ ";width:10px;height:10px"}/> |]

Splicing in a dynamic set of attributes

If you replace all of the attributes, you can pass in a set of dynamic ones. To do this, you pass in an expression that evaluates to a type Dynamic t (Map String String). This means you are passing in a Map that changes over time, and the attributes will update and re-render automatically as necessary.

Here's an example of modifying a color based on a text box:

colorSelector :: MonadWidget t m => m ()
colorSelector = do
  input <- textInput def
  selectorAttrs <- mapDyn (\color -> Map.singleton "style" $ "color:" ++ color) (_textInput_value input)
  [jsx| <div {...selectorAttrs}>test selector</div> |]

The value (_textInput_value input) returns a Dynamic t String of changing input box values, and then the mapping line creates a dynamic map value with the color equalling the current textbox value. This gets spliced in as the attributes to the div in the jsx body, and causes the text to dynamically change color.


Failed to load interface for Gtk2HsSetup

This is due to the following issue: https://github.com/gtk2hs/gtk2hs/issues/179 .

The fix is to run stack install gtk2hs-buildtools.

Is this the same JSX as React's version?

The name comes from React's JSX, but it's not trying to be feature-for-feature mapping of functionality. It's simply meant to play a similar role to JSX in that it allows the programmer to write HTML-like syntax where it feels appropriate (i.e. HTML-heavy components that don't have as much interactivity).

I almost called it hsx until I discovered that there was already an established package with that name on Hackage.

I imagine Reflex users will want to use this syntax less often than React users use JSX, as Reflex's interspersed return values make some types of components easier to represent with regular functions. I don't recommend this be used all over the place, because the template haskell slows down compile times, and it adds a layer of indirection.

I got a ridiculous looking error

Sorry about that - I actually am not sure how to make the errors nicer. I essentially just splice in whatever you provide as Template Haskell expressions using haskell-src-meta and let the compiler figure it out if it's not well-formed. However, sometimes the compiler gets really confused and fails in a weird way. If anyone knows how to do reliable reflection on TH Exp datatypes to determine what they are (i.e. String vs. MonadWidget t m), then I could fail earlier with a nicer message.

How stable is this?

Consider it extremely experimental. It's not feature complete, and has only been used by me a little bit on a side-project, so far from battle tested. Also, this is my first time working with Quasiquotes and Template Haskell so the implementation might broken. Do let me know if you run into issues though, and I will fix them as quickly as possible!

I have a suggestion for improvement, or want to make a PR

I'm happy to get suggestions on any aspect of the library! I may be doing things unidiomatically and appreciate getting style, implementation, and any other feedback you want to provide. Even better if you want to submit a PR to improve the library.

TODOs (eventually)

  • Support both dynamic and static attr maps (currently only dynamic is supported)
  • Tests to make sure the parsing catches the edge cases, and handles things okay when on failure.
  • Better error messages if possible when it parses fine, but the types don't match up properly.