Handlers for AppCons

Now that we have a better understanding of defining Handlers for AppCons, we can look at how we actually add handlers to the TAO in code.

Handlers are just Functions

Handlers added to respond to the setting of an Application Context on the TAO are normal JavaScript Functions with the following signature:

function handlerForAppCon(tao, data) {}

When called, every handler will always receive just the following 2 arguments.

tao: object handler arg

The TAO will tell each handler which taople triggered the handler to be called. The tao arg is an Object with the following properties:

These properties not only allow for your handler to know exactly why it was triggered, they are useful for:

data: object handler arg

The TAO will pass the data used when the AppCon was triggered to all handlers that are registered to handle the taople.

data will always receive an Object, even if it is empty ({}) so your handler can rely on this and not have to worry about destructuring the data parameter against an undefined or null arg.

data can have 0 - 3 keys defined on it depending on what was passed to the TAO when setting the context to the specific Application Context that triggered the call to your handler.

Each key in data will be set as the concrete taople available from the tao arg, e.g. if the taople is { t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' } then data can contain the keys 'App', 'Enter' and 'Portal' depending on which aspect was provided data when the Application Context was set on the TAO.

data will always have this :point_up_2: structure no matter which form is used to pass data on setting Application Context, including data args to setCtx or data args to AppCon constructor. This behavior is specifically by design to allow for multiple ways of setting the data while providing a consistent and reliable API for creating your Handlers.

data will be the same reference for all handlers called so take care not to manipulate the object your handler receives, rather make a new object if you want to make changes.

Adding Handlers for AppCons

The TAO provides 3 different types of Handlers which you can see in the Advanced Section. For learning the Basics here, we will illustrate use with the most widely used and easiest to understand Handlers, called Inline Handlers.

To add a handler for an AppCon, first make sure you've imported the TAO in the file you intend to add the handler from:

import TAO from '@tao.js/core';

OR

const TAO = require('@tao.js/core');

Handlers are added directly on the TAO by using one of the add[Type]Handler(…) methods and passing the following 2 arguments:

  • taople: object - the taople your handler cares about
    • can take either short form keys ({ t, a, o }) or
    • long form keys ({ term, action, orient }).
  • handler: function - function you want to be called when an AppCon matching the given taople is set on the TAO
TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, (tao, data) => {
  console.log(`Look, Ma! We entered the App ${data.App.title}`);
});
// OR
TAO.addInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, (tao, data) => {
  console.log(`Look, Ma! We entered the App ${data[tao.t]title}`);
});

Handler Function Return Value

The TAO only cares about the Return Value of a Handler in 2 cases which are described in further detail in other sections:

All other return values are ignored so you can potentially use the same function as a handler for the TAO as well as in other areas of your application. It's up to you.

Special Note: with Decorators on the Roadmap we may allow automating the setting of return values into an AppCon.

Arrow Functions vs Other Functions

To the TAO, the handler is a Function and it doesn't care what form that function came to it as. We used an arrow function above to illustrate a common case, but the following are all equivalent and will achieve the same result when it comes to handling AppCons.

If this is obvious to you and you needn't bother then skip ahead to Async Function Handlers below.

Arrow Function as const definition

const handleAppEnterPortal = (tao, data) => {
  console.log(`Look, Ma! We entered the App ${data.App.title}`);
};

TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, handleAppEnterPortal);
// OR
TAO.addInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, handleAppEnterPortal);

Function declaration

function handleAppEnterPortal(tao, data) => {
  console.log(`Look, Ma! We entered the App ${data.App.title}`);
};

TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, handleAppEnterPortal);
// OR
TAO.addInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, handleAppEnterPortal);

Inline Anonymous Function declaration

TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, function (tao, data) {
  console.log(`Look, Ma! We entered the App ${data.App.title}`);
});
// OR
TAO.addInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, function (tao, data) {
  console.log(`Look, Ma! We entered the App ${data.App.title}`);
});

Inline Named Function declaration

TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, function handleAppEnterPortal(tao, data) {
  console.log(`Look, Ma! We entered the App ${data.App.title}`);
});
// OR
TAO.addInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, function handleAppEnterPortal(tao, data) {
  console.log(`Look, Ma! We entered the App ${data.App.title}`);
});

Function as class member

Here is an example of adding a method from an Object of type MyClass as a handler:

class MyClass {
  constructor(stuff) {
    doStuff(stuff);
  }

  handleAppCon(tao, data) {
    console.log('Handling AppCon for:', tao, 'with:', data);
  }
}

// Add Object method as handler
const myObject = new MyClass();
TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, myObject.handleAppCon);
// OR
TAO.addInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, myObject.handleAppCon);

Here is an example of adding a method from an Object of type MyClass that is bound in the constructor so the handler will have access to the this reference for the object:

class MyClass {
  constructor(stuff) {
    doStuff(stuff);
    this.handleAppConWithThis = handleAppConWithThis.bind(this);
  }

  handleAppConWithThis(tao, data) {
    // b/c of the constructor, handler has access to `this` of Object when called
    console.log('Handling AppCon for:', tao, 'with:', data);
    this.doSomething(data);
  }
}

// Add Object public method as handler
const myObject = new MyClass();
TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, myObject.handleAppConWithThis);
// OR
TAO.addInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, myObject.handleAppConWithThis);

An alternate version using the Class Fields Proposal (Stage 3) to declare a Public Class Method which is properly bound to the Object instance so it has access to the object's this within the handler:

class MyClass {
  constructor(stuff) {
    doStuff(stuff);
  }

  handleAppConWithThis = (tao, data) {
    // b/c of Public Method syntax (proposal), handler has access to `this` of Object when called
    console.log('Handling AppCon for:', tao, 'with:', data);
    this.doSomething(data);
  }
}

// Add Object public method as handler
const myObject = new MyClass();
TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, myObject.handleAppConWithThis);
// OR
TAO.addInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, myObject.handleAppConWithThis);

Here is adding a static method from MyClass as a handler:

class MyClass {
  constructor(stuff) {
    doStuff(stuff);
  }

  static handleAppConStatic(tao, data) {
    console.log('Handle everybody bidness for:', tao, 'with:', data);
  }
}

// Add Class Static method as handler
TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, MyClass.handleAppConStatic);
// OR
TAO.addInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, MyClass.handleAppConStatic);

Async Function Handlers

Because a lot of what is done in JavaScript relies on asynchronous operation, the TAO allows you to add async functions or functions that return a Promise as handlers for Application Contexts.

These will have different behavior depending on the Type of Handler you add, but in the Basic case outlined here (using Inline Handlers), the TAO will await for your handler to fully complete (resolve or reject) before moving onto the next handler.

There is no difference in the way the TAO operates between an async function versus a fuction that just returns a Promise.

Handlers throwing Errors

If the handler added to the TAO throws an Error, it will not be caught. It's suggested that your handlers catch Errors and handle them by setting the Application Context to something signaling the Error like using action: 'Fail'.

Removing Handlers

Because we can add new handlers at any point in the lifecycle of our app, the TAO allows for dynamic loading and unloading of handlers in response to any events, namely but not limited to Application Contexts or if used with Code Splitting.

If you want to remove a handler from the TAO, you will need to keep a reference to it somewhere that is accessible to the code that will remove it from the TAO.

To remove a handler, make sure you are removing the handler using the same type that you used to add the handler function, using the corollary remove[Type]Handler method to the add[Type]Handler.

const handleAppEnterPortal = (tao, data) => {
  console.log(`Look, Ma! We entered the App ${data.App.title}`);
};

// add the handler
TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, handleAppEnterPortal);
// OR
TAO.addInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, handleAppEnterPortal);// Somwhere else

// remove the handler
TAO.removeInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, handleAppEnterPortal);
// OR
TAO.removeInlineHandler({ term: 'App', action: 'Enter', orient: 'Portal' }, handleAppEnterPortal);

Named Function Definitions are hoisted so they can be defined inline and referenced elsewhere, e.g.:

// add the handler
TAO.addInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, function handleAppEnterPortal(tao, data) => {
  console.log(`Look, Ma! We entered the App ${data.App.title}`);
});// Somwhere in same file

// remove the handler
TAO.removeInlineHandler({ t: 'App', a: 'Enter', o: 'Portal' }, handleAppEnterPortal);

Missing Handler

When attempting to remove a handler from the TAO, if either the handler is not registered for the taople you specify or the taople you specify doesn't have any handlers then the request is simply ignored.

The Decorators Spec

It's expected soon the Decorators Spec will be approved and made part of JavaScript. With that coming, it makes perfect sense to allow using decorators to wire up handlers for you, so expect this to come in the future roadmap.

Several reasons why it's not implemented already:

  • Just trying to get this in people's hands to get feedback first - waiting for a decorators implementation would have made it easier to adopt, but also take longer
  • React.js originally had an implementation of Decorators that they had to rip out once the nascient spec was not approved to be added to the language. I made the decision then not to implement my React apps using Decorators and it paid off by not having to go back and change my implementation, so it's easier to be patient here.

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