React PropTypes and ES6 Destructuring

Monday, April 24th, 2017

At times one may be justified in the argument that cognitive (over)load is just an expected part of the overall developer experience. Fortunately, there are numerous steps we can take to minimize the general noise which tends to distract our intended focus. One particularly simple – yet effective – example is to remove unnecessary redundancy wherever possible. In doing so, we afford both our peers and ourselves a codebase which, over time, becomes considerably easier to maintain.

For instance, when performing code reviews, more often than not I tend to see considerable redundancy when specifying React PropTypes. Typically, something along the lines of:

As can be seen, with each new prop we are redundantly referencing React PropType lookup paths. And, while the ideal components will have a limited number of props (either connected directly, or passed down), the redundancy still remains for any component which references the same prop type. Considering the number of components a given application may contain, we can rightfully assume that the above redundancy will grow proportionally.

With the above in mind, we can easily reduce the redundancy (as well as micro-optimize the lookup paths) be simply destructuring the props of interest as follows:

While I would consider the above to be simplified enough; one could also take this a step further and destructure the isRequired props, which, in some circumstances, may be useful as well:

Admittedly, this example is rather straight-forward; however, it does help to emphasize the point that only through consistent vigilance can we ensure our source will continue to evolve organically while remaining as simple as possible.

NPM & Root Permissions

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

When dealing with NPM Permissions, often times it can be tempting to resort to installing modules as root (sudo), especially when under tight time constraints; where troubleshooting such issues will only serve to delay your progress.

Admittedly, I have been guilty of this more often than I care to admit. That said, being as I always have the Broken Windows Theory in the back of my mind, I knew this workaround needed to be resolved as soon as I had a moment to dig into it a bit more.

Previously, I had followed the instructions from docs.npmjs; however, they focus more on installations of global dependencies, rather than local dependencies. Fortunately, after a few quick searches, it became apparent that by simply changing permissions to the ~/.npm directory, this issue could easily be resolved as, all that is needed is to change the owner of the ~/.npm directory to the current user (as opposed to root).

To do so, simply run the following:

sudo chown -R $(whoami) ~/.npm

Likewise, you can use your username explicitly; e.g.:
sudo chown -R efeminella ~/.npm

And with that, the issue can safely be resolved, allowing you to run npm install as expected without having to fallback to using sudo.

React-Bootstrap ES6 Imports

Friday, August 12th, 2016

When leveraging React Bootstrap, one important consideration missing from the documentation (or perhaps, simply not emphasized enough) relates to module access when using ES6 imports.

Specifically, in the context of React Bootstrap’s “convenience components” <Component.SubComponent> (e.g. <Modal.Body>), such imports must be made explicit as they can not be resolved against their parent components during transformations of ES6 imports to CommonJS modules.

For instance, one can not reference sub-components as follows:

During transpilation, the above reference will result in Babel (specifically, the babel-plugin-transform-es2015-modules-commonjs module) causing an upstream exception:

Property object of JSXMemberExpression expected node to be of a type [“JSXMemberExpression”,”JSXIdentifier”] but instead got “MemberExpression

Fortunately, the solution to the issue is rather straight-forward; simply import the sub-component explicitly via react-bootstrap/lib , for example:

With the above example, the previous conversion errors will be resolved, and all will be well again.

Overall, I actually prefer the explicit imports (though it would be more convenient if they were exported via ‘react-bootstrap’).

And so, for the time being, a minor nuance worth noting should you find yourself trying to diagnose this issue at some point.

Quick Tip: HTML to JSX Conversion

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Like many developers, at times I find the need to convert raw HTML to JSX. It was only after I found myself needing to do this a bit more frequently that I considered writing a quick tool to automate the task. However, like most things, I knew there must be something out there which handles this already, and as I suspected, there certainly is: HTMLtoJSX – a component of React-Magic which does precisely this.

So, if ever you need to quickly convert raw HTML to JSX, be sure to check out the online converter and, for more frequent needs, the converter is also available via NPM and can easily be integrated into part of an existing build pipeline.

Simplified Partial Application with ES6

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

When implementing Partial Application in ES6, implementations naturally become quite easier to reason about as default parameters, rest parameters and arrow functions can be leveraged to provide a much more comprehensive implementation.

While on the surface this may appear insignificant, when compared to having relied almost exclusively on the arguments object and Array.prototype to provide the same functionality in ES5, the benefits become rather apparent.

For instance, consider a simple multiply function which, depending on the arity of the invocation, either computes basic multiplication against the provided parameters, or returns a partial application. That is to say, if invoked as a unary function (single argument), the function returns a partial application (a new function which multiplies by the given argument). If invoked as a variadic function (variable amount of arguments), the function returns the product of the arguments.

In ES5, we could implement such a function as follows:

View Pen

Given the above example, in order to inspect and iterate over the provided arguments, we need to rely on the Array.prototype, specifically, we need to invoke Function.prototype.call on Array prototype in order to apply the slice method so as to convert the arguments object to an Array. Additionally, we also have to account for a default value of arguments[0] should it be omitted or NaN.

Not only does this require a superfluous amount of code, but it also results in a more complicated implementation that becomes considerably more verbose, and as a result, more difficult to reason about; especially for developers who may not be familiar with the specific mechanisms employed within the implementation.

ES6 to the rescue …

With the introduction of default parameters, …rest parameters, and Arrow Functions (fat arrows) in ES6, the implementation of the above example can be significantly reduced, and as a result, becomes considerably easier to understand, as we can simply re-write the multiply function as:

View Pen

As can be seen, implementing the multiply function in ES6 not only reduces the SLOC by 1/2 of the previous ES5 implementation, but more importantly, by using rest parameters, it allows us to determine and work with the functions arity in a much more natural way. Moreover, both iterating over the provided arguments and returning the partial application becomes considerably more concise simply by using arrow functions, and the need to account for undefined arguments becomes moot thanks to default parameters.

In addition, variadic invocations of such functions can also be simplified considerably using the ES6 spread operator. For example, in order to pass an Array of arguments to a function in ES5, one would need to call Function.apply against the function, like so:

With ES6 spread operators, however, we can simply invoke the function directly with the given array preceded by the spread operator:

Simple!

Hopefully this article has shed some light on a few of the features available in ES6 which allow for writing implementations which not only read much more naturally, but can be written with considerably less mental overhead.

IIFE in ES6

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

TL;DR: In ES6, an IIFE is implemented as follows:


Unlike ES5, which is syntactically less opinionated, in ES6, when using an IIFE, parenthetical order matters.

For instance, in ES5 an IIFE could be written either as:

or

As can be seen in the above examples, in ES5 one could either wrap and invoke a function expression in parentheses, or wrap the function expression in parentheses and invoke the function outside of the parentheses.

However, in ES6, the former throws an exception, thus, one can not use:

But rather, the invocation must be made outside of the parentheses as follows:

As an aside for those who are curious, the syntax requirements are specific to ES6 and not a by-product of any particular transpilers (i.e. Babel, Traceur, etc.).