Overview

DATEX

Functional Programming (Transform Functions)

The DATEX JavaScript Library supports functional programming concepts in combination with DATEX references (pointers).

All transform functions are pure functions. They return a live reference value that gets recalculated when one of the dependency values changes.

All standard transform functions can be imported from "unyt_core/functions.ts".

Generic transform functions

The always transform function

The always function can be used to define a custom transform:

const number = $$(2);
const square = always(() => number**2)
square.val // -> 4
number.val = 3;
square.val // -> 9
const colorA = $$("red");
const colorB = $$("green");
const c = $$(1);

const result: Datex.Ref<string> = always(()=>{
    if (c > 0) return `The color is ${colorA}`;
    else return `The color is ${colorB}`
})

// initial value
result.val; // -> "The color is red"

// update c
c.val = -1;
result.val; // -> "The color is green"

// update colorB
colorB.val = "blue";
result.val // -> "The color is blue"

As can be seen in the example above, the always function supports all common JavaScript operations like comparisons and mathematical operations as well as control flows like if/else branching.

The only restriction is that the function must be pure, meaning:

  1. External variables defined outside the scope of the function should never be reassigned to a new value or modified.
  2. With the exception of Datex.Ref values, only constant external values should be used inside the function. To be on the safe side, only use external const variables.

Restriction (1) guarantees that there are no unintended sideffects when an always computation is invoked. The following example illustrates why restriction (2) is useful:

let c = 5;
const product: Datex.Ref<number> = always(() => c * 10);

// ✅ getting the calculated value, this still works because the computation is triggered each time
product.val // -> 50
c = 10;
product.val // -> 100

// ❌ setting an observer, does not get triggered when c is updated
product.observe((v) => console.log(v))
c = 20;

The correct implementation for this example would be:

const c = $$(5);
const product: Datex.Ref<number> = always(() => c * 10);

// ✅ observer gets triggered when c is updated
product.observe((v) => console.log(v))
c.val = 20;
Note
The always transform function must always be synchronous and must not return a Promise

Caching always output values

Since always functions are always required to be pure functions, it is possible to cache the result of a calculation with given input values and return it at a later point in time.

This can be particularly useful when

  • a calculation is very time-consuming
  • the always function is triggered very often but returns a limited set of output values

To enable output caching, set cache to true in the always options that are passed in as a second parameter:

const n = $$(0);

const fibN = always(() => {
  console.log("calculating fibonacci nr " + n)
  return fibonacciNr(n.val);
}, {cache: true});

// triggered each time n/fibN is updated
effect(() => console.log(`fibonacci nr ${n} = ${fibN}`))

n.val = 42; 
// -> "calculating fibonacci nr 42"
// -> "fibonacci nr 42 = 267914296"

n.val = 1; 
// -> "calculating fibonacci nr 1"
// -> "fibonacci nr 1 = 1"

n.val = 42;
// calculation is not triggered again, cached result is used
// -> "fibonacci nr 42 = 267914296"
Warning
This feature is still experimental. It is not guaranteed that caches will be correctly used in every scenario. There is currently no way to limit the cache size, which could lead to memory leaks.

The asyncAlways transform function

The asyncAlways function is similar to the always function, but can be used for async transforms. The asyncAlways function awaits the result of the promise returned by the transform function and returns a Ref with the resolved value.

Warning
When using asyncAlways, only values that are captured before or in the first await statement are recorded as dependencies.

This means that the following code will not work as expected:

const input = $$(10);

const output = await asyncAlways(async () => {
    const res = await asyncOperation();
    return res + input.val // input is not captured here!
}) // ❌ 'output' is not recalculated when 'input' changes!

To fix this, you can capture the value of input before the await statement:

const input = $$(10);

const output = await asyncAlways(async () => {
    const val = input.val;
    const res = await asyncOperation();
    return res + val
}) // ✅ Correct usage

To make sure that all dependencies are captured, we recommend creating a separate async function and passing the dependencies as arguments:

const input = $$(10);

async function doAsyncStuff(input: number) {
    const res = await asyncOperation();
    return res + input
}

const output = await asyncAlways(() =>  doAsyncStuff(input.val)) // ✅ Correct usage

When you don't return a promise, the asyncAlways function will display a runtime warning:

const output = await asyncAlways(() => input.val * 10) // 🔶 Runtime warning: use 'always' instead

The always template function

Instead of providing a JavaScript callback function, you can also provide a DATEX Script as a template string to an always function:

let c = $$(5);
const product: Datex.Ref<number> = await always `${c} * 10`
Note
When using a DATEX script template, the always function returns a Promise that has to be awaited.

In this form, the transform function can also be serialized and restored later, in contrast to normal JavaScript callback functions which cannot be serialized to DATEX.

The transform function

The transform function works similar to always, with the difference that all dependency value need to be explicitly specified:

const x = $$(40);
const y = $$(2);
const sum = transform([x,y], (x,y) => x + y);

In this case, the transform function still has to be pure, with one additional restriction:

  1. Only values specified in the dependencies array should be used in the transform function (Exception: constant values)

The transform function can be more efficient than the always function, but in most cases, the always function should be preffered. A more relevant function is the transformAsync function explained in the next paragraph.

The transformAsync function

The always function can only calculate values synchronously. If async calculations are required, the transformAsync function can be used instead.

Example with an async fetch request:

const url = $$("https://example.com/x");
const urlContent = transformAsync([url], async url => (await fetch(url)).json());

The same restrictions as for transform functions apply

Reactive functions

The always transform function is useful for inline transforms, but sometimes you might want to define reusable reactive functions.

One way to achieve this is by wrapping the body of a normal function with always:

// normal function
const getGreetingMessage = (country: string) => {
    switch (country) {
        case "de": return "Hallo";
        case "fr": return "Bonjour";
        case "es": return "Hola";
        default: return "Hello";
    }
}

// reactive version
const getGreetingMessageReactive = (country: RefOrValue<string>) => {
    // returns a Ref<string> that gets updated reactively
    return always(() => {
        switch (country) {
            case "de": return "Hallo";
            case "fr": return "Bonjour";
            case "es": return "Hola";
            default: return "Hello";
        }
    })
}

You can simplify this by just wrapping a normal function with reactiveFn. Although the created reactive function is called with Ref values, you don't need to set the input argument types to Ref or RefOrValue:

// reactive function, returns a Ref<string> that gets updated reactively when 'country' changes
const getGreetingMessageReactive = reactiveFn((country: string) => {
    switch (country) {
        case "de": return "Hallo";
        case "fr": return "Bonjour";
        case "es": return "Hola";
        default: return "Hello";
    }
})

const country: Ref<string> = $$("de");
const greetingMessage: Ref<string> = getGreetingMessageReactive(country);

console.log(greetingMessage.val) // "Hallo"

country.val = "fr";
console.log(greetingMessage.val) // "Bonjour"

Dedicated transform functions

The DATEX JavaSccript Library provides some standard transform functions for common operations.

add

Calculates the sum of multiple numbers.

const a = $$(1);
const b = $$(2);
const c = $$(3);

const sum = add(a,b,c); // equivalent to always(() => a + b + c)

sub

Calculates the difference of multiple numbers.

const a = $$(44);
const b = $$(2);

const difference = sub(a,b); // equivalent to always(() => a - b)

mul

Calculates the product of multiple numbers.

const a = $$(7);
const b = $$(6);

const product = mul(a,b); // equivalent to always(() => a * b)

div

Calculates the quotient of multiple numbers.

const a = $$(84);
const b = $$(2);

const quotient = div(a,b); // equivalent to always(() => a / b)

pow

Calculates the result of a number raised to another number.

const a = $$(10);
const b = $$(2);

const raised = pow(a,b); // equivalent to always(() => a ** b)

and

Calculates the logical conjunction of multiple boolean values.

const a = $$(true);
const b = $$(false);

const conjunction = and(a,b); // equivalent to always(() => a.val && b.val)

or

Calculates the logical disjunction of multiple boolean values.

const a = $$(true);
const b = $$(false);

const disjunction = or(a,b); // equivalent to always(() => a.val || b.val)

not

Calculates the negation of a boolean value.

const a = $$(true);

const notA = not(a); // equivalent to always(() => !a.val)

select

Switches between two values depending on the truthiness of another value.

const lightSwitchOn = $$(false);

const sum = select(lightSwitchOn, "Yei light", "It's dark in here"); // equivalent to always(() => lightSwitchOn.val ? "Yei light" : "It's dark in here")

selectProperty

Selects a property value from an object depending on a string reference.

const potato = {
    de: "Kartoffel",
    en: "potato",
    fr: "pomme de terre",
    kr: "비행기",
    schwä: 'Gromber'
};

const lang = $$("de");

const translatedPotato = selectProperty(lang, potato); // equivalent to always(() => potato[lang])

map

Maps an iterable to an array using a callback function (same API as Array.map).

const array = $$([1,2,3]);
const double = map(array, v => v*2) // equivalent to always(() => array.map(v => v*2))

Appendix: The definition of 'pure' functions in DATEX

TODO

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