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Write html components directly in python and you have a beautiful but controversial MIXTure

Project description

Write html components directly in python and you have a beautiful but controversial MIXTure.

Yes, controversial.

If you don’t like it, ignore it (but you can use this without the html-in-python part, see below ;))

Based on pyxl. Python 3.6+ only, and use typing for data validation.

Once you have your html, you can do whatever you want with it. Think of it as a replacement for your classic template engine.

Basic usage

Let’s create a file example.py

# coding: mixt

from mixt import html, Element, Required

class Hello(Element):
    class PropTypes:
        name: Required[str]

    def render(self, context):
        return <div>Hello, {self.name}</div>

print(<Hello name="World"/>)

And execute it:

$ python example.py
<div>Hello, World</div>

If you don’t like to write html in python, you can still use it:

from mixt import html, Element, Required

class Hello(Element):
    class PropTypes:
        name: Required[str]

    def render(self, context):
        return html.Div()("Hello, ", self.name)

print(Hello(name="World"))

Features

Yes it is inspired by React (in fact, mainly JSX) and we borrow some of the concept:

  • props and PropTypes with validation
  • dev-mode to validate props in dev but not in production to speed things up (your tests should have tested that everything is ok)
  • context
  • class components or simple function components
  • high order components

Installation

Run these two commands. The second one will tell python how to understand files with html inside.

pip install mixt
mixt-post-install

To check that everything is ready, run:

python -m mixt.examples.simple

You should have this output:

<div title="Greeting">Hello, World</div>

If you don’t want to use the html-in-python stuff, don’t run mixt-post-install. And then test with (to have the same output):

python -m mixt.examples.simple_pure_python

Contribute

Clone the git project then:

make dev

To check that everything is ready, run:

python -m mixt.examples.simple

You should have this output:

<div title="Greeting">Hello, World</div>

After having done some code:

make tests
make lint

If you touch things in the codec directory, you’ll have to run make dev (or at least make full-clean) to purge the pyc python files.

Note that our CI will check that every commit passes the make lint and make tests. So don’t forget to run these two for each commit.

User Guide

Note: You can find the final code of this user guide in src/mixt/examples/user_guide (you’ll find mixt.py and pure_python.py).

Run it with:

python -m mixt.examples.user_guide

Introduction

Let’s create a… todo list, yeah!

But before, remember. This is not React, it’s not on the browser and there is no Javascript involved here. We only talk about rendering some HTML.

But you can do what you want with it. Add javascript handlers, simple forms…

Talking about forms…

In a todo list, we want to be able to add a todo. It’s a simple text input.

So let’s create our first component, the TodoForm. We want a form with an input text and a button.

A component is a subclass of the Element class, with a render method you have to write.

# coding: mixt

from mixt import Element, html  # html is mandatory to resolve html tags

class TodoForm(Element):

    def render(self, context):  # Ignore the ``context`` argument for now.
        return \  # The ``\`` is only for a better indentation below
            <form method="post" action="???">
                <label>New Todo: </label><itext name="todo" />
                <button type="submit">Add</button>
            </form>

Note that this could have been written as a simple function:

# coding: mixt

from mixt import Element, html

def TodoForm():
    return \
        <form method="post" action="???">
            <label>New Todo: </label><itext name="todo" />
            <button type="submit">Add</button>
        </form>

When print the component, these two will give the same result:

print(<TodoForm />)
<form method="post" action="???"><label>New Todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

Spacing

Notice how it is formatted: no space between tags. In fact, it’s like in JSX:

JSX removes whitespace at the beginning and ending of a line. It also removes blank lines. New lines adjacent to tags are removed; new lines that occur in the middle of string literals are condensed into a single space

To add a space, or a newline, you can pass some python. Let’s, as an example, add a newline before the label:

#...
            <form method="post" action="???">
                {'\n'}<label>New Todo: </label><itext name="todo" />
#...

Now we have this output:

<form method="post" action="/todo/add">
<label>New Todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

Props

Now let’s go further.

Notice the action attribute of the form. We need to pass something. But hard-coding it does not sound right. Wwe need to pass it to the component.

Mixt has, like React, the concept of properties, aka “props”.

PropTypes class

In Mixt, we define them with a type, in a class inside our component, named PropTypes:

class TodoForm(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        add_url: str

    def render(self, context):
        return \
            <form method="post" action={self.add_url}>
                <label>New Todo: </label><itext name="todo" />
                <button type="submit">Add</button>
            </form>

Here we defined a prop named add_url which must be a string (str). This uses the python typing syntax.

And notice how we changed the action attribute of the form tag. It’s now {self.add_url} instead of "???".

When attributes are passed between curly braces, they are interpreted as pure python at run-time. In fact, as the mixt parser will convert the whole file to pure python before letting the python interpreter running it, it will stay the same, only the html around will be converted. So there is no penalty to do this.

Props and children

Look how this would look like if our component was written in pure python:

from mixt import Element, html

class TodoForm(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        add_url: str

    def render(self, context):
        return html.Form(method='post', action=self.add_url )(
            html.Label()(
                html.Raw("New Todo: ")
            ),
            html.InputText(name='todo'),
            html.Button(type='submit')(
                html.Raw("Add")  # or html.Rawhtml(text="Add")
            ),
        )

Notice how the props are passed to a component as named arguments and how action is passed: action=self.add_url.

This pure-python component also shows you how it works: props are passed as named argument to the component class, then this component is called, passing children components as positional arguments to the call:

ComponentClass(prop1="val1", prop2="val2")(
    Children1(),
    Children2(),
)

What are children? Children are tags inside other tags.

In <div id="divid"><span /><p>foo</p></div>, we have:

  • a html.Div component, with a prop id and two children:
    • a html.Span component, without children
    • a html.P component with one child:
      • a html.RawHtml component with the text “foo”

Note that you can play with props and children. First the version in pure-python to show how it works:

def render(self, context):
    props = {"prop1": "val1", "prop2": "val2"}
    children = [Children1(), Children2()]

    return ComponentClass(**props)(*children)
    # You can pass a list of children to to the call, so this would produce the same result:
    # ComponentClass(**props)(children)

Then the mixt version:

def render(self, context):
    props = {"prop1": "val1", "prop2": "val2"}
    children = [<Children1/>, <Children2/>]

    return <ComponentClass {**props}>{*children}</ComponentClass>
    # or, the same, passing the children as a list:
    # return <ComponentClass {**props}>{children}</ComponentClass>

Passing props

Now let’s go back to our props add_url.

How to pass it to the component?

The exact same way we passed attributes to HTML tags: they are in fact props defined in the HTML compoments (defined in mixt.html). We support every HTML tags that, at the time of the writing, are valid (not deprecated) in HTML5, with their attributes (excluding the deprecated ones).

So let’s do this:

print(<TodoForm add_url="/todo/add"/>)
<form method="post" action="/todo/add"><label>New Todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

OK, we have our prop present in the rendered HTML.

Validation

What if we don’t pass a string? We said in PropTypes that we wanted a string…

Numbers

Let’s try it:

print(<TodoForm add_url=1/>)
<form method="post" action="1"><label>New Todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

It works! But… it’s not a string!! In fact, there is a special case for numbers, you can pass them as numbers instead of strings and they are converted if needed…

Booleans and other special cases

So let’s try something else.

print(<TodoForm add_url=True/>)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropValueError:
<TodoForm>.add_url: `True` is not a valid value for this prop (type: <class 'bool'>, expected: <class 'str'>)

And it’s the same if we pass True in python

print(<TodoForm add_url={True}/>)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropValueError:
<TodoForm>.add_url: `True` is not a valid value for this prop (type: <class 'bool'>, expected: <class 'str'>)

Ok, let’s trick the system and pass "True", as a string.

print(<TodoForm add_url="True"/>)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropValueError:
<TodoForm>.add_url: `True` is not a valid value for this prop (type: <class 'bool'>, expected: <class 'str'>)

Still the same, but here we passed a string! Yes but there are 4 values that are always evaluated to what they seems to be:

  • True
  • False
  • None
  • NotProvided (a special value meaning “not set” which is different that None)

The only way to pass one of these values as a string, is to pass them via python, as a string:

print(<TodoForm add_url={"True"}/>)
<form method="post" action="True"><label>New Todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

Except these 4 values, and numbers, every value that is passed to an attribute is considered a string. Even if there is no quotes, like in html in HTML5, where quotes are not mandatory for strings without some characters (no spaces, no /…).

To pass something else, you must surround the value in curly braces (and in this cases there is no need for quotes around the curly braces.

Ok, now we are sure that we only accept string…. but what if I pass nothing? And… what is “nothing”?

Let’s start with an empty string in python:

print(<TodoForm add_url={""}/>)
<form method="post" action=""><label>New Todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

Ok it works, we wanted a string, we have a string.

Now let’s pass this empty string directly:

print(<TodoForm add_url=""/>)
<form method="post" action=""><label>New Todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

It still works, because it’s still a string. Let’s remove the quotes, to see.

print(<TodoForm add_url=/>)
mixt.exceptions.GeneralParserError: <mixt parser> Unclosed Tags: <TodoForm>

Hum yeah, this is not valid HTML. So let’s remove the =:

print(<TodoForm add_url/>)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropValueError:
<TodoForm>.add_url: `True` is not a valid value for this prop (type: <class 'bool'>, expected: <class 'str'>)

WHAT? Yes, think about HTML5 attributes like required, checked… They only need to be present as an attribute, without value, to be considered True. So when an attribute doesn’t have any value, it’s a boolean, and it’s True.

In addition to not pass a value, those two other ways are valid in HTML5 for a boolean to by True:

  • pass an empty string: required=""
  • pass the name of the attribute: required="required"

For your convenience, we added another way:

  • pass True (case does not matter), as python or as a string: required=True, required={True}, required="true"

And its counterpart, to pass False:

  • pass False (case does not matter), as python or as a string: required=False, required={False}, required="false"

Required props

Ok for the boolean attributes. It’s not our case. The last thing we can do is to not set the attribute at all:

print(<TodoForm/>)
# this is the same: ``print(<TodoForm add_url=NotProvided />)```
# (``NotProvided`` must be imported from ``mixt``)
mixt.exceptions.UnsetPropError: <TodoForm>.add_url: prop is not set

It’s understandable: we try to access a prop that is not set, of course we cannot use it.

But what if we don’t access it? If we don’t print the component, it won’t be rendered:

<TodoForm/>
<TodoForm at 0x7fbd18ea5630>

So we can create an instance but it will fail at render time. But there is a way to prevent that.

By default, all properties are optional. And you don’t have to use the Optional type from the python typing module for that, it would be cumbersome to do it for each prop.

Instead, mixt provides a type named Required that you use the same way than Optionnal.

from mixt import Element, Required, html

class TodoForm(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        add_url: Required[str]

    def render(self, context):
        # ...

So we just said we wanted a string, and that it is required.

Let’s try again to create it without the prop:

<TodoForm/>
mixt.exceptions.RequiredPropError: <TodoForm>.add_url: is a required prop but is not set

Now we have the exception raised earlier in our program.

Default props

To see other possibilities in props, let’s add a new one to change the text label. But we don’t want to make it required, and instead have a default value.

For this, it’s as easy as adding a value to the prop in the PropTypes class:

class TodoForm(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        add_url: Required[str]
        label: str = 'New Todo'

    def render(self, context):
        return \
            <form method="post" action={self.add_url}>
                <label>{self.label}: </label><itext name="todo" />
                <button type="submit">Add</button>
            </form>

Now let’s try it without passing the prop:

print(<TodoForm add_url="/todo/add"/>)
<form method="post" action=""><label>New Todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

And if we pass one:

print(<TodoForm add_url="/todo/add" label="Thing to do" />)
<form method="post" action="/todo/add"><label>Thing to do: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

It works as expected.

Note that you cannot give a default value while having the prop Required. It makes no sense, so it’s checked as soon as possible, while the class is constructed:

class TodoForm(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        add_url: Required[str]
        label: Required[str] = 'New Todo'
mixt.exceptions.PropTypeRequiredError: <TodoForm>.label: a prop with a default value cannot be required

And of course the default value must match the type!

class TodoForm(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        add_url: Required[str]
        label: str = {'label': 'foo'}
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropValueError:
<TodoForm>.label: `{'label': 'foo'}` is not a valid value for this prop (type: <class 'dict'>, expected: <class 'str'>)

Choices

Another thing we want to do in our component is to let it construct the label, passing it a “type” of todo, but limiting the choices. For this we can use the Choices type:

from mixt import Choices, Element, Required, html


class TodoForm(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        add_url: Required[str]
        type: Choices = ['todo', 'thing']

    def render(self, context):

        return \
            <form method="post" action={self.add_url}>
                <label>New {self.type}: </label><itext name="todo" />
                <button type="submit">Add</button>
            </form>

Let’s try it:

print(<TodoForm add_url="/todo/add" type="todo" />)
print(<TodoForm add_url="/todo/add" type="thing" />)
<form method="post" action="/todo/add"><label>New todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>
<form method="post" action="/todo/add"><label>New thing: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

And what if we try to pass something else than the available choices? It fails, as expected:

print(<TodoForm add_url="/todo/add" type="stuff" />)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropChoiceError: <TodoForm>.type: `stuff` is not a valid choice for this prop (must be in ['todo', 'thing'])

Default choices

But maybe we don’t want to pass it and use a default value. What would the result be?

print(<TodoForm add_url="/todo/add" />)
mixt.exceptions.UnsetPropError: <TodoForm>.type: prop is not set

So we have to mark the type prop as required:

class PropTypes:
    add_url: Required[str]
    type: Required[Choices] = ['todo', 'thing']

So if we don’t pass it, it fails earlier:

print(<TodoForm add_url="/todo/add" />)
mixt.exceptions.RequiredPropError: <TodoForm>.type: is a required prop but is not set

But it’s not what we want, we want a default value.

In fact, you noticed that for types other than Choices, setting a value in PropTypes gives us a default value. But for Choices it’s different, as the value is the list of choices.

For this, we have DefaultChoices: it work the same as Choices, but use the first entry in the list as the default value. And of course, as with other types having default, it cannot be Required.

Let’s try it:

from mixt import DefaultChoices, Element, Required, html


class TodoForm(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        add_url: Required[str]
        type: DefaultChoices = ['todo', 'thing']
print(<TodoForm add_url="/todo/add" />)
<form method="post" action="/todo/add"><label>New todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

It works as expected.

Advanced types

Until then, we used simple types, but you can use more complicated ones.

So for example, we’ll make the add_url prop to accept a function that will compute the url for us based on the type prop. But we also want to allow strings, and with a default value.

We can do that, with typing. Our function will take a string, the type and will return a string, the url.

So the syntax is Callable[[str], str] for the callable, and we use Union to accept things of type Callable or str:

from typing import Union, Callable
from mixt import DefaultChoices, Element, Required, html


class TodoForm(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        add_url: Union[Callable[[str], str], str] = "/todo/add"
        type: DefaultChoices = ['todo', 'thing']

    def render(self, context):

        if callable(self.add_url):
            add_url = self.add_url(self.type)
        else:
            add_url = self.add_url

        return \
            <form method="post" action={add_url}>
                <label>New {self.type}: </label><itext name="todo" />
                <button type="submit">Add</button>
            </form>

First, let’s try it without the add_url prop, as we have a default:

print(<TodoForm  />)
<form method="post" action="/todo/add"><label>New todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

It should work too if we pass a string:

print(<TodoForm add_url="/todolist/add" />)
<form method="post" action="/todolist/add"><label>New todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

And now we can pass a function:

def make_url(type):
    return f"/{type}/add"

print(<TodoForm add_url={make_url} />)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropValueError: <TodoForm>.add_url:
`<function make_url at 0x7fe2ae87be18>` is not a valid value for this prop (type: <class 'function'>, expected: Union[Callable[[str], str], str])

Oh? Why? I passed a function accepting a string as argument and returning a string. Yes, but don’t forget that types are checked! So we must add types to our function:

def make_url(type: str) -> str:
    return f"/{type}/add"

print(<TodoForm add_url={make_url} />)
<form method="post" action="/todo/add"><label>New todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

And if we pass another type, the url should change accordingly:

print(<TodoForm add_url={make_url} type="thing" />)
<form method="post" action="/thing/add"><label>New todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

We can even make this function the default value for our prop:

from typing import Union, Callable
from mixt import DefaultChoices, Element, Required, html


def make_url(type: str) -> str:
    return f"/{type}/add"


class TodoForm(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        add_url: Union[Callable[[str], str], str] = make_url
        type: DefaultChoices = ['todo', 'thing']

    def render(self, context):

        if callable(self.add_url):
            add_url = self.add_url(self.type)
        else:
            add_url = self.add_url

        return \
            <form method="post" action={add_url}>
                <label>New {self.type}: </label><itext name="todo" />
                <button type="submit">Add</button>
            </form>
print(<TodoForm />)
<form method="post" action="/todo/add"><label>New todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

dev-mode

Now you may start wondering… python typing is cumbersome and validating may take away some of our precious time.

Let’s me answer that:

  1. No, typing is not cumbersome. It’s really useful to spot bugs and add some self-documentation.
  2. Yes, it takes away some of our precious time. But we got you covered.

By default, mixt run in “dev-mode”. And in dev-mode, props are validated when passed to a component. When you are NOT in “dev-mode”, the validation is skipped. So in production, you can deactivate the dev-mode (we’ll see how in a minute) and pass props very fast:

  • we don’t check required props (but that would fail if you try to use it in your compoment)
  • we don’t check if a Choices prop is, indeed, in the list of choices
  • we don’t check the type at all, so for example if you want to pass a list for a string, it will work but with understandable strange things happening in your render method.

But you may say that it’s in production that validation is important. Indeed. But of course your code is fully covered by tests, that you run in dev-mode, and so in production, you don’t need this validation! And note that it’s how React works, by the way, with NODE_ENV=production.

How to change dev-mode? We don’t enforce any environment variable but we propose some functions. It’s up to you to call them:

from mixt import set_dev_mode, unset_dev_mode, override_dev_mode, in_dev_mode

# by default, dev-mode is active
assert in_dev_mode()

# you can unset the dev-mode
unset_dev_mode()
assert not in_dev_mode()

# and set it back
set_dev_mode()
assert in_dev_mode()

# set_dev_mode can take a boolean
set_dev_mode(False)
assert not in_dev_mode()

set_dev_mode(True)
assert in_dev_mode()

# and we have a context manager to override for a block
with override_dev_mode(False):
    assert not in_dev_mode()
    with override_dev_mode(True):
        assert in_dev_mode()
    assert not in_dev_mode()
assert in_dev_mode()

So let’s try this with the type prop. Remember, it looks like:

type: DefaultChoices = ['todo', 'thing']

We try to pass another choice, first in dev-mode:

with override_dev_mode(True):
    print(<TodoForm type="stuff" />)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropChoiceError: <TodoForm>.type: `stuff` is not a valid choice for this prop (must be in ['todo', 'thing'])

It fails as expected.

And now by deactivating dev-mode:

with override_dev_mode(False):
    print(<TodoForm type="stuff" />)
<form method="post" action="/stuff/add"><label>New stuff: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form>

It works, we have a todo type that was not in our choices that is used, and is in the action too. It’s the work of your tests to ensure that you never pass invalid props, so you can be confident in production and deactivate dev-mode.

Components cascade

Now we have our form. What other components do we need for our todo list app?

Of course, we need a way to display a todo entry.

But what is a todo entry? Let’s create a basic TodoObject:

class TodoObject:
    def __init__(self, text):
        self.text = text

It’s a very simple class, but you can use what you want, of course. It could be Django models, etc…

So we can create our Todo component, making it accept a required TodoObject as prop:

class Todo(Element):
    class PropTypes:
        todo: Required[TodoObject]

    def render(self, context):
        return <li>{self.todo.text}</li>

And we can use it:

todo = TodoObject("foo")
print(<Todo todo={todo} />)
<li>foo</li>

Now we want to have a list of todos. Let’s create a TodoList component that will accept as props a list of TodoObject.

But what is different than our two other components, that only use html tags in their render method, it’s that now we will encapsulate a component into another. Let’s see how.

class TodoList(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        todos: Required[List[TodoObject]]

    def render(self, context):
        return <ul>{[<Todo todo={todo} /> for todo in self.todos]}</ul>

Yes, it’s as simple as that: you use <Todo...> for the Todo component as you would use an HTML tag. The only difference is that for html tags, you don’t need to import them directly (simple import html from mixt), and by convention we write them in lower-case. For normal components, you have to import them (you can still do from mylib import components and <components.MyComponent ...>) and use the exact case.

Notice how we required a list, and passed it into the <ul> via a list-comprehension in curly-braces.

You can do things differently if you want.

Like separating the list comprehension from the html:

def render(self, context):
    todos = [
        <Todo todo={todo} />
        for todo
        in self.todos
    ]
    return <ul>{todos}</ul>

Or in a dedicated method (that would be useful for testing):

def render_todos(self, todos):
    return [
        <Todo todo={todo} />
        for todo
        in todos
    ]

def render(self, context):
    return <ul>{self.render_todos(self.todos)}</ul>

It’s up to you: at the end it’s just python.

Let’s see what is rendered by this component:

todos = [TodoObject("foo"), TodoObject("bar"), TodoObject("baz")]
print(<TodoList todos={todos} />)
<ul><li>foo</li><li>bar</li><li>baz</li></ul>

And finally we have our TodoApp component that encapsulate the form and the list:

class TodoApp(Element):

    class PropTypes:
        todos: Required[List[TodoObject]]
        type: DefaultChoices = ['todo', 'thing']

    def render(self, context):
        return \
            <div>
                <h1>The "{self.type}" list</h1>
                <TodoForm type={self.type} />
                <TodoList todos={self.todos} />
            </div>
todos = [TodoObject("foo"), TodoObject("bar"), TodoObject("baz")]
print(<TodoList todos={todos} type="thing" />)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form>...</form><ul><li>foo</li><li>bar</li><li>baz</li></ul></div>

Let’s pass this HTML to an HTML beautifier:

<div>
    <h1>The "thing" list</h1>
    <form method="post" action="/thing/add">
        <label>New thing: </label>
        <input type="text" name="todo" />
        <button type="submit">Add</button>
    </form>
    <ul>
        <li>foo</li>
        <li>bar</li>
        <li>baz</li>
    </ul>
</div>

And that’s it, we have our todo-list app! To use it in a page, just create a component that will render the html base markup and integrate the TodoApp component in it. You don’t even need a component:

todos = [TodoObject("foo"), TodoObject("bar"), TodoObject("baz")]

print(
    <html>
        <body>
            <TodoApp todos={todos} type="thing" />
        </body>
    </html>
)

The beautified output would be:

<html>

<body>
    <div>
        <h1>The "thing" list</h1>
        <form method="post" action="/thing/add">
            <label>New thing: </label>
            <input type="text" name="todo" />
            <button type="submit">Add</button>
        </form>
        <ul>
            <li>foo</li>
            <li>bar</li>
            <li>baz</li>
        </ul>
    </div>
</body>

</html>

Overriding a component

We have a generic todo-list, but following the available types of todo, we may want to have a “todo-list” and a “thing-list”.

We already have the todo list because our TodoApp has a type of todo by default.

So let’s create a ThingApp.

Inheritance

The first way of doing this is to inherit from our TodoApp. But by inheriting we cannot remove props from the parent (it’s not really true, we’ll see this later), so we still have the type prop by default. But we don’t want to accept anything else than “thing”. So we can redefine the type prop like this:

class ThingApp(TodoApp):
    class PropTypes:
        type: DefaultChoices = ['thing']

Let’s use this component:

print(<ThingApp todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} />)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form method="post" action="/thing/add"><label>New todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form><ul><li>foo</li></ul></div>

If we try to pass “todo” for the type props, it won’t work:

print(<ThingApp todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} type="todo" />)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropChoiceError:
<ThingApp>.type: `todo` is not a valid choice for this prop (must be in ['thing'])

But still, it’s strange to be able to pass a type.

Parent components

Let’s try another way: A parent component. A component that does nothing else that doing things with its children and returning it. What we want here, is a component that will return a TodoApp with the type prop forced to “thing”.

Let’s do this

class ThingApp(Element):
    class PropTypes:
        todos: Required[List[TodoObject]]

    def render(self, context):
        return <TodoApp todos={self.todos} type="thing" />
print(<ThingApp todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} />)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form method="post" action="/thing/add"><label>New todo: </label><input type="text" name="todo" /><button type="submit">Add</button></form><ul><li>foo</li></ul></div>

It works, and this time, we cannot pass the type prop:

print(<ThingApp todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} />)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropNameError: <ThingApp>.type: is not an allowed prop

PropTypes DRYness

Notice how we had to define the type for the todos props. Both in TodoApp and TodoThing.

There are many ways to handle that.

The first one would be to ignore the type in ThingApp because it will be checked in TodoApp. So we’ll use the type Any:

from typing import Any

#...

class ThingApp(Element):
    class PropTypes:
        todos: Any

 #...

Let’s try with a valid list of todos:

print(<ThingApp todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} />)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form>...</form><ul><li>foo</li></ul></div>

But what if we pass something else?

print(<ThingApp todos="foo, bar" />)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropValueError:
<TodoApp>.todos: `foo, bar` is not a valid value for this prop (type: <class 'str'>, expected: List[TodoObject])

It works as expected but the error is reported at the TodoApp level, which is perfectly normal.

Another way would be to defined the type at a higher level:

TodoObjects = Required[List[TodoObject]]

class TodoApp(Element):
    class PropTypes:
        todos: TodoObjects
 # ...

class ThingApp(Element):
    class PropTypes:
        todos: TodoObjects
 # ...

Now if we pass something else, we have the error reported at the correct level:

print(<ThingApp todos="foo, bar" />)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropValueError:
<TodoThing>.todos: `foo, bar` is not a valid value for this prop (type: <class 'str'>, expected: List[TodoObject])

But if you can’t or don’t want to do that, you can keep the type defined in TodoApp et use the prop_type class method of a component to get the type of a prop:

class ThingApp(Element):
    class PropTypes:
        todos: TodoApp.prop_type("todos")
 # ...

But does it really matter to have the error raised for ThingApp or TodoApp? Because at the end, it’s really TodoApp that have to do the check.

So this should be a way to do this in a more generic way..

Function

We saw earlier that a component can be a single function to render a component. It just have to return a component, an html tag. One difference with class components is that there is not PropTypes so no validation. But… it’s exactly what we need.

We want our ThingApp to accept some props (the todos prop), and return a TodoApp with a specific type prop.

So we could do:

def ThingApp(todos):
    return <TodoApp type="thing" todos={todos} />

Here we can see that we cannot pass type to ThingsApp, it is not a valid argument.

Let’s try it:

print(<ThingApp todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} />)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form>...</form><ul><li>foo</li></ul></div>

Here we have only one prop to pass so it’s easy. But imagine if we have many ones. We can use the {**props} syntax:

def ThingApp(**props):
    return <TodoApp type="thing" {**props} />

And you can do with even fewer characters (if it counts):

ThingApp = lambda **props: <TodoApp type="thing" {**props} />

These two fonctions behave exactly the same.

And you cannot pass a type prop because it would be a python error, as it would be passed twice to TodoApp:

print(<ThingApp todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} type="thing" />)
TypeError: BaseMetaclass object got multiple values for keyword argument 'type'

(yes it talks about BaseMetaclass which is the metaclass that creates our components classes)

And any other wrong props would be validated by TodoApp:

print(<ThingApp todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} foo="bar" />)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropNameError: <TodoApp>.foo: is not an allowed prop

With this in mind, we could have created a generic fonction that force the type of any component accepting a type prop:

Thingify = lambda component, **props: <component type="thing" {**props} />
print(<Thingify component={TodoApp} todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} />)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form>...</form><ul><li>foo</li></ul></div>

The rendered component is TodoApp, the type prop is “thing” and the other props (here only todos) are correctly passed.

Higher-order components

Now extend this concept to a more generic case: “higher-order components”. In React a “high order component”, is “a function that takes a component and returns a new component.”

The idea is:

EnhancedComponent = higherOrderComponent(WrappedComponent)

A classic way of doing it is to return a new component class:

def higherOrderComponent(WrappedComponent):

    class HOC(Element):
        __display_name__ = f"higherOrderComponent({WrappedComponent.__display_name__})"

        class PropTypes(WrappedComponent.PropTypes):
            pass

        def render(self, context):
            return <WrappedComponent {**self.props}>{self.childre()}</WrappedComponent>

    return HOC

Notice how we set the PropTypes class to inherit from the one of the wrapped component, and how we pass all the props to the wrapped component, along with the children. With the returned component will accept the same props, with the same types, as the wrapped one.

And also notice the __display_name__. It will be used in exceptions to let you now the component that raised it. Here, without forcing it, it would have been set to HOC, which is not helpful. Instead, we indicate that it is a transformed version of the passed component.

Here it is a function that does nothing useful.

In our example we could have done this:

def thingify(WrappedComponent):

    class HOC(Element):
        __display_name__ = f"thingify({WrappedComponent.__display_name__})"

        class PropTypes(WrappedComponent.PropTypes):
            __exclude__ = {'type'}

        def render(self, context):
            return <WrappedComponent type="thing" {**self.props}>{self.children()}</WrappedComponent>

    return HOC

Two important things here:

  • notice how we use __exclude__ = {'type'} to remove the type prop from the ones we inherit from WrappedComponent.PropTypes. So the returned component will expect the exact same props as the wrapped one, except for type.
  • we added {self.children()} in the rendered wrapped component, because even if we actually know that the component we’ll wrap, TodoApp, doesn’t take children (it could but it does nothing with them), we cannot say in advance that it will always be the case, and also that this higher-order component won’t be used to wrap another component than TodoApp. So it’s better to always do this.

And now we can create our ThingApp:

ThingApp = thingify(TodoApp)

And use it:

print(<ThingApp todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} />)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form>...</form><ul><li>foo</li></ul></div>

If we try to pass the type:

print(<ThingApp todos={[TodoObject("foo")]} type="thing" />)
mixt.exceptions.InvalidPropNameError: <thingify(TodoApp)>.type: is not an allowed prop

So as planned, we cannot pass the type. And notice how the __display_name__ is used.

Let’s think about how powerful this is.

Let say we want to keep our TodoApp take a list of TodoObject. But we want to get them from a “source”.

We can even directly write it this new higher-order-component in a generic way:

def from_data_source(WrappedComponent, prop_name, get_source):

    class HOC(Element):
        __display_name__ = f"from_data_source({WrappedComponent.__display_name__})"

        class PropTypes(WrappedComponent.PropTypes):
            __exclude__ = {prop_name}

        def render(self, context):
            props = self.props.copy()
            props[prop_name] = get_source(props, context)
            return <WrappedComponent {**props}>{self.children()}</WrappedComponent>

    return HOC

This time, the function from_data_source takes two arguments in addition to the WrappedComponent:

  • prop_name: it’s the name of the prop of the wrapped component to fill with some data
  • get_source: it’s a function that will be called to get the data

Look how we inherited the PropTypes from the wrapped component and how we excluded prop_name. So we don’t have (and can’t) pass the data to our new component.

And then in render, we set a prop to pass to WrappedComponent with the result of a call to get_source.

So let’s write a very simple function (this could be a complicated one with caching, filtering…) that take the props and the context, and returns some data:

def get_todos(props, context):
    # here it could be a call to a database
    return [
        TodoObject("fooooo"),
        TodoObject("baaaar"),
    ]

And we can compose our component:

SourcedTodoApp = from_data_source(TodoApp, 'todos', get_todos)
ThingApp = thingify(SourcedTodoApp)

And run it:

print(<ThingApp />)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form>...</form><ul><li>fooooo</li><li>baaaar</li></ul></div>

It works as expected, and the data is fetched only when the component needs to be rendered.

Context

So, we have a todo list, that can fetch data from an external source. But we may want the data to be different depending on the user.

What we can do, it’s at the main level, get our user and passing it on every component to be sure that each component is able to get the current logged in user.

Wouldn’t it be cumbersome?

Solving this use case is the exact purpose of the Context concept provided by mixt. It is, of course, inspired by the concept of context in React.

And as they said:

Context is designed to share data that can be considered “global” for a tree of React components, such as the current authenticated user, theme, or preferred language.

Creating a context is as simple as creating a component, except that it will inherits from BaseContext and doesn’t need a render method (it will render its children).

And it takes a PropTypes class, that define the types of data the context will accept and pass down the tree.

So let’s create our context that will hold the id of the authenticated user.

from mixt import BaseContext

class UserContext(BaseContext):
    class PropTypes:
        authenticated_user_id: Required[int]

Now, we want to update our get_todos method to take the authenticated_user_id into account.

Remember, we passed it the props and the context. The context will be useful here:

def get_todos(props, context):
    return {
        1:[
            TodoObject("1-1"),
            TodoObject("1-2"),
        ],
        2: [
            TodoObject("2-1"),
            TodoObject("2-2"),
        ]
    }[context.authenticated_user_id]

And now we can render our app with the context:

print(
    <UserContext authenticated_user_id=1>
        <ThingApp />
    </UserContext>
)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form>...</form><ul><li>1-1</li><li>1-2</li></ul></div>

We can see the todo entries for the user 1.

Let’s try with the user 2:

print(
    <UserContext authenticated_user_id=2>
        <ThingApp />
    </UserContext>
)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form>...</form><ul><li>2-1</li><li>2-2</li></ul></div>

We can see the todo entries for the user 2.

In this case of course we could have passed the user id as a prop. But imagine the todo app being deep in the components tree, it’s a lot easier to pass it this way.

But as said in the React documentation:

Don’t use context just to avoid passing props a few levels down. Stick to cases where the same data needs to be accessed in many components at multiple levels.

When there is no context, the context argument of the render method is set to EmptyContext and not to None. So you can directly use the has_prop method to check if a prop is available via the context.

Let’s update the get_todos functions to return an empty list of todo objects if there is not authenticated user.

def get_todos(props, context):
    if not context.has_prop('authenticated_user_id') or not context.authenticated_user_id:
        return []
    return {
        1:[
            TodoObject("1-1"),
            TodoObject("1-2"),
        ],
        2: [
            TodoObject("2-1"),
            TodoObject("2-2"),
        ]
    }[context.authenticated_user_id]

Let’s try this:

print(<ThingApp />)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form>...</form><ul></ul></div>

And it still works with a user in the context:

print(
    <UserContext authenticated_user_id=1>
        <ThingApp />
    </UserContext>
)
<div><h1>The "thing" list</h1><form>...</form><ul><li>1-1</li><li>1-2</li></ul></div>

Important note about contexts: you can have many contexts! But defining the same prop in many contexts may lead to undefined behaviour.

Style and Javascript

Everybody loves a beautiful design, and maybe some interaction.

It is easily doable: we generate HTML and HTML can contains some CSS and JS.

Let’s add some interaction first: when adding an item in the TodoForm, let’s add it to the list.

First we add in our TodoForm component a render_javascript method that will host our (bad, we could do better but it’s not the point) javascript:

class TodoForm(Element):
    # ...

    def render_javascript(self, context):
        return html.Raw("""
function on_todo_add_submit(form) {
    var text = form.todo.value;
    alert(text);
}
        """)

To start we only display the new todo text.

Now update our render method to return this javascript (note that the use of a render_javascript method is only to separate concerns, it could have been in the render method directly.

class TodoForm(Element):
    # ...

    def render(self, context):
        # ...

        return \
            <Fragment>
                <script>{self.render_javascript(context)}</script>
                <form method="post" action={add_url} onsubmit="return on_todo_add_submit(this);">
                    <label>New {self.type}: </label><itext name="todo" />
                    <button type="submit">Add</button>
                </form>
            </Fragment>

Notice the Fragment tag. It’s a way to encapsulate many elements to be returned, like in React. It could have been a simple list but with comas at the end:

return [
    <script>...</script>,
    <form>
        ...
    </form>
]

Now we want to add an item to the list. It’s not the role of the TodoForm to do this, but to the list. So we’ll add some JS in the TodoList component: a function that take some text and create a new entry.

As for TodoForm, we add a render_javascript method with (still bad) javascript:

class TodoList(Element):
    # ...

    def render_javascript(self, context):

        todo_placeholder = <Todo todo={TodoObject(text='placeholder')} />

        return html.Raw("""
TODO_TEMPLATE = "%s";
function add_todo(text) {
    var html = TODO_TEMPLATE.replace("placeholder", text);
    var ul = document.querySelector('#todo-items');
    ul.innerHTML = html + ul.innerHTML;
}
        """ % (todo_placeholder))

And we update our render method to add the <script> tag and an id to the ul tag, used in the javascript:

class TodoList(Element):
    # ...

    def render(self, context):
        return \
            <Fragment>
                <script>{self.render_javascript(context)}</script>
                <ul id="todo-items">{[<Todo todo={todo} /> for todo in self.todos]}</ul>
            </Fragment>

And now we can update the render_javascript method of the TodoForm component to use our new add_toto javascript function:

class TodoForm(Element):
    # ...

    def render_javascript(self, context):
        return html.Raw("""
function on_todo_add_submit(form) {
    var text = form.todo.value;
    add_todo(text);
}
        """)

And that’s all. Nothing special, in fact.

But let’s take a look at the output of ou TodoApp:

print(
    <UserContext authenticated_user_id=1>
        <ThingApp />
    </User>
)

The beautified output is:

<div>
    <h1>The "thing" list</h1>
    <script>
        function on_todo_add_submit(form) {
            var text = form.todo.value;
            add_todo(text);
        }
    </script>
    <form method="post" action="/thing/add" onsubmit="return on_todo_add_submit(this);">
        <label>New thing: </label>
        <input type="text" name="todo" />
        <button type="submit">Add</button>
    </form>
    <script>
        TODO_TEMPLATE = "<li>placeholder</li>";

        function add_todo(text) {
            var html = TODO_TEMPLATE.replace("placeholder", text);
            var ul = document.querySelector('#todo-items');
            ul.innerHTML = html + ul.innerHTML;
        }
    </script>
    <ul id="todo-items">
        <li>1-1</li>
        <li>1-2</li>
    </ul>
</div>

So we have many script tag. It could be great to have only one.

Collectors

mixt comes with a way to “collect” parts of what is rendered to put them somewhere else. We have at our disposal two simple collectors, to be used as components: JSCollector and CSSCollector.

These components collect parts of their children tree.

Collector.Collect

The first way is by using the collector Collect tag.

First let’s change our main call:

from mixt import JSCollector

print(
    <JSCollector render_position="after">
        <UserContext authenticated_user_id=1>
            <ThingApp />
        </User>
    </JSCollector>
)

This will collect the content of all the JSCollector.Collect tag.

Let’s update our TodoForm and replace our script tag by a JSCollector.Collect tag:

class TodoForm(Element):
    # ...

    def render(self, context):

        if callable(self.add_url):
            add_url = self.add_url(self.type)
        else:
            add_url = self.add_url

        return \
                <JSCollector.Collect>{self.render_javascript(context)}</JSCollector.Collect>
                <form method="post" action={add_url} onsubmit="return on_todo_add_submit(this);">
                    <label>New {self.type}: </label><itext name="todo" />
                    <button type="submit">Add</button>
                </form>
            </Fragment>

We can do the same with the TodoList:

class TodoList(Element):
    # ...

    def render(self, context):
        return \
            <Fragment>
                <JSCollector.Collect>{self.render_javascript(context)}</JSCollector.Collect>
                <ul id="todo-items">{[<Todo todo={todo} /> for todo in self.todos]}</ul>
            </Fragment>

Now let’s run our updated code:

print(
    <JSCollector render_position="after">
        <UserContext authenticated_user_id=1>
            <ThingApp />
        </User>
    </JSCollector>
)

The beautified output is:

<div>
    <h1>The "thing" list</h1>
    <form method="post" action="/thing/add" onsubmit="return on_todo_add_submit(this);">
        <label>New thing: </label>
        <input type="text" name="todo" />
        <button type="submit">Add</button>
    </form>
    <ul id="todo-items">
        <li>1-1</li>
        <li>1-2</li>
    </ul>
</div>
<script type="text/javascript">
    function on_todo_add_submit(form) {
        var text = form.todo.value;
        add_todo(text);
    }

    TODO_TEMPLATE = "<li>placeholder</li>";

    function add_todo(text) {
        var html = TODO_TEMPLATE.replace("placeholder", text);
        var ul = document.querySelector('#todo-items');
        ul.innerHTML = html + ul.innerHTML;
    }
</script>

As you can see, all the scripts are in a single script tag, at the end. More precisely, at the end of where the JSCollector tag was, because we used render_position="after". Another possibility is render_position="before" to put this where the JSCollector tag started.

All of this work exactly the same way for the CSSCollector tag, where content is put in a <style type="text/css> tag.

render_[js|css] methods

As using JS/CSS is quite common in the HTML world, we added some sugar to make all of this even easier to do.

If you have a render_js method, the JSCollector will automatically collect the result of this method. Same for CSSSelector and the render_css method.

With this, no need for a JSCollector.Collect tag.

To make this work in our example, in TodoForm and TodoList:

  • remove the JSCollector.Collect tags
  • remove the now unneeded Fragment tags
  • rename the render_javascript methods to render_js.
  • remove the call to html.Raw in render_js as it’s not needed when the collector calls render_js itself: if the output is a string, it is considered a “raw” one

This way we have exactly the same result.

render_[js|css]_global methods

It works now because we only have one instance of a child with a render_js method.

But if we have many children, this method will be called for each child. If fact, it should only contains code that is very specific to this instance.

To serve js/css only once for a Component class, we have to use render_js_global or render_css_global (expected to be classmethod)

It will be collected the first time, and only the first time, an instance is found, before collecting the render_js method.

So here, we can change our render_js to render_js_global, decorate them with @classmethod and it will still work the same.

references

We now are able to regroup javascript or style. But what if we want to put it elsewhere, like in the head tag or at the end of the body tag?

It’s possible with references, aka “refs”. It’s the same context as in React, without the DOM part of course.

You create a ref, pass it to a component, and you can use it anywhere.

Let’s update our main code to do this.

First we create a ref.

from mixt import Ref

js_ref = Ref()

This will create a new object that will hold a reference to a component. In a component, you don’t need to import Ref and can use js_ref = self.add_ref(), but we are not in a component here.

To save a ref, we simply pass it to the ref prop:

<JSCollector ref={js_ref} >...</JSCollector>

Notice that we removed the render_position prop, because now we don’t want the JS to be put before or after the tag, but elsewhere.

To access the component referenced by a ref, use the current attribute:

js_collector = js_ref.current

Of course this can be done only AFTER the rendering.

How can we use this to add a script tag in our head.

First update our html to include the classic html, head and body tags:

return str(
    <html>
        <head>
        </head>
        <body>
            <JSCollector ref={js_ref} >
                <UserContext authenticated_user_id=1>
                    <ThingApp />
                </UserContext>
            </JSCollector>
        </body>
    </html>
)

At this point we don’t have any script tag in the output:

<html>

<head></head>

<body>
    <div>
        <h1>The "thing" list</h1>
        <form method="post" action="/thing/add" onsubmit="return on_todo_add_submit(this);">
            <label>New thing: </label>
            <input type="text" name="todo" />
            <button type="submit">Add</button>
        </form>
        <ul id="todo-items">
            <li>1-1</li>
            <li>1-2</li>
        </ul>
    </div>
</body>

</html>

First thing to know: a collector is able to render all the things it collected by calliing its render_collected method.

And remembering that it already includes the script tag, we may want to do this:

# ...
<head>
    {js_ref.current.render_collected()}
</head>
# ...

but this doesn’t work:

AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'render_collected'

It’s because we try to access the current value at render time. It must be done after.

For this, we can use a feature of mixt: if something added to the tree is a callable, it will be called after the rendering, when converting to string.

So we can use for example a lambda:

# ...
<head>
    {lambda: js_ref.current.render_collected()}
</head>
# ...

And now it works:

<html>

<head>
    <script type="text/javascript">
        function on_todo_add_submit(form) {
            var text = form.todo.value;
            add_todo(text);
        }

        TODO_TEMPLATE = "<li>placeholder</li>";

        function add_todo(text) {
            var html = TODO_TEMPLATE.replace("placeholder", text);
            var ul = document.querySelector('#todo-items');
            ul.innerHTML = html + ul.innerHTML;
        }
    </script>
</head>

<body>
    <div>
        <h1>The "thing" list</h1>
        <form method="post" action="/thing/add" onsubmit="return on_todo_add_submit(this);">
            <label>New thing: </label>
            <input type="text" name="todo" />
            <button type="submit">Add</button>
        </form>
        <ul id="todo-items">
            <li>1-1</li>
            <li>1-2</li>
        </ul>
    </div>
</body>

</html>

User guide conclusion

Hurray we made it! All the main features of mixt explained. You can now use mixt in your ovn projects.

API

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