If I understand it correctly, it allows you to achieve reactive data flow in a single page app without any boilerplate.
Meaning - you update the database on the server and all the relevant UI(s) will automatically receive the updated data and re-render only the parts of the UI that display that data.
Haven't tried it yet, but very curious to see if it works.
At least their system is only 2k LOC, which will presumably be well documented.
Their implementation is 2k lines of code. The React repo has 350k lines of code. The Rails repo has 336k lines of code (both of those according to tokei). Of course this includes tests, lots of other stuff, etc. But still, that's two orders of magnitude.
BTW: code is very easy to read/follow
My two cents :)
> React has one job, and it does it really well
I'm not sure I agree. It's hard to compare without a minimal copy of React to see how small it can get, but I'm guessing it could be an order of magnitude smaller. For example, React supports different ways of doing things (class components, function compenents, hooks). Backwards compatibility is a great thing, but it's not the same as "having one job and doing it well", it's a different tradeoff. The React team has lots of people that depends on their code, and thus choose stability over being small and nimble. I think that's a responsible choice. But this leads to complexity, and losing the "having one job and doing it well".
As a more general remark, there's a cycle in software. React starts small and nimble, especially compared to the "jQuery behemots of the past". It gets really popular. So people start depending on it. So it grows, and grows, and grows. And then someone else comes out, maybe Photon, maybe Svelte, maybe something else. Compared to React, it's small and nimble. Maybe in 10 years, Photon will be really popular, will be 200k lines of code, and someone will build an alternative because it's too big and complex.
Edit: as a more meta-remark: My message is way longer than yours because I was trying to steelman my argument, and you didn't do the same with yours. Considering you made a small message "defending" React and I did a long one "defending" Photon, I think we already agree about the tradeoffs involved here.
loc in a node project is hard to judge due to packages and the aforementioned mono repo difference, but the preact functional build artefact is an order of magnitude smaller:
129KiB v 8.2KiB
react = 3k
react-dom = 15k
I also wouldn’t presume good documentation as a general rule. That’s something that must be proven, not presumed.
1) How often do you actually need to read your framework. I used rails for years and read probably less than 2KLOC out of it, ditto with Java and Spring. Good documentation beats out small code bases.
2) How much of the size difference between these two is down to age and uses? Is React so big because it’s unfocused or poorly written, or is that a consequence of it being used by so many people and projects? If it’s the latter, shouldn’t we expect that this project will end up growing if it got popular, eroding the benefit of its small size.?
This brings us full circle to the question that started this conversation branch:
> it’s great until you hit a bug, and then you realize you have no idea what’s going on under all the automagical stuff
With React and Rails, "hitting a bug" is apparently rare. Maybe we should wait before assuming it will be any different with this Reactive Clojure framework.
So I think many people don't need to read anything but just pop into Google read what it is + get the fix.
In smaller frameworks and libraries I am more tempted to just check what the issue is in the source and report a bug if it was not just me being stupid again, but that is also because pasting it in Google might get no results at all.
I remember when just starting out with Rails, my rails colleagues all read the source of everything when there were issues or lack of docs; this was very early on (first public version); now I know no one who does that anymore.
I really would like something that stays small and is around in 10 years and my experience with Clojure is good in that respect. And Haskel projects. Those things that keep growing and keep adding dependencies are nightmares but what can I do.
I don’t know how it was implemented, but Quora had this back in its early days (~2012). There was some mechanism that "remembered" which table lines were used to generate which UI component, and when that data changed you had a live-reload in your browser. That was really cool to see at the time; I’d love to have more background on its implementation.
I really don't like that idea. It seems to me inefficient and error prone.
Let's say you're updating a database. You add some records to one table, and you update some records to some other tables.
If the program automagically updates the UI, then on the first change it will attempt to update the UI (causing lots of processing) , then on the 2nd change to the database it'll update the UI again, and on and on for each change.
Wouldn't it be better to make all your changes to the database then only after that run an updatePage() funiction that updates the web page?
"Sounds really slow and chatty right? Actually, NO!
This is not RPC or ORM. The key is to make the language, compiler and runtime in charge of the network, like the JVM owns the heap. Idealized client/server network IO (better than could ever be coded by hand) is an explicit design goal.
How does it work? Functional programming:
- `photon/defn` is a macro that compiles Clojure syntax (s-expressions) to a dataflow signal graph (DAG).
- The DAG is lifted and compiled into Missionary reactive signals. Missionary manages reactive execution (incremental maintenance such that a small adjustment to inputs results in a small adjustment to outputs)."
It's great that people are innovating and creating new abstractions, and I'm sure there are apps where the tradeoff is worth it (internal CRUD-focused enterprise stuff comes to mind), but my knee-jerk reaction for a large app is that it will make easy things easier and hard things much harder.
I also have long been looking for a framework that makes easy things easier.
Clicking on multiple dates takes time to transition between the two.
This sounds absolutely terrifying from a security perspective...
What's to stop a malicious client from broadcasting code that deletes my entire database?
Some overlap, but these are essentially two different things.
> What's to stop a malicious client from broadcasting code that deletes my entire database?
What if your runtime state includes an `is_authorized` flag or similar? How do you guarantee that this state remains server-side when the entire language conflates server/client side code?
For this to work, there needs to be language-level support for distinguishing untrusted inputs from trusted ones, or else it's a recipe for disaster.
(let [token (get-client-token)]
(let [username (get-username db token)]
(dom/p "Hello " username))))))
It's the same system you'd use in normal server/client architecture, just inlined.
That does mean you are trusting the library to implement these macros correctly. In that sense, data security for these symbol bindings is a responsibility of the library, and therefore a risk, as is called out lower on the page.
Once the library is complete however, and a larger part of the community has been able to inspect it, this type of bug should not be an issue. It's one of the most fundamental concerns of the library.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) it's also a corner-stone of computing in general
For those working in Typescript, Blitz.js seems to do a great job at drastically decreasing the plumbing you have to write to shuttle data between Postgres and React. There’s also a ton of goodies like auth built in. From my first impression it’s the closest the JS community has ever come to a Django, and that’s very high praise in my book.
I wish there was somewhere to follow updates that wasn't Twitter though.
It's the best dev environment I've used for any language. It's brilliant.
On Windows I use it with WSL2 and its works just as well as on linux IME.
This project looks very cool! I like the focus on composition, Meteor was lacking that (and really, most other frameworks do as well).
The LiveView lead resurgence in server side rendering is exciting. Does anyone have any insight as to why ShareDB never really took off?
Then specifically for Derby/Share JS they didn't put enough resources into the project to make it good enough compared to the alternatives.
It's really too bad they bound it so tightly to the framework, as I think there's a chance it could have succeeded as a language in itself. But these reactive shared-code things never seem to work out.
I think what we are seeing with these tools to make data synchronization in the frontend more invisible will continue to proliferate.
I am looking forward to the next, rich landscape of interactivity on the web powered by WASM, WebGL, etc.
All of which will likely be a broken mess on iOS thanks to Apple
However I think it’s missing the point of de-coupling. Security would be very hard to reason about, as would handling of intermittent network connections when the real structure of the client and server are abstracted away from you.
Ultimately I think GraphQL with live queries is the best model for this type of reactive work. You get a decoupled client/server, reactivity, support for mobile clients as you have an API, as well as full type-safety on the client.
Nonetheless I applaud the creativity on display here and I hope I’m proven wrong. Maybe this will be the next paradigm shift? Who knows
At first I tried Macromedia Coldfusion, later acquired by Adobe. Now that I checked on it, it seems to be going strong, to my surprise. It was too hard for me. And it was closed software. There was no way for me to learn it without spending money on it. And it wasn't what I was really looking for.
But I just needed something simple. Something to tinker with. So I found PHP. It was exactly what I needed at the time. Later I also found MySQL.
The amount of garbage required to build a single website is enormous. So enormous that we have gone a full circle and people start using static site generators to create pure HTML sites. Because of speed and few other reasons.
So I got to thinking, why is it that we're building webshops with all these open source technologies, with a huge amount of overhead and "bloat", when all you really need is a few simple things.
Well, as the creator said it, there are a lot of unknowns. Huge learning curve etc. But that's how Linux got started, as a tinkering platform. I really think this is the right path to take. Making an open source web programming language, that handles all the needs directly built-in. I totally agree with the philosophy and if you will, proposed abstraction, of the problem at hand.
But also, it makes me shiver to look at the code and not understand it. So much to learn. But it gives me hope to see, that other's have come to the same conclusions. Looking forward to hearing more!
Once that lightbulb of the power of a Lisp goes off, there's no turning back. As Eric S. Raymond said, "Lisp is worth learning for the profound enlightenment experience you will have when you finally get it; that experience will make you a better programmer for the rest of your days, even if you never actually use Lisp itself a lot."
There are concrete similarities to PHP, which is effectively what this server/client macro setup gives you at a superficial level. However, from what I'm seeing, this will behave more like a LiveView or Hotwire, with the focus being on optimizing network requests in an automated manner.
My big question with the tool is this: if you're passing environments back and forth, how secure can this feasibly be? Is there an automated limit on what will be considered based on the generated code? How do you handle malicious environments?
FoxPro (& dBase) is a realization of the concept: To deal with databases, you need a database language.
Exist a lot of minor things that our apparent "general-purpose" languages lack in the moment you need to deal with certain niches. From very small stuff as not-even available decimals, dates, currencies, units types, to lack of simple way to transform data, to ad-hoc queries, to ad-hoc data validations, to lack of relationship modeling, etc.
Even if you say "linq!, ActiveRecord!, functional!, lisp!, pandas!..." and others all that are a shadow of what the dBase family provides.
How far? I was not in worry about all the stuff everyone worry about today (injection? orms? impedance mismatch? reactivity? <- an over-complicated patch on top of unfit languages for it, so kudos for this idea!). That is what make me put some time aside in build a language in the spirit of it, because is so much details that are not available if the languages is not designed with data(as of the kind of business) in mind.
So, in short, most languages, even php, python, ruby, ... are not that good for web programming (and worse for database programming!), just that are not that terrible, either.
These are problems with any framework, but the more all-in-one a framework attempts to be the harder it is to get in between the joints with your glue gun to fix things up.
That said, this is Clojure and usually you have pretty easy access to all the intermediate bits and bobs and macros so maybe it’ll be great.
- A system that starts with our database schema
- a language in the front-end that abstracts away server connection and db access
- this imaginary language should allow defining react-like components but treat the db as a local datastore
- Most clients are UI stricture interpolated with that user’s data queried from the central db. So this imaginary front-end language should allow querying from user-level views from the db
Most of what I read from the post, looks like a realization of this dream.
- a language in the front-end that abstracts away server connection and db access"
Optimal data layout for storage and for processing / presentation can be quite different. Automatically mapping one to another I think can not be efficiently implemented in automatic fashion. I've tried different frameworks that claim to achieve it but at some point you always hit the wall. As a result I've long abandoned all those attempts and do manual transformation in code that are optimal for my particular situations
The author is mixing the frontend (Clojurescript and Reagent) code with the backend (Clojure and Datomic) code in the same expression. Then through their magical system and the beauty of lisp, they pull the frontend and backend parts out to serve them separately.
I would say that I am very happy with the FE stack of reagent / reframe at the core. I have long chased the dragon of co-located queries ala GraphQL instead of basic re-frame subscriptions, or redux.connect and pulling fields off a map. Obviously having the ability to be more expressive with data queries is great, but in reality I have come to settle on basic subscriptions into maps, syncing data into my db via events. It's not super pretty but it scales!
This seems like it's trying to push the needle, and I will it.
Well done, @dustingetz!
buildsystems are increasingly doing the heavy lifting of telling backend how to deliver a pre-hydrated frontend, and telling frontend how to speak backend's language
would be nicer if this was just types and schemas, so you didn't have to use a full-stack framework to get full-stack accelerations and linting
The runtime figures out an efficient and reactive way of parceling out work to the server as needed, and refreshing it only when necessary.
"The core ideas are as follows:
Graphs and Graph Queries are a great way to generalize data models.
UI trees are directed graphs that can easily be "fed" from graph queries.
User-driven operations are modeled as transactions whose values are simply data (that look like calls).
Arbitrary graphs of data from the server need to be normalized (as in database normalization):
UI trees often repeat parts of the graph.
Local Manipulation of data obtained from a graph needs to be de-duped.
Composition is King. Seamless composition is a key component of software sustainability."
Highly recommend reading through this section: https://book.fulcrologic.com/#FullStack
So now there's a React hook (useDeno) that takes a callback that is only executed on the server-side, and the returned value is sent back to the client side transparently.
To my taste, all of that is way too overcomplicated. I don't know why we need to make writing and maintaining web pages more complex with every year that goes by. To my mind, this industry looks completely derailed.
This lets you write a function where some of the code runs on the client, some of the code runs on the server, and the compiler figures out which and emits the network RPC calls for you.
That's not the kind of apps I want to build. I want workspaces where I can make and edit and work freely. I don't care to be online to do it, and conserving bandwidth is not a constraint that should define how I use it.
The DAG goes from me to me.
I'm thinking about autocomplete that on new user input (needle='ad') filters previous result from server (needle='a') in the client before server returns a new response from new input (needle='ad').
Essentially can inner parts of expression update even when they are somewhat dependent on reactive data from server that comes from their parent expression?
We kinda have that with livewire and inertia and as awesome as they are (no separate api etc) they also suffer from the “magic”
I think more and more the lines are blurred between open source projects, and products. This is good and bad.
It's good because people making money out of open source projects probably means more open source projects, more support available, and a healthier tech industry.
It's bad because as someone with no intention of turning a few open source libraries into a full time job, there's still an expectation of a certain level of polish to them that makes more sense for products. Open source projects with clever names, logos, mission statements, a domain name and marketing site/landing page, marketing copy, flashy documentation, a live preview environment, etc. These are all a lot of work for an open source project, but the stakes are raised to this level by the productised open source projects that can afford to fund this sort of thing.
This is true, but I also think it's worth evaluating whether the lines along which we've been decoupling applications is the right one. Typically, the line of demarcation has been the client/server boundary, for a bunch of reasons: security considerations (it's also a trust boundary); different computational environment. This split has reinforced itself with the organization of companies into frontend/backend teams.
Which is to say, I'm excited that people are looking at alternatives (not just this; LiveView was on HN yesterday as well).
Do we build the client-side on the sever, and render? Why no, that would be PHP.
Let's build the client-side in the browser, and rig a series of complex code-generating primitives disguised by the beauty of a language, to AJAX our way to a presumably good-enough solution.
I think its a serious question whether apps built with this are more performant, easier to use, (and so on) than the equivalent PHP-approach.
The general idea being to abstract away the difference between client and server code, so that you can write code that handles both, in a single file.
> There has got to be a better way
What's offensive about the OP to you? Is it just that you don't like functional programming / Clojure (fair, that's ultimately a matter of taste / aesthetics at some level)? Or is there something about the technical implementation you think is suboptimal?
I am using Hotwire for a project, and I'm learning Elixir and Phoenix on the side. Finding edelvalle/reactor was immediately helpful to me though, because I cut my teeth on Python/Django, so reading a Python reference implementation helps me learn nuts and bolts of libraries, faster. (so, I figure that this might help someone else grok how these approaches work.)
Have you found any issues with Reactor, areas where it's behind Hotwire, etc?
Implementing this would however smear your logic all over your client and server and require careful plumbing. SSE doesn't come without caveats either.
The suggested approach here is to abstract away from that plumbing and move to a more declarative, composable expression. Whether you want that or not really depends. I see this as a specialized paradigm to solve a specific category of problems.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding this project but it seems like abstractions on top of abstractions and has little to do with being a "web language". That was PHP, for better or for worse.
The model is this: run-once-and-die + build-it-on-the-server.
Those two ideas are extremely powerful, a little like immutability, in that they rule out a huge number of issues. The issue with PHP wasn't this model which became associated with the morass of amateurs using the language. A shame.
Case in point: PHP worked well, but framework like Rails and Django became very attractive because their offered more, and used languages that could be good outside of their niche.
And what did the PHP community to stay relevant ? They developed great frameworks, and improved the non web language capabilities.
Turns out the web moves fast, and coding a web app is more than web programming anyway.
I don’t recall Clojure being a web centric language like PHP, ASP, etc.
Clojure (JVM target) can do back-end web as well as Java can, as well as anything else that Java can.
Clojure is a general-purpose programming language, so it can do pretty much anything.
Maybe I’ve been in Node.js land too long, but I don’t get why this is better for my productivity or my ability to create efficient web apps.
Also, I can’t edit it right now, but would like to apologize for saying it’s “insanely hard to read”. That was rather harsh and uncalled for.