Framework-X: A reasonable programming framework.

Framework-X is a Javascript framework that separates code from its execution, allowing the representation of programmer intent to exist independently of when, where and how it's performed.

Using pure functions, Framework-X obtains algebraic effect descriptions of desired consequences before evaluating them in the context of the implementations you've defined.

Its overall design borrows from re-frame, a pioneering front-end framework written in Clojurescript. Like re-frame, Framework-X applications are relatively terse. Apps can be written in Framework-X with about 40% fewer lines of code than Redux.

We've been using Framework-X in mid-size production applications at CoNarrative for the past 2 years and are releasing it today under the MIT license.

How it works

Events and event handlers

Events in Framework-X are identified by their name. They may have data associated with them. Calling dispatch with an event name sends a message to the framework that can be interpreted to have effects.

<button onClick={() => dispatch('add-todo', { text: 'Use Framework-X.' })}>
  Add todo

Event handlers, or eventFx, specify what effects an event has. They receive the current application state, the payload that was sent with the event, and return descriptions of what should happen.

Framework-X has two built-in effects, db and dispatch. db describes a state change as a function of the current state. This makes it similar to a Redux reducer, but with fewer restrictions.

The dispatch effect achieves the same result (sending a message) as our button component above. Under the covers, it does so in a pure functional way, since it does not execute the side effect directly. We use it in an eventFx to define the effects of one event in terms of another.

regEventFx('add-todo', ({ db }, { text }) => {
  return [
    fx.db(updateIn(['todos'], R.append({ text, done: false }))),
    fx.dispatch('set-todo-text', '')
regEventFx('set-todo-text', (_, todoText) => {
  return [
    fx.db(R.assoc('newTodoText', todoText))

Framework-X will run these effects in the order we've defined.

We can use this to build up a list of things we want Framework-X to do for us. For example, when there's 'add-todo' event, we can write an eventFx handler that will add the new todo to our list in the global state, set the new todo input text to blank, make an API request to add the todo on the server, and set the loading flag to true:

const addTodoHandler = ({ db }, { text }) => {
  return [
    ['db', updateIn(['todos'], R.append({ text, done: false }))],
    ['dispatch', ['set-todo-text', '']],
    ['fetch', [
      { method: 'POST', url: '/api/new-todo', body: text },
    ['db', R.assoc('loading', true)]

regEventFx('add-todo', addTodoHandler)

console.log(addTodoHandler({}, { text: 'Hi' }))
//  [['db', function],
//   ['dispatch', ['set-todo-text', '']],
//   ['fetch', [
//       { method: 'POST', url: '/api/new-todo', body: 'Hi' },
//       'new-todo/success', 
//       'new-todo/fail'
//     ]],
//   ['db', function]]

Invoking an event handler returns a plan of what to do. Framework-X will carry it out for us by going through it, looking up the definition for each effect (db, dispatch, fetch) and evaluating them using whatever definition we've given.

We can define the fetch effect with regFx. Framework-X will treat any function registered with regFx as an impure function, performing them lazily after all state effects are complete.

const createFetchFx = ({ fetch }) => 
  (env, [{ url, method = 'GET', body }, successEvent, failureEvent]) => {
    const { fx: { dispatch }} = env
    fetch(url, { method, body })
      .then(res => res.json())
      .then(json => dispatch(env, [successEvent, json]))
      .catch(e => dispatch(env, [failureEvent, e]))

const fakeFetchFx = ({ responses }) =>
  (env, [{ url, method = 'GET', body }, successEvent, failureEvent]) => {
    dispatch(env, [successEvent, R.path([method, url], responses)])
  process.env.NODE_ENV === 'test'
    ? fakeFetchFx({ responses: {'GET': {'api/new-todo': { status: 201 }}} }) 
    : createFetchFx({ fetch: typeof window !== 'undefined' && window.fetch }))

Like all effects, Framework-X will interpret fetch however you tell it to, using whatever definition you've supplied at runtime. You can define different implementations for different contexts, like one where window.fetch isn't available (a test or server environment), when you don't want the normal behavior (a test mock), or to provide the same behavior in a different way (using a library like axios instead of the Fetch API).

Errors and continuations

When an error occurs while processing an event, Framework-X can pause its execution and delegate to error handlers to determine how to proceed. Error handlers can rewrite and reorder the current stack and resume execution with different instructions.

Framework-X's error tools use this API (currently in alpha) to display the originally dispatched event, the effect that caused the error, the effects have been performed so far, and the ones that are up next. Developers can see and edit this data in the browser and resume program execution with their changes.

Derived values

Framework-X removes local state and logic concerns from the component layer by making it convenient to subscribe to functions that produce precomputed data from the global state.

Subscriptions are composed of named functions called selectors that take the global state and output something.

You can use the output of one selector as the input to another to progressively build up meaning from others.

export const allTodos = R.path(['todos'])

export const doneTodos = derive([allTodos], R.filter(R.prop('done')))

export const notDoneTodos = derive([allTodos], R.reject(R.prop('done')))

export const visibilityFilter = derive([routeParams], R.propOr(VISIBILITY_FILTER.ALL, 'filter'))

export const visibleTodos = derive(
  [visibilityFilter, allTodos, doneTodos, notDoneTodos],
  (filter, all, done, notDone) => {
    switch (filter) {
        return done
        return notDone
        return all
        throw new Error(`Unknown visibility filter: ${filter}`)

Components can easily receive data derived from the global state by subscribing to selector functions.

export const VisibleTodosList = component('VisibleTodosList',
  createSub({ todos: visibleTodos, editTodo }),
  ({ todos, editTodo }) =>
    <ul className="todo-list">
      {todos.map(({ id, text, done }, i) => {
          const isEditing = editTodo && id === editTodo.id
          return (
            <li key={i} className={isEditing ? 'editing' : undefined}>
               ? <EditTodoTextInput />
               : <TodoItem {...{ id, text, done}} />}

Next steps

The source code for the project is available at https://github.com/CoNarrative/framework-x.

For the quickest way to dive in, check out the RealWorld example or the todomvc example on codesandbox.io.

If you're interested in how to use Framework-X with an existing Redux application, check out framework-x-redux on Github.

API documentation is available at framework-x.io.

You can follow us on Twitter @framework-x.

@2020 CoNarrative Inc.