Asynchronous JavaScript with async/await

In this course we will learn how to use the ES2017 async and await keywords to write asynchronous code that is more readable and easier to follow than equivalent code based on long promise chains or deeply nested callbacks.

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TypeScript 2.2: Mixin Classes

TypeScript aims to support common JavaScript patterns used in different frameworks and libraries. Starting with TypeScript 2.2, mixin classes are one such pattern that is now supported statically. This post briefly explains what mixins are and then goes on to show a few examples of how they can be used in TypeScript.

Mixins in JavaScript/TypeScript

A mixin class is a class that implements a distinct aspect of functionality. Other classes can then include the mixin and access its methods and properties. That way, mixins provide a form of code reuse that is based on composing behavior.

[A mixin is] a function that

  1. takes a constructor,
  2. declares a class that extends that constructor,
  3. adds members to that new class, and
  4. returns the class itself.

Source: Announcing TypeScript 2.2 RC

With the definition out of the way, let's dive into some code. Here's a Timestamped mixin that tracks the creation date of an object in a timestamp property:

type Constructor<T = {}> = new (...args: any[]) => T;

function Timestamped<TBase extends Constructor>(Base: TBase) {
    return class extends Base {
        timestamp = Date.now();
    };
}

There are quite a few things happening here. Let's start off by dissecting the type alias at the top:

type Constructor<T = {}> = new (...args: any[]) => T;

The type Constructor<T> is an alias for the construct signature that describes a type which can construct objects of the generic type T and whose constructor function accepts an arbitrary number of parameters of any type. It uses a generic parameter default (introduced with TypeScript 2.3) to specify that T should be treated as the {} type unless specified otherwise.

Next, let's look at the mixin function itself:

function Timestamped<TBase extends Constructor>(Base: TBase) {
    return class extends Base {
        timestamp = Date.now();
    };
}

Here we have a function called Timestamped that accepts a parameter called Base of the generic type TBase. Note that TBase is constrained to be compatible with Constructor, that is, the type must be able to construct something.

Within the body of the function, we create and return a new class that derives from Base. This syntax might look a little strange at first. We're creating a class expression rather than a class declaration, the more common way of defining classes. Our new class defines a single property called timestamp and immediately assigns the number of milliseconds elapsed since the UNIX epoch.

Note that the class expression returned from the mixin function is an unnamed class expression because the class keyword is not followed by a name. In contrast to class declarations, class expressions don't have to be named. You could optionally add a name which would be local to the class' body and would allow the class to refer to itself:

function Timestamped<TBase extends Constructor>(Base: TBase) {
    return class Timestamped extends Base {
        timestamp = Date.now();
    };
}

Now that we've covered the two type aliases and the declaration of the mixin function, let's see how we can include the mixin in another class:

class User {
    name: string;

    constructor(name: string) {
        this.name = name;
    }
}

// Create a new class by mixing "Timestamped" into "User"
const TimestampedUser = Timestamped(User);

// Instantiate the new "TimestampedUser" class
const user = new TimestampedUser("John Doe");

// We can now access properties from both the "User" class
// and our "Timestamped" mixin in a type-safe manner
console.log(user.name);
console.log(user.timestamp);

The TypeScript compiler understands that we've created and used a mixin here. Everything is fully statically typed and we get the usual tooling support such as autocompletion and refactorings.

Mixins with a Constructor

Now, let's move on to a slightly more advanced mixin. This time, we're going to define a constructor within our mixin class:

function Tagged<TBase extends Constructor>(Base: TBase) {
    return class extends Base {
        tag: string | null;

        constructor(...args: any[]) {
            super(...args);
            this.tag = null;
        }
    };
}

If you define a constructor function in a mixin class, it must have a single rest parameter of type any[]. The reason for this is that the mixin should not be tied to a specific class with known constructor parameters; therefore the mixin should accept an arbitrary number of arbitrary values as constructor parameters. All of the parameters are passed to the constructor of Base, and then the mixin does its thing. In our case, it initializes the tag property.

We would use the Tagged mixin in the same way that we used Timestamped before:

// Create a new class by mixing "Tagged" into "User"
const TaggedUser = Tagged(User);

// Instantiate the new "TaggedUser" class
const user = new TaggedUser("John Doe");

// We can now access properties from both the "User" class
// and our "Tagged" mixin in a type-safe manner
user.name = "Jane Doe";
user.tag = "janedoe";

Mixins with Methods

Up until now, we've only added data properties in our mixins. Let's now look at a mixin that additionally implements two methods:

function Activatable<TBase extends Constructor>(Base: TBase) {
    return class extends Base {
        isActivated = false;

        activate() {
            this.isActivated = true;
        }

        deactivate() {
            this.isActivated = false;
        }
    };
}

We're returning a regular ES2015 class from our mixin function. This means you can make use of all supported class features, such as constructors, properties, methods, getters/setters, static members, and so on.

One more time, here's how we would use the Activatable mixin with our User class:

const ActivatableUser = Activatable(User);

// Instantiate the new "ActivatableUser" class
const user = new ActivatableUser("John Doe");

// Initially, the "isActivated" property is false
console.log(user.isActivated);

// Activate the user
user.activate();

// Now, "isActivated" is true
console.log(user.isActivated);

Composing Multiple Mixins

The flexibility of mixins becomes apparent once you start composing them. A class can include as many mixins as you like! To demonstrate this, let's compose all the mixins we've seen in this post:

const SpecialUser = Activatable(Tagged(Timestamped(User)));
const user = new SpecialUser("John Doe");

Now, I'm not sure whether the SpecialUser class is terribly useful, but the point is, TypeScript statically understands this sort of mixin composition. The compiler can type-check all usages and suggest available members within the autocompletion list:

TypeScript autocompletion list of mixed-in members

Contrast this with class inheritance and you'll see the difference: A class can only have a single base class. Inheriting from multiple base classes is not possible in JavaScript and therefore, neither in TypeScript.

Further Reading

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