prayerslayer
js.spec

Updated 5 months ago

js.spec

Add semantics to your data structures and get parsing, validation & more for free.

There is clojure.spec, a part of Clojure's core library that is intended to help with specification, testing and error messages. I recommend you to read the linked rationale, you will get the gist even without knowledge of Clojure. In any case here's my best attempt of a summary:

In a dynamic language like Javascript or Clojure it is common to represent information with data. For instance, you could encode the score of a soccer match with a list of two integers [0, 1]. (In a statically typed language like Java the idiomatic way would be an instance of a SoccerScore class.) This data is passed around between modules of your code or sent to external systems, yet the knowledge about what this list of integers stands for is not available anywhere. Maybe you described it in the project's documentation, which is likely outdated. Most probably it is implicitly assumed in your code (var goals_scored = score[0] + score[1];). If the semantics change (e.g. list contains also teams), your code breaks.

One way to mitigate this is by static analysis tools (Flow) or typed languages (Typescript), but they only get you so far. For instance they don't work at runtime (duh!) and offer limited expressiveness. (They also need more tooling, but that's another story.) So what you're left with is manual parsing and checking, which is repetitive and half-assed at worst (if (!Array.isArray(score)) ...), and non-standard at best, ie. there is no way for users of your function to know where exactly their provided input failed your specification.

Another issue is that schemas get more popular in the Javascript community (JSON Schema, React.PropTypes...), yet there is no uniform way to define them. Error messages differ from system to system. You can't port your schemas, but need to define them multiple times in different syntax.

js.spec tries to solve those problems.