Some fun with Esri JS API and RxJS

Some fun with Esri JS API and RxJS

Rene Rubalcava | August 12, 2014

What the

So I get pretty bored. For the past year or so I've been learning some functional programming stuff, and like most things it has snowballed into tons of little side projects and experiments. A few months ago I attended this online workshop from FrontendMasters and it totally melted my brain. I highly recommend it when the course becomes available.

This has lead me to really diving into some functional reactive programming, which honestly, I don't think I have really grasped yet, but you can read the reactive manifesto and this popular answer on stack overflow. I think this quote from that answer sums up my naive understanding of FRP.

...FRP is about "datatypes that represent a value 'over time'"

So what

I've been experimenting with various functional libraries using Leaflet to play around with, but had yet to really try to use anything with my Esri JS development, mainly because Dojo as a library has everything I need for production dev, but even it's own dojox/lang/functional library is pretty sparse and poorly documented at the moment.

One frp library I really liked was Bacon.js, but I couldn't find a way to have it play nice with Dojo Evented modules. Then I tried RxJS which lo and behold, even has a sample on how to use with Dojo using the fromEventPattern method.

Really, so what

With that in hand, I tweaked this sample from the Esri JS docs to use RxJS to convert events and promises to streams.

Geometry Service: Relation

The interesting part is probably the Observable of the promises that do the drive time analysis and finds the local pizza places.

Rx.Observable.fromPromise(new all({
  poiSearch: executeLocalSearch(clickPointGraphic),
  driveTimes: getDriveTimePolygon(clickPointGraphic)
  .map(function(results) {
    // This is the cool part
    // before the results go to the handler
    // map over them and do some transformations.
    // In this case, each result will be passed to other
    // other methods and used to build the
    // drive time RelationParameters.
    // This makes the relateGeometries method much cleaner.
    if ( results.poiSearch || results.driveTimes ) {
    var relationParams = new RelationParameters();
    relationParams.geometries1 = graphicsUtils.getGeometries(baseGraphics);
    relationParams.geometries2 =
    relationParams.relation = RelationParameters.SPATIAL_REL_WITHIN;
    return relationParams;

Notice how you can map over the results before they go to the handler. This allows you to transform the data and tweak it as needed before the handler gets it. In this case, I use it to create parameters for another method. This allowed me to remove this code from the original handler. There is a lot you can do with this interim methods. The promises are now a stream, and you can inject other methods into the stream to do cool stuff like this. This is a pretty simple sample, but I'm still learning all this stuff.

The next thing I want to try is integrating this RxJS-Dojo extension into some test projects.

So I may be totally missing the mark on all this and in the end may not find I like using it in my Esri JS/Dojo projects, but I'll definitely be using these libraries with other things I am working on. Functional and Reactive seem to be the latest buzzwords for the past couple of years, but ignore that and give it a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised.