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A blog and website by Peter Bengtsson

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Lazy-load Firebase Firestore and Firebase Authentication in Preact

02 September 2020 0 comments   Web development, Web Performance, JavaScript, Preact


I'm working on a Firebase app called That's Groce! based on preact-cli, with TypeScript, and I wanted to see how it appears with or without Firestore and Authenticated lazy-loaded.

In the root, there's an app.tsx that used look like this:

import { FunctionalComponent, h } from "preact";
import { useState, useEffect } from "preact/hooks";

import firebase from "firebase/app";
import "firebase/auth";
import "firebase/firestore";

import { firebaseConfig } from "./firebaseconfig";

const app = firebase.initializeApp(firebaseConfig);

const App: FunctionalComponent = () => {
  const [auth, setAuth] = useState<firebase.auth.Auth | null>(null);
  const [db, setDB] = useState<firebase.firestore.Firestore | null>(null);

  useEffect(() => {
    const appAuth = app.auth();
    setAuth(appAuth);
    appAuth.onAuthStateChanged(authStateChanged);

    const db = firebase.firestore();
    setDB(db);
  }, []);

...

While this works, it does make a really large bundle when both firebase/firestore and firebase/auth imported in the main bundle. In fact, it looks like this:

▶ ls -lh build/*.esm.js
-rw-r--r--  1 peterbe  staff   510K Sep  1 14:13 build/bundle.0438b.esm.js
-rw-r--r--  1 peterbe  staff   5.0K Sep  1 14:13 build/polyfills.532e0.esm.js

510K is pretty hefty to have to ask the client to download immediately. It's loaded like this (in build/index.html):

<script crossorigin="anonymous" src="/bundle.0438b.esm.js" type="module"></script>
<script nomodule src="/polyfills.694cb.js"></script>
<script nomodule defer="defer" src="/bundle.a4a8b.js"></script>

To lazy-load this

To lazy-load the firebase/firestore and firebase/auth you do this instead:

...

const App: FunctionalComponent = () => {
  const [auth, setAuth] = useState<firebase.auth.Auth | null>(null);
  const [db, setDB] = useState<firebase.firestore.Firestore | null>(null);

  useEffect(() => {
    import("firebase/auth")
      .then(() => {
        const appAuth = app.auth();
        setAuth(appAuth);
        appAuth.onAuthStateChanged(authStateChanged);
      })
      .catch((error) => {
        console.error("Unable to lazy-load firebase/auth:", error);
      });

    import("firebase/firestore")
      .then(() => {
        const db = firebase.firestore();
        setDB(db);
      })
      .catch((error) => {
        console.error("Unable to lazy-load firebase/firestore:", error);
      });
  }, []);

...

Now it looks like this instead:

▶ ls -lh build/*.esm.js
-rw-r--r--  1 peterbe  staff   173K Sep  1 14:24 build/11.chunk.b8684.esm.js
-rw-r--r--  1 peterbe  staff   282K Sep  1 14:24 build/12.chunk.3c1c4.esm.js
-rw-r--r--  1 peterbe  staff    56K Sep  1 14:24 build/bundle.7225c.esm.js
-rw-r--r--  1 peterbe  staff   5.0K Sep  1 14:24 build/polyfills.532e0.esm.js

The total sum of all (relevant) .esm.js files is the same (minus a difference of 430 bytes).

But what does it really look like? The app is already based around that

const [db, setDB] = useState<firebase.firestore.Firestore | null>(null);

so it knows to wait until db is truthy and it displays a <Loading/> component until it's ready.

To test how it loads I used the Chrome Performance devtools with or without the lazy-loading and it's fairly self-explanatory:

Before
Before, no lazy-loading

After
After, with lazy-loading

Clearly, the lazy-loaded has a nicer pattern in that it breaks up the work by the main thread.

Conclusion

It's fairly simple to do and it works. The main bundle becomes lighter and allows the browser to start rendering the Preact component sooner. But it's not entirely obvious if it's that much better. The same amount of JavaScript needs to downloaded and parsed no matter what. It's clearly working as a pattern but it's still pretty hard to judge if it's worth it. Now there's more "swapping".

And the whole page is server-side rendered anyway so in terms of immediate first-render it's probably the same. Hopefully, HTTP2 loading does the right thing but it's not yet entirely clear if the complete benefit is there. I certainly hope that this can improve the "Total Blocking Time" and "Time to Interactive".

The other important thing is that not all imports from firebase/* work in Node because they depend on window. It works for firebase/firestore and firestore/auth but not for firestore/analytics and firestore/performance. Now, I can add those lazy-loaded in the client and have the page rendered in Node for that initial build/index.html.

<datalist> looks great on mobile devices

28 August 2020 0 comments   Web development, Mobile


<datalist> is an underrated HTML API. It's basically a native autocomplete widget that requires 0 JavaScript. What I didn't know is how great it is on mobile devices. Especially the iOS Safari platform which is, to be honest, the only mobile device I have.

What's cool about it is that it's easy to implement, from a developer's point-of-view. But most importantly, it works great for users. The problem usually on mobile devices and autocomplete is that it's hard to find a good spot to display the suggestions. Most autocomplete widgets are a styled form of <div class="results"><ul><li>Suggestion 1</li><li>Suggestion 2</li></ul></div> that usually follows the <input> element. Usually, this simply boils down to screen height real estate. Oftentimes you want to display so much more rich stuff in the autocomplete results but it's hard to fit in a nice list of results between the <input> and the native keyboard display. For example, on this page ...

Lyrics search
Note how the search results get hidden underneath the keyboard.

Demo

The cool thing about <datalist> is that gets embedded in the native mobile keyboard in a sense. But what's extra cool is that the browser will do an OK job of filtering all the options for you, so that you, as a developer, just need to supply all options and the browser will take care of the rest.

I put together a dead-simple app here: https://cnfyl.csb.app/ (source here) which looks like this on iOS:

Sample search

Caveats

The space that the keyboard now populates with suggestions is usually reserved for helping you autocomplete regular words. It still does if you start typing a word that isn't an option. So arguably, the <datalist> options are primarily helping you when it's very likely that the user will type one of the suggestions.

The matching isn't great in my opinion. If you type "ea" it will match "Peaches" but I find it extremely unlikely that that's helping users. (What do you think?) If you've started typing "ea" if there's no match called "Each" or "North East" then it's probably better with no match at all.

Mind you, check out this hack (source here) which takes control of the <option> tags inside the <datalist> by having an event listener on the input. So if the input is "ea" it only matches expressions that are left-word-delimited and discard the rest.

Native filtering
Default/Native filtering

Custom filtering
Custom filtering

Conclusion

It is without a doubt the simplest autocomplete functionality you can buy. I would buy it again.

Perhaps it's not right for every application. Perhaps it's important to be able to include images in your autocomplete suggestions. Either way, the best thing to do is to park this in the back of your mind till next time you're up against the need for some sort of assisted search or choice. Especially if you predict you'll have a lot of users on mobile devices.

How to use minimalcss without a server

24 April 2020 0 comments   Web development, Node, JavaScript

https://github.com/peterbe/how-to-use-minimalcss-without-a-server


minimalcss requires that you have your HTML in a serving HTTP web page so that puppeteer can open it to find out the CSS within. Suppose, in your build system, you don't yet really have a server. Well, what you can do is start one on-the-fly and shut it down as soon as you're done.

Suppose you have .html file

First install all the stuff:

yarn add minimalcss http-server

Then run it:

const path = require("path");

const minimalcss = require("minimalcss");
const httpServer = require("http-server");

const HTML_FILE = "index.html";  // THIS IS YOURS

(async () => {
  const server = httpServer.createServer({
    root: path.dirname(path.resolve(HTML_FILE)),
  });
  server.listen(8080);

  let result;
  try {
    result = await minimalcss.minimize({
      urls: ["http://0.0.0.0:8080/" + HTML_FILE],
    });
  } catch (err) {
    console.error(err);
    throw err;
  } finally {
    server.close();
  }

  console.log(result.finalCss);
})();

And the index.html file:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
    <head>
        <link rel="stylesheet" href="styles.css">
    </head>
    <body>
        <p>Hi @peterbe</p>
    </body>
</html>

And the styles.css file:

h1 {
  color: red;
}
p,
li {
  font-weight: bold;
}

And the output from running that Node script:

p{font-weight:700}

It works!

Suppose all you have is the HTML string and the CSS blob(s)

Suppose all you have is a string of HTML and a list of strings of CSS:

const fs = require("fs");
const path = require("path");

const minimalcss = require("minimalcss");
const httpServer = require("http-server");

const HTML_BODY = `
<p>Hi Peterbe</p>
`;

const CSSes = [
  `
h1 {
  color: red;
}
p,
li {
  font-weight: bold;
}
`,
];

(async () => {
  const csses = CSSes.map((css, i) => {
    fs.writeFileSync(`${i}.css`, css);
    return `<link rel="stylesheet" href="${i}.css">`;
  });
  const html = `<!doctype html><html>
  <head>${csses}</head>
  <body>${HTML_BODY}</body>
  </html>`;
  const fp = path.resolve("./index.html");
  fs.writeFileSync(fp, html);
  const server = httpServer.createServer({
    root: path.dirname(fp),
  });
  server.listen(8080);

  let result;
  try {
    result = await minimalcss.minimize({
      urls: ["http://0.0.0.0:8080/" + path.basename(fp)],
    });
  } catch (err) {
    console.error(err);
    throw err;
  } finally {
    server.close();
    fs.unlinkSync(fp);
    CSSes.forEach((_, i) => fs.unlinkSync(`${i}.css`));
  }

  console.log(result.finalCss);
})();

Truth be told, you'll need a good pinch of salt to appreciate that example code. It works but most likely, if you're into web performance so much that you're even doing this, your parameters are likely to be more complex.

Suppose you have your own puppeteer instance

In the first example above, minimalcss will create an instance of puppeteer (e.g. const browser = await puppeteer.launch()) but that means you have less control over which version of puppeteer or which parameters you need. Also, if you have to run minimalcss on a bunch of pages it's costly to have to create and destroy puppeteer browser instances repeatedly.

To modify the original example, here's how you use your own instance of puppeteer:

  const path = require("path");

+ const puppeteer = require("puppeteer");
  const minimalcss = require("minimalcss");
  const httpServer = require("http-server");

  const HTML_FILE = "index.html"; // THIS IS YOURS

  (async () => {
    const server = httpServer.createServer({
      root: path.dirname(path.resolve(HTML_FILE)),
    });
    server.listen(8080);

+   const browser = await puppeteer.launch(/* your special options */);
+
    let result;
    try {
      result = await minimalcss.minimize({
        urls: ["http://0.0.0.0:8080/" + HTML_FILE],
+       browser,
      });
    } catch (err) {
      console.error(err);
      throw err;
    } finally {
+     await browser.close();
      server.close();
    }

    console.log(result.finalCss);
  })();

Note that this doesn't buy us anything in this particular example. But that's where your imagination comes in!

Conclusion

You can see the code here as a git repo if that helps.

The point is that this might solve some of the chicken-and-egg problem you might have is that you're building your perfect HTML + CSS and you want to perfect it before you ship it.

Note also that there are other ways to run minimalcss other than programmatically. For example, minimalcss-server is minimalcss wrapped in a express server.

Another thing that you might have is that you have multiple .html files that you want to process. The same technique applies but you just need to turn it into a loop and make sure you call server.close() (and optionally await browser.close()) when you know you've processed the last file. Exercise left to the reader?

How to have default/initial values in a Django form that is bound and rendered

10 January 2020 7 comments   Web development, Django, Python


Django's Form framework is excellent. It's intuitive and versatile and, best of all, easy to use. However, one little thing that is not so intuitive is how do you render a bound form with default/initial values when the form is never rendered unbound.

If you do this in Django:

class MyForm(forms.Form):
    name = forms.CharField(required=False)

def view(request):
    form = MyForm(initial={'name': 'Peter'})
    return render(request, 'page.html', form=form)

# Imagine, in 'page.html' that it does this:
#  <label>Name:</label>
#  {{ form.name }}

...it will render out this:

<label>Name:</label>
<input type="text" name="name" value="Peter">

The whole initial trick is something you can set on the whole form or individual fields. But it's only used in UN-bound forms when rendered.

If you change your view function to this:

def view(request):
    form = MyForm(request.GET, initial={'name': 'Peter'}) # data passed!
    if form.is_valid():  # makes it bound!
        print(form.cleaned_data['name'])
    return render(request, 'page.html', form=form)

Now, the form is bound and the initial stuff is essentially ignored.
Because name is not present in request.GET. And if it was present, but an empty string, it wouldn't be able to benefit for the default value.

My solution

I tried many suggestions and tricks (based on rapid Stackoverflow searching) and nothing worked.

I knew one thing: Only the view should know the actual initial values.

Here's what works:

import copy


class MyForm(forms.Form):
    name = forms.CharField(required=False)

    def __init__(self, data, **kwargs):
        initial = kwargs.get('initial', {})
        data = {**initial, **data}
        super().__init__(data, **kwargs)

Now, suppose you don't have ?name=something in request.GET the line print(form.cleaned_data['name']) will print Peter and the rendered form will look like this:

<label>Name:</label>
<input type="text" name="name" value="Peter">

And, as expected, if you have ?name=Ashley in request.GET it will print Ashley and produce this rendered HTML too:

<label>Name:</label>
<input type="text" name="name" value="Ashley">

UPDATE June 2020

If data is a QueryDict object (e.g. <QueryDict: {'days': ['90']}>), and initial is a plain dict (e.g. {'days': 30}),
then you can merge these with {**data, **initial} because it produces a plain dict of value {'days': [90]} which Django's form stuff doesn't know is supposed to be "flattened".

The solution is to use:

from django.utils.datastructures import MultiValueDict

...

    def __init__(self, data, **kwargs):
        initial = kwargs.get("initial", {})
        data = MultiValueDict({**{k: [v] for k, v in initial.items()}, **data})
        super().__init__(data, **kwargs)

(To be honest; this might work in the app I'm currently working on but I don't feel confident that this is covering all cases)

A Python and Preact app deployed on Heroku

13 December 2019 2 comments   Web development, Django, Python, Docker, JavaScript


Heroku is great but it's sometimes painful when your app isn't just in one single language. What I have is a project where the backend is Python (Django) and the frontend is JavaScript (Preact). The folder structure looks like this:

/
  - README.md
  - manage.py
  - requirements.txt
  - my_django_app/
     - settings.py
     - asgi.py
     - api/
        - urls.py
        - views.py
  - frontend/
     - package.json
     - yarn.lock
     - preact.config.js
     - build/
        ...
     - src/
        ...

A bunch of things omitted for brevity but people familiar with Django and preact-cli/create-create-app should be familiar.
The point is that the root is a Python app and the front-end is exclusively inside a sub folder.

When you do local development, you start two servers:

The latter is what you open in your browser. That preact app will do things like:

const response = await fetch('/api/search');

and, in preact.config.js I have this:

export default (config, env, helpers) => {

  if (config.devServer) {
    config.devServer.proxy = [
      {
        path: "/api/**",
        target: "http://localhost:8000"
      }
    ];
  }

};

...which is hopefully self-explanatory. So, calls like GET http://localhost:3000/api/search actually goes to http://localhost:8000/api/search.

That's when doing development. The interesting thing is going into production.

Before we get into Heroku, let's first "merge" the two systems into one and the trick used is Whitenoise. Basically, Django's web server will be responsibly not only for things like /api/search but also static assets such as / --> frontend/build/index.html and /bundle.17ae4.js --> frontend/build/bundle.17ae4.js.

This is basically all you need in settings.py to make that happen:

MIDDLEWARE = [
    "django.middleware.security.SecurityMiddleware",
    "whitenoise.middleware.WhiteNoiseMiddleware",
    ...
]

WHITENOISE_INDEX_FILE = True

STATIC_URL = "/"
STATIC_ROOT = BASE_DIR / "frontend" / "build"

However, this isn't quite enough because the preact app uses preact-router which uses pushState() and other code-splitting magic so you might have a URL, that users see, like this: https://myapp.example.com/that/thing/special and there's nothing about that in any of the Django urls.py files. Nor is there any file called frontend/build/that/thing/special/index.html or something like that.
So for URLs like that, we have to take a gamble on the Django side and basically hope that the preact-router config knows how to deal with it. So, to make that happen with Whitenoise we need to write a custom middleware that looks like this:

from whitenoise.middleware import WhiteNoiseMiddleware


class CustomWhiteNoiseMiddleware(WhiteNoiseMiddleware):
    def process_request(self, request):
        if self.autorefresh:
            static_file = self.find_file(request.path_info)
        else:
            static_file = self.files.get(request.path_info)

            # These two lines is the magic.
            # Basically, the URL didn't lead to a file (e.g. `/manifest.json`)
            # it's either a API path or it's a custom browser path that only
            # makes sense within preact-router. If that's the case, we just don't
            # know but we'll give the client-side preact-router code the benefit
            # of the doubt and let it through.
            if not static_file and not request.path_info.startswith("/api"):
                static_file = self.files.get("/")

        if static_file is not None:
            return self.serve(static_file, request)

And in settings.py this change:

MIDDLEWARE = [
    "django.middleware.security.SecurityMiddleware",
-   "whitenoise.middleware.WhiteNoiseMiddleware",
+   "my_django_app.middleware.CustomWhiteNoiseMiddleware",
    ...
]

Now, all traffic goes through Django. Regular Django view functions, static assets, and everything else fall back to frontend/build/index.html.

Heroku

Heroku tries to make everything so simple for you. You basically, create the app (via the cli or the Heroku web app) and when you're ready you just do git push heroku master. However that won't be enough because there's more to this than Python.

Unfortunately, I didn't take notes of my hair-pulling excruciating journey of trying to add buildpacks and hacks and Procfile s and custom buildpacks. Nothing seemed to work. Perhaps the answer was somewhere in this issue: "Support running an app from a subdirectory" but I just couldn't figure it out. I still find buildpacks confusing when it's beyond Hello World. Also, I didn't want to run Node as a service, I just wanted it as part of the "build process".

Docker to the rescue

Finally I get a chance to try "Deploying with Docker" in Heroku which is a relatively new feature. And the only thing that scared me was that now I need to write a heroku.yml file which was confusing because all I had was a Dockerfile. We'll get back to that in a minute!

So here's how I made a Dockerfile that mixes Python and Node:

FROM node:12 as frontend

COPY . /app
WORKDIR /app
RUN cd frontend && yarn install && yarn build


FROM python:3.8-slim

WORKDIR /app

RUN groupadd --gid 10001 app && useradd -g app --uid 10001 --shell /usr/sbin/nologin app
RUN chown app:app /tmp

RUN apt-get update && \
    apt-get upgrade -y && \
    apt-get install -y --no-install-recommends \
    gcc apt-transport-https python-dev

# Gotta try moving this to poetry instead!
COPY ./requirements.txt /app/requirements.txt
RUN pip install --upgrade --no-cache-dir -r requirements.txt

COPY . /app
COPY --from=frontend /app/frontend/build /app/frontend/build

USER app

ENV PORT=8000
EXPOSE $PORT

CMD uvicorn gitbusy.asgi:application --host 0.0.0.0 --port $PORT

If you're not familiar with it, the critical trick is on the first line where it builds some Node with as frontend. That gives me a thing I can then copy from into the Python image with COPY --from=frontend /app/frontend/build /app/frontend/build.

Now, at the very end, it starts a uvicorn server with all the static .js, index.html, and favicon.ico etc. available to uvicorn which ultimately runs whitenoise.

To run and build:

docker build . -t my_app
docker run -t -i --rm --env-file .env -p 8000:8000 my_app

Now, opening http://localhost:8000/ is a production grade app that mixes Python (runtime) and JavaScript (static).

Heroku + Docker

Heroku says to create a heroku.yml file and that makes sense but what didn't make sense is why I would add cmd line in there when it's already in the Dockerfile. The solution is simple: omit it. Here's what my final heroku.yml file looks like:

build:
  docker:
    web: Dockerfile

Check in the heroku.yml file and git push heroku master and voila, it works!

To see a complete demo of all of this check out https://github.com/peterbe/gitbusy and https://gitbusy.herokuapp.com/

MDN Documents Size Tree Map

14 November 2019 0 comments   MDN, Web development

https://8mw9v.csb.app/


Recently I've been playing with the content of MDN as a whole. MDN has ~140k documents in its Wiki. About ~70k of them are redirects which is the result of many years of switching tech and switching information architecture and at the same time being good Internet citizens and avoiding 404s. So, out of the ~70k documents, how do they spread? To answer that I wrote a Python script that evaluates size as a matter of the sum of all the files in sub-trees including pictures.

Here are the screenshots:

All locales

All locales

Specifically en-US

Specifically en-US

The code that puts this together uses Toast UI which seems cool but I didn't spend much time worrying about how to use it.

Be warned! Opening this link will make your browser sweat: https://8mw9v.csb.app/

You can fork it here: https://codesandbox.io/s/zen-swirles-8mw9v