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Aurelia Component Communication, Leverage Services, Part 1

Hello and welcome! In this post I want to discover how you can take advantage of services to make components of your application talk to each other. This is inspired by what Mrs. Deborah Kurata explained here and I have tried to adapt it to the world of Aurelia. I have created a Github repository so that you can use it to follow up with this post. I am a great fan of typescript which is used in the sample, besides I also used aurelia-toolbelt as the UI library with the aurelia-cli configured with built-in bundler and no tests. Shall we start? Let’s do it!

A component needs to talk to itself

There are times that you need a component to keep her state, as such it can use it in the near future when it is required. To start this part you can clone the repository and run the the following commands to start the project.

git clone --branch start https://github.com/shahabganji/AureliaComponentCommunicationViaServices.git
yarn install
au run --watch

Bear in mind that you should run the latter two commands within the project’s directory. When you ran the project you should see a welcome screen with a navigation bar at the top, clicking on the contacts menu, you’ll be navigated to the contact page with a grid of contacts, and a filtering text box, play around with filtering and you’ll see that the list will be filtered; however if you navigate away and return back, you’ll see that your component have lost its latest state. Some times we need our components to retain their state for further use. At such situations we can use an intermediary service to keep track of states for use, this service acts as a property holder for our component. To see it in action create a class under the src/contacts/services/ and name it contact-filter-bag.

Should we want such a simple service do a magic for us, we have to import it and inject an instance via the constructor in the main component, you can find it under the path src/contacts/routes/components/main and change lines 17 and 20 to use the injected instance instead of _criteria field.

Now let’s try what would happen if we search and navigate away, then return back and you’ll see the component restores/retains its latest state. How it works now and not before? Well, components are not singleton in Aurelia, thus when you navigate away Aurelia disposes the old instance of the component, and when you return back it creates a new instance, services are singleton by default though. That means, when aurelia creates the new instance of our main component and observes that it requires a service as a dependency, it will inject the previously created service and not a new one, since we have bound our criteria property to the filter property of the service, it retrieves the latest value that was saved by the old component.

Components inform each other

You can take similar approach to let one component become aware of changes in another. Checkout to the commit of this section by running the following command in the repository

git checkout inter-components

First of all we need to define a property, currentContact, for the ContactsInMemoryService , this is our intermediary service, now we should change delete, add, and get methods to update this newly added property properly. After applying the changes the service should be similar to this one:

It’s time to change the contact details and contact list components, in the contact list component which is src/contacts/components/contact-list, each item has a click event bound to selectContact function and passing the current clicked contact as a parameter, the only thing we need to do is to add the following line in the function, bear in mind to inject the ContactsInMemoryService as a dependency via constructor, use inject or autoinject decorators.

private selectContact(selected: IContact) {
    this.contactService.currentContact = selected;
  }

For the details component,src/contacts/routes/components/details, you just need to change the simple property to a get/set property of javascript in which you return the currentContact property of the service.

Easy peasy!? This approach works because the service properties are used in the properties of our component that are bound to elements in the template of that component,

${contact.family}, ${contact.name}

thus, the change detection mechanism of Aurelia detects the changes in the properties of the services and updates all the dependent parts of the application.

However, if we want to be notified of changes in the code and not in the templates/views this approach is far from useful, that’s where EventAggregator and aurelia-store come into play. We will discover those two approaches in part two of the same subject, and I hope you have found this part fruitful. Have a great day and enjoy coding 🙂

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