Components

New to Ember or the Octane edition specifically? You may want to read the Ember Guides’ material on Components first!

Glimmer Components are defined in one of three ways: with templates only, with a template and a backing class, or with only a backing class (i.e. a yield-only component). When using a backing class, you get a first-class experience using TypeScript! Unfortunately, we don’t yet support type-checking for templates, but we hope to build that out eventually. Don’t let that stop you, though: types in your component classes make for a great experience, so let’s dig in and see how it works in practice.

A simple component

A very simple Glimmer component which lets you change the count of a value might look like this:

<button {{on "click" this.minus}}>&minus;</button>
{{this.count}}
<button {{on "click" this.plus}}>+</button>
import Component from '@glimmer/component';
import { tracked } from '@glimmer/tracking';
import { action } from '@ember/object';
export default class Counter extends Component {
@tracked count = 0;
@action plus() {
this.count += 1;
}
@action minus() {
this.count -= 1;
}
}

Notice that there are no type declarations here – but this is actually a well-typed component. The type of count is number, and if we accidentally wrote something like this.count = "hello" the compiler would give us an error.

Adding arguments

So far so good, but of course most components aren’t quite this simple! Instead, they’re invoked by other templates and they can invoke other components themselves in their own templates.

Glimmer components can receive both arguments and attributes when they are invoked. When you are working with a component’s backing class, you have access to the arguments but not to the attributes. The arguments are passed to the constructor, and then available as this.args on the component instance afterward. Let’s imagine a component which just logs the names of its arguments when it is first constructed:

import Component from '@glimmer/component';
const log = console.log.bind(console);
export default class ArgsDisplay extends Component {
constructor(owner: unknown, args: {}) {
super(owner, args);
Object.keys(args).forEach(log);
}
}

If you’re used to the classic Ember Object model, there are two important differences in the constructor itself:

  • we use super instead of this._super

  • we must call super before we do anything else with this, because in a subclass this is set up by running the superclass's constructor first (as implied by the JavaScript spec)

Notice that we have to start by calling super with owner and args. This may be a bit different from what you’re used to in Ember or other frameworks, but is normal for sub-classes in TypeScript today. If the compiler just accepted any ...arguments, a lot of potentially very unsafe invocations would go through. So, instead of using ...arguments, we explicitly pass the specific arguments and make sure their types match up with what the super-class expects.

This might change in the future! If TypeScript eventually adds support for “variadic kinds”, using ...arguments could become safe.

The types for owner here and args line up with what the constructor for Glimmer components expect. The owner is specified as unknown because this is a detail we explicitly don’t need to know about. The args are {} because a Glimmer component always receives an object containing its arguments, even if the caller didn’t pass anything: then it would just be an empty object.

{} is an empty object type – all objects extend from it, but there will be no properties on it. This is distinct from the object type, which the TypeScript docs describe as:

any thing that is not number, string, boolean, symbol, null, or undefined.

If we used object, we could end up with TypeScript thinking args were an array, or a Set, or anything else that isn’t a primitive. Since we have {}, we know that it's an object.

For some further details, check out this blog post.

The args passed to a Glimmer Component are available on this, so we could change our definition to return the names of the arguments from a getter:

import Component from '@glimmer/component';
export default class ArgsDisplay extends Component {
get argNames(): string[] {
return Object.keys(this.args);
}
}
<p>The names of the <code>@args</code> are:</p>
<ul>
{{#each this.argNames as |argName|}}
<li>{{argName}}</li>
{{/each}}
</ul>

Understanding args

Now, looking at that bit of code, you might be wondering how it knows what the type of this.args is. In the constructor version, we explicitly named the type of the args argument. Here, it seems to just work automatically. This works because the type definition for a Glimmer component looks roughly like this:

export default class Component<Args extends {} = {}> {
readonly args: Args;
constructor(owner: unknown, args: Args);
}

Not sure what’s up with <Args> at all? We highly recommend the TypeScript Deep Dive book’s chapter on generics to be quite helpful in understanding this part.

The type signature for Component, with Args extends {} = {}, means that the component always has a property named args

  • with the type Args

  • which can be anything that extends the type {} – an object

  • and defaults to being just an empty object – = {}

This is analogous to the type of Array : since you can have an array of string , or an array of number or an array of SomeFancyObject , the type of array is Array<T> , where T is the type of thing in the array, which TypeScript normally figures out for you automatically at compile time:

let a = [1, 2, 3]; // Array<number>
let b = ["hello", "goodbye"]; // Array<string>

In the case of the Component, we have the types the way we do so that you can’t accidentally define args as a string, or undefined , or whatever: it has to be an object. Thus, Component<Args extends {}> . But we also want to make it so that you can just write extends Component , so that needs to have a default value. Thus, Component<Args extends {} = {}>.

Giving args a type

Now let’s put this to use. Imagine we’re constructing a user profile component which displays the user’s name and optionally an avatar and bio. The template might look something like this:

<div class='user-profile' ...attributes>
{{#if this.avatar}}
<img src={{this.avatar}} class='user-profile__avatar'>
{{/if}}
<p class='user-profile__bio'>{{this.userInfo}}</p>
</div>

Then we could capture the types for the profile with an interface representing the arguments:

import Component from '@glimmer/component';
import { generateUrl } from '../lib/generate-avatar';
interface User {
name: string;
avatar?: string;
bio?: string;
}
export default class UserProfile extends Component<User> {
get userInfo(): string {
return this.args.bio ? `${this.args.name} ${this.args.bio}` : this.args.name;
}
get avatar(): string {
return this.args.avatar ?? generateUrl();
}
}

Assuming the default tsconfig.json settings (with strictNullChecks: true), this wouldn't type-check if we didn't check whether the bio argument were set.

Generic subclasses

If you'd like to make your own component subclass-able, you need to make it generic as well.

Are you sure you want to provide an inheritance-based API? Oftentimes, it's easier to maintain (and involves less TypeScript hoop-jumping) to use a compositional API instead. If you're sure, here's how!

import Component from '@glimmer/component';
export interface FancyInputArgs {
// ...
}
export default class FancyInput<Args extends FancyInputArgs = FancyInputArgs> extends Component<Args> {
// ...
}

Requiring that Args extends FancyInputArgs means that subclasses can have more than these args, but not fewer. Specifying that the Args = FancyInputArgs means that they default to just being FancyInputArgs, so users don't need to supply an explicit generic type parameter here unless they're adding more arguments to the class.