Stage-2 decorators 101

New decorators proposal finally arrives within Babel 7.1.0 release 🍾️. Decorators are currently at Stage 2 in TC39’s process, indicating that the committee expects them to eventually be included in the standard JavaScript programming language. Even though the description should be as complete as possible, it can contain todos and placeholders. This proposal starts minimal, but more functionality should be added over time, so some things that are written here can be incomplete or may change.

We are going to try it out by using the @babel/plugin-proposal-decorators plugin🎉.

Babel introduced decorators in version 5 but they were removed them in Babel 6 because the proposal was still in flux. In Babel 7.0.0, it was possible to use stage-1 decorator implementation defined by Yehuda Katz. Other personalities become co-authors of the proposal. So the decorator group, TC39, has completely rewritten it, considering a redesign of the proposal as “static decorators”.

Due syntax differences code will not work “just upgrading” from old version of decorators. For this reason, to facilitate the transition from stage-1 to stage-2 decorators Babel introduced the legacy flag to the @babel/plugin-proposal-decorators plugin, whose unique value was true. So during transpilation legacy decorators was used. Since 7.1.0 version this flag is set to false by default.

It may seem that they are similar, but the changes are important. The syntax for defining a decorator is completely different 😱️.

The old proposal allowed any JavaScript expressions to be used as the body of a decorator, so with stage-1 proposal this was valid:

The new proposal only allows dot property access foo.bar, optionally with arguments at the end foo.bar() .

At present, classes and members of classes decorators are supported. But once this core approach is validated its functionality will extend the support to decorating objects, parameters blocks and functions. See NEXTBUILTINS.md.

Decorators are actually nothing more than functions that return another function, and that are called with the appropriate details of the item being decorated.

Stage-2 decorators proposal aims developers to write their own decorators. For achieve that, there will be a set of built-in decorators that serve as the basics. At the time of writing this article, we can find @wrap , @register and @initialize .

@wrap is the one that can bring more value to our code, so it will be examined in more detail. It can be used on a method to pass the function through another function, so it is used to define another decorators in an easy way.

A basic wrap decorator approach that works with methods, looks as follows:

New decorators definitions differs from old proposal. Now decorator elements take an object which, other than changing the property descriptor, allows changing the key, the placement( static, prototype or own) and the kind (fieldor method) of the element.

Using this “crafted” @wrap decorator it is easier to develop another ones. For example, a decorator that logs with which parameters a method was called.

Decorated function is passed as argument to decorator method, so developers can apply so much logic as they want before (or after) the call to the “original” function.

To use wrapin a class method, it can be used through the `@` syntactic sugar notation, in the same way as the previous proposal.

The stage-2 indicates that the wrap decorator can also be used on a class, but it is still undergoing changes. TC39 recommend continuing to use Babel “legacy” against stage-2 decorators because they face significant performance issues and they are not yet widely adopted.

To use stage-2 decorators only add the @babel/plugin-proposal-decorators plugin to the .babelrc file, as follows:

Functional programming is already possible in Javascript, but it is much more difficult to apply this to the classes and their methods. The decorators allow to mitigate this behavior, allowing a clear syntax to apply wrappers around the pieces of code.

HOC React components are good candidates to be used as decorators. These are simply components that are written as a function, and that only wrap around another component. So the next piece of code can be written with a decorator approach.

I hope you find this article outstandable, and you are welcome to collaborate with examples and information.

Tiendeo Tech

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Francisco Alejandro Jurado Pérez

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I am an electronic engineer getting shit done in a cool way.

Tiendeo Tech

Code, thoughts and solutions — www.tiendeo.com