JavaScript for PHP Geeks: ReactJS (with Symfony)

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We now GET and DELETE the rep logs via the API. The last task is to create them when the form submits. Look back at RepLogController: we can POST to /reps to create a new rep log. I want to show you just a little bit about how this works.

About the POST API Code

The endpoint expects the data to be sent as JSON. See: the first thing we do is json_decode the request content. Then, we use Symfony's form system: we have a form called RepLogType with two fields: reps and item. This is bound directly to the RepLog entity class, not the model class.

Using the form system is optional. You could also just use the raw data to manually populate a new RepLog entity object. You could also use the serializer to deserialize the data to a RepLog object.

These are all great options, and whatever you choose, you'll ultimately have a RepLog entity object populated with data. I attach this to our user, then flush it to the database.

For the response, we always serialize RepLogApiModel objects. So, after saving, we convert the RepLog into a RepLogApiModel, turn that into JSON and return it.

I also have some data validation above, which we'll handle in React later.

Fetching to POST /reps

To make the API request in React, start, as we always do, in rep_log_api.js. Create a third function: export function createRepLog. This needs a repLog argument, which will be an object that has all the fields that should be sent to the API.

Use the new fetchJson() function to /reps with a method set to POST. This time, we also need to set the body of the request: use JSON.stringify(repLog). Set one more option: a headers key with Content-Type set to application/json. This is optional: my API doesn't actually read or care about this. But, because we are sending JSON, it's a best-practice to say this. And, later, our API will start requiring this.

Ok, API function done! Head back to RepLogApp and scroll up: import createRepLog. Then, down in handleAddRepLog, use it! createRepLog(newRep). To see what we get back, add .then() with data. console.log() that.

Well... let's see what happens! Move over and refresh. Okay, select "Big Fat Cat", 10 times and... submit! Boo! The POST failed! A 400 error!

Matching the Client Data to the API

Go check it out. Interesting... we get an error that this form should not contain extra fields. Something is not right. In Symfony, you can look at the profiler for any AJAX request. Click into this one and go to the "Forms" tab. Ah, the error is attached to the top of the form, not a specific field. Click ConstraintViolation to get more details. Oh... this value key holds the secret. Our React app is sending id, itemLabel and totalWeightLifted to the API. But, look at the form! The only fields are reps and item! We shouldn't be sending any of these other fields!

Actually, itemLabel is almost correct. It should be called item. And instead of being the text, the server wants the value from the selected option - something like fat_cat.

Ok, so we have some work to do. Head back to RepLogApp. First: remove the stuff we don't need: we don't need id and we're not responsible for sending the totalWeightLifted. Then, rename itemLabel to item. Rename the argument too, because this now needs to be the option value. This function is eventually called in RepLogCreator as onAddRepLog. Instead of text, pass value.

Updating State after the AJAX Call

In RepLogApp, newRep now contains the data our API needs! Woohoo! But... interesting. It turns out that, at the moment the user submits the form, we don't have all the data we need to update the state. In fact, we never did! We were just faking it by using a random value for totalWeightLifted.

This is a case where we can't perform an optimistic UI update: we can't update the state until we get more info back from the server. This is no big deal, it just requires a bit more work.

Comment out the setState() call. Let's refresh and at least see if the API call works. Lift my big fat cat 55 times and hit enter. Yes! No errors! The console log is coming from the POST response... it looks perfect! Id 30, it returns the itemLabel and also calculates the totalWeightLifted. Refresh, yep! There is the new rep log!

Ok, let's update the state. Because our API rocks, we know that the data is actually a repLog! Use this.setState() but pass it a callback with prevState. Once again, the new state depends on the existing state.

To add the new rep log without mutating the state, use const newRepLogs = an array with ...prevState.repLogs, repLog. Return the new state: repLogs: newRepLogs. Remove all the old code below.

Let's try it! Make sure the page is refreshed. Lift our normal cat this time, 10 times, and boom! We've got it!

Using UUID's?

This was the first time that our React app did not have all the data it needed to update state immediately. It needed to wait until the AJAX request finished.

Hmm... if you think about it, this will happen every time your React app creates something through your API... because, there is always one piece of data your JavaScript app doesn't have before saving: the new item's database id! Yep, we will always need to create a new item in the API first so that the API can send us back the new id, so that we can update the state.

Again, that's no huge deal... but it's a bit more work, and it will require you to add more "loading" screens so that it looks like your app is saving. It's just simpler if you can update the state immediately.

And that is why UUID's can be awesome. If you configure your Doctrine entities to use UUID's instead of auto-increment ids, you can generate valid UUID's in JavaScript, update the state immediately, and send the new UUID on the POST request. The server would then make sure the UUID has a valid format and use it.

If you're creating a lot of resources, keep this in mind!

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