Monthly Archives: March 2015

Declarative Beats Imperative: Transforming Data In JavaScript

The product I am working on is a fairly typical web application, based on React.js and Node.js. Its main task is to fetch data from different REST-ish services, combine them, and present them in an attractive manner to users. This data extraction and transformation – keeping only the items and properties we care about and structuring them in a way well aligned with the needs of the UI – is thus crucial. I would like to share our journey from an imperative implementation of this process to a much more reader-friendly declarative one.

For example, here is some JSON data we get back from a REST service:

[{
    productId: "42",
    type: "TEAPOT",
    subProducts: [{
        productNumber: "ch132",
        name: "Kyusu Teapot",
        dealerDetails: [
          { dealerGroup: "webshop", rank: 1 }
        ]}]}];

And here is what we would like to transform it into:

{
  "42": {
    "productId": "42",
    "variations": {
      "ch132": {
        "productNumber": "ch132",
        "name": "Kyusu Teapot",
      }
    },
    "selectedSubProductId": "ch132"
  }}

My first implementation was functional, using the wonderful functional library lodash, but rather imperative. We had a series of functions that transformed some vague JavaScript object / JSON into something else. It looked something like this:
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