If I Have Learned One Thing From Ember in the Last 4 Years ...

“One thing about which fish know exactly nothing is water, since they have no anti-environment which would enable them to perceive the element they live in.”

Marshall McLuhan, War & Peace in the Global Village (1968)

I have been an Ember developer for over 4 Years, this January being the 4th anniversary of all early adopters' struggle with the pre-1.0 release schedule. Since that time I have grown with the community and found new and exciting ways to solve the same sorts of problems. I have talked before about how much I love the way the Ember community works, and I have always instilled the virtues of the framework given half the chance. In this wash of positivity it could be said that I am missing some of the finer points of why I feel ember is such a fantastic framework, until I have to look back at the code I have written in the past.

Over the past few days I have been working on upgrading Ember code for Blooie, most of it doesn't need too much work but every so often I come across a nugget of awfulness that makes my Ember Positivity Train™ come to a screeching halt. Here is an example:

...
    actions: {
        welcomeUser() {
            this.store.find('user', 'me').then((me) => {
                this.send('openModal', 'settings.welcome', {
                    controller: 'settings.welcome',
                    data: me
                });
            });
        }
    }
...

There is a lot wrong with this but the thing that grates at the part of me that likes nice programming is the imperative-ness of it. Over the last 4 years Ember has taught me to think mostly in a declarative way, yet I had not actually perceived this education. I am the fish programming in the water of the Ember Community. The thing that lets me see my education is looking at code that was written by a younger, less educated me.

“I am the fish programming in the water of the Ember Community”

Chris Manson, Blog (2016)

How would I do this differently now? Well first of all I would make use of the Rule of Least Power and do a bunch of the work in handlebars:

{{#if showWelcomeModal}}
  <div class="modal"></div>
{{/if}}

using this structure means that all we need the is either a computed property that gives us the value for showWelcomeModal or something like:

...
  application: Ember.inject.controller(),
  me: Ember.computed.alias('application.model'), //the 'me' user
  actions: {
      welcomeUser() {
        this.set('showWelcomeModal', true);
      }
  }
...

Hopefully you share my view that the latter version is better without having to see the code for the openModal action handler and considering the fact that bubbling actions to the application route may now be considered harmful.

It is often good to take a step back from your day to day work and consider how far you have come, so that you can see how far you may yet go in the next 4 years.


Edit:

I hadn't expected to complete my refactor of the Blooie code I was working by the time I released this blog post, but fortunately I have! I can report that all in all the change in the way of implementing this modal has given me a net loss of 100 lines of code, not counting the roughly 100 lines of code that implements the old way of doing the modal component.