Streaming template literals

Template literals are pretty cool right?

const areThey = 'Yes';
console.log(`${areThey}, they are`); 
// Logs: Yes, they are

You can also assign a function to process the template, known as "tagged" templates:

function strongValues(strings, ...values) {
  return strings.reduce((totalStr, str, i) => {
    totalStr += str;
    if (i in values) totalStr += `<strong>${values[i]}</strong>`;
    return totalStr;
  }, '');

const areThey = 'Yes';
console.log(strongValues`${areThey}, they are`);
// Logs: <strong>Yes</strong>, they are

The syntax for tagging a template seems really un-JavaScripty to me, and I haven't been able to figure out why strings is an array yet each of the values is a separate argument, but meh, it's a cool feature. You don't even have to return a string:

function daftTag() {
  return [1, 2, 3];

console.log(daftTag`WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME?`);
// Logs: [1, 2, 3]

"But how can we involve streams in this?" I hear me cry

Generating streams in a service worker allows you to serve a mixture of cached & network content in a single response. This is amazing for performance, but manually combining the streams feels a bit, well, manual.

Say we wanted to output:


…where the title and content come from different sources. That would look like this:

const stream = new ReadableStream({
  start(controller) {
    const encoder = new TextEncoder();
    // Promise for the title
    const titlePromise = fetch('/get-metadata')
      .then(r => r.json()).then(data => data.title);
    // Promise for the content stream
    const contentPromise = fetch('/get-content')
      .then(r => r.body);

    // Tie them all together
      .then(() => pushString('</h1>\n'))
      .then(() => contentPromise)
      .then(() => controller.close());

    // Helper functions
    function pushString(str) {

    function pushStream(stream) {
      // Get a lock on the stream
      var reader = stream.getReader();

      return process(result) {
        if (result.done) return;
        // Push the value to the combined stream
        // Read more & process

Ew. Imagine we could just do this:

// Promise for the title
const title = fetch('/get-metadata')
  .then(r => r.json()).then(data => data.title);
// Promise for the content stream
const content = fetch('/get-content').then(r => r.body);

const stream = templateStream`

Well, you can!

View demo Note: You'll need Chrome Canary with chrome://flags/#enable-experimental-web-platform-features enabled.

This means the title can be displayed as soon as it arrives, without waiting for the main content. The main content stream is piped, meaning it can render as it downloads. The implementation of templateStream is pretty light too, making it a cheap and easy way of building streams from multiple sources.

If you're wanting something with a few more features (eg conditionals & iteration), DustJS is the only template engine I'm aware of that supports this, but I'm not a fan of the syntax. Hopefully we'll see other template engines such as handlebars adopt a similar model, although it's not something they're interested in right now.

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