Reliably Load External JS with Stimulus

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Thanks to the turbo-frame system, we're now lazily-loading just part of the weather page down in the footer. And... notice that this is working... which actually proves something: script tags inside frames are executed.

script Tags in Frames Are Executed

Let me find that frame... here it is. Ok, so no surprise: if you have a <script> tag that's included in a turbo-frame, Turbo does execute that... exactly like how Turbo Drive executes any script tags found inside the body element.

That's great! But... we have a bug that's hiding. Well, sort of two bugs. Yikes! To see the first, scroll to the top of the page, refresh but don't scroll down. Now click to the weather page... and check out the console. Error!

Uncaught reference error: __weatherwidget_init() is not a function

And it's coming from turbo-helper. Go open that file - turbo/turbo-helper.js and scroll down to line 71. Here we are: initializeWeatherWidget().

... line 1
const TurboHelper = class {
constructor() {
document.addEventListener('turbo:before-cache', () => {
this.closeModal();
this.closeSweetalert();
});
document.addEventListener('turbo:render', () => {
this.initializeWeatherWidget();
});
this.initializeTransitions();
}
... lines 17 - 39
initializeWeatherWidget() {
__weatherwidget_init();
}
... lines 45 - 95

If you scroll back up, this initializeWeatherWidget() function is called when the turbo:render event is dispatched. Its job is to reinitialize the weather widget on the next page. The problem is that, in this case, the weather widget JavaScript hasn't quite yet been loaded onto the page... because it didn't load at all on the first page. And the real problem is that... well... I didn't code defensively.

Fix this by adding an if: if typeof __weatherwidget_init === 'function', then call this. Otherwise, it means the JavaScript hasn't been loaded... so no reason to do anything.

... lines 1 - 39
initializeWeatherWidget() {
if (typeof __weatherwidget_init === 'function') {
__weatherwidget_init();
}
}
... lines 47 - 97

The Weather Widget JavaScript is not Always Reinitialized

So... this would fix one problem... but not our bigger problem. To see that one, over on the product page, below the sidebar, I want to add a second weather widget. Open the template for this page: templates/product/index.html.twig. Oh, but actually, the sidebar is in productBase.html.twig.

Cool: right here, I'm going to add <turbo-frame> with id="weather_widget" - to match the id that we've been using so far - and src="{{ path('app_weather') }}".

Try it! Refresh and... bah! It works - but I put it in the wrong spot! I meant to put it in the <aside>. Let's try that again. Refresh now and... beautiful.

... lines 1 - 5
<div class="row">
<aside class="col-12 col-md-3 order-2 order-md-1">
{{ include('product/_categoriesSidebar.html.twig') }}
<turbo-frame id="weather_widget" src="{{ path('app_weather') }}"></turbo-frame>
</aside>
<div class="col-12 col-md-9 product-show order-1 order-md-2">
{% block productBody %}{% endblock %}
</div>
</div>
... lines 17 - 19

Now scroll to the footer. It's busted! Hmm... the turbo frame did its job - the HTML is here - but the JavaScript didn't initialize! What happened?

Let's remember how this is supposed to work... because it's getting kind of complicated. On page load, or really, anytime that the weather JavaScript is first executed, it adds a <script> tag to the page, which downloads an external JavaScript file. That JavaScript finds any elements on the page with a weatherwidget-io class and initializes the weather widget inside of them.

But... when we surf to another page, this external JavaScript file is not re-executed... because this function is smart enough to not add the same script tag multiple times. We hit this problem earlier. To fix it, back in turbo-helper.js, we added this __weatherwidget_init() code, which is executed on turbo:render. So basically, each time Turbo renders the page, we call __weatherwidget_init() and that reinitializes the weather widget for that page.

... lines 1 - 39
initializeWeatherWidget() {
if (typeof __weatherwidget_init === 'function') {
__weatherwidget_init();
}
}
... lines 47 - 97

This worked great when the only way that a weather widget tag could be added to a page was as a result of a Turbo Drive navigation. But now, this tag is sometimes loaded onto the page via Ajax by a Turbo Frame... and that does not trigger the turbo:render event... because we're not rendering a full page. In other words, when a Turbo frame loads, nothing is calling the __weatherwidget_init() function!

If you're watching really closely, you might be wondering how the weather widget in this lazy frame was ever working... since we were never calling the __weatherwidget_init() function after it loaded. It worked simply thanks to some smart code that lives inside that function. If you looked at the external JavaScript in detail - which we did a bit earlier - you would see that when you call the __weatherwidget_init() function, if it does not find any weatherwidget-io elements on the page, it automatically recalls itself every 1.5 seconds until it finds one. This... almost accidentally... made sure that once our lazy frame in the footer loaded, the JavaScript was initialized within 1.5 seconds. But... it wasn't a very robust solution, and it stopped working as soon as there was a second widget on the page that loaded earlier.

So let's fix all of this and simplify our code a bunch... because it took way too long to explain how this has been barely working.

How can we improve this? By creating a Stimulus controller! I know, this tutorial is about Turbo... but since Turbo really works best when you have no inline script tags, let's see how Stimulus could help us manage this external JavaScript.

Creating the Stimulus Controller

Here's the idea: let's attach a Stimulus controller to the weatherwidget-io anchor tag. By doing that, whenever this element appears on the page... no matter how or when it appears, we can run some code... like __weatherwidget_init().

In assets/controllers/, create a new file called, how about, weather-widget_controller.js. I'm going to cheat... as usual... and steal the code from another controller, paste... then clear everything out. Start with a connect() function and console.log('🌦').

import { Controller } from 'stimulus';
export default class extends Controller {
connect() {
console.log('🌦');
}
}

Next, over in weather/index.html.twig, find the anchor tag and add data-controller="" and the name of our new controller: weather-widget.

... lines 1 - 5
<turbo-frame id="weather_widget">
<a data-controller="weather-widget" class="weatherwidget-io" href="https://forecast7.com/en/40d71n74d01/new-york/" data-label_1="NEW YORK" data-label_2="WEATHER" data-theme="original" >NEW YORK WEATHER</a>
<script>
!function (d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (!d.getElementById(id)) {
js = d.createElement(s);
js.id = id;
js.src = 'https://weatherwidget.io/js/widget.min.js';
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}
}(document, 'script', 'weatherwidget-io-js');
</script>
</turbo-frame>
... lines 20 - 23

Okay! Let's make sure that's connected. Head over, scroll up... refresh the homepage and check the console. Perfect! This log is coming from the weather widget on the sidebar. Now watch what happens when we scroll down... a second emoji!

The next step is to move all of this JavaScript into our Stimulus controller. Copy everything and delete the <script> tag entirely.

... lines 1 - 5
<turbo-frame id="weather_widget">
<a data-controller="weather-widget" class="weatherwidget-io" href="https://forecast7.com/en/40d71n74d01/new-york/" data-label_1="NEW YORK" data-label_2="WEATHER" data-theme="original" >NEW YORK WEATHER</a>
</turbo-frame>
... lines 9 - 12

In the controller, after connect(), paste! That is totally invalid JavaScript... and my build system and editor are freaking out.

import { Controller } from 'stimulus';
export default class extends Controller {
connect() {
console.log('🌦');
}
!function (d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (!d.getElementById(id)) {
js = d.createElement(s);
js.id = id;
js.src = 'https://weatherwidget.io/js/widget.min.js';
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}
}(document, 'script', 'weatherwidget-io-js');
}

Let's turn this into a function called initializeScriptTag(). Copy these three arguments and remove them. Cool.

Up in connect(), instead of logging a cloud, say this.initializeScriptTag() and pass those three arguments.

... lines 1 - 2
export default class extends Controller {
connect() {
this.initializeScriptTag(document, 'script', 'weatherwidget-io-js');
}
initializeScriptTag (d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (!d.getElementById(id)) {
js = d.createElement(s);
js.id = id;
js.src = 'https://weatherwidget.io/js/widget.min.js';
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}
}
}

So... this isn't perfect yet... but it's closer: each time Stimulus sees a matching anchor tag, it's going to run this.

Let's try it. Scroll back up to the top, refresh and... awesome! The fact that this loads means that our Stimulus controller did just execute and add the script tag. If you look in the head of our page... there it is!

But... if we scroll to the bottom of the page... that still doesn't work. It's ok, we expected that: we still need to move the __weatherwidget_init() code into Stimulus.

Copy the entire if statement, delete the initializeWeatherWidget() function, scroll up and remove the event listener entirely. Over in the weather-widget controller, up in connect(), paste that and then move the initializeScriptTag() call, which I totally misspelled... let me fix that - move that into the else.

... lines 1 - 2
export default class extends Controller {
connect() {
if (typeof __weatherwidget_init === 'function') {
__weatherwidget_init();
} else {
this.initializeScriptTag(document, 'script', 'weatherwidget-io-js');
}
}
... lines 11 - 22

So if the __weatherwidget_init() function already exists, just call it! Else, run the code to add the original script tag to the page.

I think we're ready! Scroll back up to the top of page and refresh. The sidebar works... the footer works... and, if we go to the weather page, that works too!

I love this approach. Even though our external JavaScript is not written in Stimulus, we can still use Stimulus to activate this JavaScript exactly when we want to. At this point, we can add this anchor tag anywhere on our site, and it will instantly do the work to initialize itself.

Next: let's investigate the second-use case for Turbo Frames... and really the main use case: the ability to keep navigation isolated to one section of the page.

Leave a comment!

What PHP libraries does this tutorial use?

// composer.json
{
    "require": {
        "php": ">=7.4.0",
        "ext-ctype": "*",
        "ext-iconv": "*",
        "composer/package-versions-deprecated": "1.11.99.1", // 1.11.99.1
        "doctrine/annotations": "^1.0", // 1.13.1
        "doctrine/doctrine-bundle": "^2.2", // 2.3.2
        "doctrine/orm": "^2.8", // 2.9.1
        "phpdocumentor/reflection-docblock": "^5.2", // 5.2.2
        "sensio/framework-extra-bundle": "^6.1", // v6.1.4
        "symfony/asset": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/console": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/dotenv": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/flex": "^1.3.1", // v1.13.3
        "symfony/form": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/framework-bundle": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/property-access": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/property-info": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/proxy-manager-bridge": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/runtime": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/security-bundle": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/serializer": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/twig-bundle": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/ux-chartjs": "^1.1", // v1.3.0
        "symfony/ux-turbo": "^1.3", // v1.3.0
        "symfony/validator": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/webpack-encore-bundle": "^1.9", // v1.11.2
        "symfony/yaml": "5.3.*", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "twig/extra-bundle": "^2.12|^3.0", // v3.3.1
        "twig/intl-extra": "^3.2", // v3.3.0
        "twig/string-extra": "^3.3", // v3.3.1
        "twig/twig": "^2.12|^3.0" // v3.3.2
    },
    "require-dev": {
        "doctrine/doctrine-fixtures-bundle": "^3.4", // 3.4.0
        "symfony/debug-bundle": "^5.2", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/maker-bundle": "^1.27", // v1.31.1
        "symfony/monolog-bundle": "^3.0", // v3.7.0
        "symfony/stopwatch": "^5.2", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/var-dumper": "^5.2", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "symfony/web-profiler-bundle": "^5.2", // v5.3.0-RC1
        "zenstruck/foundry": "^1.10" // v1.10.0
    }
}