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Form Submits & The Preview Feature

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One of the cooler features of Turbo Drive is its snapshot feature, which we know about already. When we visit a page that we've already been to, like Office Supplies or Furniture, it instantly shows the snapshot while it waits for the new Ajax call to finish in the background. And when we hit back, it instantly shows the snapshot with no Ajax call.

This feature, which is great for making your site feel really snappy - is, I'll admit, one of the most problematic when it comes to perfecting your site with Turbo Drive.

Snapshots and Form Submits

Let's see one problem. Head over to the registration page and fill out the form incorrectly: I'll use a bogus email address and hit enter. Cool. The form submitted via Ajax and we see the errors.

Now click back to the homepage. I'm going to revisit the registration page. But watch closely when I do. Woh! For just a moment, we saw the form with the values filled in and the validation errors!

Here's what happened. When we were originally on the registration page with the validation errors showing, we clicked to leave the page to go to the homepage. At that moment - just before we were navigated away, Turbo saved the snapshot for the registration page. That means the snapshot was for a page that had filled-in form fields and validation errors.

Then, when we clicked back to the registration page, that snapshot was restored with errors and all. A moment later, when the Ajax call finished, the fresh content - with an empty form - replaced the snapshot.

This is a known issue with submitted forms. And... well... maybe it's not really an issue. It's... tricky. And maybe you don't really care that this shows up for a moment before it clears. In that case, just ignore it and move on with your life! Go grab a baguette!

How to Handle Problematic Snapshots

But let's say that we do want to avoid this. One option is that we could disable the snapshot from being taken on this page completely. But when I fill out the form... and get the errors... and go to the homepage... and then hit the "back" button in my browser, it is nice that, thanks to the snapshot, we see the form with the fields still filled-in. So... you kind of want the snapshot cache to be used when hitting the back button... but not for the preview.

There are two main ways to fix the problem of a "bad snapshot". The first involves preparing a page before its snapshot is taken. We could clear the form errors and empty the fields so that the snapshot is clean. The code to do this would work for any form on your site... so it would kind of take care of everything all at once. The only downside is that clicking the back button would show an empty form. We're not going to use this solution in this case, but we will leverage this soon for a different preview problem.

Disabling the Preview on a Page

A second solution is to simply disable the preview feature for this page. And, that's one of the nice things about Turbo. Don't like something? Just disable it.

How? By adding a special meta tag to the head element. Head over to the code and open up templates/base.html.twig. We don't want to remove the preview functionality for every page. So instead of adding the meta tag right here, add a block so that a child template can add new meta elements: {% block metas %} {% endblock %}.

85 lines | templates/base.html.twig
// ... lines 1 - 2
<meta charset="UTF-8">
{% block metas %}{% endblock %}
<title>{% block title %}MVP Office Supplies{% endblock %}</title>
{% block stylesheets %}
{{ encore_entry_link_tags('app') }}
{% endblock %}
{% block javascripts %}
{{ encore_entry_script_tags('app') }}
{% endblock %}
// ... lines 15 - 85

Now open up templates/registration/register.html.twig and override that block: {% block metas %}, {% endblock %} and inside add <meta> name="turbo-cache-control" with content="no-preview".

36 lines | templates/registration/register.html.twig
// ... lines 1 - 4
{% block metas %}
<meta name="turbo-cache-control" content="no-preview">
{% endblock %}
// ... lines 8 - 36

The no-preview means: don't show a preview for this page. The other possible value is no-cache, which tells Turbo to not do any snapshotting: not even for the back button.

Let's see how this feels! Refresh the registration page, fill out the form with errors and click away from this page. Now, click back to it. Beautiful! Instead of instantly showing the preview, it stayed on the previous page until the new Ajax call finished loading, just like a normal navigation. You can repeat this for any pages that have a public-facing form where you care enough to avoid this problem.

Dimming the Opacity of a Preview

Speaking of the preview feature, you can also change what a preview looks like... in case you want to make it more obvious that a preview is being shown or give it a "loading" feel. How? Open your Elements inspector. It's quick, but watch this html element. Whenever you navigate and a preview is rendered, Turbo will add a data-turbo-preview attribute to the html element.

Boom! It was fast, but I saw it! Let's use that to see if we can lower the opacity on previews.

Head over to assets/styles/app.css. Target that attribute using the lesser-known attribute syntax: [data-turbo-preview] then body to apply some body styling. Set the opacity to .2 so it's really obvious.

167 lines | assets/styles/app.css
// ... lines 1 - 7
[data-turbo-preview] body {
opacity: .2;
// ... lines 11 - 167

Let's go check it! Refresh. As we click to new pages, we don't see anything. But if we click to a page that we've been to... yes! The whole page was nearly invisible while the preview was being shown. This is also kind of a fun way, while you're developing, to get a feel for when a preview is shown.

But... since this looks a bit extreme, let's go back to app.css and comment it out.

169 lines | assets/styles/app.css
// ... lines 1 - 7
[data-turbo-preview] body {
opacity: .2;
// ... lines 13 - 169

Next: in addition to the form situation we just saw, there's one other common time when the preview feature will do something that... we don't want. Let's talk about what happens when something like a modal is open at the moment a snapshot is taken.