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Manual "Restore" Visit

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Refresh, go to the cart page and add another item from the sidebar. A few minutes ago, after doing this, we saw a nice green success flash message on the top of the page. Where did it go?

Look at the network tools and scroll up. Ah, here's the problem. When we submitted the add to cart form into the frame, our controller redirected and the turbo frame followed that redirect. This request is the POST to /cart... and this is the Ajax request for the redirect. That response does contain a success flash message: "Item added!".

But remember: flash messages are only rendered one time. Or, to be more precise, as soon as we render a flash message, Symfony removes it so that it's never rendered again.

The problem is that... we never actually see this response on the page. Nope. We detect that this redirect happened, cancel the render - which only would have rendered inside the frame anyways - and then use Turbo to navigate to this URL. That's the second identical request. Unfortunately, once we get there, the flash message is gone... because it was already rendered... even though we never saw it.

Yep, our system works great except that the redirected page is requested twice... and we only render the second one.

Ajax Calls and Redirects: A Conundrum

This is actually tough to fix... and it's mostly not Turbo's fault. We could try to work around this by adding some code to our flash logic. Like, if the request is for a turbo frame, don't render the flash message. That way, it won't get used and will render on the next full request.

But... that feels hacky to me. The real solution is harder, but more correct: avoid the second, duplicate request!

Internally Turbo uses the fetch() function to make its Ajax calls. When we return a redirect, fetch automatically follows that and makes a second Ajax request, which we see down here. So, this "follow the redirect" behavior does not come from Turbo... it's just how fetch works.

The ideal solution would be for fetch() to... not follow the redirect: to make only the first request, stop, then tell us the redirect URL so that we can visit it with Turbo.

Unfortunately... that's literally not possible. For complex reasons that might change someday, you can tell fetch() to not follow a redirect. But if you do, fetch() purposely hides the URL that it would have redirected to... which means we have no idea what URL to make Turbo navigate to! Yup, our ideal solution is entirely not possible in browsers as of today. What a mess!

Fortunately, there are still two ways to solve this correctly, and I'll show you both. The first is quick, easy and... involves using an internal option in Turbo that the documentation specifically tells you not to use. Exciting! The second solution involves some work in our Symfony app, but avoids using that option.

Upgrading Turbo... Again

So let's start with the pure Turbo solution. It's beautifully simple and... it all starts with a question: if the turbo-frame already makes the Ajax request to the redirected page, could we simply tell Turbo to navigate to that page and use that HTML... without making a second request? Think about it: over in turbo-helper.js, this fetchResponse already contains the HTML we want! We just need Turbo to put that onto the page and update the address bar.

Doing this is possible... mostly. Start by finding your terminal and, once again, running:

yarn upgrade @hotwired/turbo

The Internal "restore" Option

This upgrades Turbo to RC-1. Turbo seems to always release a new feature just before I need it. In this case, it's a PageSnapshot class we'll use later.

Now, over in turbo-helper.js, add a second argument to Turbo.visit() - an options argument. One option here is called action.... and one of the values you can set it to is restore.

128 lines | assets/turbo/turbo-helper.js
// ... lines 1 - 3
const TurboHelper = class {
// ... lines 5 - 103
beforeFetchResponse(event) {
// ... lines 105 - 115
Turbo.visit(fetchResponse.location, {
action: 'restore'
// ... lines 121 - 124
// ... lines 126 - 128

The action restore tells Turbo to visit this URL, but with the same behavior as if you clicked the back or forward buttons in your browser. Specifically, if the page is already in the snapshot cache, use that snapshot and make no network request. If it's not already in the snapshot cache, then it will make a network request.

This is the part where we're breaking the rules. "Restoration visits" are reserved for clicking the back and forward buttons. Setting this action to restore will work... but the documentation says that this is "internal" and that we should not use this action directly.

But... let's ignore that for now. Refresh the page, head back to the cart and add another item. Hmm, we still don't see the flash message. Oh, that's because even though Turbo has made a request for this URL - via the redirect - that response was never put into the snapshot cache. Remember: a snapshot of a page is normally taken the moment you navigate away from that page. We're going to need to put the HTML into the snapshot cache manually.

Here's how... and some of this is pretty deep in Turbo. Say const snapshot = Turbo.PageSnapshot.fromHTMLString() and pass it the response HTML, which we can get by saying fetchResponse.responseHTML. Except... responseHTML returns a Promise... so we need to await that. And as soon as we await that, we need to make the method async.

This gives us a Snapshot object from that HTML. To put this into the cache, say Turbo.navigator.view.snapshotCache.put() and pass this the URL - or "location" - of the page - fetchResponse.location - and then the snapshot object.

130 lines | assets/turbo/turbo-helper.js
// ... lines 1 - 3
const TurboHelper = class {
// ... lines 5 - 103
async beforeFetchResponse(event) {
// ... lines 105 - 113
const snapshot = Turbo.PageSnapshot.fromHTMLString(await fetchResponse.responseHTML);
Turbo.navigator.view.snapshotCache.put(fetchResponse.location, snapshot)
Turbo.visit(fetchResponse.location, {
action: 'restore'
// ... lines 123 - 126
// ... lines 128 - 130

This is... pretty low-level, but that is how you can manually add a page to the cache. Let's try it!

Do the whole flow again: refresh the page, go to the cart, submit, and... we got it! The flash message shows up and, down in the network tools, we see only one request for this page. That's awesome!

Is this Internal Option Safe?

So... maybe we just stick with this solution and hope it won't break in the future. Even though the action restore is meant as an internal flag, I couldn't find any conversation about why it's internal or what risks there are: the note in the documentation was added years ago when the feature was first introduced.

But... if you want to play it safe, we have another solution. Change this back to a normal visit... and also take off the async.

Next: let's solve this problem again by doing some fancy communication between Turbo and Symfony.