DEV Community

loading...
Cover image for How to Use IndexDB to Manage State in JavaScript

How to Use IndexDB to Manage State in JavaScript

OpenReplay Tech Blog
Tech blog for Asayer.io. Quality content by developers for developers interested in JavaScript and related front-end technologies.
Originally published at blog.openreplay.com ・10 min read

by author Craig Buckler

My previous article, Getting Started with IndexedDB for Big Data Storage, demonstrated how to use the browser's IndexedDB NoSQL database to store data. IndexedDB has good cross-browser support and offers at least 1GB of storage.

This article explains how to use IndexedDB to store state in a typical client-side JavaScript application.

The code is available from Github. It provides an example to-do app which you can use or adapt for your own projects.

What do we mean by "state"?

All applications store state. For a to-do app, it's a list of items. For a game, it's the current score, weapons available, power-up time remaining, etc. Variables store state but these can become unwieldly as complexity increases.

State management systems such as Redux and Vuex provide centralized data stores. Any JavaScript component can read, update, or delete data. Some systems permit components to subscribe to change events. For example, when a user toggles light/dark mode, all components update their styles accordingly.

Most state management systems store values in memory although techniques and plugins are available to transfer data to localStorage, cookies, etc.

Is IndexedDB suitable for storing state?

As always: it depends.

IndexedDB offers some benefits:

  1. It can typically store 1GB of data which makes it suitable for large objects, files, images etc. Moving these items out of memory can make an application faster and more efficient.

  2. Unlike cookies and Web Storage (localStorage and sessionStorage), IndexedDB stores native JavaScript object data. There's no need to serialize into JSON strings or deserialize back again.

  3. IndexedDB access is asynchronous so it has minimal impact on the main JavaScript processing thread.

Note that Web Storage is synchronous: your JavaScript code pauses execution while it accesses data. This can cause performance issues when saving larger datasets.

Asynchronous data access has some drawbacks:

  • The IndexedDB API uses older callback and event methods so a Promise-based wrapper library is practical.

  • async class constructors and Proxy get/set handlers are not possible in JavaScript. This poses some challenges for state management systems.

Creating an IndexedDB-based state management system

The example code below implements a simple State management system in 35 lines of JavaScript. It offers the following features:

  • You can define a state with a name (string) and a value (primitive, array, object, etc). An IndexedDB object store saves these values using the name as an index.

  • Any JavaScript component can set or get a value by its name.

  • When a value is set, the state manager alerts all subscribed components about the change. A component subscribes itself via the State constructor, or by setting or getting a named value.

A to-do list project demonstrates the State manager. It defines two Web Components which both access the same todolist array of tasks managed by State objects:

  1. todo-list.js: renders the todolist HTML and removes an item when the user clicks it's 'done' button.
  2. todo-add.js: shows an "add new item" form which appends new tasks to the todolist array.

Note: A single todo list component would be more practical, but this demonstrates how two isolated classes can share the same state.

Creating an IndexedDB wrapper class

The Getting Started article provided a Promise-based IndexedDB wrapper. We require a similar class, but it can be simpler because it fetches single records by name.

The js/lib/indexeddb.js script defines an IndexedDB class with a constructor. It accepts a database name, version, and upgrade function. It returns the instantiated object following a successful connection to the IndexedDB database:

// IndexedDB wrapper class
export class IndexedDB {

  // connect to IndexedDB database
  constructor(dbName, dbVersion, dbUpgrade) {

    return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {

      // connection object
      this.db = null;

      // no support
      if (!('indexedDB' in window)) reject('not supported');

      // open database
      const dbOpen = indexedDB.open(dbName, dbVersion);

      if (dbUpgrade) {

        // database upgrade event
        dbOpen.onupgradeneeded = e => {
          dbUpgrade(dbOpen.result, e.oldVersion, e.newVersion);
        };
      }

      dbOpen.onsuccess = () => {
        this.db = dbOpen.result;
        resolve( this );
      };

      dbOpen.onerror = e => {
        reject(`IndexedDB error: ${ e.target.errorCode }`);
      };

    });

  }
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The asynchronous set method stores a value with the name identifier in the storeName object store. IndexedDB handles all operations in a transaction which triggers events that resolve or reject the Promise:

  // store item
  set(storeName, name, value) {

    return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {

      // new transaction
      const
        transaction = this.db.transaction(storeName, 'readwrite'),
        store = transaction.objectStore(storeName);

      // write record
      store.put(value, name);

      transaction.oncomplete = () => {
        resolve(true); // success
      };

      transaction.onerror = () => {
        reject(transaction.error); // failure
      };

    });

  }
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Similarly, the asynchronous get method retrieves the value with the name identifier in the storeName object store:

  // get named item
  get(storeName, name) {

    return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {

      // new transaction
      const
        transaction = this.db.transaction(storeName, 'readonly'),
        store = transaction.objectStore(storeName),

        // read record
        request = store.get(name);

      request.onsuccess = () => {
        resolve(request.result); // success
      };

      request.onerror = () => {
        reject(request.error); // failure
      };

    });

  }


}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Open Source Session Replay

Whether you're using React, Vue or just vanillaJS, debugging a web application in production may be challenging and time-consuming. OpenReplay is an Open-source alternative to FullStory, LogRocket and Hotjar. It allows you to monitor and replay everything your users do and shows how your app behaves for every issue.
It’s like having your browser’s inspector open while looking over your user’s shoulder.
OpenReplay is the only open-source alternative currently available.

OpenReplay

Happy debugging, for modern frontend teams - Start monitoring your web app for free.

Creating the State manager class

A js/lib/state.js script imports IndexedDB and defines a State class. It shares five static property values across all instantiations:

  1. dbName: the name of the IndexedDB database used for state storage ("stateDB")
  2. dbVersion: the database version number (1)
  3. storeName: the name of the object store used to store all name/value pairs ("state")
  4. DB: a reference to a single IndexedDB object used to access the database, and
  5. target: an EventTarget() object which can dispatch and receive events across all State objects.
// simple state handler
import { IndexedDB } from './indexeddb.js';

export class State {

  static dbName = 'stateDB';
  static dbVersion = 1;
  static storeName = 'state';
  static DB = null;
  static target = new EventTarget();
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The constructor accepts two optional parameters:

  1. an array of observed names, and
  2. an updateCallback function. This function receives the name and value whenever a state updates.

A handler listens for set events called when state changes. It runs the updateCallback function when the passed name is being observed.

  // object constructor
  constructor(observed, updateCallback) {

    // state change callback
    this.updateCallback = updateCallback;

    // observed properties
    this.observed = new Set(observed);

    // subscribe to set events
    State.target.addEventListener('set', e => {

      if (this.updateCallback && this.observed.has( e.detail.name )) {
        this.updateCallback(e.detail.name, e.detail.value);
      }

    });

  }
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The class does not connect to the IndexedDB database until it's required. The dbConnect method establishes a connection and reuses it across all State objects. On the first run, it creates a new object store named state (as defined in the static storeName property):

  // connect to IndexedDB database
  async dbConnect() {

    State.DB = State.DB || await new IndexedDB(
      State.dbName,
      State.dbVersion,
      (db, oldVersion, newVersion) => {

        // upgrade database
        switch (oldVersion) {
          case 0: {
            db.createObjectStore( State.storeName );
          }
        }

      });

    return State.DB;

  }
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The asynchronous set method updates a named value. It adds the name to the observed list, connects to the IndexedDB database, sets the new value, and triggers a set CustomEvent which all State objects receive:

  // set value in DB
  async set(name, value) {

    // add observed property
    this.observed.add(name);

    // database update
    const db = await this.dbConnect();
    await db.set( State.storeName, name, value );

    // raise event
    const event = new CustomEvent('set', { detail: { name, value } });
    State.target.dispatchEvent(event);

  }
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The asynchronous get method returns a named value. It adds the name to the observed list, connects to the IndexedDB database, and retrieves the indexed data:

  // get value from DB
  async get(name) {

    // add observed property
    this.observed.add(name);

    // database fetch
    const db = await this.dbConnect();
    return await db.get( State.storeName, name );

  }

}
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

You can retrieve and update state values using a new State object, e.g.

import { State } from './state.js';

(async () => {

  // instantiate
  const state = new State([], stateUpdated);

  // get latest value and default to zero
  let myval = await state.get('myval') || 0;

  // set a new state value
  await state.set('myval', myval + 1);

  // callback runs when myval updates
  function stateUpdated(name, value) {
    console.log(`${ name } is now ${ value }`)
  }

})()
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Other code can receive state update notifications about the same item, e.g.

new State(['myval'], (name, value) => {
  console.log(`I also see ${ name } is now set to ${ value }!`)
});
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

Creating a state-managed todo list

A simple to-do list app demonstrates the state management system:

todo list app

The index.html file defines two custom elements:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
<meta charset="UTF-8">
<title>IndexedDB state management to-do list</title>
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,initial-scale=1" />
<link rel="stylesheet" href="./css/main.css" />
<script type="module" src="./js/main.js"></script>
</head>
<body>

  <h1>IndexedDB state management to-do list</h1>

  <todo-list></todo-list>

  <todo-add></todo-add>

</body>
</html>
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode
  • <todo-list> - the todo list controlled by ./js/components/todo-list.js which updates the list when tasks are added and removed, and
  • <todo-add> - a form to add items to the todo list controlled by ./js/components/todo-list.js.

./js/main.js loads both component modules:

// load components
import './components/todo-add.js';
import './components/todo-list.js';
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

The scripts define frameworkless Web Components which get and set a shared todolist state. Web Components are beyond the scope of this article, but the basics are:

  1. You can define a custom HTML element (such as <todo-list>). The name must contain a dash (-) to avoid clashes with current or future HTML elements.
  2. A JavaScript class which extends HTMLElement defines the functionality. The constructor must call super().
  3. The browser calls a connectedCallback() method when it's ready to update the DOM. The method can append content, optionally using an encapsulated Shadow DOM which is not accessible to other scripts.
  4. customElements.define registers the class with the custom element.

The <todo-list> component

./js/components/todo-list.js defines the TodoList class for the <todo-list> component. It shows a list of tasks and handles deletion when the user clicks a 'done' button. The class sets static HTML strings and creates a new State object. This monitors the a todolist variable and runs the object's render() method when its value changes:

`

`js
import { State } from '../lib/state.js';

class TodoList extends HTMLElement {

static style =
<style>
ol { padding: 0; margin: 1em 0; }
li { list-style: numeric inside; padding: 0.5em; margin: 0; }
li:hover, li:focus-within { background-color: #eee; }
button { width: 4em; float: right; }
</style>
;
static template = <li>$1 <button type="button" value="$2">done</button></li>;

constructor() {
super();
this.state = new State(['todolist'], this.render.bind(this));
}
`

The render() method receives the updated name and value (only todolist will arrive). It stores the list as a local object property then appends HTML to the Shadow DOM (created by the connectedCallback() method):

`js
// show todo list
render(name, value) {

// update state
this[name] = value;

// create new list
let list = '';
this.todolist.map((v, i) => {
  list += TodoList.template.replace('$1', v).replace('$2', i);
});

this.shadow.innerHTML = `${ TodoList.style }<ol>${ list }</ol>`;
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

}
`

The connectedCallback() method runs when the DOM is ready. It:

  1. creates a new Shadow DOM and passes the latest todolist state to the render() method, and
  2. attaches a click event handler which removes an item from the todolist state. The render() method will automatically execute because the state changed.

`js
// initialise
async connectedCallback() {

this.shadow = this.attachShadow({ mode: 'closed' });
this.render('todolist', await this.state.get('todolist') || []);

// remove item event
this.shadow.addEventListener('click', async e => {

  if (e.target.nodeName !== 'BUTTON') return;
  this.todolist.splice(e.target.value, 1);
  await this.state.set('todolist', this.todolist);

});
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

}
`

The TodoList class is then registered for the <todo-list> component:

`js
}

// register component
customElements.define( 'todo-list', TodoList );
`

The <todo-add> component

./js/components/todo-add.js defines the TodoAdd class for the <todo-add> component. It shows a form that can append new tasks to the todolist state. It sets a static HTML string and creates a new State object. This monitors the todolist state and retains it as a local object property:

`js
class TodoAdd extends HTMLElement {

static template =
<style>
form { display: flex; justify-content: space-between; padding: 0.5em; }
input { flex: 3 1 10em; font-size: 1em; padding: 6px; }
button { width: 4em; }
</style>
<form method="post">
<input type="text" name="add" placeholder="add new item" required />
<button>add</button>
</form>
;

constructor() {
super();
this.state = new State(['todolist'], (name, value) => this[name] = value );
}
`

The connectedCallback() method runs when the DOM is ready. It:

  1. fetches the latest todolist state into a local property which defaults to an empty array
  2. appends the form HTML to a Shadow DOM, and
  3. attaches a submit event handler which adds an new item to the todolist state (which, in turn, updates the <todo-list> component). It then clears the input field so you can add another task.

`js
// initialise
async connectedCallback() {

// get latest todo list
this.todolist = await this.state.get('todolist') || [];

const shadow = this.attachShadow({ mode: 'closed' });
shadow.innerHTML = TodoAdd.template;

const add = shadow.querySelector('input');

shadow.querySelector('form').addEventListener('submit', async e => {

  e.preventDefault();

  // add item to list
  await this.state.set('todolist', this.todolist.concat(add.value));

  add.value = '';
  add.focus();

});
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

}
`

The TodoAdd class is then registered for the <todo-add> component:

`js
}

// register component
customElements.define( 'todo-add', TodoAdd );
`

Conclusion

Projects often avoid IndexedDB because its API is clunky. It's not an obvious choice for state management, but the indexed database and large storage allocation could make it a good option for complex projects which store significant volumes of data.

Discussion (0)