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Volodymyr Yepishev
Volodymyr Yepishev

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Override Method Return with a Decorator

Decorators are experimental feature in typescript, so writing and relying on them might not be a good idea. Even google warns about using them. You've been warned now.

Okay, now let's goof around with them and see how they can be used to modify API responses. For the purpose of this article, we will be using Star Wars api and Angular, it's already using a pile of decorators on its own, so...

Let's add a service that would request a hero from the api by id, take a quick glance at a response and convert it to an interface, it looks something like this:

// src/app/models/hero.model.ts
interface Hero {
  name: string;
  height: string;
  mass: string;
  hair_color: string;
  skin_color: string;
  eye_color: string;
  birth_year: string;
  gender: string;
  homeworld: string;
  films: string[];
  species: string[];
  vehicles: string[];
  starships: string[];
  created: string;
  edited: string;
  url: string;
}
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So the service would look something like this:

// src/app/services/star-wars-api/star-wars-api.service.ts
import { Injectable } from '@angular/core';
import { HttpClient } from '@angular/common/http';
import { Observable } from 'rxjs';

import { Hero } from 'src/app/models/hero.model';

@Injectable({
  providedIn: 'root',
})
export class StarWarsApiService {
  private readonly api = 'https://swapi.dev/api';

  constructor(private http: HttpClient) {}

  public getHero(id: number): Observable<Hero> {
    const url = `${this.api}/people/${id}`;
    return this.http.get<Hero>(url);
  }
}
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Looks good, but let's imagine that for some reason we want to have type Date in created and edited fields.

Let's build a function that can traverse an object and convert strings to dates:

// src/app/utils/convert-string-to-date-recursively.util.ts
export function convertStringToDateRecursively<T>(
  obj: any,
  checkDate: (s: string) => boolean
): T {
  for (const k in obj) {
    if (!Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty.call(obj, k)) {
      continue;
    }

    const value = obj[k];

    if (Array.isArray(value)) {
      value.map((el) => convertStringToDateRecursively(el, checkDate));
      continue;
    }

    if (typeof value === 'string' && checkDate(value)) {
      obj[k] = new Date(value) as any;
      continue;
    }

    if (typeof value === 'object') {
      obj[k] = convertStringToDateRecursively(value, checkDate);
    }
  }
  return obj;
}
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So we accept any object, iterate over its fields and convert any string, which is verified to be a date string by checkDate to Date. Providing a separate function to check if a string is a date provides better separation of concerns, so our converter deals only with conversion.

This function could be used in a pipe to convert Hero to another interface that has created and edited as Date types, but we're risky, so we'll use decorator to do the conversion on the fly and just directly change the types of those fields in the Hero interface. Not a good idea for an enterprise application, but for pet-project or goofing with decorators, it'll do.

A method decorator is basically a function that accepts the target, propertyKey, and descriptor as argument and then can perform anything with them, so it can be used to override the behavior of the existing class method. For our purpose we are going to pipe into the Observable returned by the original method and map it to the convertStringToDateRecursively function we have created, in order to convert string dates to Date type. To determine whether a string is a date I'll use a function from iso-datestring-validator package, it simply checks if a string is valid ISO-8601 date and returns boolean, so it fits our needs.

// src/app/decorators/map-strings-to-dates.decorator.ts
import { map, Observable } from 'rxjs';

import { isValidISODateString } from 'iso-datestring-validator';

import { convertStringToDateRecursively } from '../utils/convert-string-to-date-recursively.util';

export function mapStringsToDates(
  target: unknown,
  propertyKey: string,
  descriptor: PropertyDescriptor
): void {
  const originalMethod = descriptor.value;
  descriptor.value = function (...args: unknown[]) {
    return (<Observable<unknown>>originalMethod.apply(this, args)).pipe(
      map((r) => convertStringToDateRecursively(r, isValidISODateString))
    );
  };
}
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Pretty simply, how what's left is to decorate our method with it:

// src/app/services/star-wars-api/star-wars-api.service.ts
import { Injectable } from '@angular/core';
import { HttpClient } from '@angular/common/http';
import { Observable } from 'rxjs';

import { Hero } from 'src/app/models/hero.model';
import { mapStringsToDates } from 'src/app/decorators/map-strings-to-dates.decorator';

@Injectable({
  providedIn: 'root',
})
export class StarWarsApiService {
  private readonly api = 'https://swapi.dev/api';

  constructor(private http: HttpClient) {}

  @mapStringsToDates
  public getHero(id: number): Observable<Hero> {
    const url = `${this.api}/people/${id}`;
    return this.http.get<Hero>(url);
  }
}
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Now we can update the Hero interface and put Date as the type for created and edited fields.

That's about it, now you've got the fire to play with :D

P.S. repo with code :)

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