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Learn how YOU can use both C# and JavaScript in your Blazor app with the JavaScript interop

softchris profile image Chris Noring Updated on ・9 min read

Follow me on Twitter, happy to take your suggestions on topics or improvements /Chris

Blazor is the new framework from Microsoft that will make it possible to build applications for the Web using nothing but C#. It's easy at first look to think - Great I don't need to learn JavaScript. To be honest, I think this is the wrong way to look at it. Having a huge ecosystem of libraries written in JavaScript is an opportunity. At the end of the day, it's about solving the client's problem and doing so in a fast and efficient way. With Blazor we know have the opportunity to use the best of two worlds. The .NET Apis and the JavaScript ecosystem.

TLDR; This article will show how to use something called the JavaScript interop which allows us to call JavaScript code from Blazor. Learn to be the developer that leverages two powerful ecosystems .NET APIs and the JavaScript ecosystem.

In this article, we assume that you as a reader knows what Blazor is. It's recommended that if you are completely new to Blazor you first have a read through this introductory article:

 References

WHY

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article. In my opinion, it's not good to limit ourselves to only use the .NET APIs. At the end of the day, it's about getting the job done. For that reason learning how to execute JavaScript from within Blazor is a skill worth having, especially if it means that we can leverage other existing libraries from for example NPM. Another reason for wanting to execute JavaScript from within Blazor might be that we need to use a specific Browser capability.

 WHAT

This article covers something called the JavaScript interop. At our disposal, we have an abstraction called IJSRuntime and on it, we execute the method InvokeAsync<T>(). The method expects the name of the function you want to execute and a list of serialized JSON parameters. A typical call looks something like this:

var result = await JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<string>("methodName", input);

What happens in the above code is that the method methodName() is being invoked and the parameter input is being turned into a string.

Different ways to use the IJSRuntime

You can call the JavaScript interop from different places. Either:

  • From the component, If you want to use it from within a component you just need an inject statement at the top of the component like so:
@inject IJSRuntime JSRuntime
  • From the a C# class, if you want to use the interop from within a class you need to inject it into the class's constructor like so:
class Something 
{
  Something(IJSRuntime jsRuntime) 
  {

  }
}

 DEMO

Ok, so what are we building? Well, let's do the following:

  • Scaffold a project, we need to create a Blazor project. We can do that from the command line
  • Invoke javascript functions, we will create a Blazor component where we will add some code to showcase different ways of calling the JavaScript code using the interop functionality.
  • Download and use a library from NPM, we will leverage the NPM ecosystem by downloading an NPM library and call that from our Blazor Component

Scaffold a project

As Blazor is constantly updated, ensure you are looking at the latest instructions for installing it:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/aspnet/core/blazor/get-started?view=aspnetcore-3.1&tabs=visual-studio

There are two things that needs to be installed for us to be able to create a Blazor project:

  1. Blazor templates, we can easily install these from the command line with the command
  2. .NET Core, latest and greatest

You need to download .Net Core 3.0. Check out this link to find the correct distribution for your OS

https://dotnet.microsoft.com/download/dotnet-core/3.0

You want to be picking the latest and greatest on the above page cause it will give you the latest features of Blazor and usually Blazor templates rely on the latest possible version of .NET Core.

Additionally, you need templates so you can scaffold a Blazor app. Pop open a terminal and type

dotnet new -i Microsoft.AspNetCore.Blazor.Templates::3.1.0-preview2.19528.8

Invoke JavaScript functions

So the first question is, of course, how can we be calling JavaScript functions and with what? We know the first part of the answer. We should be using IJSRuntime and the method InvokeAsync(). Next, we need to know where to place our JavaScript?

The answer is inside of a script file and we need to refer to this script file by placing a script tag in the directory wwwwroot and the file index.html.

-| wwwroot/
---| index.html

Let's say then that we create a file library.js in wwwroot so we know have:

-| wwwroot/
---| index.html
---| library.js

Then we need to open up index.html and add our script tag like so:

<!-- index.html -->
<script src="library.js"></script>

What about the content of library.js then? Well here it is:

// library.js

function add(lhs, rhs) {
  return lhs+rhs;
}

At this point, let's go to our Pages directory and create a new component Jsdemo.razor, like so:

-| Pages
---| Jsdemo.razor

give it the following content:

@page "/jsdemo"
@inject IJSRuntime JSRuntime

<h2>JS Demo</h2>
Result : @result

<button @onclick="Add">Add</button>

@code {
  int result = 0;

  public async void Add() 
  {
    result = await JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<int>("add",1,2);
  }
}

There are many things that go on here:

  1. We call JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<int>("add",1,2), with the first arg being add, the name of the function. Followed by 1,2, which are the arguments to the function.
  2. Then we notice <int>, this sets up the return type of the function
  3. Looking at the full function:
public async void Add() 
{
  result = await JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<int>("add",1,2);
}

we see that we call await to wait for the response, which also means we need to mark our Add() function with async to make the compiler happy.

An example with more complex parameters

Ok, we want to ensure that it still works by invoking functions with parameters that are arrays and even objects.

Let's add two functions to our library.js and update it's content to the following:

// library.js

function add(lhs, rhs) {
  return lhs+rhs;
}

function commonElements(arr1, arr2) {
  return arr1.filter(a => arr2.find(b => b === a)).join(',');
}

So how to call it? Well, just like we did before using JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<int>("name-of-method",arg...).

Let's go update our Blazor component Jsdemo.razor to this:

@page "/jsdemo"
@inject IJSRuntime JSRuntime

<h2>JS Demo</h2>
Result : @result

Common elements result:
@stringResult

<button @onclick="Add">Add</button>
<button @onclick="Common">Common elements</button>

@code {
  int result = 0;
  string stringResult = "";
  int[] arr1 = new int [2]{1,2};
  int[] arr2 = new int [2]{2,3};

  public async Common() 
  {
    stringResult = await JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<string>("commonElements",arr1,arr2);
  }

  public async void Add() 
  {
    result = await JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<int>("add",1,2);
  }
}

Note above how we add some markup for this new result:

Common elements result:
@stringResult

<button @onclick="Common">Common elements</button>

We also need to create some new input parameters, two arrays:

int[] arr1 = new int [2]{1,2};
int[] arr2 = new int [2]{2,3};

Lastly we add the method Common(), like so:

public async Common() 
  {
    stringResult = await JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<int>("commonElements",1,2);
  }

As you can see there is really no difference between having primitives our arrays as inputs. The main reason is that everything gets serialized to JSON on the .NET side and is de-serialized right back when the JavaScript function is being invoked.

 Calling NPM code

Ok, so let's talk about using JavaScript libraries. After all one of the strengths of Blazor lies in the ability to use both ecosystems, both .NET and NPM. So how do we do that?

Well, we need to consider the following:

  1. Large libraries, some libraries are really big out there, like Lodash. Fortunately, there is a way to import only the functions we are going to need, the rest can be omitted through a process called tree shaking
  2. If we are using only a part of a library like the above scenario we need a way to extract the code we need, so we need a tool like browserify or webpack to create a bundle of a subset of code

Ok then, we understand what we need to consider. Now let's do just that, let's extract a function from the library lodash. Let's list the steps we need to take:

  • Create a directory where our bundle and downloaded libraries will live
  • Download the NPM library
  • Set up up a tool like browserify to make it possible to create bundle with an NPM command
  • Create the bundle with browserify and include the resulting bundle as a script tag
  • Try out code from our bundle

Create

Let's create a directory under wwwroot called npm-libs, you can call it what you want.

It should now looks like this:

-| wwwroot
---| npm-libs/

We will treat this is as a Node.js project and with Node.js projects you want to initialize it using npm init, like so:

npm init -y 

This will give us a nice Node.js project with some good defaults and most of all a package.json file.

-| wwwroot
---| npm-libs/
------| package.json 

We will use this package.json file as a manifest file that tells us about the libraries we need and commands we can use to build our bundle.

Download

Inside of our npm-libs we now run the npm install command to give us the library we want, in this case, lodash:

npm install lodash

This means that our file structure now contains a node_modules directory, with our downloaded library, like so:

-| wwwroot
---| npm-libs/
------| package.json 
------| node_modules/

Set up

Next, we need to install our bundling tool browserify:

npm install -g browserify

We are now ready to define a command to run browserify,it should look like so:

browserify -d index.js > bundle.js

The above will take the file index.js, walk the tree over all its dependencies and produce a bundle, that we call bundle.js. Note also how we include -d, this is for source maps. Source maps mean our modules will be remembered for how they looked prior to bundling. We should lose the -d when in production because the source maps makes the bundle bigger.

Let's put this command in the scripts section of package.json so we now have:

"build": "browserify -d index.js > bundle.js"

Ok then, the next step is to create our index.js like so:

-| wwwroot
---| npm-libs/
------| index.js
------| package.json 
------| node_modules/

and give it the following content:

// index.js

var intersect = require('lodash/fp/intersection');

window.intersect = function(arg1, arg2) {
  let result = intersect(arg1, arg2);
  return result.join(',');
};

What we are doing above is asking for a subset of lodash by only loading the function intersection:

var intersect = require('lodash/fp/intersection');

this means that when this tree-shakes, it will only include the intersection code and our bundle will be at a minimum.

Next, we assign the intersection function to the window property and expose it so our C# code can call it.

window.intersect = function(arg1, arg2) {
  let result = intersect(arg1, arg2);
  return result.join(',');
};

At this point we run:

npm run build

This should produce a bundle.js. We should also add a reference to our bundle.js in our index.html file, like so:

<script src="bundle.js"></script>

Try it out

Lastly, we want to call this JavaScript code from our Blazor component. So we add the following code to our @code section, like so:

 public async void Intersect() 
  {
     intersectResult = await JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<string>("intersect",arr1, arr2);
     Console.WriteLine(intersectResult);
  }

and the following to our markup:

<button @onclick="Intersect">Intersect</button>

Intersect:
@intersectResult

Full code of our Blazor component

Let's show the full code in case you got lost somewhere:

@page "/jsdemo"
@inject IJSRuntime JSRuntime

<h2>JS Demo</h2>
Result : @result

<button @onclick="Click">Press</button>
<button @onclick="Add">Add</button>
<button @onclick="Intersect">Intersect</button>

Intersect:
@intersectResult

@code {
  int result = 0;
  string intersectResult = "replace me";

  int[] arr1 = new int [2]{1,2};
  int[] arr2 = new int [2]{2,3};

  public async void Intersect() 
  {
     intersectResult = await JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<string>("intersect",arr1, arr2);
     Console.WriteLine(intersectResult);
  }

  public async void Add() 
  {
    result = await JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<int>("add",1,2);
  }

  void Click() 
  {
    JSRuntime.InvokeAsync<string>("alert","hello");
  }
}

Summary

And that's all, that's what we wanted to achieve. We tried out different ways of calling our code, with primitive parameters, without it. We even showed how we could download a JavaScript library from NPM and make that part of our project.

I hope this was educational and that you are helped for the following scenarios:

  • Occasional usage, Calling JavaScript code occasionally
  • Leveraging existing libraries, you might have existing libraries you've written and don't want to reinvent the wheel or maybe there's a library on NPM that just does what you want it to.

Discussion

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