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Jucian0
Jucian0

Posted on • Updated on <time datetime="2021-10-11T14:37:58Z" class="date-no-year">Oct 11</time>

Pub-Sub pattern: a brief explanation

Hello everyone, in the last post I talked about the Observable pattern, and today I'm going to talk about another patter called Pub-Sub. There are some difference between Pub-Sub and Observable, and my plan is to explain these differences and show you how Pub-Sub works, and how you can implement it using javascript.

How Pub-Sub works?

This pattern helps you when you want to dispatch an event; and you want the components that are interested in this event to know what is happening, Observable can only dispatch one event for everyone, but Pub-Sub can dispatch many events, and who are interested should subscribe in a specific event.

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An Analogy

Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW were interested in advertising new positions in their factories and decided to announce them in the newspaper.

Ford's announcement: At Ford, we are very happy to announce a new senior position available. Please apply for this opportunity, and come and work with us, ford@ford.com

Volkswagen's announcement: At Volkswagen, we are very happy to announce a new senior position available. Please, apply for this opportunity, and come and work with us, volkswagen@volkswagen.com

BMW's announcement: At BMW, we are very happy to announce a new senior position available. Please apply for this opportuninty, and work with us, bmw@bmw.com

After a few days, many candidates applied for the opportunities and each company answered their candidates by e-mail, giving them more details about the job.

Ford email: At Ford, we are very pleased that you are interested in our new position. Thank you for applying; and we will be in contact soon.

Volkswagen email: At Volkswagen, we are very pleased that you are interested in our new position. Thank you for applying; and we will be in contact soon.

BMW email: At BMW, we are very pleased that you are interested in our new position. Thank you for applying; and we will be in contact soon.

So, at the end of the process, every company sent a message to employees subscribed in their opportunity, saying about the end of the process.

Applying the analogy

Let's understand how Pub-Sub works, the first thing that we need to understand is that the newspaper was the Pub-Sub, the announcement was the event, the email was the message, the company was the publisher, and the candidate was the subscriber.

After the candidate's subscriptions, the companies dispatched the event, and the candidates subscribed in the event received the message. This example shows us that the Pub-Sub is not about just one event, but many events, and the subscriber should subscribe to a specific event.

So, now we know how Pub-Sub works, we can go on and implement it using javascript.

Implementing Pub-Sub with javascript

The first thing that we need to implement is the PubSub class, this class will be the base of our implementation. So, let's do it:

class PubSub {
  constructor() {
    this.subscribers = {};
  }

  subscribe(event, fn) {
    if (Array.isArray(this.subscribers[event])) {
      this.subscribers[event] = [...this.subscribers[event], fn];
    } else {
      this.subscribers[event] = [fn];
    }
    return () => {
      this.unsubscribe(event, fn);
    };
  }

  unsubscribe(event, fn) {
    this.subscribers[event] = this.subscribers[event].filter(
      (sub) => sub !== fn
    );
  }

  publish(event, data) {
    if (Array.isArray(this.subscribers[event])) {
      this.subscribers[event].forEach((sub) => {
        sub(data);
      });
    }
    return false;
  }
}

export default new PubSub();
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  1. The constructor of the class will create an empty object, and this object will be the base of our implementation, and we will store all the subscribers in this object.

  2. The subscribe method will receive an event and a function, and we will store the function in the subscribers object, every event should be a property of this object and the value of this property should be an array of functions. After that, we will return a function that will filter the function that we want to remove from the subscribers array.

  3. The unsubscribe method will receive an event and a function, and we will select the property of the subscriber object that matches the event received as a parameter, and we will filter the function that we want to remove from the subscribers array.

  4. The publish method will receive an event and data, and we will iterate over the subscribers object, and for each subscriber that matches the event received, we will call the function with the data.

  5. The export default new PubSub(); will create a new instance of the class, and we will export it.

Implementing a use case

Now that we have the PubSub class, we can implement our use case, and we will create a basic use case. Using some html elements and javascript we will create a simple page to show us the subscription, unsubscription, and publishing of events working.

import "./styles.css";
import PubSub from "./PubSub";

const firstInput = document.getElementById("first-input");
const secondInput = document.getElementById("second-input");

const firstSubscriberBtn = document.getElementById("first-subscriber-btn");
const secondSubscriberBtn = document.getElementById("second-subscriber-btn");
const firstUnSubscriberBtn = document.getElementById("first-un-subscriber-btn");
const secondUnSubscriberBtn = document.getElementById(
  "second-un-subscriber-btn"
);

const textFirstSubscriber = document.getElementById("first-subscriber");
const textSecondSubscriber = document.getElementById("second-subscriber");

const firstText = (e) => (textFirstSubscriber.innerText = `${e}`);
const secondText = (e) => (textSecondSubscriber.innerText = `${e}`);

firstInput.addEventListener("input", (e) =>
  PubSub.publish("first-event", e.target.value)
);

secondInput.addEventListener("input", (e) =>
  PubSub.publish("second-event", e.target.value)
);

firstSubscriberBtn.addEventListener("click", (e) => {
  e.preventDefault();
  PubSub.subscribe("first-event", firstText);
});

firstUnSubscriberBtn.addEventListener("click", (e) => {
  e.preventDefault();
  PubSub.unsubscribe("first-event", firstText);
});

secondSubscriberBtn.addEventListener("click", (e) => {
  e.preventDefault();
  PubSub.subscribe("second-event", secondText);
});

secondUnSubscriberBtn.addEventListener("click", (e) => {
  e.preventDefault();
  PubSub.unsubscribe("second-event", secondText);
});
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  1. The firstInput will listen for the input event, and when it happens, it will publish the first-event event, and the secondInput will listen for the same event, and when it happens, it will publish the second-event event.

  2. The firstSubscriberBtn will listen for the click event, and when it happens, it will subscribe the first-event event, and the firstUnSubscriberBtn will listen for the click event, and when it happens, it will unsubscribe the first-event event.

  3. The secondSubscriberBtn will listen for the click event, and when it happens, it will subscribe the second-event event, and the secondUnSubscriberBtn will listen for the click event, and when it happens, it will unsubscribe the second-event event.

  4. The textFirstSubscriber will listen for the first-event event, and when it happens, it will update the text with the value of the event, and the textSecondSubscriber will listen for the second-event event, and when it happens, it will update the text with the value of the event.

  5. The firstInput will listen for the input event, and when it happens, it will publish the first-event event, and the secondInput will listen for the same event, and when it happens, it will publish the second-event event.

You can see the result of the use case working in the link below:
https://codesandbox.io/s/Pub-Sub-7qvkr?from-embed

Conclusion

Even if you don't know how to implement it, it's very important to understand how Pub-Sub works, as Pub-Sub is a very common pattern in many programming languages and libraries.

I hope that you found this article helpful, and if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section.

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