Start

Counter example part:

// ------ ------
//     Start
// ------ ------

// (This function is invoked by `init` function in `index.html`.)
#[wasm_bindgen(start)]
pub fn start() {
    // Mount the `app` to the element with the `id` "app".
    App::start("app", init, update, view);
}
Example from a production app (this website)
#[wasm_bindgen(start)]
pub fn start() {
    App::start("app", init, update, view);
}

  • start is called when your Rust code is loaded by the browser.

  • Its main purpose is to start the app.

Attribute wasm_bindgen

wasm_bindgen is basically a bridge between Rust and Javascript.

Functions tagged with #[wasm_bindgen] can be called from JS. There are many settings and use-cases described in the official docs, however the interesting option for us is start:

When attached to a pub function this attribute will configure the start section of the wasm executable to be emitted, executing the tagged function as soon as the wasm module is instantiated.

start function signature

pub fn start()

The official docs are a bit wrong - you can return from the function tagged with #[wasm_bindgen(start)] also all types that wasm_bindgen can transform to a consumable form for JS => you can return everything that implements FromWasmAbi. See e.g. Box<[JsValue]> in update_from_js example. It's one of the reasons why this function is named start and not main - to force you to think differently about it.

Note: start has to be pub because it's called from the outside (i.e. from the JS world).

How to invoke start

start is invoked when the WASM module (Rust code) is loaded. The simplest code that loads the *.wasm file:

<script type="module">
    import init from '/pkg/package.js';
    init('/pkg/package_bg.wasm');
</script>

You can find it in your index.html.

pkg folder and its content is generated by wasm-pack. wasm-pack is a CLI tool that takes your Rust code and generates WASM file, Javascript/Typescript files and some other assets for you. These JS/TS files contain types and scripts to handle communication between your app and ugly JS/HTML world. package.js is the most important one because it loads the app (package_bg.wasm).

App::start

App::start("app", init, update, view);

App::start is the method that finally starts our Seed app.

  1. It mounts the app into the chosen root element. (We'll talk about it more later).
  2. Does some low-level app initialization - setups listeners, loads base path for routing, enable panic logging to the console, etc.
  3. Calls your init function.
  4. Render the app for the first time.
  5. Returns the App instance. It's useful when you need to setup some callbacks as soon as possible (see example update_from_js).
App::start signature explanation

I can imagine App::start signature could be difficult to grasp for beginners so there is an explanation. Commented code from Seed's app.rs:

// `App` has generic type parameters `Ms`, `Mdl` and `INodes`.
// `Ms` represents your `Msg`, `Mdl` your `Model` 
// and `INodes` the output value from your `view`. 
impl<Ms, Mdl, INodes> App<Ms, Mdl, INodes>

// We use `where` for better readability. An alternative would be:
// `impl<Ms, Mdl, INodes: IntoNodes<Ms> + 'static> App<Ms, Mdl, INodes>`
where

    // The most of things has to be `'static` because it mitigates 
    // the most of lifetime pains for Seed users but primarily we can't pass 
    // references into JS closures - and we need JS closures a lot,
    // especially in the Seed's core for all listeners and similar stuff.
    //
    // _Note_: I had problems to understand what is `'static` 
    // when I was learning Rust => it DOESN'T mean that the value is in memory 
    // for the entire program/app lifetime. It means it's in memory 
    // as long as necessary and we can pass it as we want
    // and we can store it inside structs without problems - in other words: 
    // it's basically everything, except references. 
    // There are only 2 exceptions:
    // 1. `&'static str` (aka string literals) - they are hardcoded strings
    // in your binary so you don't have to do any runtime memory allocations.
    // 2. `static NUM: i32 = 18;` - static global values. They live 
    // for the entire app lifetime.
    INodes: IntoNodes<Ms> + 'static,
{
    pub fn start(

        // You have to pass something that implements trait `GetElement` as `root_element`.
        // `impl` just hides the concrete type so it often makes the code MUCH more readable
        // and you don't have to introduce generic type parameters. 
        // (More about `GetElement` later.)
        root_element: impl GetElement,

        // There is `impl FnOnce` instead of `fn` so you can pass also a closure as `init`:
        // `App::start("app", |_, _| Model::default(), update, view)`
        //
        // It's `FnOnce + 'static` so the closure can close almost everything:
        // `let something = Everything::new();`
        // `App::start("app", move |_, _| Model { data: something }, update, view)`
        //
        // `OrdersContainer<..>` is a concrete type that implements `Orders`.
        // _Note:_ You shouldn't use `OrdersContainer` directly in your code.
        init: impl FnOnce(Url, &mut OrdersContainer<Ms, Mdl, INodes>) -> Mdl + 'static,

        // `update` is also `FnOnce` although it should be `Fn` because it's called multiple times.
        // There is a little trick: It also implements trait `Clone`, 
        // so it can be "casted" to `Fn` under the hood with the code like:
        // `let i_am_Fn = |argument| i_am_FnOnce.clone()(argument)`
        // That way both the compiler and users are happy - compiler is ok with multiple calls,
        // and `FnOnce + Clone` is the most convenient API for users. 
        // _Note:_ `Clone` is cheap because in the most cases `update` 
        // is `fn` that always implements `Copy` (`Copy` is just a mark for cheap `Clone`). 
        update: impl FnOnce(Ms, &mut Mdl, &mut OrdersContainer<Ms, Mdl, INodes>) + Clone + 'static,
        
        // Rust compiler isn't (yet?) able to compile `impl` in some places 
        // so we have to use generic type parameter `INodes` here.
        view: impl FnOnce(&Mdl) -> INodes + Clone + 'static,

        // `Self` represents `App<...>`.
    ) -> Self { ...

Mounting

App mounting = app initialization + the first render to the selected HTML element (aka root element).

The first argument in App::start method will be your root element:

App::start("app", init, update, view);

It can be everything that implements GetElement:

Element and HtmlElement support is useful when you want to find the element by class or tag name - see e.g. get_elements_by_tag_name - it would look like:

#[wasm_bindgen(start)]
pub fn start() {
    // You have to enable panic messages forwarding
    // to console log. The same line is also in `App::start`,
    // but it's too late for the `.expect` below.
    //
    // _Note:_ For Seed <= 0.7.0, you have to add `console_error_panic_hook`
    // into dependencies in your `Cargo.toml` or use this commit:
    // `seed = { git = "https://github.com/seed-rs/seed", rev = "0a538f0" }`
    console_error_panic_hook::set_once();

    let root_element = document()
        .get_elements_by_tag_name("section")
        .item(0)
        .expect("`section` as a root element");

    App::start(root_element, init, update, view);
}

Once the root element is successfully found, its content is replaced with the rendered app. So it's NOT RECOMMENDED to mount the app into body, because body often contains user's scripts and because browser extensions/plugins like to inject their scripts into body. (It's a general rule for all front-end frameworks).

How to write a good start

  • In the most cases it's a one-liner.

  • Don't forget to add console_error_panic_hook::set_once(); at the top of the start body if there is some code above the App::start(..) call.

  • If you really need to pass something to JS, make it as simple as possible. And keep in mind that it'll introduce a lot of boilerplate and error-prone code. See example update_from_js.

  • When you need to write some helpers, respect the rule "children below the parent" as always.