A useModal composition hook, teleport and the ES6 Proxy


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While working on my course, The Composition API, a very clean abstraction for handling modals using the composition API emerged in the form of a useModal hook. In this article we will build it from the ground up.

The final API will look something like this:

// Installation
const app = createApp(App)
app.use(ModalPlugin)
app.$mount('#app')
<!-- Usage -->
<template>
  <button @click="show">show</button>
  <teleport to="#modal-dest" v-if="visible">
    <modal-content-here />
  </teleport>
</template

<script lang="ts">
import { defineComponent } from 'vue'
import { useModal } from './modal'

export default defineComponent({
  setup() {
    const modal = useModal()

    return {
      showModal: modal.show(),
      visible: modal.visible
    }
  }
})
</script>

The source code is available a Gist here.

A simple useModal hook

Let’s start defining the hook. We will do this in a vue file - Modal.vue. Create a new component and add the following (there is a lot going on, I explain it directly underneath!)

<template>

</template>

<script lang="ts">
import { defineComponent, ref } from "vue";

const show = ref(false)

export const useModal = () => {
  return {
    showModal() {
      show.value = true
    },
    hideModal() {
      show.value = false
    },
    visible() {
      show.value
    }
  }
}
</script>

useModal returns an object with two functions. Two are just a nice public interface to show and hide the modal - and the final just returns whether the modal is current visible or not.

This is far from an ideal implementation - we don’t want visible to be writable, for example - it would be cleaner to make this a read only property, as opposed to a writable ref. We will fix this later using Proxy, the ES6 construct that Vue 3 is built on top of. For now, we will focus on getting everything working then refactor.

Make it work, make it right, make it fast

The Modal Template

You can use whatever markup and styling you like. I am using Bulma, a simple CSS only framework. The markup for my modal is like this:

<template>
  <div class="modal" :style="style">
    <div class="modal-background"></div>
    <div class="modal-content">
      <div id="modal-dest"></div>
    </div>
    <button class="modal-close is-large" aria-label="close" @click="hide"></button>
  </div>
</template>

We haven’t created the style binding in the first <div> or the hide function in the <button>. Add those to the <script> under the useModal function:

export default defineComponent({
  setup() {
    const modal = useModal()

    const style = computed(() => {
      return {
        display: show.value ? 'block' : 'none'
      }
    })

    return {
      style,
      hide: modal.hideModal,
    }
  }
})

The Bulma modal overlay defaults to display: none and you make it visible by setting display: block. We accomplish this by binding to show.value.

The Modal Destination

You may have noticed the use of <teleport to="#modal-dest"> right at the start - we need to create that destination now. This should be as high up the DOM tree as possible - we want the modal to overlay above everything else. We could ask the user to insert a <div id="modal"> in their index.html, but it would be much cleaner if we could do it for them. Let’s do that.

Let’s say index.html looks like this:

<html>
  <!-- ... --->
  <body>
    <div id="app"></div>
  </body>
  <!-- ... --->
</html>

We will insert the <div id="modal"> between <body> and <div id="app">.

In a new file, modal-plugin.ts, add the following:

export class ModalPlugin {
  static install() {
    const el = document.createElement('div')
    el.id = 'modal'
    document.body.insertAdjacentElement('afterbegin', el)
    const app = createApp(ModalApp).mount('#modal')
  }
}

We are making a new <div> for the modal - which is actually another Vue app - to mount on. We use insertAdjacentElement('afterbegin') to mount the modal app in between <body> and <div id="app">. insertAdjacentElement can insert different ways depending on the first argument, you can read more about it on MDN.

Finally, head to main.ts (or the root of your app) and use the ModalPlugin. Mine looks like this:

import { createApp } from 'vue'
import { ModalPlugin } from '../modal-plugin'

import App from './App.vue'

const app = createApp(App)
app.use(ModalPlugin)
app.mount('#app')

And this should be enough to get everything working!

Improvements with Proxy

We can use a Proxy to only expose visible as a readonly property. This probably isn’t perfect (I am still learning the in and outs of Proxy as well), but it will still accomplishes what we want. Basically, when using a Proxy, you define what happens using get and set - in this case, we will not implement set at all, so the user cannot update visible by visible.value = false.

We continue exposing hideModal and showModal as functions. The implementation is as follows:

interface ModalApi {
  hideModal: () => void
  showModal: () => void
  visible: boolean
}

export const useModal = (): ModalApi => {
  return new Proxy<ModalApi>(Object.create(null), {
    get(obj, prop) {
      if (prop === 'visible') {
        return computed(() => show.value)
      }
      if (prop === 'hideModal') {
        return () => show.value = false
      }
      if (prop === 'showModal') {
        return () => show.value = true
      }
    }
  })
}

A better implementation might be with classes and by using a get property on visible - however, I think this is a good opportunity to share a real use case for Proxy. A good exercise would be to rewrite this using a class. Something like:

class ModalApi {
  showModal() {
    // ...
  }

  hideModal() {
    // ...
  }

  get visible() {
    // ...
  }
}

Other Improvements

At the moment we will show all the modals in the entire application if visible is true. To support different modals, an additional flag specifying which modal is required. For example:

modal.showModal({ id: 'signup' })

You could use a unique id, or even pass the actual Component, then render it using a dynamic component. This would work something like this:

modal.showModal({ component: Signup })

<template>
  <component :is="modal.component" />
</template>

There are many solutions - pick one that works best for your application.

Another improvement would be to use a constant for the <teleport to"..."> and in the <Modal> component, since typing strings manually is error prone. For example:

<template>
  <teleport :to="modalTarget">
</template>

<script lang="ts">
export default {
  setup() {
    const modal = useModal()

    return {
      modalTarget: modal.target // `modal.target could be '#destination' for example.
  }
}
</script>

Conclusion

We build a useModal hook using ref, computed and a simple object in combination with <teleport>. We also explored how we can use Proxy for more fine-grained control over object access.


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