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Revision as of 21:09, 9 April 2009


1 Introduction

Formlets are a way of building HTML forms that are type-safe, handle errors, abstract and are easy to combine into bigger forms. Here's an example:

name :: Form String
name = input Nothing

The input function takes a Maybe String, and produces a XHtmlForm String. The Maybe String is used for default values. If you give it a nothing, it won't have a default value. If you pass in a (Just "value"), it will be pre-populated with the value "value".

You can easily combine formlets using the Applicative Functor combinators. Suppose you have a User-datatype:

data User = User {name :: String, age :: Integer, email :: String}

You can then build a form that produces a user:

userForm :: Form User
userForm = User <$> name <*> inputInteger <*> input Nothing

You can also have more advanced widgets, like a radio-choice, that's where you use enumRadio:

enumRadio :: (Monad m, Enum a) => [(a, String)] -> Maybe a -> Form a

So it asks for a list of pairs with a value and the corresponding label, a possible default-value and it will return something of type a.

chooseBool :: Form Bool
chooseBool = enumRadio [(True, "Yes"), (False, "No")] True

Now we have a widget for booleans that we can use everywhere in our forms!

2 The basics

2.1 Simple validation

2.2 Monadic validation

3 A working example

Below is a self-contained example that uses Formlets and HAppS-Server.

3.1 Prepare your system

First install Formlets and HAppS-Server on your system:

$ cabal install formlets happs-server

3.2 The example code

Put the following in a file called
module Main where
import HAppS.Server
import Control.Applicative
import Control.Applicative.Error
import Control.Applicative.State
import Text.XHtml.Strict.Formlets
import Text.XHtml.Strict ((+++), (<<), (!))
import qualified Text.XHtml.Strict as X
import qualified Data.Map as M
type MyForm a = XHtmlForm IO a
data Date = Date {month :: Integer, day :: Integer} deriving Show
validDate :: Date -> Bool
validDate (Date m d) = m `elem` [1..12] && d `elem` [1..31]
dateComponent :: MyForm Date
dateComponent = Date <$> inputInteger (Just 1) <*> inputInteger (Just 16)
dateFull :: MyForm Date
dateFull   = dateComponent `check` ensure validDate "This is not a valid date"
handleDate :: [ServerPart Response]
handleDate = withForm "date" dateFull showErrorsInline (\d -> okHtml $ show d)
data User = User {name :: String, pass :: String, birthdate :: Date} deriving Show
userFull :: MyForm User
userFull = User <$> input Nothing <*> password Nothing <*> dateFull
handleUser = withForm "user" userFull showErrorsInline (\u -> okHtml $ show u)
withForm :: String -> MyForm a -> (X.Html -> [String] -> Web Response) -> (a -> Web Response) -> [ServerPart Response]
withForm name frm handleErrors handleOk =
  [dir name 
     [ method GET $ createForm [] frm >>= okHtml
     , withDataFn lookPairs $ \d -> [method POST $ handleOk' $ simple d]
  where handleOk' d = do let (extractor, html, _) = runFormState d "" frm
                         v <- liftIO extractor
                         case v of
                           Failure faults -> do f <- createForm d frm
                                                handleErrors f faults
                           Success s      -> handleOk s
        simple d = map (\(k,v) -> (k, Left v)) d
showErrorsInline :: X.Html -> [String] -> Web Response
showErrorsInline renderedForm errors =
  okHtml $ X.toHtml (show errors) +++ renderedForm
createForm :: Env -> MyForm a -> Web X.Html
createForm env frm = do
  let (extractor, xml, endState) = runFormState env "" frm
  xml' <- liftIO xml
  return $ X.form ! [X.method "POST"] << (xml' +++ X.submit "submit" "Submit")
okHtml :: (X.HTML a) => a -> Web Response
okHtml content = ok $ toResponse $ htmlPage $ content
htmlPage :: (X.HTML a) => a -> X.Html
htmlPage content = (X.header  <<  (X.thetitle << "Testing forms")) +++ (X.body    <<  content)
main = simpleHTTP (nullConf {port = 5000}) (handleDate ++ handleUser)

3.3 Running the example

Start up the HAppS server with

$ runhaskell Main.hs

and point your web browser at http://localhost:5000/date/ and http://localhost:5000/user/.

4 How it works

4.1 Advanced: rolling your own output type

5 Other resources

6 References