Starting Again, from the Ground Up—Welcome to xyz

So, I did it again. From .com on blogger to .io on Wordpress, I wasn’t happy with how little control I had with my personal website. 129 commits in almost two months of smashing it out on the ferry to work and back, here we are!

Built from ground up using NodeJS, Express, Typescript and MongoDB, and open sourced on Github, welcome to!

Now the rest of this post will discuss its design and development decisions, so check out the features on the dedicated project page if code isn’t really your thing! Or just click around, and enjoy your stay!

Design decisions

Controller actions from ASP.NET MVC

Routing is managed using method actions and reflection (thanks to reflect-meta). In the example below, going to // with first check if you’re an admin (thanks to the restricted annotation), get the :key which determines which project post to load, and displays the Handlebars view to render given the returning data via a presenter.

async edit(key) {
    const post = await
        .filter({ key: key })

    return new ProjectPresenter("update", post, this.isAdmin);

Do note that this required enabling support for experimental decorators in tsconfig, similar to what Angular2 requires to support its ways of declaring @View and @Component for example.

Fluent API data access from LINQ

The mongo driver straight from NPM was cumbersome to use, it wasn’t async friendly let alone favouring method chaining. So I made a simple StoreQuery class to manage this, allowing for elegant code as follows.

const posts = await
    .filter({ status: "publish" })


You may have also noticed I’m using async methods and awaits to wait for resolution of a Promise. This mechanism is something some .NET like myself devs have really taken for granted.

We don’t ever need to type the following horror.

function longOperation(input, onSuccess) {
    longOperation2(input2, function () {
        // another callback
        longOperation3(input3, function () {
            // this is called callback hell

Instead we’d more likley see the following [1].

var input2 = await longOperation(input);
return await longOperation(input2);

So to avoid things like callback-hell and improve code readability, it only made sense to get it working with Node and Typescript.

I desperately wanted to avoid using Babel or Webpack, and to keep things simple with Typescript being the only build system. Now we have a problem here. Typescript only supports async/await if it transpiles to ES6 (officially ES2015) (which browsers don’t support yet, we’re still on ES5),

Luckily NodeJS supports many ES5 functions in later builds, so there was no further transpilation required. To get this working client side (where browsers need ES5), you’d have to use something like Babel, although it’s on the roadmap to have asnyc/await transpiling down to both ES5 and even ES3 in the future!


Like I said, I wanted to avoid extra build steps and stick to just Typescript. In VSCode, hitting F5 simply runs tsc -p . then starts the Node server via node entry.js. The base I use for most electron apps such as Sprintr used Webpack and the build time, even with WebpackDevServer which provides incremental builds, really killed the feedback back loop between coding and testing.

Another avoidance has been JQuery. Not because I consider it bad, but because I wanted to stick to CSS3 animations and document.window.querySelector was mostly why I used JQuery in other projects.


1: Of course there are chainable thens and generators, and of course async/await isn’t the silverbullet to all forms of asynchronous code, especially now with the growing popularity of Rx and Observables.