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Reactivity Transform

Stability: stable
FeaturesSupported
Vue 3
Nuxt 3
Vue 2
TypeScript / Volar

Installation Standalone Version

if you need Reactivity Transform feature only, the standalone version is more appropriate for you.

Installation

bash
npm i -D @vue-macros/reactivity-transform
bash
yarn add -D @vue-macros/reactivity-transform
bash
pnpm add -D @vue-macros/reactivity-transform
ts
// vite.config.ts
import ReactivityTransform from '@vue-macros/reactivity-transform/vite'

export default defineConfig({
  plugins: [ReactivityTransform()],
})
ts
// rollup.config.js
import ReactivityTransform from '@vue-macros/reactivity-transform/rollup'

export default {
  plugins: [ReactivityTransform()],
}
js
// esbuild.config.js
import { build } from 'esbuild'

build({
  plugins: [require('@vue-macros/reactivity-transform/esbuild')()],
})
js
// webpack.config.js
module.exports = {
  /* ... */
  plugins: [require('@vue-macros/reactivity-transform/webpack')()],
}

TypeScript Support

json
// tsconfig.json
{
  "compilerOptions": {
    // ...
    "types": ["@vue-macros/reactivity-transform/macros-global" /* ... */]
  }
}

Refs vs. Reactive Variables

Ever since the introduction of the Composition API, one of the primary unresolved questions is the use of refs vs. reactive objects. It's easy to lose reactivity when destructuring reactive objects, while it can be cumbersome to use .value everywhere when using refs. Also, .value is easy to miss if not using a type system.

Reactivity Transform is a compile-time transform that allows us to write code like this:

vue
<script setup>
let 
count
=
$ref
(0)
console
.
log
(
count
)
function
increment
() {
count
++
} </script> <template> <
button
@
click
="
increment
">{{
count
}}</
button
>
</template>

The $ref() method here is a compile-time macro: it is not an actual method that will be called at runtime. Instead, the Vue compiler uses it as a hint to treat the resulting count variable as a reactive variable.

Reactive variables can be accessed and re-assigned just like normal variables, but these operations are compiled into refs with .value. For example, the <script> part of the above component is compiled into:

js
import { 
ref
} from 'vue'
let
count
=
ref
(0)
console
.
log
(
count
.
value
)
function
increment
() {
count
.
value
++
}

Every reactivity API that returns refs will have a $-prefixed macro equivalent. These APIs include:

These macros are globally available and do not need to be imported when Reactivity Transform is enabled, but you can optionally import them from unplugin-vue-macros/macros or @vue-macros/reactivity-transform/macros-global if you want to be more explicit:

js
import { 
$ref
} from 'unplugin-vue-macros/macros'
// for standalone version: // import { $ref } from '@vue-macros/reactivity-transform/macros-global' const
count
=
$ref
(0)

Destructuring with $()

It is common for a composition function to return an object of refs, and use destructuring to retrieve these refs. For this purpose, reactivity transform provides the $() macro:

js
const { 
x
,
y
} =
$
(
useMouse
())
console
.
log
(
x
,
y
)

Compiled output:

js
const 
__temp
=
useMouse
(),
x
= toRef(
__temp
, 'x'),
y
= toRef(
__temp
, 'y')
console
.
log
(
x
.value,
y
.value)

Note that if x is already a ref, toRef(__temp, 'x') will simply return it as-is and no additional ref will be created. If a destructured value is not a ref (e.g. a function), it will still work - the value will be wrapped in a ref so the rest of the code works as expected.

$() destructure works on both reactive objects and plain objects containing refs.

Convert Existing Refs to Reactive Variables with $()

In some cases we may have wrapped functions that also return refs. However, the Vue compiler won't be able to know ahead of time that a function is going to return a ref. In such cases, the $() macro can also be used to convert any existing refs into reactive variables:

js
import { 
ref
} from 'vue'
function
myCreateRef
() {
return
ref
(0)
} const
count
=
$
(
myCreateRef
())

Reactive Props Destructure

There are two pain points with the current defineProps() usage in <script setup>:

  1. Similar to .value, you need to always access props as props.x in order to retain reactivity. This means you cannot destructure defineProps because the resulting destructured variables are not reactive and will not update.

  2. When using the type-only props declaration, there is no easy way to declare default values for the props. We introduced the withDefaults() API for this exact purpose, but it's still clunky to use.

We can address these issues by applying a compile-time transform when defineProps is used with destructuring, similar to what we saw earlier with $():

vue
<script setup lang="ts">
import { 
watchEffect
} from 'vue'
interface Props {
msg
: string
count
?: number
foo
?: string
} const {
msg
,
// default value just works
count
= 1,
// local aliasing also just works // here we are aliasing `props.foo` to `bar`
foo
:
bar
,
} =
defineProps
<Props>()
watchEffect
(() => {
// will log whenever the props change
console
.
log
(
msg
,
count
,
bar
)
}) </script>

The above will be compiled into the following runtime declaration equivalent:

ts
import { 
defineComponent
,
watchEffect
} from 'vue'
export default
defineComponent
({
props
: {
msg
: {
type
:
String
,
required
: true },
count
: {
type
:
Number
,
default
: 1 },
foo
:
String
,
},
setup
(
props
) {
watchEffect
(() => {
console
.
log
(
props
.
msg
,
props
.
count
,
props
.
foo
)
}) }, })

Retaining Reactivity Across Function Boundaries

While reactive variables relieve us from having to use .value everywhere, it creates an issue of "reactivity loss" when we pass reactive variables across function boundaries. This can happen in two cases:

Passing into function as argument

Given a function that expects a ref as an argument, e.g.:

ts
import { type 
Ref
,
watch
} from 'vue'
function
trackChange
(
x
:
Ref
<number>) {
watch
(
x
, (
x
) => {
console
.
log
('x changed!')
}) } const
count
=
$ref
(0)
trackChange
(count) // doesn't work!
Argument of type 'ReactiveVariable<number>' is not assignable to parameter of type 'Ref<number>'. Type 'Number & { [RefType]?: RefTypes.Ref | undefined; }' is missing the following properties from type 'Ref<number>': value, [RefSymbol]

The above case will not work as expected because it compiles to:

ts
const count = ref(0)
trackChange(count.value)

Here count.value is passed as a number, whereas trackChange expects an actual ref. This can be fixed by wrapping count with $$() before passing it:

diff
let count = $ref(0)
- trackChange(count)
+ trackChange($$(count))

The above compiles to:

js
import { ref } from 'vue'

const count = ref(0)
trackChange(count)

As we can see, $$() is a macro that serves as an escape hint: reactive variables inside $$() will not get .value appended.

Returning inside function scope

Reactivity can also be lost if reactive variables are used directly in a returned expression:

ts
function 
useMouse
() {
const
x
=
$ref
(0)
const
y
=
$ref
(0)
// listen to mousemove... // doesn't work! return {
x
,
y
,
} }

The above return statement compiles to:

ts
return {
  x: x.value,
  y: y.value,
}

In order to retain reactivity, we should be returning the actual refs, not the current value at return time.

Again, we can use $$() to fix this. In this case, $$() can be used directly on the returned object - any reference to reactive variables inside the $$() call will retain the reference to their underlying refs:

ts
function 
useMouse
() {
const
x
=
$ref
(0)
const
y
=
$ref
(0)
// listen to mousemove... // fixed return
$$
({
x
,
y
,
}) }

Using $$() on destructured props

$$() works on destructured props since they are reactive variables as well. The compiler will convert it with toRef for efficiency:

vue
<script setup lang="ts">
const { 
count
} =
defineProps
<{
count
: number }>()
passAsRef
(
$$
(
count
))
</script>

compiles to:

ts
export default 
defineComponent
({
props
: {
count
: {
type
:
Number
,
required
: true },
},
setup
(
props
) {
const
__props_count
=
toRef
(
props
, 'count')
passAsRef
(
__props_count
)
}, })

TypeScript Integration

Vue provides typings for these macros (available globally) and all types will work as expected. There are no incompatibilities with standard TypeScript semantics, so the syntax will work with all existing tooling.

This also means the macros can work in any files where valid JS / TS are allowed - not just inside Vue SFCs.

Since the macros are available globally, their types need to be explicitly referenced (e.g. in a env.d.ts file):

ts
/// <reference types="unplugin-vue-macros/macros-global" />

// or for standalone version:
/// <reference types="@vue-macros/reactivity-transform/macros-global" />

When explicitly importing the macros from unplugin-vue-macros/macros or @vue-macros/reactivity-transform/macros-global, the type will work without declaring the globals.

Contributors

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Changelog