Providing HTML Content Using Htmx

author

Laurence Isla

This how-to shows a way to return HTML content and use the htmx library to handle the AJAX requests. Htmx expects an HTML response and uses it to replace an element inside the DOM (see the htmx introduction in the docs).

../_images/htmx-demo.gif

Warning

This is a proof of concept showing what can be achieved using both technologies. We are working on plmustache which will further improve the HTML aspect of this how-to.

Preparatory Configuration

We will make a to-do app based on the Tutorial 0 - Get it Running, so make sure to complete it before continuing.

To simplify things, we won’t be using authentication, so grant all permissions on the todos table to the web_anon user.

grant all on api.todos to web_anon;
grant usage, select on sequence api.todos_id_seq to web_anon;

Next, add the text/html as a Media Type Handlers. With this, PostgREST can identify the request made by your web browser (with the Accept: text/html header) and return a raw HTML document file.

create domain "text/html" as text;

Creating an HTML Response

Let’s create a function that returns a basic HTML file, using Tailwind CSS for styling.

create or replace function api.index() returns "text/html" as $$
  select $html$
    <!DOCTYPE html>
    <html>
    <head>
      <meta charset="utf-8">
      <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
      <title>PostgREST + HTMX To-Do List</title>
      <!-- Tailwind for CSS styling -->
      <link href="https://unpkg.com/tailwindcss@2.2.19/dist/tailwind.min.css" rel="stylesheet">
    </head>
    <body class="bg-gray-900">
      <div class="flex justify-center">
        <div class="max-w-lg mt-5 p-6 bg-gray-800 border border-gray-800 rounded-lg shadow-xl">
          <h5 class="mb-3 text-2xl font-bold tracking-tight text-white">PostgREST + HTMX To-Do List</h5>
        </div>
      </div>
    </body>
    </html>
  $html$;
$$ language sql;

The web browser will open the web page at http://localhost:3000/rpc/index.

../_images/htmx-simple.jpg

Listing and Creating To-Dos

Now, let’s show a list of the to-dos already inserted in the database. For that, we’ll also need a function to help us sanitize the HTML content that may be present in the task.

create or replace function api.sanitize_html(text) returns text as $$
  select replace(replace(replace(replace(replace($1, '&', '&amp;'), '"', '&quot;'),'>', '&gt;'),'<', '&lt;'), '''', '&apos;')
$$ language sql;

create or replace function api.html_todo(api.todos) returns text as $$
  select format($html$
    <li class="py-3">
      <span class="ml-2 %2$s">
        %3$s
      </span>
    </li>
    $html$,
    $1.id,
    case when $1.done then 'line-through text-gray-400' else '' end,
    api.sanitize_html($1.task)
  );
$$ language sql stable;

create or replace function api.html_all_todos() returns text as $$
  select coalesce(
    '<ul id="todo-list" role="list" class="divide-y divide-gray-700 text-gray-100">'
      || string_agg(api.html_todo(t), '' order by t.id) ||
    '</ul>',
    '<p class="text-gray-100">There is nothing else to do.</p>'
  )
  from api.todos t;
$$ language sql;

These two functions are used to build the to-do list template. We won’t use them as PostgREST endpoints.

  • The api.html_todo function uses the table api.todos as a parameter and formats each item into a list element <li>. The PostgreSQL format is useful to that end. It replaces the values according to the position in the template, e.g. %1$s will be replaced with the value of $1.id (the first parameter).

  • The api.html_all_todos function returns the <ul> wrapper for all the list elements. It uses string_arg to concatenate all the to-dos in a single text value. It also returns an alternative message, instead of a list, when the api.todos table is empty.

Next, let’s add an endpoint to register a to-do in the database and modify the /rpc/index page accordingly.

create or replace function api.add_todo(_task text) returns "text/html" as $$
  insert into api.todos(task) values (_task);
  select api.html_all_todos();
$$ language sql;

create or replace function api.index() returns "text/html" as $$
select $html$
  <!DOCTYPE html>
  <html>
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
    <title>PostgREST + HTMX To-Do List</title>
    <!-- Tailwind for CSS styling -->
    <link href="https://unpkg.com/tailwindcss@2.2.19/dist/tailwind.min.css" rel="stylesheet">
    <!-- htmx for AJAX requests -->
    <script src="https://unpkg.com/htmx.org"></script>
  </head>
  <body class="bg-gray-900"
        hx-headers='{"Accept": "text/html"}'>
    <div class="flex justify-center">
      <div class="max-w-lg mt-5 p-6 bg-gray-800 border border-gray-800 rounded-lg shadow-xl">
        <h5 class="mb-3 text-2xl font-bold tracking-tight text-white">PostgREST + HTMX To-Do List</h5>
        <form hx-post="/rpc/add_todo"
              hx-target="#todo-list-area"
              hx-trigger="submit"
              hx-on="htmx:afterRequest: this.reset()">
          <input class="bg-gray-50 border text-sm rounded-lg block w-full p-2.5 mb-3 bg-gray-700 border-gray-600 placeholder-gray-400 text-white focus:ring-blue-500 focus:border-blue-500"
                 type="text" name="_task" placeholder="Add a todo...">
        </form>
        <div id="todo-list-area">
          $html$
            || api.html_all_todos() ||
          $html$
        <div>
      </div>
    </div>
  </body>
  </html>
  $html$;
$$ language sql;
  • The /rpc/add_todo endpoint allows us to add a new to-do using the _task parameter and returns an html with all the to-dos in the database.

  • The /rpc/index now adds the hx-headers='{"Accept": "text/html"}' tag to the <body>. This will make sure that all htmx elements inside the body send this header, otherwise PostgREST won’t recognize it as HTML.

    There is also a <form> element that uses the htmx library. Let’s break it down:

    • hx-post="/rpc/add_todo": sends an AJAX POST request to the /rpc/add_todo endpoint, with the value of the _task from the <input> element.

    • hx-target="#todo-list-area": the HTML content returned from the request will go inside <div id="todo-list-area"></div> (which is the list of to-dos).

    • hx-trigger="submit": htmx will do this request when submitting the form (by pressing enter while inside the <input>).

    • hx-on="htmx:afterRequest: this.reset()">: this is a Javascript command that clears the form after the request is done.

With this, the http://localhost:3000/rpc/index page lists all the todos and adds new ones by submitting tasks in the input element. Don’t forget to refresh the schema cache.

../_images/htmx-insert.gif

Editing and Deleting To-Dos

Now, let’s modify api.html_todo and make it more functional.

create or replace function api.html_todo(api.todos) returns text as $$
select format($html$
<li class="py-3">
  <div class="flex justify-between items-center">
    <div id="todo-edit-area-%1$s" class="pr-5">
      <form id="edit-task-state-%1$s"
            hx-post="/rpc/change_todo_state"
            hx-vals='{"_id": %1$s, "_done": %4$s}'
            hx-target="#todo-list-area"
            hx-trigger="click">
        <span class="ml-2 %2$s cursor-pointer">
          %3$s
        </span>
      </form>
    </div>
    <div>
      <button class="p-1.5 rounded-full hover:bg-gray-700 focus:ring-gray-800"
              hx-get="/rpc/html_editable_task"
              hx-vals='{"_id": "%1$s"}'
              hx-target="#todo-edit-area-%1$s"
              hx-trigger="click">
        <svg class="w-4 h-4 text-blue-300" aria-hidden="true" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" fill="currentColor" viewBox="0 0 20 18">
          <path d="M12.687 14.408a3.01 3.01 0 0 1-1.533.821l-3.566.713a3 3 0 0 1-3.53-3.53l.713-3.566a3.01 3.01 0 0 1 .821-1.533L10.905 2H2.167A2.169 2.169 0 0 0 0 4.167v11.666A2.169 2.169 0 0 0 2.167 18h11.666A2.169 2.169 0 0 0 16 15.833V11.1l-3.313 3.308Zm5.53-9.065.546-.546a2.518 2.518 0 0 0 0-3.56 2.576 2.576 0 0 0-3.559 0l-.547.547 3.56 3.56Z"/>
          <path d="M13.243 3.2 7.359 9.081a.5.5 0 0 0-.136.256L6.51 12.9a.5.5 0 0 0 .59.59l3.566-.713a.5.5 0 0 0 .255-.136L16.8 6.757 13.243 3.2Z"/>
        </svg>
      </button>
      <button class="p-1.5 rounded-full hover:bg-gray-700 focus:ring-gray-800"
              hx-post="/rpc/delete_todo"
              hx-vals='{"_id": %1$s}'
              hx-target="#todo-list-area"
              hx-trigger="click">
        <svg class="w-4 h-4 text-red-400" aria-hidden="true" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" fill="none" viewBox="0 0 18 20">
          <path stroke="currentColor" stroke-linecap="round" stroke-linejoin="round" stroke-width="2" d="M1 5h16M7 8v8m4-8v8M7 1h4a1 1 0 0 1 1 1v3H6V2a1 1 0 0 1 1-1ZM3 5h12v13a1 1 0 0 1-1 1H4a1 1 0 0 1-1-1V5Z"/>
        </svg>
      </button>
    </div>
  </div>
</li>
$html$,
  $1.id,
  case when $1.done then 'line-through text-gray-400' else '' end,
  api.sanitize_html($1.task),
  (not $1.done)::text
);
$$ language sql stable;

Let’s deconstruct the new htmx features added:

  • The <form> element is configured as follows:

    • hx-post="/rpc/change_todo_state": does an AJAX POST request to that endpoint. It will toggle the done state of the to-do.

    • hx-vals='{"_id": %1$s, "_done": %4$s}': adds the parameters to the request. This is an alternative to using hidden inputs inside the <form>.

    • hx-trigger="click": htmx does the request after clicking on the element.

  • For the first <button>:

    • hx-get="/rpc/html_editable_task": it does an AJAX GET request to that endpoint. It returns an HTML with an input that will allow us to edit the task.

    • hx-target="#todo-edit-area": the returned HTML will replace the element with this id. In this case, this replaces an individual task, not the whole list.

    • hx-vals='{"id": "eq.%1$s"}': adds the query parameters to the GET request. Note that this needs the eq. operator because it represents a table column not a function parameter.

  • For the second <button>:

    • hx-post="/rpc/delete_todo": this post request will delete the corresponding to-do.

Clicking on the first button will enable the task editing. That’s why we create the api.html_editable_task function as an endpoint:

create or replace function api.html_editable_task(_id int) returns "text/html" as $$
select format ($html$
<form id="edit-task-%1$s"
      hx-post="/rpc/change_todo_task"
      hx-headers='{"Accept": "text/html"}'
      hx-vals='{"_id": %1$s}'
      hx-target="#todo-list-area"
      hx-trigger="submit,focusout">
  <input class="bg-gray-50 border text-sm rounded-lg block w-full p-2.5 bg-gray-700 border-gray-600 text-white focus:ring-blue-500 focus:border-blue-500"
         id="task-%1$s" type="text" name="_task" value="%2$s" autofocus>
</form>
$html$,
  id,
  api.sanitize_html(task)
)
from api.todos
where id = _id;
$$ language sql;

In this example, this will return an input field that allows us to edit the corresponding to-do task.

Finally, let’s add the endpoints that will modify and delete the to-dos in the database.

create or replace function api.change_todo_state(_id int, _done boolean) returns "text/html" as $$
  update api.todos set done = _done where id = _id;
  select api.html_all_todos();
$$ language sql;

create or replace function api.change_todo_task(_id int, _task text) returns "text/html" as $$
  update api.todos set task = _task where id = _id;
  select api.html_all_todos();
$$ language sql;

create or replace function api.delete_todo(_id int) returns "text/html" as $$
  delete from api.todos where id = _id;
  select api.html_all_todos();
$$ language sql;

All of those functions return an HTML list of to-dos that will replace the outdated one:

  • The api.change_todo_state function updates the done column using the _id and the _done values from the request.

  • The api.delete_todo function deletes a to-do using the _id value from the request.

  • The api.change_todo_task function modifies the task column using the _id and the _task value from the request.

After refreshing the schema cache, the page at http://localhost:3000/rpc/index will allow us to edit, delete and complete any to-do.

../_images/htmx-edit-delete.gif

With that, we completed the to-do list functionality.