CatalystX::ExtJS::Tutorial::Direct - Introduction to CatalystX::ExtJS::Direct


version 2.1.5


Ext.Direct is an ExtJS component which creates classes and methods according to an API provided by the server. These methods are used to communicate with the server in a Remote Procedure Call fashion. This requires a router on the server side to route the requests to the matching method.

CatalystX::ExtJS::Direct will take care of creating the API and provides a convenient way to include it in your web application as well as providing a router which takes care of calling the correct Catalyst actions when it comes to a request.

Please find a working example of the tutorial at /tutorial in the CatalystX::ExtJS distribution.


Simple Calculator

Run steps 1 to 5 from "FIRST STEPS" in CatalystX::ExtJS::Tutorial.

Every controller which wants to add an action to the Ext.Direct API needs to consume the CatalystX::Controller::ExtJS::Direct role. Furthermore each action which should be accessible requires the Direct attribute. This simple example adds two numbers and returns the result:

 package MyApp::Controller::Calculator;
 use Moose;
 BEGIN { extends 'Catalyst::Controller' };
 with 'CatalystX::Controller::ExtJS::Direct';
 use JSON::XS;

 sub add : Chained('/') : Path : CaptureArgs(1) {
    my($self,$c, $arg) = @_;
    $c->stash->{add} = $arg;

 sub add_to : Chained('add') : PathPart('to') : Args(1) : Direct('add') {
    my($self,$c,$arg) = @_;
    $c->res->body( $c->stash->{add} + $arg );
 sub echo : Local : Direct : DirectArgs(1) {
    my ($self, $c) = @_;

As you can see the add_to action has the Direct attribute attached to it. Direct actions can only be attached to endpoints of Chained actions. By default the method's name for the API is the same as the action's name. In this case however we changed the name of the action to add by adding this as parameter to the Direct attribute.

If you add the Direct attribute to a normal action (e.g. Local) it has no arguments by default. To change that you can add the DirectArgs attribute and enter the number of arguments there. If you add DirectArgs to a Chained endpoint the number of arguments will be added to the number of arguments required to call this endpoint.

The echo action accepts one argument from the Direct API. You can access this argument via $c->req->data, which is always an arrayref and includes all arguments. We set the content type to application/json to make sure that the body is not serialized twice. That is, if you would not set the content type, the Direct router assumes that the body should be send "as is" to the client. Usually you would use Catalyst::View::JSON to do this for you.

Run the server (# script/ -r) and access http://localhost:3000/api. You should see something like this:

          len: 2
          name: add
          len: 1
          name: echo
 type: remoting
 url: /api/router

This is the YAML representation of the API. As you can see, the add method expects two parameters and is inside the Calculator class.

If you set the content type header to application/json you will receive the JSON-encoded API. Try http://localhost:3000/api?content-type=application/json (see Catalyst::Controller::REST to see why this is working).

A different way to access the API is to open http://localhost:3000/api/src. Open the index template and add this to the head area:

 <script type="text/javascript" src="/api/src"></script>

The API is now available from the variable

Fire up your favourite browser and go to http://localhost:3000/. Open the debugger and type in the console:

 // This will set up the classes and methods
 // is provided by /api/src
 Calculator.add(3, 2, function(res){alert(res)});

And watch the request and response. Next we call the echo method.

 Calculator.echo({foo: 'bar'}, function(res){console.log(res)});
 // Prints {foo: 'bar'} to your browser's console

RESTful Controllers

Using CatalystX::Controller::ExtJS::REST

Run steps 1 to 6 from "FIRST STEPS" in CatalystX::ExtJS::Tutorial.

Check out CatalystX::Controller::ExtJS::REST if you are used to DBIx::Class and HTML::FormFu. To add such a controller to the Direct API, simply add the CatalystX::Controller::ExtJS::Direct role:

 package MyApp::Controller::User;
 use Moose;
 extends 'CatalystX::Controller::ExtJS::REST';
 with 'CatalystX::Controller::ExtJS::Direct';

CatalystX::Controller::ExtJS::REST expects a HTML::FormFu file to be located at root/forms/user.yml:

    - name: id
    - name: first
      constraint: Required
    - name: last
      constraint: Required
    - name: email
      constraint: Required

Since the columns first, last and email were defined as NOT NULL columns, we have to add the Required constraint to them. Constraints, however, do not affect GET and DELETE requests. If you want a different behaviour for POST or PUT requests, you can create the files root/forms/user_put.yml or root/forms/user_post.yml accordingly. Same applies to GET requests.

While the CRUD methods (create, read, update, destroy) interact with one object only, the list method returns a bunch of objects. By default it uses the same configuration file as the other requests. But you can create it's own file (root/lists/user.yml).

Open http://localhost:3000/ and try:

  User.list(function(res){console.log('results: ', res.results)});
  User.create({first: 'Marge', last: 'Simpson'});
  // this will will cause an error because 'email' is required. The
  // response from the server will contain an error message and the name
  // of the field
  User.create({first: 'Marge', last: 'Simpson', email:''});
  User.list(function(res){console.log('results: ', res.results)});

Using Catalyst::Controller::DBIC::API::RPC

Run steps 1 to 6 from "FIRST STEPS" in CatalystX::ExtJS::Tutorial.

Catalyst::Controller::DBIC::API is a convenient way to query the DBIC model via a webservice. With Ext.Direct this becomes even more convenient.

Add a new controller lib/MyApp/Controller/User/ and paste:

 package MyApp::Controller::User::DBIC;
 use Moose;
 extends 'Catalyst::Controller::DBIC::API::RPC';
 with 'CatalystX::Controller::ExtJS::Direct';
 # See Catalyst::Controller::DBIC::API for more information
 # on those configuration parameters
    actions => { 
        setup  => { PathPart => 'user', Chained => '/' },
        # enable Direct on these actions
        create => { Direct => undef, DirectArgs => 1 }, 
        item   => { Direct => undef }, 
        update => { Direct => undef, DirectArgs => 1 }, 
        delete => { Direct => undef }, 
        list   => { Direct => undef, DirectArgs => 1 },  
    class => 'DBIC::User',
    use_json_boolean => 1,
    create_requires => [qw(email first last)],
    return_object => 1,
 # Catalyst::Controller::DBIC::API cannot handle scalars and arrayrefs so
 # we have to add a little hack
 before 'deserialize' => sub {
    my ($self, $c) = @_;
    $c->req->data($c->req->data->[0]) if(ref $c->req->data eq 'ARRAY');
    $c->req->data(undef) unless(ref $c->req->data);

Access http://localhost:3000/ in your browser and open the console to play around with the DBIC API:

 // get all records from the model
 UserDBIC.list({}, function(res){console.log(res)});
 UserDBIC.create({first: 'Marge', last: 'Simpson', email:''});
 UserDBIC.item(2, function(marge){console.log(marge)});

Try to run these commands all at once (either put them in one line or use the multi-line console in Firebug). They are now being batched and processed in just one request.


Moritz Onken <>


This software is Copyright (c) 2014 by Moritz Onken.

This is free software, licensed under:

  The (three-clause) BSD License