Announcing ic-use-actor – A React Hook to simplify communicating with canisters

Hey! I built a React hook that simplifies interacting with canisters. You feed the context provider with an identity and some info about your canister and then get access to typed canister methods you can use in your components. Also, request/response interceptors! Nothing super fancy but quite useful.

Try it and let me know what you think :point_down::point_down::point_down:

Features

  • Shared Actor Context: Allows the same actor to be used across multiple components.
  • Typescript Support: Makes full use of the canister service definitions to provide type safety for requests and responses.
  • Interceptors: onRequest, onResponse, onRequestError, and onResponseError callbacks allow for intercepting and processing requests and responses.

Pre-requisites

ic-use-actor needs an Internet Computer (IC) identity to work. The examples below uses ic-use-siwe-identity as an identity provider. You can use any other identity provider as long as it returns a valid IC identity.

Installation

In addition to ic-use-actor, the following packages are required:

  • @dfinity/agent
  • @dfinity/identity
  • @dfinity/candid
npm install ic-use-actor @dfinity/agent @dfinity/identity @dfinity/candid

Usage

To use ic-use-actor in your React application, follow these steps:

1. Setting Up the Actor Context and Hook

First, create an actor context and a corresponding hook for each IC canister you would like to access. Export the hook to be able to use it in your components. The hook returned by createUseActorHook can be named anything you want. If using ic-use-actor with multiple canisters, you might want to name the hook after the canister to make it easier to identify which hook is for which canister - for example, useMyCanister, useMyOtherCanister, etc.

import {
  createActorContext,
  createUseActorHook,
} from "ic-use-actor";
import { _SERVICE } from "path-to/your-service.did";

const actorContext = createActorContext<_SERVICE>();
export const useActor = createUseActorHook<_SERVICE>(actorContext);

2. Creating an Actor Provider Component

Create one or more ActorProvider components to provide access to your canisters. ActorProviders can be nested to provide access to multiple canisters.

// Actors.tsx

import { ReactNode } from "react";
import {
  ActorProvider,
  createActorContext,
  createUseActorHook,
} from "ic-use-actor";
import {
  canisterId,
  idlFactory,
} from "path-to/your-service/index";
import { _SERVICE } from "path-to/your-service.did";
import { useSiweIdentity } from "ic-use-siwe-identity";

const actorContext = createActorContext<_SERVICE>();
export const useActor = createUseActorHook<_SERVICE>(actorContext);

export default function Actors({ children }: { children: ReactNode }) {
  const { identity } = useSiweIdentity();

  return (
    <ActorProvider<_SERVICE>
      canisterId={canisterId}
      context={actorContext}
      identity={identity}
      idlFactory={idlFactory}
    >
      {children}
    </ActorProvider>
  );
}

3. Wrapping Your Application

Wrap your application root component with the ActorProvider component(s) you created in the previous step to provide access to your canisters.

// App.tsx

import Actors from "./Actors";

function App() {
  return (
    <Actors>
      <MyApplication />
    </Actors>
  );
}

4. Accessing the Actor in Components

In your components, use the useActor hook to access the actor:

// AnyComponent.tsx

import { useActor } from "path-to/useActor";

function AnyComponent() {
  const { actor } = useActor();

  // Use the actor for calling methods on your canister
  React.useEffect(() => {
    actor
      .my_method()
      .then((result) => {
        // Do something with the result
      })
      .catch((error) => {
        // Handle the error
      });
  }, []);
}

Advanced Usage

Setting up interceptors

Interceptors can be used to intercept requests and responses. You can use them to modify requests, log requests and responses, or perform other actions.

export default function Actor({ children }: { children: ReactNode }) {
  const { identity } = useSiweIdentity();

  const handleRequest = (data: InterceptorRequestData) => {
    // Do something
    // data: { args: unknown[], methodName: string }
    return data.args;
  };

  const handleResponse = (data: InterceptorResponseData) => {
    // Do something
    // data: { args: unknown[], methodName: string, response: unknown }
    return data.response;
  };

  const handleError = (data: InterceptorErrorData) => {
    // Do something
    // data: { args: unknown[], methodName: string, error: unknown }
    return data.error;
  };

  return (
    <ActorProvider<_SERVICE>
      canisterId={canisterId}
      context={actorContext}
      identity={identity}
      idlFactory={idlFactory}
      onRequest={handleRequest}
      onRequestError={handleError}
      onResponse={handleResponse}
      onResponseError={handleError}
    >
      {children}
    </ActorProvider>
  );
}
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