Hackernoon logoHow To Build A Website With Velo [Beginners Guide] by@velo

How To Build A Website With Velo [Beginners Guide]

Velo is a full-stack development platform that empowers you to rapidly build, manage and deploy professional web apps. We've put together some best practices you should consider before you start enhancing your Wix website with the awesomeness provided with Velo by Wix. Use meaningful names for element IDs and functions to make your code easier to write, read, and maintain. Always catch all the errors that might occur in your code and never let them propagate to the browser. Use the code formatting feature in the right-click menu to fix your indentation.
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@veloVelo by Wix

Velo is a full-stack development platform that empowers you to rapidly build, manage and deploy professional web apps.

Excited as you are to get started building your website using Velo by Wix, let's take a moment to plan ahead.

We've put together some best practices you should consider before you start enhancing your Wix website with the awesomeness provided with Velo.

Coding with Velo

Consider these best practices to help you code most efficiently using Velo by Wix. You will find here best practices for both beginning coders and
experts, who want to know more about how Velo works.

Give Your Element IDs and Functions Meaningful Names

Using meaningful names for element IDs and functions makes your code easier to write, read, and maintain. For example, suppose you have a button on your page that is used to submit data to a collection. Changing the button's ID from button1 to submit will make it easier to find in the Autocomplete when you're assigning it an

onClick()
function. It will also be easier to understand what your code is doing when you or someone else looks at your code, possibly at a later date.

// do this
$w('#submitButton').onClick(submitData);

// don't do this
$w('#button1').onClick(mysteryFunction);

Catch Errors in Your Code

You should always strive to catch all the errors that might occur in your
code and never let them propagate to the browser. When you catch errors
before they make it to the browser, you can handle them gracefully.

There are a few techniques you will need to use to catch the various types of errors that may occur. When working with asynchronous functions that
return a Promise that may reject, you should always include a

catch()
to handle rejections. Also, before retrieving data that may not exist, you should check for existence before reading the data.

For example, here we query a collection. We have added code to catch two types of errors.

wixData.query("myCollection")
  .find()
  .then( (results) => {
    // this "if" makes sure we don't try to read data that doesn't exist
    if(results.items.length > 0) {
      $w('myRepeater').data = results.items;
      $w('#message').hide();
    } else {
      $w('#message').text = "No items found.";
      $w('#message').show();
    }
  } )
  // the catch handles cases where there is a system error in 
  // retrieving the data.
  .catch( (err) => {
      $w('#message').text = "Error retrieving data.";
      $w('#message').show();
  } );

Format Your Code

Code that is well-formatted is easier to read and maintain. Keeping proper
indentation provides readers of your code, including yourself, with
visual cues for understanding how the code is structured.

Sometimes, when writing code, you are more focused on getting your code
to work than writing it as neatly as possible. That's why we've provided
the code formatting feature in the right-click menu. It removes extra
lines and fixes your indentation.

Code Only One onReady() Per Page

The code you place in an

onReady()
callback runs when your page loads.

Technically, you can call

onReady()
several times to create several callbacks that run when your page loads. However, doing so fragments your code, making it more difficult to read and maintain, without providing any obvious benefit. So keep to one
onReady()
per page.

Note however, that if you have an

onReady()
defined in masterPage.js and one defined on a page, when that page loads, both
onReady()
callbacks will run. This is fine, because the site
onReady()
deals with elements that are shown on all your site's pages, whereas your page
onReady()
deals only with the elements on that specific page.

Set Events Only Once

You should only set a particular event handler for an element one time. It's important to understand that each time you set an event handler, you are adding a new handler, and not replacing the old one. So, if you set an event handler for a button using its

onClick()
function and then later attempt to "reset" the event handler by calling
onClick()
again, you have now defined two
onClick()
behaviors. Meaning, when the button is clicked, they will both run and you do not know which will run first.

You should also avoid using both code and the link panel from the Editor to add a link to an element. 

image

Creating links both in the Editor and code can result in a conflict that will produce unreliable functionality.

Try Using $w(“Type”) for Selecting Multiple Elements

Did you know that there are multiple ways to select elements using the

$w()
selector function?

We all know that you can select one element at a time by providing the

$w()
function with a hashtag followed by an element ID.

But you can also select elements by type by providing the

$w()
function with the type name. For example, to select all buttons on a page, you can use
$w('Button')
. The function call returns an array containing all the buttons on the page. You can then use that array to perform actions on all the buttons at once with a single function call. For example, to disable all the buttons on a page, you can use
$w('Button').disable()
.

Use masterPage.js

Use masterPage.js for elements that appear on all of your site's pages. Typically, these will be elements that you put in your site's header or footer. 

Code for elements that are set to show on all pages can also be placed in masterPage.js.

If you try to select a regular page element from masterPage.js, it will
cause an error on all pages other than the one on which the element
exists.

Declaring Variables Wisely

Whenever feasible, use

const
instead of
let
to declare variables. Doing so signals your intent that the variable's value should not change. Never use
var
to declare variables. Avoid using global variables in your code. Global variables are prone to being overwritten and can hide the logic of your code. Instead of using a global variable, pass the variable as a parameter to the functions where it is needed.

Avoid Large Blocks of Code by Using Functions

Avoid writing large blocks of code. Wherever feasible, break your code down into smaller related parts and extract out to smaller functions. This
makes your code easier to read and help with code reusability.

Security

As you plan your site and consider security issues, you should review the full Velo Security Considerations. The following is a summary of the issues we suggest you consider.

Secure Private Information and Resources with the Secrets Manager

You may need to add private information such as an API key to your site's
code. API keys and other secrets are sensitive resources and should never be added to your page, site, and public code, since anyone can access them. Backend code is secured, but you should still follow security best practices and store your secrets separately from the code.

Instead of hardcoding your secrets, you can use the Secrets Manager and the Velo Secrets API to safely work with secrets in your code. Using the Secrets Manager also hides secrets from Site Contributors and only allows Admins to view them.

Secure Sensitive Information in the Backend

All the code in Page Code and Public code files is visible to any user who
visits your site, even the code in Page Code files on a password-protected page or a members-only page. You should therefore only put sensitive information in Backend code files and not Page Code or Public code files.

The code in Backend files is not visible to site visitors but it may still be vulnerable without appropriate security validations. You should therefore implement validation mechanisms in your Backend code files where necessary. You can learn more about your code’s visibility and how to protect it.

Set Appropriate Permissions for Backend Web Modules

Web Module permissions allow you to control which users can work with functionality in your site that depends on your Web Module functions.

Setting Web Module permissions allows you to ensure that no one can access or use your exported backend webModules in ways that you didn't intend.

Set Appropriate Permissions for Database Collections

You should always set the permissions of your database collections to be as restrictive as possible and to reflect your collection's common usage. Each permission should only be granted to the Admin role unless there is a specific reason to grant the permission to additional roles. Even when there is a reason to grant a permission to more roles, you should only grant it to the roles that need it.

If you need to grant particular permissions that don’t fit the products
permissions model, you should consider creating a specific flow of data
access for the special use-case, without changing permissions for the
entire collection, by using webModules and the suppressAuth property of the WixDataOptions object, or with data hooks.

When to Use “suppressAuth”

There may be times when you want to use the suppressAuth property to call wix-data functions on a collection without the permission checks that are set for that collection. You should only use

suppressAuth
after you run the appropriate security validations. For example, you may need to check that the visitor is a member of a specific group.

Validate Authorized Requests for HTTP Functions

You should validate your http functions to ensure you are handling an authorized request. This is usually accomplished by checking for a shared value in an authorization header.

Performance

These tips will help you to take performance considerations into account when building your Velo website.

Change Text Dynamically

There are cases where you might want to add multiple overlapping text elements to your page and display each text when a specific condition is met (for example, success and error messages). But adding a lot of elements to your page can slow down your site.

Instead of using multiple text elements, you can use a single text element and change the displayed text dynamically. You can use $w.Text.text to change plain text and $w.Text.html to change styled text. As an added bonus, text is easier to manipulate using this method.

Improve Performance in Sites with Database Collections

Using data from database collections or from a 3rd-party source can be a
powerful tool to enhance your site's functionality. However, sending a
lot of data to the browser from the server (where your data is stored)
can be a time-consuming operation that might negatively affect your
site's loading time. Therefore, you want to minimize the amount of data
that is sent from the server to the browser.

Whether you're using a dataset or the Data API, there are several approaches you can follow to improve your site's performance.

Use async/await in onReady()

Using

async/await
functionality in your
onReady()
function delays the rendering of your page elements, decreasing the performance of your site. In many cases you'll want to avoid using
async/await
in
onReady()
for this reason. As an alternative, you can use the
.then()
function.

On the other hand, delaying the rendering of your page elements allows
database content to load in time for search bots to index your content,
which is important for SEO. You'll need to decide what's best for your site on a case-by-case basis.

For more information on handling promises with

async/await
or .then, see Working with Promises.

Avoid Code that Could Result in Repeater Performance Limitations

If you’re working with dynamic repeater content that is updated fairly often, and especially if you are filtering or sorting your repeater data, you may not want to bind event handlers to repeater item elements from within the onItemReady() function. Although it is convenient to do so using the scoped $item selector, this practice may cause several event handlers to be set for the same item, as well as add multiple copies of the callback function to the event handler, affecting the performance of your site.

Alternatively you can combine the use of some of the following APIs to bind your repeater items:

Database Collections

Take a few minutes to review these best practices for working with database collections and configuring datasets.

Validate User Input Before Storing It in a Collection

Collections are important data stores. To make sure that the data in your
collection is valid, complete, and consistent, validate the input data
before storing it in a collection.

Validate your input data at the field level using the input element’s settings:

  • Data type
  • Maximum and minimum values
  • Maximum character length
  • Regex validation patterns

For more complex validations use the

onCustomValidation()
event handler. Both the field setting and custom validations are triggered by the
valid
property.

To validate entire records, use the wix-data hooks

beforeInsert
,
beforeUpdate()
and
beforeRemove
. Hooks give you the ability to control the data going into your collection with backend code, processed before it gets to your collection. Hooks are independent of the front end and will run regardless of what triggers the write – frontend code, the content
manager, or importing data (Sandbox only).

When using a dataset, use the

onItemValuesChange
, and
onBeforeSave
to validate data before the
save()
is executed.

See About Validating User Input with Code for more information.

Datasets: Read or Write? (Be Careful With Both!)

Datasets can be configured as read, write, or read-write. Read-write datasets should only be used where both read and write or update are required. When using a read-write dataset, take care to understand all of the potential flows that may exist.

Let’s take a common use case where we have a collection with existing data, a table to display that data, and a set of input elements below the table to allow the visitor to edit the selected row. We have buttons for submit, and delete, connected to the submit, and remove functions in the
dataset. We also have a new button connected to the `New` function in
the dataset which will create a new blank item, ready for editing in the
input elements. The table, the input elements and the buttons, are all
connected to a read-write dataset. As the visitor clicks on each row in
the table, the values of the input elements are updated with the values
of the selected row. The visitor can now edit the contents of a row and
click submit to save the data.

image

The following flows can produce some unexpected outcomes:

  • Be careful when using lists and repeaters with read-write datasets. From our common use case above, if a row was selected, and the values changed in the input elements, selecting another row will cause the changed data to be saved without clicking Submit. This happens because any change to the dataset’s index will save the changed data to your collection. The index can be changed by selecting a different item in a connected list or by using the
    setCurrentItemIndex()
    function.
  • Pages should only allow the selection and editing of a single item. Use the
    revert()
    function or a button connected to the Revert dataset action, if you want your visitors to be able to undo changes.
  • Avoid overwriting existing data when trying to create new items. Use the
    new()
    function or a button connected to the New dataset action.
  • In our common use case, site visitors may try to delete an item by deleting the contents of each input element, and clicking Submit. This will update the selected item setting each field to blank but will not delete the item. Use the
    remove()
    function or a button connected to the Delete dataset action for any delete operations. Make sure that your site visitor can clearly identify which item is to be deleted.
  • A read-write dataset reads your data when the page is ready, so if you are building a form to update a collection, the read-write dataset displays the first item in the collection in your input fields.
  • From a performance point of view, when your page loads, a read-write dataset will take more time as it has to retrieve the data from the collection. Speed up page loading by implementing the minimum functionality required.

When to Use Datasets and When to Use Code

First of all, we recommend that you don’t use both together!

For simple applications with little potential for change in the structure of your collections, datasets provide a fast, safe, and managed solution. Datasets are very easy to implement with no coding needed, and provide a quick and easy interface to your collections.

If your application is complex, with processing required before displaying or saving your data, coding the interface using the

wix-data
API is a better choice. Coding is more flexible and easier to extend and modify than datasets. When using code, you control the entire interaction with the collection.
wix-data
provides functions, callbacks, and hooks giving you the option to run procedures and validate your data at critical points in your process. These points include before and after read, create, update, and delete operations. Coding also gives you more complex query filters and the ability to use aggregations for reporting applications.

In general code runs faster than a dataset, especially if you have many
datasets on the same page. However, dynamic datasets can be faster due
to the way they request the data. Also bear in mind that you can use
caching with a dataset but not with code.  For better code performance,
you can run the code on the backend, lightening the load on the browser.

If you do decide to mix code and datasets, be careful. Multiple processes acting on the same data can have unpredictable outcomes and lead to corruption and inconsistencies in your collections. No one wants that.

Design

The best practices, design tips, and Editor tools listed here can save you time and let you focus more on your coding with Velo.

Use SVG Images

SVG is a vector graphic format based on XML that is flexible and scalable without sacrificing quality. You can easily change the image’s content, color, and shape dynamically, as opposed to when working with other graphic formats. You should use SVG files instead of other image files when you need this kind of flexibility.

Check out the Editor Toolbar for Helpful Features

The Editor Toolbar has functionality that makes your coding experience easier.

For example, your page might contain many elements located closely
together. It can be hard to find the element’s ID that you want to reference in your code. You can use the Layers panel to select the element from a list and position yourself exactly on it, so you can see the element’s properties.

Other useful toolbar features include copy/paste, duplicate, rotation, alignment, and so on. Use these tools in conjunction with Velo to quickly and easily get your design just right.

Previously published at https://support.wix.com/en/article/velo-best-practices-for-building-a-velo-website

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