Why using Effect in Typescript: refactoring example and benefits

Sandro Maglione

Sandro Maglione

Web development

Why should I use Effect? What benefit does it provide compared to plain Typescript?

Today we learn what are the problems with native Typescript code and how Effect solves them all πŸ”₯

We compare a plain Typescript implementation of some open source code on Github and how we can rewrite the same code to take advantage of all the benefits provided by Effect:

  • Error handling
  • Dependency injection
  • Logging

Extract gzip file in plain typescript

Let's look at a single function used to extract the content of a gzip file:

import * as fs from "fs";
import gunzip from "gunzip-file";
 
export async function extractGzip(
  logger: Logging.Logger,
  gzipFilename: string,
  extractedFilename: string,
  useCachedFile: boolean
): Promise<void> {
  if (useCachedFile && fs.existsSync(extractedFilename)) {
    await logger.writeLn(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    return;
  }
 
  await logger.writeLn(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
  await new Promise<void>((resolve, _) => {
    gunzip(gzipFilename, extractedFilename, () => resolve());
  });
}

The function is simple, but the implementation hides some errors.

Problems with typescript

The first issue is error handling.

Both fs.existsSync and gunzip can fail, for example:

  • Corrupted gzip file
  • Impossible to access file system
  • Missing permissions
import * as fs from "fs"; 
import gunzip from "gunzip-file"; 
 
export async function extractGzip(
  logger: Logging.Logger,
  gzipFilename: string, 
  extractedFilename: string, 
  useCachedFile: boolean
): Promise<void> {
  if (useCachedFile && fs.existsSync(extractedFilename)) { 
    await logger.writeLn(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    return;
  }
 
  await logger.writeLn(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
  await new Promise<void>((resolve, _) => { 
    gunzip(gzipFilename, extractedFilename, () => resolve()); 
  }); 
}

The implementation doesn't perform any error handling, and the return type Promise<void> does not help to understand what can go wrong.

Second problem: dependencies and tests.

Dependencies are implicit, and therefore impossible to inject and hard to test:

  • fs
  • gunzip

Implicit dependencies cannot be mocked for testing.

They also create a strong coupling of the code to a specific library, which makes refactoring way harder.

Logging.Logger is instead injected as parameter, but it needs to be provided every time you call the function (inconvenient):

import * as fs from "fs"; 
import gunzip from "gunzip-file"; 
 
export async function extractGzip(
  logger: Logging.Logger, 
  gzipFilename: string,
  extractedFilename: string,
  useCachedFile: boolean
): Promise<void> {
  if (useCachedFile && fs.existsSync(extractedFilename)) {
    await logger.writeLn(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    return;
  }
 
  await logger.writeLn(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
  await new Promise<void>((resolve, _) => {
    gunzip(gzipFilename, extractedFilename, () => resolve());
  });
}

There is more.

Every week I build a new open source project, with a new language or library, and teach you how I did it, what I learned, and how you can do the same. Join me and other 700+ readers.

Same implementation using Effect

Let's look at the same implementation using Effect, and how Effect solves all the above problems:

  • All dependencies are explicit (provided using Context + Layer)
  • Effect automatically keeps track of possible error directly in the return type
  • Effect provides logging out of the box, which can be then customized (using Logger and Layer)
import * as Fs from "@effect/platform/FileSystem";
import * as Gzip from "./Gzip.js";
 
const extractGzip = ({
  extractedFilename,
  gzipFilename,
  useCachedFile,
}: {
  readonly gzipFilename: string;
  readonly extractedFilename: string;
  readonly useCachedFile: boolean;
}): Effect.Effect<
      void, // πŸ‘ˆ Return type
      PlatformError | GzipError, // πŸ‘ˆ Errors
      Fs.FileSystem | Gzip.Gzip // πŸ‘ˆ Dependencies
    > =>
  Effect.gen(function* (_) {
    const fs = yield* Fs.FileSystem;
    const gzip = yield* Gzip.Gzip;
 
    const existsExtractedFilename = yield* fs.exists(extractedFilename);
    if (useCachedFile && existsExtractedFilename) {
      return yield* Effect.logDebug(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    }
 
    yield* Effect.logDebug(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
    yield* gzip({ gzipFilename, extractedFilename });
  });

FileSystem module

The Effect ecosystem provides some packages to implement common usecases (Http, FileSystem, Stream and more).

In this case we use the FileSystem module from @effect/platform.

FileSystem is an Effect wrapper around fs that handles all errors:

fs.exists returns Effect.Effect<boolean, PlatformError>, where PlatformError represent an error when checking if the file exists

import * as Fs from "@effect/platform/FileSystem";
import * as Gzip from "./Gzip.js";
 
const extractGzip = ({
  extractedFilename,
  gzipFilename,
  useCachedFile,
}: {
  readonly gzipFilename: string;
  readonly extractedFilename: string;
  readonly useCachedFile: boolean;
}) =>
  Effect.gen(function* (_) {
    const fs = yield* Fs.FileSystem;
    const gzip = yield* Gzip.Gzip;
 
    const existsExtractedFilename = yield* fs.exists(extractedFilename);
    if (useCachedFile && existsExtractedFilename) {
      return yield* Effect.logDebug(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    }
 
    yield* Effect.logDebug(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
    yield* gzip({ gzipFilename, extractedFilename });
  });

Gzip module

When a module is not already present in the Effect ecosystem we can easily implement our own.

In this example we implement a Gzip module:

import * as Fs from "@effect/platform/FileSystem";
import * as Gzip from "./Gzip.js";
 
const extractGzip = ({
  extractedFilename,
  gzipFilename,
  useCachedFile,
}: {
  readonly gzipFilename: string;
  readonly extractedFilename: string;
  readonly useCachedFile: boolean;
}) =>
  Effect.gen(function* (_) {
    const fs = yield* Fs.FileSystem;
    const gzip = yield* Gzip.Gzip;
 
    const existsExtractedFilename = yield* fs.exists(extractedFilename);
    if (useCachedFile && existsExtractedFilename) {
      return yield* Effect.logDebug(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    }
 
    yield* Effect.logDebug(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
    yield* gzip({ gzipFilename, extractedFilename });
  });

Inside a new Gzip.ts file we create a make function that wraps gunzip using Effect to handle errors:

  • Effect.asyncEffect to wrap async code that returns a callback function (gunzip)
  • Effect.tryPromise to catch any errors when executing gunzip
  • Call resume when the gunzip callback returns successfully

We then export the implementation as a module using Context.Tag:

Gzip.ts
import gunzip from "gunzip-file";
 
class GzipError extends Data.TaggedError("GzipError")<{
  error: unknown;
}> {}
 
const make = ({
  extractedFilename,
  gzipFilename,
}: {
  gzipFilename: string;
  extractedFilename: string;
}): Effect.Effect<any, GzipError, never> =>
  Effect.asyncEffect((resume) =>
    Effect.tryPromise({
      try: () =>
        gunzip(gzipFilename, extractedFilename, () =>
          resume(Effect.succeed(null))
        ),
      catch: (error) => new GzipError({ error }),
    })
  );
 
export class Gzip extends Context.Tag("Gzip")<Gzip, typeof make>() {}

Logger module

Logging is provided out of the box by Effect using methods like logDebug.

Later we can customize the Logger implementation and specify the log level (Error, Debug, Info and more):

import * as Fs from "@effect/platform/FileSystem";
import * as Gzip from "./Gzip.js";
 
const extractGzip = ({
  extractedFilename,
  gzipFilename,
  useCachedFile,
}: {
  readonly gzipFilename: string;
  readonly extractedFilename: string;
  readonly useCachedFile: boolean;
}) =>
  Effect.gen(function* (_) {
    const fs = yield* Fs.FileSystem;
    const gzip = yield* Gzip.Gzip;
 
    const existsExtractedFilename = yield* fs.exists(extractedFilename);
    if (useCachedFile && existsExtractedFilename) {
      return yield* Effect.logDebug(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    }
 
    yield* Effect.logDebug(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
    yield* gzip({ gzipFilename, extractedFilename });
  });

Error handling

All errors are tracked automatically by Effect.

  • fs.exists can return a PlatformError (BadArgument or SystemError)
  • gzip can return a GzipError
import * as Fs from "@effect/platform/FileSystem";
import * as Gzip from "./Gzip.js";
 
const extractGzip = ({
  extractedFilename,
  gzipFilename,
  useCachedFile,
}: {
  readonly gzipFilename: string;
  readonly extractedFilename: string;
  readonly useCachedFile: boolean;
}) =>
  Effect.gen(function* (_) {
    const fs = yield* Fs.FileSystem;
    const gzip = yield* Gzip.Gzip;
 
    const existsExtractedFilename = yield* fs.exists(extractedFilename);
    if (useCachedFile && existsExtractedFilename) {
      return yield* Effect.logDebug(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    }
 
    yield* Effect.logDebug(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
    yield* gzip({ gzipFilename, extractedFilename });
  });

We can catch and handle all errors using Effect.catchTags:

const extractGzip = ({
  extractedFilename,
  gzipFilename,
  useCachedFile,
}: {
  readonly gzipFilename: string;
  readonly extractedFilename: string;
  readonly useCachedFile: boolean;
}) =>
  Effect.gen(function* (_) {
    const fs = yield* Fs.FileSystem;
    const gzip = yield* Gzip.Gzip;
 
    const existsExtractedFilename = yield* fs.exists(extractedFilename);
    if (useCachedFile && existsExtractedFilename) {
      return yield* Effect.logDebug(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    }
 
    yield* Effect.logDebug(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
    yield* gzip({ gzipFilename, extractedFilename });
  }).pipe(
    Effect.catchTags({
      BadArgument: (error) => Console.log(error),
      SystemError: (error) => Console.log(error),
      GzipError: (error) => Console.log(error),
    }),
    Effect.provide(Layer.mergeAll(Gzip.Gzip.Live, NodeFs.layer))
  );

Layer: Dependency injection

Until now we did not provide any concrete implementation of the dependencies.

We start by defining a Layer called Live inside Gzip. This Layer exports the make implementation that we defined previously:

Gzip.ts
export class Gzip extends Context.Tag("Gzip")<Gzip, typeof make>() {
  static Live = Layer.succeed(this, make);
}

For FileSystem instead we use the NodeFileSystem module that provides a complete Effect implementation of fs in Effect.

We merge these 2 layers and provide them to the function using Effect.provide (dependency injection):

import * as NodeFs from "@effect/platform-node/NodeFileSystem";
import * as Fs from "@effect/platform/FileSystem";
 
import * as Gzip from "./Gzip.js";
 
const extractGzip = ({
  extractedFilename,
  gzipFilename,
  useCachedFile,
}: {
  readonly gzipFilename: string;
  readonly extractedFilename: string;
  readonly useCachedFile: boolean;
}) =>
  Effect.gen(function* (_) {
    const fs = yield* Fs.FileSystem;
    const gzip = yield* Gzip.Gzip;
 
    const existsExtractedFilename = yield* fs.exists(extractedFilename);
    if (useCachedFile && existsExtractedFilename) {
      return yield* Effect.logDebug(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    }
 
    yield* Effect.logDebug(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
    yield* gzip({ gzipFilename, extractedFilename });
  }).pipe(
    Effect.catchTags({
      BadArgument: (error) => Console.log(error),
      GzipError: (error) => Console.log(error),
      SystemError: (error) => Console.log(error),
    }),
    Effect.provide(
      Layer.mergeAll(
        Gzip.Gzip.Live,
        NodeFs.layer
      )
    )
  );

Running an Effect

At the end of the function we execute the function using Effect.runPromise.

This will execute all and return Promise<void> like the original function:

const extractGzip = ({
  extractedFilename,
  gzipFilename,
  useCachedFile,
}: {
  readonly gzipFilename: string;
  readonly extractedFilename: string;
  readonly useCachedFile: boolean;
}) =>
  Effect.gen(function* (_) {
    const fs = yield* Fs.FileSystem;
    const gzip = yield* Gzip.Gzip;
 
    const existsExtractedFilename = yield* fs.exists(extractedFilename);
    if (useCachedFile && existsExtractedFilename) {
      return yield* Effect.logDebug(`using cached file "${extractedFilename}"`);
    }
 
    yield* Effect.logDebug(`extracting ${gzipFilename}...`);
 
    yield* gzip({ gzipFilename, extractedFilename });
  }).pipe(
    Effect.catchTags({
      BadArgument: (error) => Console.log(error),
      GzipError: (error) => Console.log(error),
      SystemError: (error) => Console.log(error),
    }),
    Effect.provide(Layer.mergeAll(Gzip.Gzip.Live, NodeFs.layer)),
    Effect.runPromise
  );

This is it!

Now you can go ahead and practice rewriting your own Typescript code with Effect.

As your project grows you will notice clear improvements in speed, reliability, developer experience and more πŸš€

If you are interested to learn more, every week I publish a new open source project and share notes and lessons learned in my newsletter. You can subscribe here below πŸ‘‡

Thanks for reading.

πŸ‘‹γƒ»Interested in learning more, every week?

Every week I build a new open source project, with a new language or library, and teach you how I did it, what I learned, and how you can do the same. Join me and other 700+ readers.