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jssm

5.31.1 • Public • Published

jssm

JSSM is a Javascript state machine implementing Finite State Language, with a terse DSL and a simple API.
100% test coverage; typed with Flowtype. MIT licensed.

Try it live!

Visualize with jssm-viz, or at the command line with jssm-viz-cli.

Language test cases for Belorussian, English, German, Hebrew, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Emoji. Please help to make sure that your language is well handled!

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TL;DR

Specify finite state machines with a brief syntax. Run them; they're fast. Make mistakes; they're strict. Derive charts. Save and load states, and histories. Make machine factories to churn out dozens or thousands of instances. Impress friends and loved ones. Cure corns and callouses.

Red 'Proceed' -> Green 'Proceed' -> Yellow 'Proceed' -> Red;

This will produce the following FSM (graphed with jssm-viz):

You'll build an executable state machine.



Why

As usual, a valid question.


Why state machines

State machines are a method of making your software better able to prevent illegal states. Similar to type systems, SQL constraints, and linters, state machines are a way to teach the software to catch mistakes in ways you define, to help lead to better software.

The major mechanism of a state machine is to define states, the transitions between them, and sometimes associated data and other niceties. The minor mechanism of state machines is to attach actions to the transitions, such that the state machine can partially run itself.

So, to look at the same traffic light as above, you'll notice some things.

  1. A sufficiently smart implementation will know that it's okay for Green to switch to Yellow, but not to Red
  2. A sufficiently smart implementation knows there's no such thing as Blue
  3. A sufficiently smart implementation knows that when in Green, to be told to Proceed means to go to Yellow, but when in Yellow, it means to go to Red instead

Along with other common sense things, a good state machine implementation can help eliminate large classes of error in software. State machines are often applied when the stakes on having things correct are high.


Why this implementation

Brevity.

High quality testing. JSSM has 100% coverage, and has partial stochastic test coverage.

Feature parity, especially around the DSL and data control.

Data integrity. JSSM allows a much stricter form of state machine than is common, with a relatively low performance and storage overhead. It also offers an extremely terse domain specific language (though it does not require said DSL) to produce state machines in otherwise comparatively tiny and easily read code.



Quick Start

A state machine in JSSM is defined in one of two ways: through the DSL, or through a datastructure.

So yeah, let's start by getting some terminology out of the way, and then we can go right back to that impenetrable sentence, so that it'll make sense.


Quick Terminology

Finite state machines have been around forever, are used by everyone, and are hugely important. As a result, the terminology is a mess, is in conflict, and is very poorly chosen, in accordince with everything-is-horrible law.

This section describes the terminology as used by this library. The author has done his best to choose a terminology that matches common use and will be familiar to most. Conflicts are explained in the following section, to keep this simple.

For this quick overview, we'll define six basic concepts:

  1. Finite state machines
  2. Machines
  3. States
  4. Current state
  5. Transitions
  6. Actions

There's other stuff, of course, but these five are enough to wrap your head around finite state machines.


Basic concepts

This is a trivial traffic light FSM, with three states, three transitions, and one action:

Red 'Proceed' -> Green 'Proceed' -> Yellow 'Proceed' -> Red;

Let's review its pieces.

  • finite state machines

    • A finite state machine (or FSM) is a collection of states, and rules about how you can transition between the states.
    • We tend to refer to a design for a machine as "an FSM."
    • In this example, the traffic light's structure is "a traffic light FSM."
  • states

    • FSMs always have at least one state, and nearly always many states
    • In this example,
      • the states are Red, Yellow, and Green
      • Something made from this FSM will only ever be one of those colors - not, say, Blue
  • machines

    • Single instances of an FSM are referred to as a machine
    • We might have a thousand instances of the traffic light designed above
    • We would say "My intersection has four machines of the standard three color light FSM."
  • current state

    • A machine has a current state, though an FSM does not
      • "This specific traffic light is currently Red"
    • Traffic lights in general do not have a current color, only specific lights
    • FSMs do not have a current state, only specific machines
    • A given machine will always have exactly one state - never multiple, never none
  • transitions

    • FSMs nearly always have transitions
    • Transitions govern whether a state may be reached from another state
      • This restriction is much of the value of FSMs
    • In this example,
      • the transitions are
        • GreenYellow
        • YellowRed
        • RedGreen
      • a machine whose current state is Green may switch to Yellow, because there is an appropriate transition
      • a machine whose current state is Green may not switch to Red, or to Green anew, because there is no such transition
        • A machine in Yellow which is told to transition to Green (which isn't legal) will know to refuse
        • This makes FSMs an effective tool for error prevention
  • actions

    • Many FSMs have actions, which represent events from the outside world.
    • In this example, there is only one action - Proceed
      • The action Proceed is available from all three colors
    • At any time we may indicate to this light to go to its next color, without taking the time to know what it is.
      • This allows FSMs like the light to self-manage.
      • A machine in Yellow which is told to take the action Proceed will know on its own to switch its current state to Red.
      • This makes FSMs an effective tool for complexity reduction

Those six ideas in hand - FSMs, states, machines, current state, transitions, and actions - and you're ready to move forwards.

One other quick definition - a DSL, or domain specific language, is when someone makes a language and embeds it into a different language, for the purpose of attacking a specific job. When React uses a precompiler to embed stuff that looks like HTML in Javascript, that's a DSL.

This library implements a simple language for defining finite state machines inside of strings. For example, this DSL defines that 'a -> b;' actually means "create two states, create a transition between them, assign the first as the initial state", et cetera. That micro-language is the DSL that we'll be referring to a lot, coming up. This DSL's formal name is jssm-dot, because it's a descendant-in-spirit of an older flowcharting language DOT, from graphviz, which is also used to make the visualizations in jssm-viz by way of viz-js.

Enough history lesson. On with the tooling.


And now, that Quick Start we were talking about

So let's put together a trivial four-state traffic light: the three colors, plus Off. This will give us an opportunity to go over the basic facilities in the language.

At any time, you can take the code and put it into the graph explorer for an opportunity to mess with the code as you see fit.


0: Lights always have an off state

Our light will start in the Off state, with the ability to switch to the Red state.

Since that's a normal, not-notable thing, we'll just make it a regular -> legal transition.

Off -> Red;

We will give that transition an action, and call it TurnOn.

Off 'TurnOn' -> Red;

So far, our machine is simple:


1: Traffic lights have a three-color cycle

The main path of a traffic light is cycling from Green to Yellow, then to Red, then back again. Because this is the main path, we'll mark these steps => main transitions.

Off 'TurnOn' -> Red => Green => Yellow => Red;

We will give those all the same action name, Proceed, indicating "next color" without needing to know what we're currently on.

Off 'TurnOn' -> Red 'Proceed' => Green 'Proceed' => Yellow 'Proceed' => Red;

Machine's still pretty simple:


2: Traffic lights can be shut down

We'd also like to be able to turn this light back off. Because that's expected to be a rarity, we'll require that it be a ~> forced transition.

We could write

Off 'TurnOn' -> Red 'Proceed' => Green 'Proceed' => Yellow 'Proceed' => Red;
Red ~> Off;
Yellow ~> Off;
Green ~> Off;

But that takes a lot of space even with this short list, so, instead we'll use the array notation

Off 'TurnOn' -> Red 'Proceed' => Green 'Proceed' => Yellow 'Proceed' => Red;
[Red Yellow Green] ~> Off;

And we'd like those all to have the action TurnOff, so

Off 'TurnOn' -> Red 'Proceed' => Green 'Proceed' => Yellow 'Proceed' => Red;
[Red Yellow Green] 'TurnOff' ~> Off;

Machine's still not too bad:


Let's actually use the traffic light

That's actually the bulk of the language. There are other little add-ons here and there, but, primarily you now know how to write a state machine.

Let's load it and use it! 😀

loading into node

loading into html

jssm-viz

redistribution on npm


An introduction to machine design

Let's make a state machine for ATMs. In the process, we will use a lot of core concepts of finite state machines and of jssm-dot, this library's DSL.

We're going to improve on this NCSU ATM diagram that I found:

Remember, at any time, you can take the code and put it into the graph explorer for an opportunity to mess with the code as you see fit.


0: Empty machine

We'll start with an empty machine.

EmptyWaiting 'Wait' -> EmptyWaiting;


1: Should be able to eject cards

We'll add the ability to physically eject the user's card and reset to the empty and waiting state. Right now it'll dangle around un-used at the top, but later it'll become useful.

This is expressed as the path EjectCardAndReset -> EmptyWaiting;

EmptyWaiting 'Wait' -> EmptyWaiting;
EjectCardAndReset -> EmptyWaiting;


2: Should be able to insert cards

We'll add the ability to physically insert a card, next. You know, the, uh, thing ATMs are pretty much for.

To get this, add the path leg EmptyWaiting 'InsertCard' -> HasCardNoAuth;

EmptyWaiting 'Wait' -> EmptyWaiting 'InsertCard' -> HasCardNoAuth;
EjectCardAndReset -> EmptyWaiting;

Notice that the new state, HasCardNoAuth, has been rendered red. This is because it is terminal - there is no exit from this node currently. (EmptyAndWaiting did not render that way because it had a transition to itself.) That will change as we go back to adding more nodes. terminal nodes are usually either mistakes or the last single state of a given FSM.


3: Should be able to cancel and recover the card

Next, we should have a cancel, because the ATM's 7 key is broken, and we need our card back. Cancel will exit to the main menu, and return our card credential.

To that end, we add the path HasCardNoAuth 'CancelAuthReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;

EmptyWaiting 'Wait' -> EmptyWaiting 'InsertCard' -> HasCardNoAuth;
 
HasCardNoAuth 'CancelAuthReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;
 
EjectCardAndReset -> EmptyWaiting;


4: Can give the wrong PIN

Next, let's give the ability to get the password ... wrong. 😂 Because we all know that one ATM that only has the wrong-PIN path, so, apparently that's a product to someone.

When they get the PIN wrong, they're prompted to try again (or to cancel.)

We'll add the path HasCardNoAuth 'WrongPIN' -> HasCardNoAuth;

EmptyWaiting 'Wait' -> EmptyWaiting 'InsertCard' -> HasCardNoAuth;
 
HasCardNoAuth 'CancelAuthReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;
HasCardNoAuth 'WrongPIN' -> HasCardNoAuth;
 
EjectCardAndReset -> EmptyWaiting;


5: Can give the correct PIN

Next, let's give the ability to get the password right.

We'll add two paths. The first gets the password right: HasCardNoAuth 'RightPIN' -> MainMenu;

The second, from our new state MainMenu, gives people the ability to leave: MainMenu 'ExitReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;

EmptyWaiting 'Wait' -> EmptyWaiting 'InsertCard' -> HasCardNoAuth;
 
HasCardNoAuth 'CancelAuthReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;
HasCardNoAuth 'WrongPIN' -> HasCardNoAuth;
HasCardNoAuth 'RightPIN' -> MainMenu;
 
MainMenu 'ExitReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;
 
EjectCardAndReset -> EmptyWaiting;


6: Can check balance from main menu

Hooray, now we're getting somewhere.

Let's add the ability to check your balance. First pick that from the main menu, then pick which account to see the balance of, then you're shown a screen with the information you requested; then go back to the main menu.

That's MainMenu 'CheckBalance' -> PickAccount -> DisplayBalance -> MainMenu;.

EmptyWaiting 'Wait' -> EmptyWaiting 'InsertCard' -> HasCardNoAuth;
 
HasCardNoAuth 'CancelAuthReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;
HasCardNoAuth 'WrongPIN' -> HasCardNoAuth;
HasCardNoAuth 'RightPIN' -> MainMenu;
 
MainMenu 'ExitReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;
MainMenu 'CheckBalance' -> PickAccount -> DisplayBalance -> MainMenu;
 
EjectCardAndReset -> EmptyWaiting;


7: Can deposit money from main menu

Let's add something difficult. Their state machine just proceeds assuming everything is okay.

To desposit money:

  1. Accept physical money
  2. If accept failed (eg door jammed,) reject physical object, go to main menu
  3. If accept succeeded, ask human expected value
  4. Pick an account this should go into
  5. Contact bank. Request to credit for theoretical physical money.
  6. Three results: yes, no, offer-after-audit.
  7. If no, reject physical object, go to main menu.
  8. If yes, consume physical object, tell user consumed, go to main menu
  9. If offer-after-audit, ask human what to do
  10. if human-yes, consume physical object, tell user consumed, go to main menu
  11. if human-no, reject physical object, go to main menu

Writing this out in code is not only generally longer than the text form, but also error prone and hard to maintain.

... or there's the FSM DSL, which is usually as-brief-as the text, and frequently both briefer and more explicit.

  • Rules 1-2: MainMenu 'AcceptDeposit' -> TentativeAcceptMoney 'AcceptFail' -> RejectPhysicalMoney -> MainMenu;
  • Rules 3-6: TentativeAcceptMoney 'AcceptSucceed' -> PickDepositAccount -> RequestValue 'TellBank' -> BankResponse;
  • Rule 7: BankResponse 'BankNo' -> RejectPhysicalMoney;
  • Rule 8: BankResponse 'BankYes' -> ConsumeMoney -> NotifyConsumed -> MainMenu;
  • Rules 9-10: BankResponse 'BankAudit' -> BankAuditOffer 'HumanAcceptAudit' -> ConsumeMoney;
  • Rule 11: BankAuditOffer 'HumanRejectAudit' -> RejectPhysicalMoney;

Or, as a block,

MainMenu 'AcceptDeposit' -> TentativeAcceptMoney;
 
TentativeAcceptMoney 'AcceptFail' -> RejectPhysicalMoney -> MainMenu;
TentativeAcceptMoney 'AcceptSucceed' -> PickDepositAccount -> RequestValue 'TellBank' -> BankResponse;
 
BankResponse 'BankNo'    -> RejectPhysicalMoney;
BankResponse 'BankYes'   -> ConsumeMoney -> NotifyConsumed -> MainMenu;
BankResponse 'BankAudit' -> BankAuditOffer 'HumanAcceptAudit' -> ConsumeMoney;
 
BankAuditOffer 'HumanRejectAudit' -> RejectPhysicalMoney;

Which leaves us with the total code

EmptyWaiting 'Wait' -> EmptyWaiting 'InsertCard' -> HasCardNoAuth;
 
HasCardNoAuth 'CancelAuthReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;
HasCardNoAuth 'WrongPIN' -> HasCardNoAuth;
HasCardNoAuth 'RightPIN' -> MainMenu;
 
MainMenu 'AcceptDeposit'  -> TentativeAcceptMoney;
MainMenu 'ExitReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;
MainMenu 'CheckBalance'   -> PickCheckBalanceAccount -> DisplayBalance -> MainMenu;
 
TentativeAcceptMoney 'AcceptFail'    -> RejectPhysicalMoney -> MainMenu;
TentativeAcceptMoney 'AcceptSucceed' -> PickDepositAccount -> RequestValue 'TellBank' -> BankResponse;
 
BankResponse 'BankNo'    -> RejectPhysicalMoney;
BankResponse 'BankYes'   -> ConsumeMoney -> NotifyConsumed -> MainMenu;
BankResponse 'BankAudit' -> BankAuditOffer 'HumanAcceptAudit' -> ConsumeMoney;
 
BankAuditOffer 'HumanRejectAudit' -> RejectPhysicalMoney;
 
EjectCardAndReset -> EmptyWaiting;


8: Can withdraw money from main menu

Let's also be able to take money from the machine. After this, we'll move on, since our example is pretty squarely made by now.

  1. Pick a withdrawl account, or cancel to the main menu
  2. Shown a balance, pick a withdrawl amount, or cancel to acct picker
  3. Is the withdrawl account too high? If so go to 2
  4. Does the machine actually have the money? If not go to 2
  5. Otherwise confirm intent w/ human
  6. Attempt to post the transaction.
  7. If fail, display reason and go to 1
  8. If succeed, dispense money and go to main menu
  • Rules 1-3: MainMenu -> PickWithdrawlAccount -> PickAmount -> AcctHasMoney? 'TooHighForAcct' -> PickWithdrawlAccount;
  • Rule 4: AcctHasMoney? -> MachineHasMoney? 'MachineLowOnCash' -> PickAmount;
  • Rule 5: MachineHasMoney? -> ConfirmWithdrawWithHuman 'MakeChanges' -> PickWithdrawlAmount;
  • Rule 6: ConfirmWithdrawWithHuman 'PostWithdrawl' -> BankWithdrawlResponse;
  • Rule 7: BankWithdrawlResponse 'WithdrawlFailure' -> WithdrawlFailureExplanation -> PickWithdrawlAccount;
  • Rule 8: BankWithdrawlResponse 'WithdrawlSuccess' -> DispenseMoney -> MainMenu;

Rule 1 canceller: PickWithdrawlAccount 'CancelWithdrawl' -> MainMenu; Rule 2 canceller: PickWithdrawlAmount 'SwitchAccounts' -> PickWithdrawlAccount;

Or as a whole, we're adding

MainMenu -> PickWithdrawlAccount -> PickAmount -> AcctHasMoney? 'TooHighForAcct' -> PickWithdrawlAccount;
AcctHasMoney? -> MachineHasMoney? 'MachineLowOnCash' -> PickAmount;
MachineHasMoney? -> ConfirmWithdrawWithHuman 'MakeChanges' -> PickWithdrawlAmount;
ConfirmWithdrawWithHuman 'PostWithdrawl' -> BankWithdrawlResponse;
BankWithdrawlResponse 'WithdrawlFailure' -> WithdrawlFailureExplanation -> PickWithdrawlAccount;
BankWithdrawlResponse 'WithdrawlSuccess' -> DispenseMoney -> MainMenu;
 
PickWithdrawlAccount 'CancelWithdrawl' -> MainMenu;
PickWithdrawlAmount 'SwitchAccounts' -> PickWithdrawlAccount;

Which leaves us with

EmptyWaiting 'Wait' -> EmptyWaiting 'InsertCard' -> HasCardNoAuth;
 
HasCardNoAuth 'CancelAuthReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;
HasCardNoAuth 'WrongPIN' -> HasCardNoAuth;
HasCardNoAuth 'RightPIN' -> MainMenu;
 
MainMenu 'AcceptDeposit'  -> TentativeAcceptMoney;
MainMenu 'ExitReturnCard' -> EjectCardAndReset;
MainMenu 'CheckBalance'   -> PickCheckBalanceAccount -> DisplayBalance -> MainMenu;
 
TentativeAcceptMoney 'AcceptFail'    -> RejectPhysicalMoney -> MainMenu;
TentativeAcceptMoney 'AcceptSucceed' -> PickDepositAccount -> RequestValue 'TellBank' -> BankResponse;
 
BankResponse 'BankNo'    -> RejectPhysicalMoney;
BankResponse 'BankYes'   -> ConsumeMoney -> NotifyConsumed -> MainMenu;
BankResponse 'BankAudit' -> BankAuditOffer 'HumanAcceptAudit' -> ConsumeMoney;
 
BankAuditOffer 'HumanRejectAudit' -> RejectPhysicalMoney;
 
MainMenu -> PickWithdrawlAccount -> PickAmount -> AcctHasMoney? 'TooHighForAcct' -> PickWithdrawlAccount;
AcctHasMoney? -> MachineHasMoney? 'MachineLowOnCash' -> PickAmount;
MachineHasMoney? -> ConfirmWithdrawWithHuman 'MakeChanges' -> PickWithdrawlAmount;
ConfirmWithdrawWithHuman 'PostWithdrawl' -> BankWithdrawlResponse;
BankWithdrawlResponse 'WithdrawlFailure' -> WithdrawlFailureExplanation -> PickWithdrawlAccount;
BankWithdrawlResponse 'WithdrawlSuccess' -> DispenseMoney -> MainMenu;
 
PickWithdrawlAccount 'CancelWithdrawl' -> MainMenu;
PickWithdrawlAmount 'SwitchAccounts' -> PickWithdrawlAccount;
 
EjectCardAndReset -> EmptyWaiting;

As you can see, building up even very complex state machines is actually relatively straightforward, in a short amount of time.



Features

DSL

States

Transitions

Cycles

Stripes

Named Ordered Lists

Atoms

Strings

Arrow types

Unicode representations

Node declarations

All the styling bullshit

Named edges

URL callouts

The 9 or whatever directives

How to publish a machine

Legal, main, and forced

Validators

State history

Automatic visualization



How to think in state machines



Example Machines

Door lock

Traffic lights

Basic three-state

RYG, Off, Flash-red, Flash-yellow

RYG, Off, Flash-red, Flash-yellow, Green-left, Yellow-left

Heirarchal intersection

ATM

HTTP

Better HTTP

TCP

Coin-op vending machine (data)

Video games

Pac-man Ghost (sensors)

Weather (probabilistics)

Roguelike monster (interface satisfaction)

Candy crush clone game flow (practical large use)

Vegas locked 21 dealer behavior

React SPA website (practical large use)

BGP

LibGCrypt FIPS mode FSM



How to debug



How to publish

It's really quite simple.

  1. Make a github repository.
  2. Put your code in a file inside, with the extension .fsl
  3. Make sure your code contains a machine_name

Once done, your work should show up here.



Notation Comparison

Their notations, one by one

Apples to Apples - Traffic Light



Other state machines

There are a lot of state machine impls for JS, many quite a bit more mature than this one. Here are some options:

  1. Finity 😮
  2. Stately.js
  3. machina.js
  4. Pastafarian
  5. Henderson
  6. fsm-as-promised
  7. state-machine
  8. mood
  9. FSM Workbench
  10. SimpleStateMachine
  11. shime/micro-machine
    1. soveran/micromachine (ruby)
  12. fabiospampinato/FSM
  13. HQarroum/FSM
  14. Finite-State-Automata
  15. finite-state-machine
  16. nfm

And some similar stuff:

  1. redux-machine
  2. ember-fsm
  3. State machine cat
  4. Workty 😮
  5. sam-simpler
  6. event_chain
  7. DRAKON
  8. Yakindu Statechart Tools
  9. GraphViz
    1. Viz.js, which we use




Thanks

JSSM and FSL have had a lot of help.



Internationalization

If I've overlooked you, please let me know.

If you'd like to help, it's straightforward.

  1. Easy mode: open a PR with this file translated into your language
  2. Extra mile: create a new repo containing this file translated



Code and Language

Forest Belton has provided guidance, bugfixes, parser and language commentary.

Jordan Harbrand suggested two interesting features and provided strong feedback on the initial tutorial draft.

The biggest thanks must go to Michael Morgan, who has debated significant sections of the notation, invented several concepts and operators, helped with the parser, with system nomenclature, for having published the first not-by-me FSL machine, for encouragement, and generally just for having been as interested as he has been.

Install

npm i jssm

DownloadsWeekly Downloads

42

Version

5.31.1

License

MIT

Unpacked Size

25.7 MB

Total Files

271

Last publish

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