Request For Comments: Nested Map Functions

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As Sass libraries and design systems get more complex and have more users with different needs, they tend to develop the need to share and override configuration and design tokens. This configuration is often hierarchical, and ends up being represented as maps that contain maps that contain still more maps. Up until now, Sass’s map functions haven’t really made it easy to work with this sort of nested map structure. But that’s changing with the latest language proposal, written by Sass core team member Miriam Suzanne.

This proposal expands the existing map functions and adds a few new ones to make working with nested maps much easier than it was before. It’s based on helper functions that pop up in all sorts of Sass projects around the web, incorporating best practices back into the language itself.

The Functions permalinkThe Functions

Here are the new and improved functions this proposal adds:

map.get() and map.has-key() permalinkmap.get() and map.has-key()

The map.get() and map.has-key() functions both now take any number of keys as arguments. Each key drills deeper into a nested map, allowing you to easily inspect nested values without needing to chain a bunch of function calls together.

For example, let’s take the following simplified configuration map:

$config: (
  "colors": (
    "primary": red,
    "secondary": blue
  )
)

For this map, map.get($config, "colors", "primary") gets the value of the "colors" key (("primary": red)) then the value of the "primary" key and returns red.

Similarly, map.has-key($config, "colors", "primary") returns true while map.has-key($config, "colors", "tertiary") returns false.

map.merge() permalinkmap.merge()

The map.merge() function can now be called as map.merge($map1, $keys..., $map2). This will merge $map2 with a child of $map1 at the location given by the keys, updating the parent maps as it goes.

For example, using the configuration map defined above map.merge($config, "colors", ("primary": green)) will return

(
  "colors": (
    "primary": green,
    "secondary": blue
  )
)

map.set() permalinkmap.set()

The map.set($map, $keys..., $value) function is all-new. Although updating individual values in maps was always possible with map.merge(), we’ve found that users get confused by the absence of a dedicated set() function. This function not only fills that role, but makes it possible to set values within nested maps as well.

You can use map.set() for normal single-layer maps by just passing one key. For example, map.set(("wide": 200px, "narrow": 70px), "wide", 180px) will return ("wide": 180px, "narrow": 70px).

But you can also use it for nested maps. For example, map.set($config, "colors", "tertiary", yellow) will return

(
  "colors": (
    "primary": red,
    "secondary": blue,
    "tertiary": yellow
  )
)

map.deep-remove() permalinkmap.deep-remove()

Because the existing map.remove() function already takes any number of arguments, we couldn’t just update it to work with nested maps. Instead, we chose to add a new function just for nested maps, called map.deep-remove($map, $keys...). This function removes the value at the final key in the list, and updates all the parent maps accordingly.

For example, map.deep-remove($config, "colors", "secondary") will return ("colors": ("primary": red)).

map.deep-merge() permalinkmap.deep-merge()

The final new function may be the most exciting. map.deep-merge($map1, $map2) works just like map.merge(), except that any nested maps are also merged, including maps within those maps and so on. This makes it easy to combine two configuration maps that have the same structure without having to manually merge each level by hand.

For example, map.deep-merge($config, ("colors": ("secondary": teal))) returns

(
  "colors": (
    "primary": red,
    "secondary": teal
  )
)

Let us know what you think! permalinkLet us know what you think!

If you’re interested in learning more about this proposal, read it in full on GitHub. It’s open for comments and revisions for the next month, so if you’d like to see something change please file an issue and we can discuss it!

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