The Collection Type

Ever since I started using React, specifically Redux and Firebase, back in 2018-19-ish, I've always been weirded out by how lists were always stored in an Array, and retrieving/updating a single item required traversing through that array using a mixture of find, findIndex or filter. It seemed obvious to me that even a simple object that mapped the id to the contents would be more efficient but my then team disliked having to write Object.keys or Object.values each time we needed to iterate, like you often have to inside a React component.

My next job used Postgres where JOINs were a thing so we avoided the whole problem altogether. At Chubic, I'm back to using React and Firebase again and similar issues popped up. So I've taken to using something I call the Collection type and it looks like this.

interface Collection<T> {
  allIds: string[];
  byIds: Record<string, T>;

With this, I have the best of both worlds. I can iterate using or target a single row simply with Collection.byIds[id]. Yes, adding and removing takes a bit more work but that is nothing compared to the convenience of having both array and object methods available.

I take no credit for this. Similar interfaces can be found in the documentation of your favourite noSQL provider. I do think it bares repeating because I still see too many people sticking to simple arrays or objects.