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Lens Traversal

Lenses provide quick navigation the object graph, for example to navigate from an Author a:1 to all of its books, and all of its book's reviews, you can write:

// Load an author as usual
const author = await em.load(Author, "a:1");
// The `` creates a lens/path to navigate
const reviews = await author.load(a =>;
console.log(`Found ${reviews.length} reviews`);

Behind the scenes, the above code executes exactly the same as using Joist's populate hints to preload and then .get + .flatMap across preloaded relations:

// Load an author but with a populate hint
const author = await em.load(
{ books: "reviews" }
// Now flatMap book reviews w/o any awaits
const reviews = author.books.get.flatMap((book) => {
console.log(`Found ${reviews.length} reviews`);

Both of these features prevent await hell (by having only a single await and then otherwise synchronous code), and which one is better depends on your need:

  • If you need to apply filters and transformation logic, the populate hint with explicit .getsand.flatMap`s is better b/c you can intersperse your custom logic as needed.
  • If you just need to do a simple/no filtering/no transformation navigation of the object graph, then the lens .load approach is more succint.


In the above example, the author.load method passes its lambda the parameter a; this parameter is just a proxy/lens records/"marks" what path to take through the object graph.

Once the lambda returns that path (i.e. or author -> books -> reviews), then the load method internally loads/follows those paths, and returns the collection of entities that was at the "end" of the path.


In the above example, the a parameter is a Lens<Author>, where Lens is a mapped type that exposes Author's relations as simple keys.

Those keys themselves return new Lenss, i.e. a.books returns Lens<Book, Book[]> (the 2nd Book[] is because books returns multiple Books).

Then .reviews returns Lens<BookReview, BookReview[]>, and since it is the "last path" / last lens, that is who the author.load method knows that its return type should be BookReview[].