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Handling Events – React

Handling Events

Handling events with React elements is very similar to handling events on DOM elements. There are some syntax differences:



  • React events are named using camelCase, rather than lowercase.

  • With JSX you pass a function as the event handler, rather than a string.


For example, the HTML:


<button onclick="activateLasers()">
Activate Lasers
</button>

is slightly different in React:


<button onClick={activateLasers}>  Activate Lasers
</button>

Another difference is that you cannot return false to prevent default behavior in React. You must call preventDefault explicitly. For example, with plain HTML, to prevent the default form behavior of submitting, you can write:


<form onsubmit="console.log('You clicked submit.'); return false">
<button type="submit">Submit</button>
</form>

In React, this could instead be:


function Form() {
function handleSubmit(e) {
e.preventDefault(); console.log('You clicked submit.');
}

return (
<form onSubmit={handleSubmit}>
<button type="submit">Submit</button>
</form>
);
}

Here, e is a synthetic event. React defines these synthetic events according to the W3C spec, so you don’t need to worry about cross-browser compatibility. React events do not work exactly the same as native events. See the SyntheticEvent reference guide to learn more.


When using React, you generally don’t need to call addEventListener to add listeners to a DOM element after it is created. Instead, just provide a listener when the element is initially rendered.


When you define a component using an ES6 class, a common pattern is for an event handler to be a method on the class. For example, this Toggle component renders a button that lets the user toggle between “ON” and “OFF” states:


class Toggle extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.state = {isToggleOn: true};

// This binding is necessary to make `this` work in the callback this.handleClick = this.handleClick.bind(this); }

handleClick() { this.setState(prevState => ({ isToggleOn: !prevState.isToggleOn })); }
render() {
return (
<button onClick={this.handleClick}> {this.state.isToggleOn ? 'ON' : 'OFF'}
</button>
);
}
}

Try it on CodePen


You have to be careful about the meaning of this in JSX callbacks. In JavaScript, class methods are not bound by default. If you forget to bind this.handleClick and pass it to onClick , this will be undefined when the function is actually called.


This is not React-specific behavior; it is a part of how functions work in JavaScript. Generally, if you refer to a method without () after it, such as onClick={this.handleClick} , you should bind that method.


If calling bind annoys you, there are two ways you can get around this. You can use public class fields syntax to correctly bind callbacks:


class LoggingButton extends React.Component {
// This syntax ensures `this` is bound within handleClick. handleClick = () => { console.log('this is:', this); }; render() {
return (
<button onClick={this.handleClick}>
Click me
</button>
);
}
}

This syntax is enabled by default in Create React App.


If you aren’t using class fields syntax, you can use an arrow function in the callback:


class LoggingButton extends React.Component {
handleClick() {
console.log('this is:', this);
}

render() {
// This syntax ensures `this` is bound within handleClick return ( <button onClick={() => this.handleClick()}> Click me
</button>
);
}
}

The problem with this syntax is that a different callback is created each time the LoggingButton renders. In most cases, this is fine. However, if this callback is passed as a prop to lower components, those components might do an extra re-rendering. We generally recommend binding in the constructor or using the class fields syntax, to avoid this sort of performance problem.


Passing Arguments to Event Handlers


Inside a loop, it is common to want to pass an extra parameter to an event handler. For example, if id is the row ID, either of the following would work:


<button onClick={(e) => this.deleteRow(id, e)}>Delete Row</button>
<button onClick={this.deleteRow.bind(this, id)}>Delete Row</button>

The above two lines are equivalent, and use arrow functions and Function.prototype.bind respectively.


In both cases, the e argument representing the React event will be passed as a second argument after the ID. With an arrow function, we have to pass it explicitly, but with bind any further arguments are automatically forwarded.

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Conditional Rendering – React

Conditional Rendering

In React, you can create distinct components that encapsulate behavior you need. Then, you can render only some of them, depending on the state of your application.


Conditional rendering in React works the same way conditions work in JavaScript. Use JavaScript operators like if or the conditional operator to create elements representing the current state, and let React update the UI to match them.


Consider these two components:


function UserGreeting(props) {
return <h1>Welcome back!</h1>;
}

function GuestGreeting(props) {
return <h1>Please sign up.</h1>;
}

We’ll create a Greeting component that displays either of these components depending on whether a user is logged in:


function Greeting(props) {
const isLoggedIn = props.isLoggedIn;
if (isLoggedIn) { return <UserGreeting />; } return <GuestGreeting />;}
const root = ReactDOM.createRoot(document.getElementById('root'));
// Try changing to isLoggedIn={true}:
root.render(<Greeting isLoggedIn={false} />);

Try it on CodePen


This example renders a different greeting depending on the value of isLoggedIn prop.


Element Variables


You can use variables to store elements. This can help you conditionally render a part of the component while the rest of the output doesn’t change.


Consider these two new components representing Logout and Login buttons:


function LoginButton(props) {
return (
<button onClick={props.onClick}>
Login
</button>
);
}

function LogoutButton(props) {
return (
<button onClick={props.onClick}>
Logout
</button>
);
}

In the example below, we will create a stateful component called LoginControl .


It will render either <LoginButton /> or <LogoutButton /> depending on its current state. It will also render a <Greeting /> from the previous example:


class LoginControl extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.handleLoginClick = this.handleLoginClick.bind(this);
this.handleLogoutClick = this.handleLogoutClick.bind(this);
this.state = {isLoggedIn: false};
}

handleLoginClick() {
this.setState({isLoggedIn: true});
}

handleLogoutClick() {
this.setState({isLoggedIn: false});
}

render() {
const isLoggedIn = this.state.isLoggedIn;
let button;
if (isLoggedIn) { button = <LogoutButton onClick={this.handleLogoutClick} />; } else { button = <LoginButton onClick={this.handleLoginClick} />; }
return (
<div>
<Greeting isLoggedIn={isLoggedIn} /> {button} </div>
);
}
}

const root = ReactDOM.createRoot(document.getElementById('root'));
root.render(<LoginControl />);

Try it on CodePen


While declaring a variable and using an if statement is a fine way to conditionally render a component, sometimes you might want to use a shorter syntax. There are a few ways to inline conditions in JSX, explained below.


Inline If with Logical && Operator


You may embed expressions in JSX by wrapping them in curly braces. This includes the JavaScript logical && operator. It can be handy for conditionally including an element:


function Mailbox(props) {
const unreadMessages = props.unreadMessages;
return (
<div>
<h1>Hello!</h1>
{unreadMessages.length > 0 && <h2> You have {unreadMessages.length} unread messages. </h2> } </div>
);
}

const messages = ['React', 'Re: React', 'Re:Re: React'];

const root = ReactDOM.createRoot(document.getElementById('root'));
root.render(<Mailbox unreadMessages={messages} />);

Try it on CodePen


It works because in JavaScript, true && expression always evaluates to expression , and false && expression always evaluates to false .


Therefore, if the condition is true , the element right after && will appear in the output. If it is false , React will ignore and skip it.


Note that returning a falsy expression will still cause the element after && to be skipped but will return the falsy expression. In the example below, <div>0</div> will be returned by the render method.


render() {
const count = 0; return (
<div>
{count && <h1>Messages: {count}</h1>} </div>
);
}

Inline If-Else with Conditional Operator


Another method for conditionally rendering elements inline is to use the JavaScript conditional operator condition ? true : false .


In the example below, we use it to conditionally render a small block of text.


render() {
const isLoggedIn = this.state.isLoggedIn;
return (
<div>
The user is <b>{isLoggedIn ? 'currently' : 'not'}</b> logged in. </div>
);
}

It can also be used for larger expressions although it is less obvious what’s going on:


render() {
const isLoggedIn = this.state.isLoggedIn;
return (
<div>
{isLoggedIn ? <LogoutButton onClick={this.handleLogoutClick} />
: <LoginButton onClick={this.handleLoginClick} /> }
</div> );
}

Just like in JavaScript, it is up to you to choose an appropriate style based on what you and your team consider more readable. Also remember that whenever conditions become too complex, it might be a good time to extract a component.


Preventing Component from Rendering


In rare cases you might want a component to hide itself even though it was rendered by another component. To do this return null instead of its render output.


In the example below, the <WarningBanner /> is rendered depending on the value of the prop called warn . If the value of the prop is false , then the component does not render:


function WarningBanner(props) {
if (!props.warn) { return null; }
return (
<div className="warning">
Warning!
</div>
);
}

class Page extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.state = {showWarning: true};
this.handleToggleClick = this.handleToggleClick.bind(this);
}

handleToggleClick() {
this.setState(state => ({
showWarning: !state.showWarning
}));
}

render() {
return (
<div>
<WarningBanner warn={this.state.showWarning} /> <button onClick={this.handleToggleClick}>
{this.state.showWarning ? 'Hide' : 'Show'}
</button>
</div>
);
}
}

const root = ReactDOM.createRoot(document.getElementById('root'));
root.render(<Page />);

Try it on CodePen


Returning null from a component’s render method does not affect the firing of the component’s lifecycle methods. For instance componentDidUpdate will still be called.

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Lists and Keys – React

Lists and Keys

First, let’s review how you transform lists in JavaScript.


Given the code below, we use the map() function to take an array of numbers and double their values. We assign the new array returned by map() to the variable doubled and log it:


const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
const doubled = numbers.map((number) => number * 2);console.log(doubled);

This code logs [2, 4, 6, 8, 10] to the console.


In React, transforming arrays into lists of elements is nearly identical.


Rendering Multiple Components


You can build collections of elements and include them in JSX using curly braces {} .


Below, we loop through the numbers array using the JavaScript map() function. We return a <li> element for each item. Finally, we assign the resulting array of elements to listItems :


const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
const listItems = numbers.map((number) => <li>{number}</li>);

Then, we can include the entire listItems array inside a <ul> element:


<ul>{listItems}</ul>

Try it on CodePen


This code displays a bullet list of numbers between 1 and 5.


Basic List Component


Usually you would render lists inside a component.


We can refactor the previous example into a component that accepts an array of numbers and outputs a list of elements.


function NumberList(props) {
const numbers = props.numbers;
const listItems = numbers.map((number) => <li>{number}</li> ); return (
<ul>{listItems}</ul> );
}

const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
const root = ReactDOM.createRoot(document.getElementById('root'));
root.render(<NumberList numbers={numbers} />);

When you run this code, you’ll be given a warning that a key should be provided for list items. A “key” is a special string attribute you need to include when creating lists of elements. We’ll discuss why it’s important in the next section.


Let’s assign a key to our list items inside numbers.map() and fix the missing key issue.


function NumberList(props) {
const numbers = props.numbers;
const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
<li key={number.toString()}> {number}
</li>
);
return (
<ul>{listItems}</ul>
);
}

Try it on CodePen


Keys


Keys help React identify which items have changed, are added, or are removed. Keys should be given to the elements inside the array to give the elements a stable identity:


const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
<li key={number.toString()}> {number}
</li>
);

The best way to pick a key is to use a string that uniquely identifies a list item among its siblings. Most often you would use IDs from your data as keys:


const todoItems = todos.map((todo) =>
<li key={todo.id}> {todo.text}
</li>
);

When you don’t have stable IDs for rendered items, you may use the item index as a key as a last resort:


const todoItems = todos.map((todo, index) =>
// Only do this if items have no stable IDs <li key={index}> {todo.text}
</li>
);

We don’t recommend using indexes for keys if the order of items may change. This can negatively impact performance and may cause issues with component state. Check out Robin Pokorny’s article for an in-depth explanation on the negative impacts of using an index as a key. If you choose not to assign an explicit key to list items then React will default to using indexes as keys.


Here is an in-depth explanation about why keys are necessary if you’re interested in learning more.


Extracting Components with Keys


Keys only make sense in the context of the surrounding array.


For example, if you extract a ListItem component, you should keep the key on the <ListItem /> elements in the array rather than on the <li> element in the ListItem itself.


Example: Incorrect Key Usage


function ListItem(props) {
const value = props.value;
return (
// Wrong! There is no need to specify the key here: <li key={value.toString()}> {value}
</li>
);
}

function NumberList(props) {
const numbers = props.numbers;
const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
// Wrong! The key should have been specified here: <ListItem value={number} /> );
return (
<ul>
{listItems}
</ul>
);
}

Example: Correct Key Usage


function ListItem(props) {
// Correct! There is no need to specify the key here: return <li>{props.value}</li>;}

function NumberList(props) {
const numbers = props.numbers;
const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
// Correct! Key should be specified inside the array. <ListItem key={number.toString()} value={number} /> );
return (
<ul>
{listItems}
</ul>
);
}

Try it on CodePen


A good rule of thumb is that elements inside the map() call need keys.


Keys Must Only Be Unique Among Siblings


Keys used within arrays should be unique among their siblings. However, they don’t need to be globally unique. We can use the same keys when we produce two different arrays:


function Blog(props) {
const sidebar = ( <ul>
{props.posts.map((post) =>
<li key={post.id}> {post.title}
</li>
)}
</ul>
);
const content = props.posts.map((post) => <div key={post.id}> <h3>{post.title}</h3>
<p>{post.content}</p>
</div>
);
return (
<div>
{sidebar} <hr />
{content} </div>
);
}

const posts = [
{id: 1, title: 'Hello World', content: 'Welcome to learning React!'},
{id: 2, title: 'Installation', content: 'You can install React from npm.'}
];

const root = ReactDOM.createRoot(document.getElementById('root'));
root.render(<Blog posts={posts} />);

Try it on CodePen


Keys serve as a hint to React but they don’t get passed to your components. If you need the same value in your component, pass it explicitly as a prop with a different name:


const content = posts.map((post) =>
<Post
key={post.id} id={post.id} title={post.title} />

);

With the example above, the Post component can read props.id , but not props.key .


Embedding map() in JSX


In the examples above we declared a separate listItems variable and included it in JSX:


function NumberList(props) {
const numbers = props.numbers;
const listItems = numbers.map((number) => <ListItem key={number.toString()} value={number} /> ); return (
<ul>
{listItems}
</ul>
);
}

JSX allows embedding any expression in curly braces so we could inline the map() result:


function NumberList(props) {
const numbers = props.numbers;
return (
<ul>
{numbers.map((number) => <ListItem key={number.toString()} value={number} /> )} </ul>
);
}

Try it on CodePen


Sometimes this results in clearer code, but this style can also be abused. Like in JavaScript, it is up to you to decide whether it is worth extracting a variable for readability. Keep in mind that if the map() body is too nested, it might be a good time to extract a component.

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Forms – React

Forms

HTML form elements work a bit differently from other DOM elements in React, because form elements naturally keep some internal state. For example, this form in plain HTML accepts a single name:


<form>
<label>
Name:
<input type="text" name="name" />
</label>
<input type="submit" value="Submit" />
</form>

This form has the default HTML form behavior of browsing to a new page when the user submits the form. If you want this behavior in React, it just works. But in most cases, it’s convenient to have a JavaScript function that handles the submission of the form and has access to the data that the user entered into the form. The standard way to achieve this is with a technique called “controlled components”.


Controlled Components


In HTML, form elements such as <input> , <textarea> , and <select> typically maintain their own state and update it based on user input. In React, mutable state is typically kept in the state property of components, and only updated with setState() .


We can combine the two by making the React state be the “single source of truth”. Then the React component that renders a form also controls what happens in that form on subsequent user input. An input form element whose value is controlled by React in this way is called a “controlled component”.


For example, if we want to make the previous example log the name when it is submitted, we can write the form as a controlled component:


class NameForm extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.state = {value: ''};
this.handleChange = this.handleChange.bind(this);
this.handleSubmit = this.handleSubmit.bind(this);
}

handleChange(event) { this.setState({value: event.target.value}); }
handleSubmit(event) {
alert('A name was submitted: ' + this.state.value);
event.preventDefault();
}

render() {
return (
<form onSubmit={this.handleSubmit}> <label>
Name:
<input type="text" value={this.state.value} onChange={this.handleChange} /> </label>
<input type="submit" value="Submit" />
</form>
);
}
}

Try it on CodePen


Since the value attribute is set on our form element, the displayed value will always be this.state.value , making the React state the source of truth. Since handleChange runs on every keystroke to update the React state, the displayed value will update as the user types.


With a controlled component, the input’s value is always driven by the React state. While this means you have to type a bit more code, you can now pass the value to other UI elements too, or reset it from other event handlers.


The textarea Tag


In HTML, a <textarea> element defines its text by its children:


<textarea>
Hello there, this is some text in a text area
</textarea>

In React, a <textarea> uses a value attribute instead. This way, a form using a <textarea> can be written very similarly to a form that uses a single-line input:


class EssayForm extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.state = { value: 'Please write an essay about your favorite DOM element.' };
this.handleChange = this.handleChange.bind(this);
this.handleSubmit = this.handleSubmit.bind(this);
}

handleChange(event) { this.setState({value: event.target.value}); }
handleSubmit(event) {
alert('An essay was submitted: ' + this.state.value);
event.preventDefault();
}

render() {
return (
<form onSubmit={this.handleSubmit}>
<label>
Essay:
<textarea value={this.state.value} onChange={this.handleChange} /> </label>
<input type="submit" value="Submit" />
</form>
);
}
}

Notice that this.state.value is initialized in the constructor, so that the text area starts off with some text in it.


The select Tag


In HTML, <select> creates a drop-down list. For example, this HTML creates a drop-down list of flavors:


<select>
<option value="grapefruit">Grapefruit</option>
<option value="lime">Lime</option>
<option selected value="coconut">Coconut</option>
<option value="mango">Mango</option>
</select>

Note that the Coconut option is initially selected, because of the selected attribute. React, instead of using this selected attribute, uses a value attribute on the root select tag. This is more convenient in a controlled component because you only need to update it in one place. For example:


class FlavorForm extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.state = {value: 'coconut'};
this.handleChange = this.handleChange.bind(this);
this.handleSubmit = this.handleSubmit.bind(this);
}

handleChange(event) { this.setState({value: event.target.value}); }
handleSubmit(event) {
alert('Your favorite flavor is: ' + this.state.value);
event.preventDefault();
}

render() {
return (
<form onSubmit={this.handleSubmit}>
<label>
Pick your favorite flavor:
<select value={this.state.value} onChange={this.handleChange}> <option value="grapefruit">Grapefruit</option>
<option value="lime">Lime</option>
<option value="coconut">Coconut</option>
<option value="mango">Mango</option>
</select>
</label>
<input type="submit" value="Submit" />
</form>
);
}
}

Try it on CodePen


Overall, this makes it so that <input type="text"> , <textarea> , and <select> all work very similarly - they all accept a value attribute that you can use to implement a controlled component.



Note


You can pass an array into the value attribute, allowing you to select multiple options in a select tag:


<select multiple={true} value={['B', 'C']}>


The file input Tag


In HTML, an <input type="file"> lets the user choose one or more files from their device storage to be uploaded to a server or manipulated by JavaScript via the File API.


<input type="file" />

Because its value is read-only, it is an uncontrolled component in React. It is discussed together with other uncontrolled components later in the documentation.


Handling Multiple Inputs


When you need to handle multiple controlled input elements, you can add a name attribute to each element and let the handler function choose what to do based on the value of event.target.name .


For example:


class Reservation extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.state = {
isGoing: true,
numberOfGuests: 2
};

this.handleInputChange = this.handleInputChange.bind(this);
}

handleInputChange(event) {
const target = event.target;
const value = target.type === 'checkbox' ? target.checked : target.value;
const name = target.name;
this.setState({
[name]: value });
}

render() {
return (
<form>
<label>
Is going:
<input
name="isGoing" type="checkbox"
checked={this.state.isGoing}
onChange={this.handleInputChange} />

</label>
<br />
<label>
Number of guests:
<input
name="numberOfGuests" type="number"
value={this.state.numberOfGuests}
onChange={this.handleInputChange} />

</label>
</form>
);
}
}

Try it on CodePen


Note how we used the ES6 computed property name syntax to update the state key corresponding to the given input name:


this.setState({
[name]: value});

It is equivalent to this ES5 code:


var partialState = {};
partialState[name] = value;this.setState(partialState);

Also, since setState() automatically merges a partial state into the current state, we only needed to call it with the changed parts.


Controlled Input Null Value


Specifying the value prop on a controlled component prevents the user from changing the input unless you desire so. If you’ve specified a value but the input is still editable, you may have accidentally set value to undefined or null .


The following code demonstrates this. (The input is locked at first but becomes editable after a short delay.)


ReactDOM.createRoot(mountNode).render(<input value="hi" />);

setTimeout(function() {
ReactDOM.createRoot(mountNode).render(<input value={null} />);
}, 1000);

Alternatives to Controlled Components


It can sometimes be tedious to use controlled components, because you need to write an event handler for every way your data can change and pipe all of the input state through a React component. This can become particularly annoying when you are converting a preexisting codebase to React, or integrating a React application with a non-React library. In these situations, you might want to check out uncontrolled components, an alternative technique for implementing input forms.


Fully-Fledged Solutions


If you’re looking for a complete solution including validation, keeping track of the visited fields, and handling form submission, Formik is one of the popular choices. However, it is built on the same principles of controlled components and managing state — so don’t neglect to learn them.

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Lifting State Up – React

Lifting State Up

Often, several components need to reflect the same changing data. We recommend lifting the shared state up to their closest common ancestor. Let’s see how this works in action.


In this section, we will create a temperature calculator that calculates whether the water would boil at a given temperature.


We will start with a component called BoilingVerdict . It accepts the celsius temperature as a prop, and prints whether it is enough to boil the water:


function BoilingVerdict(props) {
if (props.celsius >= 100) {
return <p>The water would boil.</p>; }
return <p>The water would not boil.</p>;}

Next, we will create a component called Calculator . It renders an <input> that lets you enter the temperature, and keeps its value in this.state.temperature .


Additionally, it renders the BoilingVerdict for the current input value.


class Calculator extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.handleChange = this.handleChange.bind(this);
this.state = {temperature: ''}; }

handleChange(e) {
this.setState({temperature: e.target.value}); }

render() {
const temperature = this.state.temperature; return (
<fieldset>
<legend>Enter temperature in Celsius:</legend>
<input value={temperature} onChange={this.handleChange} /> <BoilingVerdict celsius={parseFloat(temperature)} /> </fieldset>
);
}
}

Try it on CodePen


Adding a Second Input


Our new requirement is that, in addition to a Celsius input, we provide a Fahrenheit input, and they are kept in sync.


We can start by extracting a TemperatureInput component from Calculator . We will add a new scale prop to it that can either be "c" or "f" :


const scaleNames = {  c: 'Celsius',  f: 'Fahrenheit'};
class TemperatureInput extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.handleChange = this.handleChange.bind(this);
this.state = {temperature: ''};
}

handleChange(e) {
this.setState({temperature: e.target.value});
}

render() {
const temperature = this.state.temperature;
const scale = this.props.scale; return (
<fieldset>
<legend>Enter temperature in {scaleNames[scale]}:</legend> <input value={temperature}
onChange={this.handleChange} />

</fieldset>
);
}
}

We can now change the Calculator to render two separate temperature inputs:


class Calculator extends React.Component {
render() {
return (
<div>
<TemperatureInput scale="c" /> <TemperatureInput scale="f" /> </div>
);
}
}

Try it on CodePen


We have two inputs now, but when you enter the temperature in one of them, the other doesn’t update. This contradicts our requirement: we want to keep them in sync.


We also can’t display the BoilingVerdict from Calculator . The Calculator doesn’t know the current temperature because it is hidden inside the TemperatureInput .


Writing Conversion Functions


First, we will write two functions to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit and back:


function toCelsius(fahrenheit) {
return (fahrenheit - 32) * 5 / 9;
}

function toFahrenheit(celsius) {
return (celsius * 9 / 5) + 32;
}

These two functions convert numbers. We will write another function that takes a string temperature and a converter function as arguments and returns a string. We will use it to calculate the value of one input based on the other input.


It returns an empty string on an invalid temperature , and it keeps the output rounded to the third decimal place:


function tryConvert(temperature, convert) {
const input = parseFloat(temperature);
if (Number.isNaN(input)) {
return '';
}
const output = convert(input);
const rounded = Math.round(output * 1000) / 1000;
return rounded.toString();
}

For example, tryConvert('abc', toCelsius) returns an empty string, and tryConvert('10.22', toFahrenheit) returns '50.396' .


Lifting State Up


Currently, both TemperatureInput components independently keep their values in the local state:


class TemperatureInput extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.handleChange = this.handleChange.bind(this);
this.state = {temperature: ''}; }

handleChange(e) {
this.setState({temperature: e.target.value}); }

render() {
const temperature = this.state.temperature; // ...

However, we want these two inputs to be in sync with each other. When we update the Celsius input, the Fahrenheit input should reflect the converted temperature, and vice versa.


In React, sharing state is accomplished by moving it up to the closest common ancestor of the components that need it. This is called “lifting state up”. We will remove the local state from the TemperatureInput and move it into the Calculator instead.


If the Calculator owns the shared state, it becomes the “source of truth” for the current temperature in both inputs. It can instruct them both to have values that are consistent with each other. Since the props of both TemperatureInput components are coming from the same parent Calculator component, the two inputs will always be in sync.


Let’s see how this works step by step.


First, we will replace this.state.temperature with this.props.temperature in the TemperatureInput component. For now, let’s pretend this.props.temperature already exists, although we will need to pass it from the Calculator in the future:


  render() {
// Before: const temperature = this.state.temperature;
const temperature = this.props.temperature; // ...

We know that props are read-only. When the temperature was in the local state, the TemperatureInput could just call this.setState() to change it. However, now that the temperature is coming from the parent as a prop, the TemperatureInput has no control over it.


In React, this is usually solved by making a component “controlled”. Just like the DOM <input> accepts both a value and an onChange prop, so can the custom TemperatureInput accept both temperature and onTemperatureChange props from its parent Calculator .


Now, when the TemperatureInput wants to update its temperature, it calls this.props.onTemperatureChange :


  handleChange(e) {
// Before: this.setState({temperature: e.target.value});
this.props.onTemperatureChange(e.target.value); // ...


Note:


There is no special meaning to either temperature or onTemperatureChange prop names in custom components. We could have called them anything else, like name them value and onChange which is a common convention.



The onTemperatureChange prop will be provided together with the temperature prop by the parent Calculator component. It will handle the change by modifying its own local state, thus re-rendering both inputs with the new values. We will look at the new Calculator implementation very soon.


Before diving into the changes in the Calculator , let’s recap our changes to the TemperatureInput component. We have removed the local state from it, and instead of reading this.state.temperature , we now read this.props.temperature . Instead of calling this.setState() when we want to make a change, we now call this.props.onTemperatureChange() , which will be provided by the Calculator :


class TemperatureInput extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.handleChange = this.handleChange.bind(this);
}

handleChange(e) {
this.props.onTemperatureChange(e.target.value); }

render() {
const temperature = this.props.temperature; const scale = this.props.scale;
return (
<fieldset>
<legend>Enter temperature in {scaleNames[scale]}:</legend>
<input value={temperature}
onChange={this.handleChange} />

</fieldset>
);
}
}

Now let’s turn to the Calculator component.


We will store the current input’s temperature and scale in its local state. This is the state we “lifted up” from the inputs, and it will serve as the “source of truth” for both of them. It is the minimal representation of all the data we need to know in order to render both inputs.


For example, if we enter 37 into the Celsius input, the state of the Calculator component will be:


{
temperature: '37',
scale: 'c'
}

If we later edit the Fahrenheit field to be 212, the state of the Calculator will be:


{
temperature: '212',
scale: 'f'
}

We could have stored the value of both inputs but it turns out to be unnecessary. It is enough to store the value of the most recently changed input, and the scale that it represents. We can then infer the value of the other input based on the current temperature and scale alone.


The inputs stay in sync because their values are computed from the same state:


class Calculator extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.handleCelsiusChange = this.handleCelsiusChange.bind(this);
this.handleFahrenheitChange = this.handleFahrenheitChange.bind(this);
this.state = {temperature: '', scale: 'c'}; }

handleCelsiusChange(temperature) {
this.setState({scale: 'c', temperature}); }

handleFahrenheitChange(temperature) {
this.setState({scale: 'f', temperature}); }

render() {
const scale = this.state.scale; const temperature = this.state.temperature; const celsius = scale === 'f' ? tryConvert(temperature, toCelsius) : temperature; const fahrenheit = scale === 'c' ? tryConvert(temperature, toFahrenheit) : temperature;
return (
<div>
<TemperatureInput
scale="c"
temperature={celsius} onTemperatureChange={this.handleCelsiusChange} />
<TemperatureInput
scale="f"
temperature={fahrenheit} onTemperatureChange={this.handleFahrenheitChange} />
<BoilingVerdict
celsius={parseFloat(celsius)} />
</div>
);
}
}

Try it on CodePen


Now, no matter which input you edit, this.state.temperature and this.state.scale in the Calculator get updated. One of the inputs gets the value as is, so any user input is preserved, and the other input value is always recalculated based on it.


Let’s recap what happens when you edit an input:



  • React calls the function specified as onChange on the DOM <input> . In our case, this is the handleChange method in the TemperatureInput component.

  • The handleChange method in the TemperatureInput component calls this.props.onTemperatureChange() with the new desired value. Its props, including onTemperatureChange , were provided by its parent component, the Calculator .

  • When it previously rendered, the Calculator had specified that onTemperatureChange of the Celsius TemperatureInput is the Calculator ’s handleCelsiusChange method, and onTemperatureChange of the Fahrenheit TemperatureInput is the Calculator ’s handleFahrenheitChange method. So either of these two Calculator methods gets called depending on which input we edited.

  • Inside these methods, the Calculator component asks React to re-render itself by calling this.setState() with the new input value and the current scale of the input we just edited.

  • React calls the Calculator component’s render method to learn what the UI should look like. The values of both inputs are recomputed based on the current temperature and the active scale. The temperature conversion is performed here.

  • React calls the render methods of the individual TemperatureInput components with their new props specified by the Calculator . It learns what their UI should look like.

  • React calls the render method of the BoilingVerdict component, passing the temperature in Celsius as its props.

  • React DOM updates the DOM with the boiling verdict and to match the desired input values. The input we just edited receives its current value, and the other input is updated to the temperature after conversion.


Every update goes through the same steps so the inputs stay in sync.


Lessons Learned


There should be a single “source of truth” for any data that changes in a React application. Usually, the state is first added to the component that needs it for rendering. Then, if other components also need it, you can lift it up to their closest common ancestor. Instead of trying to sync the state between different components, you should rely on the top-down data flow.


Lifting state involves writing more “boilerplate” code than two-way binding approaches, but as a benefit, it takes less work to find and isolate bugs. Since any state “lives” in some component and that component alone can change it, the surface area for bugs is greatly reduced. Additionally, you can implement any custom logic to reject or transform user input.


If something can be derived from either props or state, it probably shouldn’t be in the state. For example, instead of storing both celsiusValue and fahrenheitValue , we store just the last edited temperature and its scale . The value of the other input can always be calculated from them in the render() method. This lets us clear or apply rounding to the other field without losing any precision in the user input.


When you see something wrong in the UI, you can use React Developer Tools to inspect the props and move up the tree until you find the component responsible for updating the state. This lets you trace the bugs to their source:


Monitoring State in React DevTools
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Composition vs Inheritance – React

Composition vs Inheritance

React has a powerful composition model, and we recommend using composition instead of inheritance to reuse code between components.


In this section, we will consider a few problems where developers new to React often reach for inheritance, and show how we can solve them with composition.


Containment


Some components don’t know their children ahead of time. This is especially common for components like Sidebar or Dialog that represent generic “boxes”.


We recommend that such components use the special children prop to pass children elements directly into their output:


function FancyBorder(props) {
return (
<div className={'FancyBorder FancyBorder-' + props.color}>
{props.children} </div>
);
}

This lets other components pass arbitrary children to them by nesting the JSX:


function WelcomeDialog() {
return (
<FancyBorder color="blue">
<h1 className="Dialog-title"> Welcome </h1> <p className="Dialog-message"> Thank you for visiting our spacecraft! </p> </FancyBorder>
);
}

Try it on CodePen


Anything inside the <FancyBorder> JSX tag gets passed into the FancyBorder component as a children prop. Since FancyBorder renders {props.children} inside a <div> , the passed elements appear in the final output.


While this is less common, sometimes you might need multiple “holes” in a component. In such cases you may come up with your own convention instead of using children :


function SplitPane(props) {
return (
<div className="SplitPane">
<div className="SplitPane-left">
{props.left} </div>
<div className="SplitPane-right">
{props.right} </div>
</div>
);
}

function App() {
return (
<SplitPane
left={
<Contacts /> }

right={
<Chat /> }
/>

);
}

Try it on CodePen


React elements like <Contacts /> and <Chat /> are just objects, so you can pass them as props like any other data. This approach may remind you of “slots” in other libraries but there are no limitations on what you can pass as props in React.


Specialization


Sometimes we think about components as being “special cases” of other components. For example, we might say that a WelcomeDialog is a special case of Dialog .


In React, this is also achieved by composition, where a more “specific” component renders a more “generic” one and configures it with props:


function Dialog(props) {
return (
<FancyBorder color="blue">
<h1 className="Dialog-title">
{props.title} </h1>
<p className="Dialog-message">
{props.message} </p>
</FancyBorder>
);
}

function WelcomeDialog() {
return (
<Dialog title="Welcome" message="Thank you for visiting our spacecraft!" /> );
}

Try it on CodePen


Composition works equally well for components defined as classes:


function Dialog(props) {
return (
<FancyBorder color="blue">
<h1 className="Dialog-title">
{props.title}
</h1>
<p className="Dialog-message">
{props.message}
</p>
{props.children} </FancyBorder>
);
}

class SignUpDialog extends React.Component {
constructor(props) {
super(props);
this.handleChange = this.handleChange.bind(this);
this.handleSignUp = this.handleSignUp.bind(this);
this.state = {login: ''};
}

render() {
return (
<Dialog title="Mars Exploration Program"
message="How should we refer to you?">

<input value={this.state.login} onChange={this.handleChange} /> <button onClick={this.handleSignUp}> Sign Me Up! </button> </Dialog>
);
}

handleChange(e) {
this.setState({login: e.target.value});
}

handleSignUp() {
alert(`Welcome aboard, ${this.state.login}!`);
}
}

Try it on CodePen


So What About Inheritance?


At Facebook, we use React in thousands of components, and we haven’t found any use cases where we would recommend creating component inheritance hierarchies.


Props and composition give you all the flexibility you need to customize a component’s look and behavior in an explicit and safe way. Remember that components may accept arbitrary props, including primitive values, React elements, or functions.


If you want to reuse non-UI functionality between components, we suggest extracting it into a separate JavaScript module. The components may import it and use that function, object, or class, without extending it.

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