Version: 2021sp

Lecture 7

Lecture Video will be posted here after lecture

Lecture Slides

Lecture Video

Final Project Team Formation Form due 4/11 11:59PM (NO SLIP DAYS USABLE)

Final Project (Milestone 0 due Thursday 4/15 3:59PM)

Hooks, and More on Functional Components in React#

React has changed a lot in the past few years since it was released in 2013, in true JavaScript library fashion. A major new concept leading the way of much innovation for React development is Hooks, released in 2019(!). While there exist many Hooks in React (and you can even develop your own), we will be focusing on two main Hooks in this class: useState and useEffect. You may read more about these other (equally as important but more involved) Hooks here.

Hooks#

To put it simply, Hooks are functions for use in functional components, making them much more powerful.

You can only call Hooks from the top-level of functional components or your own custom hooks.

Previously, class components were primarily used for complex components in React which required their own states and needed to trigger their own side effects based on updated values in the component, and more. These functionalities were implemented through splitting a component into different parts of its lifecycle, which could easily become messy. The introduction of Hooks was a game changer, as it allows developers to do away with class-based components and their ugliness.

While Hooks are a new addition to React, their usage along with functional components have quickly become a dominant paradigm for React development, allowing for developers to reduce boilerplate (code required every time you make a certain feature) and make code much more understandable (we've seen how functional programming makes code both more concise and less bug-prone), without getting bogged down by confusing lifecycle methods.

useState#

We've shown the useState Hook in previous lectures and you've had to use it to keep track of state in A4 and A5. However, let's get deeper into understanding it more generally and what you can do with it.

Simple Counter Example#

Let's consider a simple counter component requiring the use of states. We will outline the code in both the old class-based paradigm, and the new functional + Hooks paradigm.

The Class Component Way#
Counter.jsx
import React from 'react';
export default class Counter extends React.Component {
state = { count: 0 };
handleClick = () => this.setState({ count: this.state.count + 1 });
render() {
return (
<div>
<button onClick={this.handleClick}>Click Me!</button>
<p>You clicked {this.state.count} times</p>
</div>
);
}
}
The Functional Component + Hooks Way#
Counter.jsx / Counter.tsx
import React, { useState } from 'react';
const Counter = () => {
const [count, setCount] = useState(0);
return (
<div>
<button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>Click Me!</button>
<p>You clicked {count} times</p>
</div>
);
};
export default Counter;

Immediately, we notice that the functional component with Hooks method is much more concise and easier to understand (16 lines to just 11 lines of code). We were able to define the counter's default (starting) value of 0, its corresponding setter function, and variable to access the state in one line!

To generalize the syntax of the useState Hook, the form is as shown below:

const [varname, setterFunc] = useState(initValue); Note: states can be of any type.

We can also share Hooks across multiple components, allowing for even better reusability of code.

useEffect#

The useEffect component allows use to trigger side effects in functional components. It takes in a function (we can pass in ES6 arrow functions), which is called every time after the component renders, which is to say every time one of the component's states (in its useState Hooks) change.

If we take the previous Counter example and want to change the title of the webpage every time the Counter rerenders,

useEffect(() => {
document.title = `You clicked ${count} times`;
});

useEffect also has a optional second parameter, which is an array of dependencies. If any of these dependencies change (like state variables), the effect is run. For example, if we want to update the title of our webpage when the Counter from the previous example changes its count state, we would use the following useEffect Hook in the functional component:

// This code will only invoke the function when the count changes - more optimized
useEffect(() => {
document.title = `You clicked ${count} times`;
}, [count]);

useEffect - Subscribing to Outside Data and Separating Concerns#

Oftentimes when developing web applications, we use APIs to continually update and serve data to the user. These can be our own homemade APIs through tools like Express, or external APIs. In any case, it can be wasteful to constantly subscribe to an API when the data isn't being rendered. In the second useEffect call below, assume we have a ChatAPI object we can subscribe to and receive data from, or unsubscribe to. We can return a function from a useEffect call to be run after it completes, and we pass it an arrow function that simply unsubscribes from the current API instance.

Also, even though we might be using the same hook for managing side effects of different parts of a component, it's best practice to separate them into different function calls, as seen with the two useEffect functions below especially if your effects concern different things. Both of them will still be run when the component re-renders (e.x. when any state of the component or parent component is changed).

FriendStatusWithCounter.tsx
type Props = { readonly friend: { readonly id: string } };
const FriendStatusWithCounter = ({ friend }: Props) => {
const [count, setCount] = useState(0);
const [isOnline, setIsOnline] = useState(false);
useEffect(() => {
document.title = `You clicked ${count} times`;
});
useEffect(() => {
ChatAPI.subscribeToFriendStatus(friend.id, (status) => {
setIsOnline(status.online);
});
// Cleanup code
return () => ChatAPI.unsubscribeToFriendStatus(friend.id);
});
return (
<div>
Your friend with id {id} is {isOnline ? 'Online' : 'Offline'}.
</div>
);
};

Here, we have one call to useEffect() for updating document.title based on count and another call for handling friend status.

caution

While searching online for help / debugging, you will often run into StackOverflow answers or other resources for React dating back from a few years ago. Unfortunately, when it comes to developing with modern web technologies like React, some solutions often include deprecated features of React in the present day or need to be translated to the new paradigm (like Hooks). It is up to the developer to find the best solution that compromises between the bleeding-edge and practicality.

Rules of Hooks#

  1. Only call hooks from the top-level (not in loops, conditions, or nested functions).
    1. Ensures that hooks are called in the same order each time a component renders.
  2. Only call hooks from React functions (not regular JS functions).
    1. Can call from React functional components.
    2. Can call from your own custom hooks.

Thinking React-ively#

You've now had three weeks devoted to React, currently the most dominant frontend web framework in use for modern web applications. We've learned how to think about things from a component and state-based perspective, which has greatly helped us to modularize and reuse code effectively.

Here is a general thought-flow, from the perspective of a front-end engineer developing a React webapp from a design mock + API from the backend engineers:

  1. Break the UI into a component hierarchy. Each component should have a singular job, and should be reusable.
  2. Begin by building a static version of that component (not data-driven yet and not interactive), based on the JSON API provided by the backend.
  3. Identify minimal representation of the UI state. There’s going to be a lot of data floating around try to keep it only the components that need it by abiding to the DRY principle (DON'T REPEAT YOURSELF).
  4. Determine where the state should "live": should it be lifted up into a parent component as a common owner between multiple child components?
  5. Add inverse data flow - handle changes in the child component through a parent component
  6. Connect component to the backend (more on this in Lecture 8!)

Filterable Product Table Example#

This section contains the code from the live demo presented during class. Watch the lecture video linked at the top for an explanation of the code, intended to teach how to think in the React development paradigm.

App.tsx (root component)
import React from 'react';
import FilterableProductTable from './FilterableProductTable';
const PRODUCTS = [
{
category: 'Sporting Goods',
price: '$49.99',
stocked: true,
name: 'Football',
},
{
category: 'Sporting Goods',
price: '$9.99',
stocked: true,
name: 'Baseball',
},
{
category: 'Sporting Goods',
price: '$29.99',
stocked: false,
name: 'Basketball',
},
{
category: 'Electronics',
price: '$99.99',
stocked: true,
name: 'iPod Touch',
},
{
category: 'Electronics',
price: '$399.99',
stocked: false,
name: 'iPhone 5',
},
{
category: 'Electronics',
price: '$199.99',
stocked: true,
name: 'Nexus 7',
},
];
const App = () => (
<div className="App">
<FilterableProductTable products={PRODUCTS} />
</div>
);
export default App;
FilterableProductTable.tsx
import { ChangeEvent, useEffect, useState } from 'react';
import ProductTable, { Product } from './ProductTable';
type SearchProps = {
readonly filterText: string;
readonly inStockOnly: boolean;
readonly handleFilterTextChange: (e: ChangeEvent<HTMLInputElement>) => void;
readonly handleCheckBoxChange: (e: ChangeEvent<HTMLInputElement>) => void;
};
const SearchBar = ({
filterText,
inStockOnly,
handleFilterTextChange,
handleCheckBoxChange,
}: SearchProps) => (
<form>
<input
type="text"
placeholder="search here"
value={filterText}
onChange={handleFilterTextChange}
/>
<p>
<input
type="checkbox"
checked={inStockOnly}
onChange={handleCheckBoxChange}
/>
Only show products in stock
</p>
</form>
);
type TableProps = {
readonly products: Product[];
};
const FilterableProductTable = ({ products }: TableProps) => {
const [filterText, setFilterText] = useState('');
const [inStockOnly, setInStockOnly] = useState(false);
const [loading, setLoading] = useState(false);
const handleFilterTextChange = (e: ChangeEvent<HTMLInputElement>) =>
setFilterText(e.target.value);
const handleCheckBoxChange = (e: ChangeEvent<HTMLInputElement>) =>
setInStockOnly(e.target.checked);
useEffect(() => {
setLoading(true);
setTimeout(() => setLoading(false), 3000);
}, [inStockOnly]);
return loading ? (
<div>loading</div>
) : (
<div>
<SearchBar
filterText={filterText} // states passed as prop to SearchBar
inStockOnly={inStockOnly} // states passed as prop to SearchBar
handleFilterTextChange={handleFilterTextChange} // pass down callbacks to update search state
handleCheckBoxChange={handleCheckBoxChange}
/>
<ProductTable
products={products} // JSON API model
filterText={filterText} // states passed as prop to SearchBar
inStockOnly={inStockOnly} // states passed as prop to SearchBar
/>
</div>
);
};
export default FilterableProductTable;
Starter.tsx
// Contains all the base components (we can put multiple components in a jsx file
// for convenience, though this is not usually good practice).
import React, { ReactElement } from 'react';
// These components will be starter code because they are most self-explanatory
// and purely presentational. We will go over this code briefly in lecture.
// Students encouraged to read this on their own time.
// Export since this is used in FilterableProductTable as well
export type Product = {
readonly category: string;
readonly price: string;
readonly stocked: boolean;
readonly name: string;
};
const ProductRow = (product: Product) => {
const name = product.stocked ? (
product.name
) : (
<span style={{ color: 'red' }}>{product.name}</span>
);
return (
<tr>
<td>{name}</td>
<td>{product.price}</td>
</tr>
);
};
type RowProps = {
readonly category: string;
};
const ProductCategoryRow = ({ category }: RowProps) => (
<tr>
<th colSpan={2}>{category}</th>
</tr>
);
type Props = {
readonly products: Product[];
readonly filterText: string;
readonly inStockOnly: boolean;
};
const ProductTable = ({ products, filterText, inStockOnly }: Props) => {
const rows: ReactElement[] = [];
let lastCategory: string | null = null;
products.forEach((product) => {
if (product.name.indexOf(filterText) === -1) {
return;
}
if (inStockOnly && !product.stocked) {
return;
}
if (product.category !== lastCategory) {
rows.push(
<ProductCategoryRow
category={product.category}
key={product.category}
/>
);
}
rows.push(<ProductRow key={product.name} {...product} />);
lastCategory = product.category;
});
return (
<table>
<thead>
<tr>
<th>Name</th>
<th>Price</th>
</tr>
</thead>
<tbody>{rows}</tbody>
</table>
);
};
// Here we can export all these components at once!
// Notice also the name of the file does not match any single component name.
// export { ProductRow, ProductCategoryRow, ProductTable };
export default ProductTable; // but we only need ProductTable here (in FilterableProductTable.jsx)