Introduction to React v2

Hooks

Our current application is too simple, as it's just rendering a list of movies. An actual application is usually more dynamic, e.g.:

  • hide some information by default to declutter your page, but allow user click to show more
  • loading data from backend api, and showing loading indicator while waiting for response

We will do that by using React Hooks.

What's a Hook?

A Hook is a special function that lets you "hook into" React features. For example, useState is a Hook that lets you add React state to function components. useEffect allows you to make side effects, e.g. making API calls. We will explore these two hooks, but you should at least skim through the Hooks API docs after this workshop to know what is available.

Track Component State with useState hook

Let's assume the design of our app is to display "React Movie App" title and a "Show Movies" button only by default. When user clicks the button, the movies will be shown.

To achieve that, let's modify our App component to:

jsx
...
import { Button } from './components/button';
...
function App() {
const [moviesShown, setShowMovies] = React.useState(false);
let movies;
if (moviesShown) {
movies = (
<React.Fragment>
<Movie name="Aquaman" releaseDate="2018-12-07" />
<Movie name="Bumblebee" releaseDate="2018-12-15" />
<Movie
name="Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
releaseDate="2018-11-14"
/>
</React.Fragment>
);
}
return (
<div>
<TitleBar>
<h1>React Movie App</h1>
</TitleBar>
<div className="button-container">
<Button onClick={() => setShowMovies(true)}>
Show Movies
</Button>
</div>
{movies}
</div>
);
}
  • We declare a state for our App component with useState hook.
    js
    const [state, setState] = useState(initialState);
  • useState returns a stateful value, and a function to update it. Note that the useState actually returns an array of 2 item, and we use the "array destructuring" syntax to get the 2 items separately.
  • When the component is rendered for the first time, returned state (state) will be the value pass as the first argument (initialState).
  • The setState function is used to update the state. It accepts a new state value and enqueues a re-render of the component.
    js
    setState(newState);
  • In subsequent render, the state value will always be the most recent state after applying updates.
  • In the returned result, we renders Button element, which will call setShowMovies(true) method when it is clicked.
  • Besides, we declare movies variable, which be a list of movies if moviesShown is true. React.Fragment is a container that renders nothing but allows you to wrap a list of React elements.

Let's do some cleanup to make our code terser:

  1. Get rid of movies variable and just inline it with && expression. This is because if you returns undefined, null, or a boolean value as React element, React will not renders anything.
  2. You can replace React.Fragment with <>, a shorthand for React.Fragment. I prefer this way, as this expresses what React.Fragment really is an empty container.

The App component should be as below now:

jsx
function App() {
const [moviesShown, setShowMovies] = React.useState(false);
return (
<div>
<TitleBar>
<h1>React Movie App</h1>
</TitleBar>
<div className="button-container">
<Button onClick={() => setShowMovies(true)}>Show Movies</Button>
</div>
{moviesShown && (
<>
<Movie name="Aquaman" releaseDate="2018-12-07" />
<Movie name="Bumblebee" releaseDate="2018-12-15" />
<Movie
name="Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
releaseDate="2018-11-14"
/>
</>
)}
</div>
);
}

Our current hide-show functionality only allow us to show, but we can't hide it after that. Let's enhance it.

Update the Button properties in App component:

jsx
...
<Button onClick={() => setShowMovies(wasShown => !wasShown)}>
{moviesShown ? 'Hide' : 'Show'} Movies
</Button>
...
  • There are two ways to call the setState function:

    • pass the new value as parameter, like what we did initially:

      js
      setState(newValue);
    • pass a function that will return the new value as parameter, like this:

      js
      setState(function(prevValue) {
      return newValue;
      });
      // OR
      setState(prevValue => newValue);

      this should be how you call setState if your new value depends on previous value. In our case, because toggle the value is just negation of the previous value, so this should be how we call setShowMovies.

Our App should works now where clicking the button will show movies if they are currently hidden, hide movies if they are currently shown.

React DevTools

Before proceed further, let me introduce you to the must-have debugging tools for React developers React DevTools. React DevTools is a browser extensions maintained by React core team to help you inspect your React components. Once installed, it will add a new tab in your browser Devtools with title "React", which you can used to inspect your React component props and hooks.

React DevTools

Do It: use React.useState hook

  1. Install React DevTools.
  2. Modify your App component to show movies only when clicked as described above.
  3. Verify that the application works as expected.

Creating Your Own Hook

Building your own Hooks lets you extract component logic into reusable functions.

Currently our moviesShown state works fine, but we can actually foreseen toggle state is a very common use-case. Let's create a custom hook that allows us to do that.

Let's create a hooks folder within src folder, and add a file use-toggle.js:

js
// src/hooks/use-toggle.js
import React from 'react';
export const useToggle = initialOn => {
const [on, setOn] = React.useState(initialOn);
return [on, () => setOn(prevOn => !prevOn)];
};
  • useToggle is a custom hook that wrap the React hooks within it.
  • Similar to useState hook, useToggle hook returns state and an update function. However, the update function of useToggle doesn't requires parameter, as it will just negate the previous value.

Let's update our App component to use the useToggle hook:

jsx
import { useToggle } from './hooks/use-toggle';
function App() {
const [moviesShown, toggleShowMovies] = useToggle(false);
return (
...
<Button onClick={toggleShowMovies}>
{moviesShown ? 'Hide' : 'Show'} Movies
</Button>
...
)
}
  • The App component still works as before. However, whenever we need a state that is toggle between true/false, we can reuse the useToggle hook.

Make Side Effect with useEffect hook

Currently our movies data are hardcoded in our App:

jsx
...
<>
<Movie name="Aquaman" releaseDate="2018-12-07" />
<Movie name="Bumblebee" releaseDate="2018-12-15" />
<Movie
name="Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
releaseDate="2018-11-14"
/>
</>
...

Let's load these data from backend API instead.


React doesn't dictate how you get data from backend, it's up to you to decide what library you want to use the make AJAX call to your backend API.

Common options:

  1. window.fetch - no library required as it is supported by all modern browsers. However, polyfill required to support older browser
  2. Axios - Promise based HTTP client.
  3. jQuery AJAX - good option if JQuery is already included in your page, else bad option as it doesn't make sense to include whole JQuery library for one function only.

For this workshop, I will use Axios as example, but feel free to use other library that you prefer.


I've created a backend API. Open this link to see its content. We will utilize this API for this exercise.

To load data from backend API:

  1. install the ajax library of your choice, e.g. npm install axios.

  2. create a file and name it as api.js with the following content: (actual code may differs based on the ajax library that you use)

    js
    import axios from 'axios';
    export const loadMovies = () =>
    axios('https://react-intro-movies.herokuapp.com/movies').then(
    res => res.data
    );
  3. add useEffect hook and another useState hook in App component as below:

    jsx
    ...
    import { loadMovies } from './api';
    function App() {
    const [moviesShown, toggleShowMovies] = useToggle(false);
    const [movies, setMovies] = React.useState([]);
    React.useEffect(() => {
    loadMovies().then(movieData => {
    setMovies(movieData);
    })
    }, []);
    return (
    <div>
    <TitleBar>
    <h1>React Movie App</h1>
    </TitleBar>
    <div className="button-container">
    <Button onClick={toggleShowMovies}>
    {moviesShown ? 'Hide' : 'Show'} Movies
    </Button>
    </div>
    {moviesShown &&
    movies.map(movie => (
    <Movie
    name={movie.name}
    releaseDate={movie.releaseDate}
    key={movie.id}
    />
    ))
    }
    </div>
    );
    }
    ...

We declare a state as movies with useState hook, which is an empty array by default.

  • movies will be used to generate a list of <Movie> elements with Array.map method.
  • when we render a dynamic list of React elements, we need to provide a special props, key. key is used by React to identify a specific elements so that it can decide whether an item need to be unmount or just reorder the dom during reconciliation.

We use useEffect hook to make api call and then set the movies state with the response of the api call.

  • useEffect is the React hook to perform side effects, e.g. making api call, attaching event listener etc.
  • It has the function signature of useEffect(fn, deps), whereby fn is the function that wraps the side effects call, while deps is an array that consists of all the dependencies that could cause the side effect to be rerun.
  • In our case, because we only want our ajax call to be called once, we will pass it an empty array so it will never be rerun.

Touching Up UI by Adding Loading Indicator

Our app is able to load data from backend API now, which is great. However, there is some problem that is not obvious to us.

Once your page load and you quickly click "Show Movies" button, you may see no movies is displayed if that API is slow. For that, we should display a loading indicator if we waiting for the API response.

To show loading indicator when waiting API response:

  1. create a file busy-container.js in src/components folder with the following contents:

    jsx
    import React from 'react';
    export const BusyContainer = ({ isLoading, children }) => (
    <div>
    {isLoading && <span className="spinner" />}
    {children}
    </div>
    );
    • BusyContainer is a simple component that will render a spinning circle when its isLoading props is true.
  2. update App component:

    jsx
    import { BusyContainer } from './components/busy-container';
    function App() {
    const [moviesShown, toggleShowMovies] = useToggle(false);
    const [movies, setMovies] = React.useState([]);
    const [isLoading, setIsLoading] = React.useState(true);
    React.useEffect(() => {
    loadMovies().then(movieData => {
    setMovies(movieData);
    setIsLoading(false);
    });
    }, []);
    return (
    <div>
    <TitleBar>
    <h1>React Movie App</h1>
    </TitleBar>
    <div className="button-container">
    <Button onClick={toggleShowMovies}>
    {moviesShown ? 'Hide' : 'Show'} Movies
    </Button>
    </div>
    {moviesShown && (
    <BusyContainer isLoading={isLoading}>
    {movies.map(movie => (
    <Movie
    name={movie.name}
    releaseDate={movie.releaseDate}
    key={movie.id}
    />
    ))}
    </BusyContainer>
    )}
    </div>
    );
    }
    • we declare another state isLoading and default it to true.
    • when ajax call returns, we set isLoading to false.
    • isLoading is passed to BusyContainer as props.

Let's extract out the code related to loading the movie data to a custom hook:

jsx
function useMovieData() {
const [movies, setMovies] = React.useState([]);
const [isLoading, setIsLoading] = React.useState(true);
React.useEffect(() => {
loadMovies().then(movieData => {
setMovies(movieData);
setIsLoading(false);
});
}, []);
return {
movies,
isLoading,
};
}
function App() {
const [moviesShown, toggleShowMovies] = useToggle(false);
const { movies, isLoading } = useMovieData();
return (
<div>
<TitleBar>
<h1>React Movie App</h1>
</TitleBar>
<div className="button-container">
<Button onClick={toggleShowMovies}>
{moviesShown ? 'Hide' : 'Show'} Movies
</Button>
</div>
{moviesShown && (
<BusyContainer isLoading={isLoading}>
{movies.map(movie => (
<Movie
name={movie.name}
releaseDate={movie.releaseDate}
key={movie.id}
/>
))}
</BusyContainer>
)}
</div>
);
}

Rules of Hooks

There are two rules when using hooks.

  1. Only Call Hooks at the Top Level - Don't call hooks inside loops, conditions, or nested functions.
  2. Only Call Hooks from React Functions - Don't call hooks from regular Javascript functions. Instead you can:
    • call hooks from React function components.
    • call hooks from custom hooks

Do It: Getting Data from Backend API

  1. Get the movie data for your App from backend API instead of hand-coding them.
  2. Create BusyContainer as described and use it in your App component to show loading indicator.
  3. Verify that the application works as expected.

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