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Reason Style Reducer Components Using ES6 Classes

Reason Style Reducer Components Using ES6 Classes

react-recomponent

Reason-style reducer components for React using ES6 classes.

A number of solutions to manage state in React applications are based on the concept of a "reducer" to decouple actions from effects. The reducer is a function that transforms the state in response to actions. Examples for such solutions are the Redux library and architectures like Flux.

Most recently this pattern was implemented in ReasonReact as the built-in solution to manage local component state. Similarly to Redux, ReasonReact components implement a reducer and actions to trigger state changes but do so while staying completely inside regular React state. These components are referred as reducer components.

ReComponent borrows these ideas from ReasonReact and brings reducer components to the React ecosystem.

A reducer component is used like a regular, stateful, React component with the difference that setState is not allowed. Instead, state is updated through a reducer which is triggered by sending actions to it.

Installation

npm install react-recomponent --save

Getting Started

To create a reducer component extend ReComponent from react-recomponent instead of React.Component.

With ReComponent state can only be modified by sending actions to the reducer() function. To help with that, you can use createSender(). Take a look at a simple counter example:

import React from "react";
import { ReComponent, Update } from "react-recomponent";

class Counter extends ReComponent {
  constructor() {
    super();
    this.handleClick = this.createSender("CLICK");
    this.state = { count: 0 };
  }

  static reducer(action, state) {
    switch (action.type) {
      case "CLICK":
        return Update({ count: state.count + 1 });
    }
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <button onClick={this.handleClick}>
        You’ve clicked this {this.state.count} times(s)
      </button>
    );
  }
}

Edit ReComponent - Getting Started

The Counter component starts with an initial state of { count: 0 }. Note that this state is in fact a regular React component state. To update it, we use a click action which we identify by its type "CLICK" (this is similar to the way actions are identified in Redux).

The reducer will receive this action and act accordingly. In our case, it will return an Update() effect with the modified state.

ReComponent comes with four different types of effects:

  • NoUpdate() signalize that nothing should happen.
  • Update(state) update the state.
  • SideEffects(fn) run an arbitrary function which has [side effect]s. Side effects may never be run directly inside the reducer. A reducer should always be pure: for the same action applied onto the same state, it should return the same effects. This is to avoid bugs when React will work asynchronously.
  • UpdateWithSideEffects(state, fn) both update the state and then trigger the side effect.

By intelligently using any of the four types above, it is possible to transition between states in one place and without the need to use setState() manually. This drastically simplifies our mental model since changes must always go through the reducer first.

FAQ

Advantages Over setState

The advantages are similar to those of Redux or really any state management tool:

  1. Decoupling your state transformers from the rest of the code. This can be a little cumbersome when working with React alone since you will scatter a variety of setState inside your components which becomes harder to follow when the component grows. The sender/reducer system simplifies this since you will no longer focus on state changes within the various methods of your component but you’ll think of actions that you want to send which contains all the information as a standalone object. With that, adding additional behavior (like logging) becomes very easy since all you have to do is hook this logic inside the reducer.

  2. Improved maintainability by forcing a structure. With Redux or ReComponent, you have a good overview of all actions that your application can send. This is an amazing property and allows others to easily understand what a component is is (actually) doing. While you can already learn so much by looking at the shape of the state object, you’ll lean even more just by looking at the action types alone. And since it’s not allowed to use setState at all, you can also be certain that all the code inside the reducer is the only place that transforms your state.

  3. Get rid of side effects with Pure State Transformation. By keeping your state changes side effect free, you’re forced into writing code that is easier to test (given an action and a state, it must always return the same new state). Plus you can build extended event sourcing features on top of that since you can easily store all actions that where send to your reducers and replay them later (to go back in time and see exactly how an invalid state occurred).

Why is the reducer static?

To fully leverage all of the advantages outlined above, the reducer function must not have any side effects. Making the reducer static will enforce this behavior since you won’t have access to this inside the function. We identified three situations that could need this inside the reducer:

  1. You’re about to read class properties. In this case, make sure those properties are properly encapsulated in the state object.
  2. You’re about to write class properties. This is a side effect and should be handled using the SideEffects(fn) effect.
  3. You’re accessing a function that is pure by itself. In this case, the function does not need to be a class property but can be a regular module function instead.

Advanced Usage

Now that we‘ve learned how to use reducer components with React, it‘s time to look into more advanced use cases to effectively handle state transitions across bigger portions of your app.

Effects

We‘ve already said that ReComponent comes with four different types of effects. This is necessary to effectively handle side effects by keeping your reducer pure – given the same state and action, it will always return the same effects.

The following example will demonstrate the four different types of effects and show you how to use them:

import React from "react";
import {
  ReComponent,
  NoUpdate,
  Update,
  SideEffects,
  UpdateWithSideEffects
} from "react-recomponent";

class Counter extends ReComponent {
  constructor() {
    super();
    this.handleNoUpdate = this.createSender("NO_UPDATE");
    this.handleUpdate = this.createSender("UPDATE");
    this.handleSideEffects = this.createSender("SIDE_EFFECTS");
    this.handleUpdateWithSideEffects = this.createSender(
      "UPDATE_WITH_SIDE_EFFECTS"
    );
    this.state = { count: 0 };
  }

  static reducer(action, state) {
    switch (action.type) {
      case "NO_UPDATE":
        return NoUpdate();
      case "UPDATE":
        return Update({ count: state.count + 1 });
      case "SIDE_EFFECTS":
        return SideEffects(() => console.log("This is a side effect"));
      case "UPDATE_WITH_SIDE_EFFECTS":
        return UpdateWithSideEffects({ count: state.count + 1 }, () =>
          console.log("This is another side effect")
        );
    }
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <React.Fragment>
        <button onClick={this.handleNoUpdate}>NoUpdate</button>
        <button onClick={this.handleUpdate}>Update</button>
        <button onClick={this.handleSideEffects}>SideEffects</button>
        <button onClick={this.handleUpdateWithSideEffects}>
          UpdateWithSideEffects
        </button>

        <div>The current counter is: {this.state.count}</div>
      </React.Fragment>
    );
  }
}

Edit ReComponent - Effects 1

All side effect callbacks get a reference to the react component passed as the first argument. This is helpful when a side effect needs to send other actions to the reducer. The next example shows how you can leverage this to handle a more complex component that fetches data from a third party and has to handle multiple states:

import React from "react";
import {
  ReComponent,
  NoUpdate,
  Update,
  UpdateWithSideEffects
} from "react-recomponent";

import { fetchData } from "./api";

class Fetcher extends ReComponent {
  constructor() {
    super();
    this.handleRequestStart = this.createSender("REQUEST_START");
    this.handleRequestSuccess = this.createSender("REQUEST_SUCCESS");
    this.handleRequestFail = this.createSender("REQUEST_FAIL");
    this.state = { isFetching: false, result: null };
  }

  static reducer(action, state) {
    switch (action.type) {
      case "REQUEST_START":
        if (state.isFetching) {
          return NoUpdate();
        } else {
          return UpdateWithSideEffects({ isFetching: true }, instance => {
            fetchData().then(
              instance.handleRequestSuccess,
              instance.handleRequestFail
            );
          });
        }
      case "REQUEST_SUCCESS":
        return Update({ result: action.payload, isFetching: false });
      case "REQUEST_FAIL":
        return Update({
          result: "The data could not be fetched. Maybe try again?",
          isFetching: false
        });
    }
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <React.Fragment>
        <button onClick={this.handleRequestStart}>Fetch</button>
        <div>
          {this.state.isFetching && <p>Loading...</p>}
          <p>
            {this.state.result ? this.state.result : 'Click "Fetch" to start'}
          </p>
        </div>
      </React.Fragment>
    );
  }
}

Edit ReComponent - Effects 2

Handling Events

React uses a method called pooling to improve performance when emitting events (check out the guides on SyntheticEvent to learn more). Basically React recycles events once the callback is handled making any reference to them unavailable.

Since the reducer function always runs within the setState() callback provided by React, synthetic events will already be recycled by the time the reducer is invoked. To be able to access event properties, we recommend passing the required values explicitly. The following example will show the coordinates of the last mouse click. To have control over which properties are sent to the reducer, we‘re using send directly in this case:

import React from "react";
import { ReComponent, Update } from "react-recomponent";

class Counter extends ReComponent {
  constructor() {
    super();
    this.handleClick = this.handleClick.bind(this);
    this.state = { x: 0, y: 0 };
  }

  handleClick(event) {
    this.send({
      type: "CLICK",
      payload: {
        x: event.clientX,
        y: event.clientY
      }
    });
  }

  static reducer(action, state) {
    switch (action.type) {
      case "CLICK":
        return Update({
          x: action.payload.x,
          y: action.payload.y
        });
    }
  }

  render() {
    const { x, y } = this.state;

    const style = {
      width: "100vw",
      height: "100vh"
    };

    return (
      <div style={style} onClick={this.handleClick}>
        Last click at: {x}, {y}
      </div>
    );
  }
}

Edit ReComponent - Handling Events

Manage State Across the Tree

Often times we want to pass state properties to descendants that are very deep in the application tree. In order to do so, the components in between need to pass those properties to their respective children until we reach the desired component. This pattern is usually called prop drilling and it is usually what you want to do.

Sometimes, however, the layers in-between are expensive to re-render causing your application to become janky. Fortunately, React 16.3.0 introduced a new API called createContext() that we can use to solve this issue by using context to pass those properties directly to the target component and skipping the update of all intermediate layers:

import React from "react";
import { ReComponent, Update } from "react-recomponent";

const { Provider, Consumer } = React.createContext();

class Counter extends React.Component {
  render() {
    return (
      <Consumer>
        {({ state, handleClick }) => (
          <button onClick={handleClick}>
            You’ve clicked this {state.count} times(s)
          </button>
        )}
      </Consumer>
    );
  }
}

class DeepTree extends React.Component {
  render() {
    return <Counter />;
  }
}

class Container extends ReComponent {
  constructor() {
    super();
    this.handleClick = this.createSender("CLICK");
    this.state = { count: 0 };
  }

  static reducer(action, state) {
    switch (action.type) {
      case "CLICK":
        return Update({ count: state.count + 1 });
    }
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <Provider value={{ state: this.state, handleClick: this.handleClick }}>
        <DeepTree />
      </Provider>
    );
  }
}

Edit ReComponent - Manage State Across the Tree

If you‘re having troubles understanding this example, I recommend the fantastic documentation written by the React team about Context.

Flow

[Flow][] is a static type checker for JavaScript. This section is only relevant for you if you‘re using Flow in your application.

ReComponent comes with first class Flow support built in. By default, a ReComponent will behave like a regular Component and will require props and state to be typed:

import * as React from "react";
import { ReComponent, Update } from "react-recomponent";

type Props = {};
type State = { count: number };

class UntypedActionTypes extends ReComponent<Props, State> {
  handleClick = this.createSender("CLICK");
  state = { count: 0 };

  static reducer(action, state) {
    switch (action.type) {
      case "CLICK":
        return Update({ count: state.count + 1 });
      default:
        return NoUpdate();
    }
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <button onClick={this.handleClick}>
        You’ve clicked this {this.state.count} times(s)
      </button>
    );
  }
}

Without specifying our action types any further, we will allow all string values. It is, however, recommended that we type all action types using a union of string literals. This will further tighten the type checks and will even allow [exhaustiveness testing] to verify that every action is indeed handled.

import * as React from "react";
import { ReComponent, Update } from "react-recomponent";

type Props = {};
type State = { count: number };
type ActionTypes = "CLICK";

class TypedActionTypes extends ReComponent<Props, State, ActionTypes> {
  handleClick = this.createSender("CLICK");
  state = { count: 0 };

  static reducer(action, state) {
    switch (action.type) {
      case "CLICK":
        return Update({ count: state.count + 1 });
      default: {
        return NoUpdate();
      }
    }
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <button onClick={this.handleClick}>
        You’ve clicked this {this.state.count} times(s)
      </button>
    );
  }
}

Check out the type definition tests for an example on exhaustive checking.

Known Limitations With Flow:

  • While it is possible to exhaustively type check the reducer, Flow will still require every branch to return an effect. This is why the above examples returns NoUpdate() even though the branch can never be reached.

API Reference

Classes

  • ReComponent

    • static reducer(action, state): effect

      Translates an action into an effect. This is the main place to update your component‘s state.

      Note: Reducers should never trigger side effects directly. Instead, return them as effects.

    • send(action): void

      Sends an action to the reducer. The action must have a type property so the reducer can identify it.

    • createSender(actionType): fn

      Shorthand function to create a function that will send an action of the actionType type to the reducer.

      If the sender function is called with an argument (for example a React event), this will be available at the payload prop. This follows the [flux-standard-actions][] naming convention.

  • RePureComponent

Effects

  • NoUpdate()

    Returning this effect will not cause the state to be updated.

  • Update(state)

    Returning this effect will update the state. Internally, this will use setState() with an updater function.

  • SideEffects(this => mixed)

    Enqueues side effects to be run but will not update the component‘s state. The side effect will be called with a reference to the react component (this) as the first argument.

  • UpdateWithSideEffects(state, this => mixed)

    Updates the component‘s state and then calls the side effect function.The side effect will be called with a reference to the react component (this) as the first argument.

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