Tag: React

React Hooks: The Deep Cuts

Hooks are reusable functions. They allow you to use state and other features (e.g. lifecycle methods and so on) without writing a class. Hook functions let us “hook into” the React state lifecycle using functional components, allowing us to manipulate the state of our functional components without needing to convert them to class components.

React introduced hooks back in version 16.8 and has been adding more ever since. Some are more used and popular than others, like useEffect, useState, and useContext hooks. I have no doubt that you’ve reached for those if you work with React.

But what I’m interested in are the lesser-known React hooks. While all React hooks are interesting in their own way, there are five of them that I really want to show you because they may not pop up in your everyday work — or maybe they do and knowing them gives you some extra superpowers.

useReducer

The useReducer hook is a state management tool like other hooks. Specifically, it is an alternative to the useState hook.

If you use the useReducer hook to change two or more states (or actions), you won’t have to manipulate those states individually. The hook keeps track of all the states and collectively manages them. In other words: it manages and re-renders state changes. Unlike the useState hook, useReducer is easier when it comes to handling many states in complex projects.

Use cases

useReducer can help reduce the complexity of working with multiple states. Use it when you find yourself needing to track multiple states collectively, as it allows you to treat state management and the rendering logic of a component as separate concerns.

Syntax

useReducer accepts three arguments, one of which is optional:

  • a reducer function
  • initialState
  • an init function (optional)
const [state, dispatch] = useReducer(reducer, initialState) const [state, dispatch] = useReducer(reducer, initialState initFunction) // in the case where you initialize with the optional 3rd argument

Example

The following example is an interface that contains a text input, counter, and button. Interacting with each element updates the state. Notice how useReducer allows us to define multiple cases at once rather than setting them up individually.

import { useReducer } from 'react'; const reducer = (state, action) => {   switch (action.type) {     case 'INCREMENT':       return { ...state, count: state.count + 1 };     case 'DECREMENT':       return { ...state, count: state.count - 1 };     case 'USER_INPUT':       return { ...state, userInput: action.payload };     case 'TOGGLE_COLOR':       return { ...state, color: !state.color };     default:       throw new Error();   } }  function App() {   const [state, dispatch] = useReducer(reducer, { count: 0, userInput: '', color: false })    return (     <main className="App, App-header" style={{ color: state.color ? '#000' : '#FF07FF'}}>       <input style={{margin: '2rem'}}         type="text"         value={state.userInput}         onChange={(e) => dispatch({ type: 'USER_INPUT', payload: e.target.value })}       />       <br /><br />       <p style={{margin: '2rem'}} >{state.count}</p>       <section style={{margin: '2rem'}}>         <button  onClick={(() => dispatch({ type: 'DECREMENT' }))}>-</button>         <button onClick={(() => dispatch({ type: 'INCREMENT' }))}>+</button>         <button onClick={(() => dispatch({ type: 'TOGGLE_COLOR' }))}>Color</button>       </section>       <br /><br />       <p style={{margin: '2rem'}}>{state.userInput}</p>     </main>   ); } export default App;

From the code above, noticed how we are able to easily managed several states in the reducer (switch-case), this shows the benefit of the useReducer. This is the power it gives when working in complex applications with multiple states.

useRef

The useRef hook is used to create refs on elements in order to access the DOM. But more than that, it returns an object with a .current property that can be used throughout a component’s entire lifecycle, allowing data to persist without causing a re-render. So, the useRef value stays the same between renders; updating the reference does not trigger a re-render.

Use cases

Reach for the useRef hook when you want to:

  • Manipulate the DOM with stored mutable information.
  • Access information from child components (nested elements).
  • Set focus on an element.

It’s most useful when storing mutatable data in your app without causing a re-render.

Syntax

useRef only accepts one argument, which is the initial value.

const newRefComponent = useRef(initialValue);

Example

Here I used the useRef and useState hook to show the amount of times an application renders an updated state when typing in a text input.

import './App.css'  function App() {   const [anyInput, setAnyInput] = useState(" ");   const showRender = useRef(0);   const randomInput = useRef();   const toggleChange = (e) => {     setAnyInput (e.target.value);     showRender.current++;      }   const focusRandomInput = () => {     randomInput.current.focus();   }    return (     <div className="App">       <input className="TextBox"          ref ={randomInput} type="text" value={anyInput} onChange={toggleChange}       />       <h3>Amount Of Renders: {showRender.current}</h3>       <button onClick={focusRandomInput}>Click To Focus On Input </button>     </div>   ); }  export default App;

Notice how typing each character in the text field updates the app’s state, but never triggers a complete re-render.

useImperativeHandle

You know how a child component has access to call functions passed down to them from the parent component? Parents pass those down via props, but that transfer is “unidirectional” in the sense that the parent is unable to call a function that’s in the child.

Well, useImperativeHandle makes it possible for a parent to access a child component’s functions.

How does that work?

  • A function is defined in the child component.
  • A ref is added in the parent.
  • We use forwardRef, allowing the ref that was defined to be passed to the child.
  • useImperativeHandle exposes the child’s functions via the ref.

Use cases

useImperativeHandle works well when you want a parent component to be affected by changes in the child. So, things like a changed focus, incrementing and decrementing, and blurred elements may be situations where you find yourself reaching for this hook so the parent can be updated accordingly.

Syntax

useImperativeHandle (ref, createHandle, [dependencies])

Example

In this example, we have two buttons, one that’s in a parent component and one that’s in a child. Clicking on the parent button retrieves data from the child, allowing us to manipulate the parent component. It’s set up so that clicking the child button does not pass anything from the parent component to the child to help illustrate how we are passing things in the opposite direction.

// Parent component import React, { useRef } from "react"; import ChildComponent from "./childComponent"; import './App.css';  function ImperativeHandle() {   const controlRef = useRef(null);   return (     onClick={       () => {         controlRef.current.controlPrint();       }     }     >     Parent Box   ); } export default ImperativeHandle;
// Child component import React, { forwardRef, useImperativeHandle, useState } from "react";  const ChildComponent = forwardRef((props, ref) => {   const [print, setPrint] = useState(false);   useImperativeHandle(ref, () => ({     controlPrint()      { setPrint(!print); },   })   );    return (     <>     Child Box     { print && I am from the child component }   ); });  export default ChildComponent;

Output

useMemo

useMemo is one of the least-used but most interesting React hooks. It can improve performance and decrease latency, particularly on large computations in your app. How so? Every time a component’s state updates and components re-render, the useMemo hook prevents React from having to recalculate values.

You see, functions respond to state changes. The useMemo hook takes a function and returns the return value of that function. It caches that value to prevent spending additional effort re-rendering it, then returns it when one of the dependencies has changed.

This process is called memoization and it’s what helps to boost performance by remembering the value from a previous request so it can be used again without repeating all that math.

Use cases

The best use cases are going to be any time you’re working with heavy calculations where you want to store the value and use it on subsequent state changes. It can be a nice performance win, but using it too much can have the exact opposite effect by hogging your app’s memory.

Syntax

useMemo( () =>    { // Code goes here },   [] )

Example

When clicking the button, this mini-program indicates when a number is even or odd, then squares the value. I added lots of zeros to the loop to increase its computation power. It returns the value in spilt seconds and still works well due to the useMemo hook.

// UseMemo.js import React, { useState, useMemo } from 'react'  function Memo() {   const [memoOne, setMemoOne] = useState(0);   const incrementMemoOne = () => { setMemoOne(memoOne + 1) }   const isEven = useMemo(() => {      let i = 0 while (i < 2000000000) i++ return memoOne % 2 === 0   },   [memoOne]);      const square = useMemo(()=> {      console.log("squared the number"); for(var i=0; i < 200000000; i++);     return memoOne * memoOne;   },   [memoOne]);    return (     Memo One -      { memoOne }     { isEven ? 'Even' : 'Odd' } { square }    ); } export default Memo

Output

useMemo is a little like the useCallback hook, but the difference is that useMemo can store a memorized value from a function, where useCallback stores the memorized function itself.

useCallback

The useCallback hook is another interesting one and the last section was sort of a spoiler alert for what it does.

As we just saw, useCallback works like the useMemo hook in that they both use memoization to cache something for later use. While useMemo stores a function’s calculation as a cached value, useCallback stores and returns a function.

Use cases

Like useMemo, useCallback is a nice performance optimization in that it stores and returns a memoized callback and any of its dependencies without a re-render.

Syntax

const getMemoizedCallback = useCallback (   () => { doSomething () }, [] );

Example

 { useCallback, useState } from "react"; import CallbackChild from "./UseCallback-Child"; import "./App.css"  export default function App() {   const [toggle, setToggle] = useState(false);   const [data, setData] = useState("I am a data that would not change at every render, thanks to the useCallback");   const returnFunction = useCallback(     (name) =>      { return data + name; }, [data]   );   return (     onClick={() => {       setToggle(!toggle);     }}     >     {" "}      // Click To Toggle     { toggle && h1. Toggling me no longer affects any function }    );  }
// The Child component import React, { useEffect } from "react";  function CallbackChild(   { returnFunction } ) {   useEffect(() =>      { console.log("FUNCTION WAS CALLED"); },     [returnFunction]);   return { returnFunction(" Hook!") }; } export default CallbackChild;

Output

Final thoughts

There we go! We just looked at five super handy React hooks that I think often go overlooked. As with many roundups like this, we’re merely scratching the surface of these hooks. They each have their own nuances and considerations to take into account when you use them. But hopefully you have a nice high-level idea of what they are and when they might be a better fit than another hook you might reach for more often.

The best way to fully understand them is by practice. So I encourage you to practice using these hooks in your application for better understanding. For that, you can get way more in depth by checking out the following resources:


React Hooks: The Deep Cuts originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

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Different Ways to Write CSS in React

We’re all familiar with the standard way of linking up a stylesheet to the <head> of an HTML doc, right? That’s just one of several ways we’re able to write CSS. But what does it look like to style things in a single-page application (SPA), say in a React project?

Turns out there are several ways to go about styling a React application. Some overlap with traditional styling, others not so much. But let’s count all the ways we can do it.

Importing external stylesheets

As the name suggests, React can import CSS files. The process is similar to how we link up CSS file in the HTML <head>:

  1. Create a new CSS file in your project directory.
  2. Write CSS.
  3. Import it into the React file.

Like this:

import "./style.css";

That usually goes at the top of the file where other imports happen:

import { React } from "react"; import "./Components/css/App.css"; function App() {   return (     <div className="main">     </div>   ); } export default App;

In this example, a CSS file is imported into an App.js from the /Components/css folder.

Write inline styles

You may be used to hearing that inline styling isn’t all that great for maintainability and whatnot, but there are definitely situations (here’s one!) where it makes sense. And maintainability is less of an issue in React, as the CSS often already sits inside the same file anyway.

This is a super simple example of inline styling in React:

<div className="main" style={{color:"red"}}>

A better approach, though, is to use objects:

  1. First, create an object that contains styles for different elements.
  2. Then add it to an element using the style attribute and then select the property to style.

Let’s see that in context:

import { React } from "react"; function App() {   const styles = {     main: {       backgroundColor: "#f1f1f1",       width: "100%",     },     inputText: {       padding: "10px",       color: "red",     },   };   return (     <div className="main" style={styles.main}>       <input type="text" style={styles.inputText}></input>     </div>   ); } export default App;

This example contains a styles object containing two more objects, one for the .main class and the other for a text input, which contain style rules similar to what we’d expect to see in an external stylesheet. Those objects are then applied to the style attribute of elements that are in the returned markup.

Note that curly brackets are used when referencing styles rather than the quotation marks we’d normally use in plain HTML.

Use CSS Modules

CSS Modules… what the heck happened to those, right? They have the benefit of locally scoped variables and can be used right alongside React. But what are they, again, exactly?

Quoting the repo’s documentation:

CSS Modules works by compiling individual CSS files into both CSS and data. The CSS output is normal, global CSS, which can be injected directly into the browser or concatenated together and written to a file for production use. The data is used to map the human-readable names you’ve used in the files to the globally-safe output CSS.

In simpler terms, CSS Modules allows us to use the same class name in multiple files without clashes since each class name is given a unique programmatic name. This is especially useful in larger applications. Every class name is scoped locally to the specific component in which it is being imported.

A CSS Module stylesheet is similar to a regular stylesheet, only with a different extension (e.g. styles.module.css). Here’s how they’re set up:

  1. Create a file with .module.css as the extension.
  2. Import that module into the React app (like we saw earlier)
  3. Add a className to an element or component and reference the particular style from the imported styles.

Super simple example:

/* styles.module.css */ .font {   color: #f00;   font-size: 20px; }  import { React } from "react"; import styles from "./styles.module.css"; function App() {   return (     <h1 className={styles.heading}>Hello World</h1>   ); } export default App;

Use styled-components

Have you used styled-components? It’s quite popular and allows you to build custom components using actual CSS in your JavaScript. A styled-component is basically a React component with — get ready for it — styles. Some of the features include unique class names, dynamic styling and better management of the CSS as each component has its own separate styles.

Install the styled-components npm package in the command line:

npm install styled-components

Next up, import it into the React app:

import styled from 'styled-components'

Create a component and assign a styled property to it. Note the use of template literals denoted by backticks in the Wrapper object:

import { React } from "react"; import styled from "styled-components"; function App() {   const Wrapper = styled.div`     width: 100%;     height: 100px;     background-color: red;     display: block;   `;   return <Wrapper />; } export default App;

The above Wrapper component will be rendered as a div that contains those styles.

Conditional styling

One of the advantages of styled-components is that the components themselves are functional, as in you can use props within the CSS. This opens the door up to conditional statements and changing styles based on a state or prop.

Here’s a demo showing that off:

Here, we are manipulating the div’s display property on the display state. This state is controlled by a button that toggles the div’s state when clicked. This, in turn, toggles between the styles of two different states.

In inline if statements, we use a ? instead of the usual if/else syntax. The else part is after the semicolon. And remember to always call or use the state after it has been initialized. In that last demo, for example, the state should be above the Wrapper component’s styles.

Happy React styling!

That’s a wrap, folks! We looked at a handful of different ways to write styles in a React application. And it’s not like one is any better than the rest; the approach you use depends on the situation, of course. Hopefully now you’ve got a good understanding of them and know that you have a bunch of tools in your React styling arsenal.


Different Ways to Write CSS in React originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

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Building Interoperable Web Components That Even Work With React

Those of us who’ve been web developers more than a few years have probably written code using more than one JavaScript framework. With all the choices out there — React, Svelte, Vue, Angular, Solid — it’s all but inevitable. One of the more frustrating things we have to deal with when working across frameworks is re-creating all those low-level UI components: buttons, tabs, dropdowns, etc. What’s particularly frustrating is that we’ll typically have them defined in one framework, say React, but then need to rewrite them if we want to build something in Svelte. Or Vue. Or Solid. And so on.

Wouldn’t it be better if we could define these low-level UI components once, in a framework-agnostic way, and then re-use them between frameworks? Of course it would! And we can; web components are the way. This post will show you how.

As of now, the SSR story for web components is a bit lacking. Declarative shadow DOM (DSD) is how a web component is server-side rendered, but, as of this writing, it’s not integrated with your favorite application frameworks like Next, Remix or SvelteKit. If that’s a requirement for you, be sure to check the latest status of DSD. But otherwise, if SSR isn’t something you’re using, read on.

First, some context

Web Components are essentially HTML elements that you define yourself, like <yummy-pizza> or whatever, from the ground up. They’re covered all over here at CSS-Tricks (including an extensive series by Caleb Williams and one by John Rhea) but we’ll briefly walk through the process. Essentially, you define a JavaScript class, inherit it from HTMLElement, and then define whatever properties, attributes and styles the web component has and, of course, the markup it will ultimately render to your users.

Being able to define custom HTML elements that aren’t bound to any particular component is exciting. But this freedom is also a limitation. Existing independently of any JavaScript framework means you can’t really interact with those JavaScript frameworks. Think of a React component which fetches some data and then renders some other React component, passing along the data. This wouldn’t really work as a web component, since a web component doesn’t know how to render a React component.

Web components particularly excel as leaf components. Leaf components are the last thing to be rendered in a component tree. These are the components which receive some props, and render some UI. These are not the components sitting in the middle of your component tree, passing data along, setting context, etc. — just pure pieces of UI that will look the same, no matter which JavaScript framework is powering the rest of the app.

The web component we’re building

Rather than build something boring (and common), like a button, let’s build something a little bit different. In my last post we looked at using blurry image previews to prevent content reflow, and provide a decent UI for users while our images load. We looked at base64 encoding a blurry, degraded versions of our images, and showing that in our UI while the real image loaded. We also looked at generating incredibly compact, blurry previews using a tool called Blurhash.

That post showed you how to generate those previews and use them in a React project. This post will show you how to use those previews from a web component so they can be used by any JavaScript framework.

But we need to walk before we can run, so we’ll walk through something trivial and silly first to see exactly how web components work.

Everything in this post will build vanilla web components without any tooling. That means the code will have a bit of boilerplate, but should be relatively easy to follow. Tools like Lit or Stencil are designed for building web components and can be used to remove much of this boilerplate. I urge you to check them out! But for this post, I’ll prefer a little more boilerplate in exchange for not having to introduce and teach another dependency.

A simple counter component

Let’s build the classic “Hello World” of JavaScript components: a counter. We’ll render a value, and a button that increments that value. Simple and boring, but it’ll let us look at the simplest possible web component.

In order to build a web component, the first step is to make a JavaScript class, which inherits from HTMLElement:

class Counter extends HTMLElement {}

The last step is to register the web component, but only if we haven’t registered it already:

if (!customElements.get("counter-wc")) {   customElements.define("counter-wc", Counter); }

And, of course, render it:

<counter-wc></counter-wc>

And everything in between is us making the web component do whatever we want it to. One common lifecycle method is connectedCallback, which fires when our web component is added to the DOM. We could use that method to render whatever content we’d like. Remember, this is a JS class inheriting from HTMLElement, which means our this value is the web component element itself, with all the normal DOM manipulation methods you already know and love.

At it’s most simple, we could do this:

class Counter extends HTMLElement {   connectedCallback() {     this.innerHTML = "<div style='color: green'>Hey</div>";   } }  if (!customElements.get("counter-wc")) {   customElements.define("counter-wc", Counter); }

…which will work just fine.

The word "hey" in green.

Adding real content

Let’s add some useful, interactive content. We need a <span> to hold the current number value and a <button> to increment the counter. For now, we’ll create this content in our constructor and append it when the web component is actually in the DOM:

constructor() {   super();   const container = document.createElement('div');    this.valSpan = document.createElement('span');    const increment = document.createElement('button');   increment.innerText = 'Increment';   increment.addEventListener('click', () => {     this.#value = this.#currentValue + 1;   });    container.appendChild(this.valSpan);   container.appendChild(document.createElement('br'));   container.appendChild(increment);    this.container = container; }  connectedCallback() {   this.appendChild(this.container);   this.update(); }

If you’re really grossed out by the manual DOM creation, remember you can set innerHTML, or even create a template element once as a static property of your web component class, clone it, and insert the contents for new web component instances. There’s probably some other options I’m not thinking of, or you can always use a web component framework like Lit or Stencil. But for this post, we’ll continue to keep it simple.

Moving on, we need a settable JavaScript class property named value

#currentValue = 0;  set #value(val) {   this.#currentValue = val;   this.update(); }

It’s just a standard class property with a setter, along with a second property to hold the value. One fun twist is that I’m using the private JavaScript class property syntax for these values. That means nobody outside our web component can ever touch these values. This is standard JavaScript that’s supported in all modern browsers, so don’t be afraid to use it.

Or feel free to call it _value if you prefer. And, lastly, our update method:

update() {   this.valSpan.innerText = this.#currentValue; }

It works!

The counter web component.

Obviously this is not code you’d want to maintain at scale. Here’s a full working example if you’d like a closer look. As I’ve said, tools like Lit and Stencil are designed to make this simpler.

Adding some more functionality

This post is not a deep dive into web components. We won’t cover all the APIs and lifecycles; we won’t even cover shadow roots or slots. There’s endless content on those topics. My goal here is to provide a decent enough introduction to spark some interest, along with some useful guidance on actually using web components with the popular JavaScript frameworks you already know and love.

To that end, let’s enhance our counter web component a bit. Let’s have it accept a color attribute, to control the color of the value that’s displayed. And let’s also have it accept an increment property, so consumers of this web component can have it increment by 2, 3, 4 at a time. And to drive these state changes, let’s use our new counter in a Svelte sandbox — we’ll get to React in a bit.

We’ll start with the same web component as before and add a color attribute. To configure our web component to accept and respond to an attribute, we add a static observedAttributes property that returns the attributes that our web component listens for.

static observedAttributes = ["color"];

With that in place, we can add a attributeChangedCallback lifecycle method, which will run whenever any of the attributes listed in observedAttributes are set, or updated.

attributeChangedCallback(name, oldValue, newValue) {   if (name === "color") {     this.update();   } }

Now we update our update method to actually use it:

update() {   this.valSpan.innerText = this._currentValue;   this.valSpan.style.color = this.getAttribute("color") || "black"; }

Lastly, let’s add our increment property:

increment = 1;

Simple and humble.

Using the counter component in Svelte

Let’s use what we just made. We’ll go into our Svelte app component and add something like this:

<script>   let color = "red"; </script>  <style>   main {     text-align: center;   } </style>  <main>   <select bind:value={color}>     <option value="red">Red</option>     <option value="green">Green</option>     <option value="blue">Blue</option>   </select>    <counter-wc color={color}></counter-wc> </main>

And it works! Our counter renders, increments, and the dropdown updates the color. As you can see, we render the color attribute in our Svelte template and, when the value changes, Svelte handles the legwork of calling setAttribute on our underlying web component instance. There’s nothing special here: this is the same thing it already does for the attributes of any HTML element.

Things get a little bit interesting with the increment prop. This is not an attribute on our web component; it’s a prop on the web component’s class. That means it needs to be set on the web component’s instance. Bear with me, as things will wind up much simpler in a bit.

First, we’ll add some variables to our Svelte component:

let increment = 1; let wcInstance;

Our powerhouse of a counter component will let you increment by 1, or by 2:

<button on:click={() => increment = 1}>Increment 1</button> <button on:click={() => increment = 2}>Increment 2</button>

But, in theory, we need to get the actual instance of our web component. This is the same thing we always do anytime we add a ref with React. With Svelte, it’s a simple bind:this directive:

<counter-wc bind:this={wcInstance} color={color}></counter-wc>

Now, in our Svelte template, we listen for changes to our component’s increment variable and set the underlying web component property.

$ : {   if (wcInstance) {     wcInstance.increment = increment;   } }

You can test it out over at this live demo.

We obviously don’t want to do this for every web component or prop we need to manage. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just set increment right on our web component, in markup, like we normally do for component props, and have it, you know, just work? In other words, it’d be nice if we could delete all usages of wcInstance and use this simpler code instead:

<counter-wc increment={increment} color={color}></counter-wc>

It turns out we can. This code works; Svelte handles all that legwork for us. Check it out in this demo. This is standard behavior for pretty much all JavaScript frameworks.

So why did I show you the manual way of setting the web component’s prop? Two reasons: it’s useful to understand how these things work and, a moment ago, I said this works for “pretty much” all JavaScript frameworks. But there’s one framework which, maddeningly, does not support web component prop setting like we just saw.

React is a different beast

React. The most popular JavaScript framework on the planet does not support basic interop with web components. This is a well-known problem that’s unique to React. Interestingly, this is actually fixed in React’s experimental branch, but for some reason wasn’t merged into version 18. That said, we can still track the progress of it. And you can try this yourself with a live demo.

The solution, of course, is to use a ref, grab the web component instance, and manually set increment when that value changes. It looks like this:

import React, { useState, useRef, useEffect } from 'react'; import './counter-wc';  export default function App() {   const [increment, setIncrement] = useState(1);   const [color, setColor] = useState('red');   const wcRef = useRef(null);    useEffect(() => {     wcRef.current.increment = increment;   }, [increment]);    return (     <div>       <div className="increment-container">         <button onClick={() => setIncrement(1)}>Increment by 1</button>         <button onClick={() => setIncrement(2)}>Increment by 2</button>       </div>        <select value={color} onChange={(e) => setColor(e.target.value)}>         <option value="red">Red</option>         <option value="green">Green</option>         <option value="blue">Blue</option>       </select>        <counter-wc ref={wcRef} increment={increment} color={color}></counter-wc>     </div>   ); }

As we discussed, coding this up manually for every web component property is simply not scalable. But all is not lost because we have a couple of options.

Option 1: Use attributes everywhere

We have attributes. If you clicked the React demo above, the increment prop wasn’t working, but the color correctly changed. Can’t we code everything with attributes? Sadly, no. Attribute values can only be strings. That’s good enough here, and we’d be able to get somewhat far with this approach. Numbers like increment can be converted to and from strings. We could even JSON stringify/parse objects. But eventually we’ll need to pass a function into a web component, and at that point we’d be out of options.

Option 2: Wrap it

There’s an old saying that you can solve any problem in computer science by adding a level of indirection (except the problem of too many levels of indirection). The code to set these props is pretty predictable and simple. What if we hide it in a library? The smart folks behind Lit have one solution. This library creates a new React component for you after you give it a web component, and list out the properties it needs. While clever, I’m not a fan of this approach.

Rather than have a one-to-one mapping of web components to manually-created React components, what I prefer is just one React component that we pass our web component tag name to (counter-wc in our case) — along with all the attributes and properties — and for this component to render our web component, add the ref, then figure out what is a prop and what is an attribute. That’s the ideal solution in my opinion. I don’t know of a library that does this, but it should be straightforward to create. Let’s give it a shot!

This is the usage we’re looking for:

<WcWrapper wcTag="counter-wc" increment={increment} color={color} />

wcTag is the web component tag name; the rest are the properties and attributes we want passed along.

Here’s what my implementation looks like:

import React, { createElement, useRef, useLayoutEffect, memo } from 'react';  const _WcWrapper = (props) => {   const { wcTag, children, ...restProps } = props;   const wcRef = useRef(null);    useLayoutEffect(() => {     const wc = wcRef.current;      for (const [key, value] of Object.entries(restProps)) {       if (key in wc) {         if (wc[key] !== value) {           wc[key] = value;         }       } else {         if (wc.getAttribute(key) !== value) {           wc.setAttribute(key, value);         }       }     }   });    return createElement(wcTag, { ref: wcRef }); };  export const WcWrapper = memo(_WcWrapper);

The most interesting line is at the end:

return createElement(wcTag, { ref: wcRef });

This is how we create an element in React with a dynamic name. In fact, this is what React normally transpiles JSX into. All our divs are converted to createElement("div") calls. We don’t normally need to call this API directly but it’s there when we need it.

Beyond that, we want to run a layout effect and loop through every prop that we’ve passed to our component. We loop through all of them and check to see if it’s a property with an in check that checks the web component instance object as well as its prototype chain, which will catch any getters/setters that wind up on the class prototype. If no such property exists, it’s assumed to be an attribute. In either case, we only set it if the value has actually changed.

If you’re wondering why we use useLayoutEffect instead of useEffect, it’s because we want to immediately run these updates before our content is rendered. Also, note that we have no dependency array to our useLayoutEffect; this means we want to run this update on every render. This can be risky since React tends to re-render a lot. I ameliorate this by wrapping the whole thing in React.memo. This is essentially the modern version of React.PureComponent, which means the component will only re-render if any of its actual props have changed — and it checks whether that’s happened via a simple equality check.

The only risk here is that if you’re passing an object prop that you’re mutating directly without re-assigning, then you won’t see the updates. But this is highly discouraged, especially in the React community, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

Before moving on, I’d like to call out one last thing. You might not be happy with how the usage looks. Again, this component is used like this:

<WcWrapper wcTag="counter-wc" increment={increment} color={color} />

Specifically, you might not like passing the web component tag name to the <WcWrapper> component and prefer instead the @lit-labs/react package above, which creates a new individual React component for each web component. That’s totally fair and I’d encourage you to use whatever you’re most comfortable with. But for me, one advantage with this approach is that it’s easy to delete. If by some miracle React merges proper web component handling from their experimental branch into main tomorrow, you’d be able to change the above code from this:

<WcWrapper wcTag="counter-wc" increment={increment} color={color} />

…to this:

<counter-wc ref={wcRef} increment={increment} color={color} />

You could probably even write a single codemod to do that everywhere, and then delete <WcWrapper> altogether. Actually, scratch that: a global search and replace with a RegEx would probably work.

The implementation

I know, it seems like it took a journey to get here. If you recall, our original goal was to take the image preview code we looked at in my last post, and move it to a web component so it can be used in any JavaScript framework. React’s lack of proper interop added a lot of detail to the mix. But now that we have a decent handle on how to create a web component, and use it, the implementation will almost be anti-climactic.

I’ll drop the entire web component here and call out some of the interesting bits. If you’d like to see it in action, here’s a working demo. It’ll switch between my three favorite books on my three favorite programming languages. The URL for each book will be unique each time, so you can see the preview, though you’ll likely want to throttle things in your DevTools Network tab to really see things taking place.

View entire code
class BookCover extends HTMLElement {   static observedAttributes = ['url'];    attributeChangedCallback(name, oldValue, newValue) {     if (name === 'url') {       this.createMainImage(newValue);     }   }    set preview(val) {     this.previewEl = this.createPreview(val);     this.render();   }    createPreview(val) {     if (typeof val === 'string') {       return base64Preview(val);     } else {       return blurHashPreview(val);     }   }    createMainImage(url) {     this.loaded = false;     const img = document.createElement('img');     img.alt = 'Book cover';     img.addEventListener('load', () =&gt; {       if (img === this.imageEl) {         this.loaded = true;         this.render();       }     });     img.src = url;     this.imageEl = img;   }    connectedCallback() {     this.render();   }    render() {     const elementMaybe = this.loaded ? this.imageEl : this.previewEl;     syncSingleChild(this, elementMaybe);   } }

First, we register the attribute we’re interested in and react when it changes:

static observedAttributes = ['url'];  attributeChangedCallback(name, oldValue, newValue) {   if (name === 'url') {     this.createMainImage(newValue);   } }

This causes our image component to be created, which will show only when loaded:

createMainImage(url) {   this.loaded = false;   const img = document.createElement('img');   img.alt = 'Book cover';   img.addEventListener('load', () => {     if (img === this.imageEl) {       this.loaded = true;       this.render();     }   });   img.src = url;   this.imageEl = img; }

Next we have our preview property, which can either be our base64 preview string, or our blurhash packet:

set preview(val) {   this.previewEl = this.createPreview(val);   this.render(); }  createPreview(val) {   if (typeof val === 'string') {     return base64Preview(val);   } else {     return blurHashPreview(val);   } }

This defers to whichever helper function we need:

function base64Preview(val) {   const img = document.createElement('img');   img.src = val;   return img; }  function blurHashPreview(preview) {   const canvasEl = document.createElement('canvas');   const { w: width, h: height } = preview;    canvasEl.width = width;   canvasEl.height = height;    const pixels = decode(preview.blurhash, width, height);   const ctx = canvasEl.getContext('2d');   const imageData = ctx.createImageData(width, height);   imageData.data.set(pixels);   ctx.putImageData(imageData, 0, 0);    return canvasEl; }

And, lastly, our render method:

connectedCallback() {   this.render(); }  render() {   const elementMaybe = this.loaded ? this.imageEl : this.previewEl;   syncSingleChild(this, elementMaybe); }

And a few helpers methods to tie everything together:

export function syncSingleChild(container, child) {   const currentChild = container.firstElementChild;   if (currentChild !== child) {     clearContainer(container);     if (child) {       container.appendChild(child);     }   } }  export function clearContainer(el) {   let child;    while ((child = el.firstElementChild)) {     el.removeChild(child);   } }

It’s a little bit more boilerplate than we’d need if we build this in a framework, but the upside is that we can re-use this in any framework we’d like — although React will need a wrapper for now, as we discussed.

Odds and ends

I’ve already mentioned Lit’s React wrapper. But if you find yourself using Stencil, it actually supports a separate output pipeline just for React. And the good folks at Microsoft have also created something similar to Lit’s wrapper, attached to the Fast web component library.

As I mentioned, all frameworks not named React will handle setting web component properties for you. Just note that some have some special flavors of syntax. For example, with Solid.js, <your-wc value={12}> always assumes that value is a property, which you can override with an attr prefix, like <your-wc attr:value={12}>.

Wrapping up

Web components are an interesting, often underused part of the web development landscape. They can help reduce your dependence on any single JavaScript framework by managing your UI, or “leaf” components. While creating these as web components — as opposed to Svelte or React components — won’t be as ergonomic, the upside is that they’ll be widely reusable.


Building Interoperable Web Components That Even Work With React originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

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9 New React and JavaScript Links for February 2022

Every now and then, I find that I’ve accumulated a bunch of links about various things I find interesting. Like React and JavaScript! Here’s a list of nine links to other articles about them that I’ve been saving up and think are worth sharing.

React and JavaScript code snippets with colorful hand-marked scribbles of notes.
Source: “Good advice on JSX conditionals” by Vladimir Klepov
  • Seed Funding for Remix
    Remix went open source after taking funding which seems like a solid move. It’s a for-now-React-only framework, so I think it’s fair that everyone asks how does it compare to Next.js. Which they answered. Probably worth noting again for us CSS folks, Kent mentioned: “Because Remix allows me to easily control which of my CSS files is on the page at any given time, I don’t have all the problems that triggered the JavaScript community to invent workarounds like CSS-in-JS.”
  • React Router v6
    Speaking of that gang, they released React Router v6, which looks like a positive move — all hooks based, 50% smaller than v5 — but is yet another major version with API changes. React Router has a history of API changes like this and they trigger plenty of grumbling in the community. There is plenty of that again.
  • React Aria
    “A library of React Hooks that provides accessible UI primitives for your design system” from… Adobe. Interesting. Looks like some pretty hard problems being solved here, like FocusScope (“When the contain prop is set, focus is contained within the scope.”) and interesting color inputs, like useColorField, useColorSlider, and useColorWheel. There are 59 hooks in all, ranging from interactions and forms to overlays and internationalization, with plenty of others in between.
  • Front End Tables: Sorting, Filtering, and Pagination
    Tania Rascia: “One thing I’ve had to do at every job I’ve had is implement a table on the front end of an application that has sorting, filtering, and pagination.” No shame in reaching for a big library with all these features, but sometimes it’s best to DIY.
  • Good advice on JSX conditionals
    Vladimir Klepov covers the (weirdly) many ways fairly simple conditionals can go wrong, like the number 0 leaking into your markup, and how to manage update versus remount in conditionals.
  • useProseMirror
    I’ve found ProseMirror to be a pretty nice rich text editor in the past. The library itself isn’t actually in React, so I think it’s a smart call here to make a modern React wrapper for it.
  • Spead up sluggish inputs with useDeferredValue
    You can introduce gnarly input delay the more work that an onChange function has to do on a text input. useDeferredValue gives us a way to separate high priority updates from low priority updates for cases like this.”
  • 🎥 A Cartoon Intro to WebAssembly
    If you don’t have a good understanding of what WebAssembly is, then Lin Clark will get you there in this video from JSConf EU 2017. So, no, not a new link or anything, but it’s new to me!
  • 🎥 Turborepo Demo and Walkthrough
    Vercel bought Turborepo. Turborepo is specifically focused on making monorepos better. As someone who’s main codebase is a monorepo with Lerna and Yarn Workspaces such that we can have multiple different sites all share things like a design system, this is right up our alley. This video is with the Turborepo creator Jared Palmer and Lee Robinson, head of developer relations at Vercel. In this video, you get to see it all work.

9 New React and JavaScript Links for February 2022 originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter and become a supporter.

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User Registration and Auth Using Firebase and React

The ability to identify users is vital for maintaining the security of any applications. Equally important is the code that’s written to manage user identities, particularly when it comes to avoiding loopholes for unauthorized access to data held by an application. Writing authentication code without a framework or libraries available can take a ton of time to do right — not to mention the ongoing maintainance of that custom code.

This is where Firebase comes to the rescue. Its ready-to-use and intuitive methods make setting up effective user identity management on a site happen in no time. This tutorial will work us through on how to do that: implementing user registration, verification, and authentication.

Firebase v9 SDK introduces a new modular API surface, resulting in a change to several of its services, one of which is Firebase Authentication. This tutorial is current to the changes in v9.

To follow along with this tutorial, you should be familiar with React, React hooks, and Firebase version 8. You should also have a Google account and Node installed on your machine.

Table of Contents

Setting up Firebase

Before we start using Firebase for our registration and authentication requirements, we have to first set up our Firebase project and also the authentication method we’re using.

To add a project, make sure you are logged into your Google account, then navigate to the Firebase console and click on Add project. From there, give the project a name (I’m using “Firebase-user-reg-auth”) and we should be all set to continue.

You may be prompted to enable Google Analytics at some point. There’s no need for it for this tutorial, so feel free to skip that step.

Firebase has various authentication methods for both mobile and web, but before we start using any of them, we have to first enable it on the Firebase Authentication page. From the sidebar menu, click on the Authentication icon, then, on the next page, click on Get started.

We are going to use Email/Password authentication. Click on it and we will be prompted with a screen to enable it, which is exactly what we want to do.

Cloning and setting up the starter repo

I have already created a simple template we can use for this tutorial so that we can focus specifically on learning how to implement the functionalities. So what we need to do now is clone the GitHub repo.

Fire up your terminal. Here’s what we can run from the command line:

git clone -b starter https://github.com/Tammibriggs/Firebase_user_auth.git  cd Firebase_user_auth  npm install

I have also included Firebase version 9 in the dependency object of the package.json file. So, by running the npm install command, Firebase v9 — along with all other dependencies — will be installed.

With done that, let’s start the app with npm start!

Integrating Firebase into our React app

To integrate Firebase, we need to first get the web configuration object and then use it to initialize Firebase in our React app. Go over to the Firebase project page and we will see a set of options as icons like this:

Click on the web (</>) icon to configure our Firebase project for the web, and we will see a page like this:

Enter firebase-user-auth as the name of the web app. After that, click on the Register app button, which takes us to the next step where our firebaseConfig object is provided.

Copy the config to the clipboard as we will need it later on to initialize Firebase. Then click on the Continue to console button to complete the process.

Now, let’s initialize Firebase and Firebase Authentication so that we can start using them in our app. In the src directory of our React app, create a firebase.js file and add the following imports:

// src/firebase.js import { initializeApp } from 'firebase/app' import {getAuth} from 'firebase/auth'

Now, paste the config we copied earlier after the imports and add the following lines of code to initialize Firebase and Firebase Authentication.

// src/firebase.js const app = initializeApp(firebaseConfig) const auth = getAuth(app)  export {auth}

Our firebase.js file should now look something like this:

// src.firebase.js import { initializeApp } from "firebase/app" import { getAuth } from "firebase/auth"  const firebaseConfig = {   apiKey: "API_KEY",   authDomain: "AUTH_DOMAIN",   projectId: "PROJECT_ID",   storageBucket: "STORAGE_BUCKET",   messagingSenderId: "MESSAGING_SENDER_ID",   appId: "APP_ID" }  // Initialize Firebase and Firebase Authentication const app = initializeApp(firebaseConfig) const auth = getAuth(app) export {auth}

Next up, we’re going to cover how to use the ready-to-use functions provided by Firebase to add registration, email verification, and login functionality to the template we cloned.

Creating User Registration functionality

In Firebase version 9, we can build functionality for user registration with the createUserWithEmailAndPassword function. This function takes three arguments:

  • auth instance/service
  • email
  • password

Services are always passed as the first arguments in version 9. In our case, it’s the auth service.

To create this functionality, we will be working with the Register.js file in the src directory of our cloned template. What I did in this file is create three form fields — email, password, and confirm password — and input is controlled by the state. Now, let’s get to business.

Let’s start by adding a function that validates the password and confirm password inputs, checking if they are not empty and are the same: Add the following lines of code after the states in the Register component:

// src/Register.js // ...  const validatePassword = () => {   let isValid = true   if (password !== '' && confirmPassword !== ''){     if (password !== confirmPassword) {       isValid = false       setError('Passwords does not match')     }   }   return isValid }  // ...

In the above function, we return an isValid variable which can return either true or false based on the validity of the passwords. Later on, we will use the value of this variable to create a condition where the Firebase function responsible for registering users will only be invoked if isValid is true.

To create the registration functionality, let’s start by making the necessary imports to the Register.js file:

// src/Register.js import {auth} from './firebase' import {createUserWithEmailAndPassword} from 'firebase/auth'

Now, add the following lines of code after the validatePassword password function:

// src/Register.js // ...  const register = e => {   e.preventDefault()   setError('')   if(validatePassword()) {     // Create a new user with email and password using firebase       createUserWithEmailAndPassword(auth, email, password)       .then((res) => {           console.log(res.user)         })       .catch(err => setError(err.message))   }   setEmail('')   setPassword('')   setConfirmPassword('') }  // ...

In the above function, we set a condition to call the createUserWithEmailAndPassword function only when the value returning from validatePassword is true.

For this to start working, let’s call the register function when the form is submitted. We can do this by adding an onSubmit event to the form. Modify the opening tag of the registration_form to look like this:

// src/Register.js <form onSubmit={register} name='registration_form'>

With this, we can now register a new user on our site. To test this by going over to http://localhost:3000/register in the browser, filling in the form, then clicking on the Register button.

Showing a user registration form with fields to enter an email. a password, and password confirmation. A gray button labeled Register is below the three stacked fields.

After clicking the Register button, if we open the browser’s console we will see details of the newly registered user.

Managing User State with React Context API

Context API is a way to share data with components at any level of the React component tree without having to pass it down as props. Since a user might be required by a different component in the tree, using the Context API is great for managing the user state.

Before we start using the Context API, there are a few things we need to set up:

  • Create a context object using the createContext() method
  • Pass the components we want to share the user state with as children of Context.Provider
  • Pass the value we want the children/consuming component to access as props to Context.Provider

Let’s get to it. In the src directory, create an AuthContext.js file and add the following lines of code to it:

// src/AuthContext.js import React, {useContext} from 'react'  const AuthContext = React.createContext()  export function AuthProvider({children, value}) {   return (     <AuthContext.Provider value={value}>       {children}     </AuthContext.Provider>   ) }  export function useAuthValue(){   return useContext(AuthContext) }

In the above code, we created a context called AuthContext along with that we also created two other functions that will allow us to easily use the Context API which is AuthProvider and useAuthValue.

The AuthProvider function allows us to share the value of the user’s state to all the children of AuthContext.Provider while useAuthValue allows us to easily access the value passed to AuthContext.Provider.

Now, to provide the children and value props to AuthProvider, modify the App.js file to look something like this:

// src/App.js // ... import {useState} from 'react' import {AuthProvider} from './AuthContext'  function App() {   const [currentUser, setCurrentUser] = useState(null)    return (     <Router>       <AuthProvider value={{currentUser}}>         <Switch>          ...         </Switch>       </AuthProvider>     </Router>   ); }  export default App;

Here, we’re wrapping AuthProvider around the components rendered by App. This way, the currentUser value supplied to AuthProvider will be available for use by all the components in our app except the App component.

That’s it as far as setting up the Context API! To use it, we have to import the useAuthValue function and invoke it in any of the child components of AuthProvider, like Login. The code looks something like this:

import { useAuthValue } from "./AuthContext"  function childOfAuthProvider(){   const {currentUser} = useAuthValue()   console.log(currentUser)    return ... }

Right now, currentUser will always be null because we are not setting its value to anything. To set its value, we need to first get the current user from Firebase which can be done either by using the auth instance that was initialized in our firebase.js file (auth.currentUser), or the onAuthStateChanged function, which actually happens to be the recommended way to get the current user. That way, we ensure that the Auth object isn’t in an intermediate state — such as initialization — when we get the current user.

In the App.js file, add a useEffect import along with useState and also add the following imports:

// src/App.js import {useState, useEffect} from 'react' import {auth} from './firebase' import {onAuthStateChanged} from 'firebase/auth'

Now add the following line of code after the currentUser state in the App component:

// src/App.js // ...  useEffect(() => {   onAuthStateChanged(auth, (user) => {     setCurrentUser(user)    }) }, [])  // ...

In the above code, we are getting the current user and setting it in the state when the component renders. Now when we register a user the currentUser state will be set with an object containing the user’s info.

Send a verification email to a registered user

Once a user is registered, we want them to verify their email address before being able to access the homepage of our site. We can use the sendEmailVerification function for this. It takes only one argument which is the object of the currently registered user. When invoked, Firebase sends an email to the registered user’s email address with a link where the user can verify their email.

Let’s head over to the Register.js file and modify the Link and createUserWithEmailAndPassword import to look like this:

// src/Register.js import {useHistory, Link} from 'react-router-dom' import {createUserWithEmailAndPassword, sendEmailVerification} from 'firebase/auth'

In the above code, we have also imported the useHistory hook. This will help us access and manipulate the browser’s history which, in short, means we can use it to switch between pages in our app. But before we can use it we need to call it, so let’s add the following line of code after the error state:

// src/Register.js // ... const history = useHistory()  // ...

Now, modify the .then method of the createUserWithEmailAndPassword function to look like this:

// src/Register.js // ... .then(() => {   sendEmailVerification(auth.currentUser)   .then(() => {     history.push('/verify-email')   }).catch((err) => alert(err.message)) }) // ...

What’s happening here is that when a user registers a valid email address, they will be sent a verification email, then taken to the verify-email page.

There are several things we need to do on this page:

  • Display the user’s email after the part that says “A verification email has been sent to:”
  • Make the Resend Email button work
  • Create functionality for disabling the Resend Email button for 60 seconds after it is clicked
  • Take the user to their profile page once the email has been verified

We will start by displaying the registered user’s email. This calls for the use of the AuthContext we created earlier. In the VerifyEmail.js file, add the following import:

// src/VerifyEmail.js import {useAuthValue} from './AuthContext'

Then, add the following code before the return statement in the VerifyEmail component:

// src/VerifyEmail.js const {currentUser} = useAuthValue()

Now, to display the email, add the following code after the <br/> tag in the return statement.

// src/VerifyEmail.js // ... <span>{currentUser?.email}</span> // ...

In the above code, we are using optional chaining to get the user’s email so that when the email is null our code will throw no errors.

Now, when we refresh the verify-email page, we should see the email of the registered user.

Let’s move to the next thing which is making the Resend Email button work. First, let’s make the necessary imports. Add the following imports to the VerifyEmail.js file:

// src/VerifyEmail.js import {useState} from 'react' import {auth} from './firebase' import {sendEmailVerification} from 'firebase/auth'

Now, let’s add a state that will be responsible for disabling and enabling the Resend Email button based on whether or not the verification email has been sent. This code goes after currentUser in the VerifyEmail component:

// src/VerifyEmail.js const [buttonDisabled, setButtonDisabled] = useState(false)

For the function that handles resending the verification email and disabling/enabling the button, we need this after the buttonDisabled state:

// src/VerifyEmail.js // ...  const resendEmailVerification = () => {   setButtonDisabled(true)   sendEmailVerification(auth.currentUser)   .then(() => {     setButtonDisabled(false)   }).catch((err) => {     alert(err.message)     setButtonDisabled(false)   }) }  // ...

Next, in the return statement, modify the Resend Email button like this:

// ... <button    onClick={resendEmailVerification}   disabled={buttonDisabled}   >Resend Email</button> // ...

Now, if we go over to the verify-email page and click the button, another email will be sent to us. But there is a problem with how we created this functionality because if we try to click the button again in less than a minute, we get an error from Firebase saying we sent too many requests. This is because Firebase has a one minute interval before being able to send another email to the same address. That’s the net thing we need to address.

What we need to do is make the button stay disabled for 60 seconds (or more) after a verification email is sent. We can enhance the user experience a bit by displaying a countdown timer in Resend Email button to let the user know the button is only temporarily disabled.

In the VerifyEmail.js file, add a useEffect import:

import {useState, useEffect} from 'react'

Next, add the following after the buttonDisabled state:

// src/VerifyEmail.js const [time, setTime] = useState(60) const [timeActive, setTimeActive] = useState(false)

In the above code, we have created a time state which will be used for the 60-second countdown and also a timeActive state which will be used to control when the count down will start.

Add the following lines of code after the states we just created:

// src/VerifyEmail.js // ...  useEffect(() => {   let interval = null   if(timeActive && time !== 0 ){     interval = setInterval(() => {       setTime((time) => time - 1)     }, 1000)   }else if(time === 0){     setTimeActive(false)     setTime(60)     clearInterval(interval)   }   return () => clearInterval(interval); }, [timeActive, time])  // ...

In the above code, we created a useEffect hook that only runs when the timeActive or time state changes. In this hook, we are decreasing the previous value of the time state by one every second using the setInterval method, then we are stopping the decrementing of the time state when its value equals zero.

Since the useEffect hook is dependent on the timeActive and time state, one of these states has to change before the time count down can start. Changing the time state is not an option because the countdown has to start only when a verification email has been sent. So, instead, we need to change the timeActive state.

In the resendEmailVerification function, modify the .then method of sendEmailVerification to look like this:

// src/VerifyEmail.js // ... .then(() => {   setButtonDisabled(false)   setTimeActive(true) }) // ...

Now, when an email is sent, the timeActive state will change to true and the count down will start. In the code above we need to change how we are disabling the button because, when the count down is active, we want the disabled button.

We will do that shortly, but right now, let’s make the countdown timer visible to the user. Modify the Resend Email button to look like this:

// src/VerifyEmail.js <button    onClick={resendEmailVerification}   disabled={buttonDisabled} >Resend Email {timeActive && time}</button>

To keep the button in a disabled state while the countdown is active, let’s modify the disabled attribute of the button to look like this:

disabled={timeActive}

With this, the button will be disabled for a minute when a verification email is sent. Now we can go ahead and remove the buttonDisabled state from our code.

Although this functionality works, there is still one problem with how we implemented it: when a user registers and is taken to the verify-email page when they have not received an email yet, they may try to click the Resend Email button, and if they do that in less than a minute, Firebase will error out again because we’ve made too many requests.

To fix this, we need to make the Resend Email button disabled for 60 seconds after an email is sent to the newly registered user. This means we need a way to change the timeActive state within the Register component. We can also use the Context API for this. It will allow us to globally manipulate and access the timeActive state.

Let’s make a few modifications to our code to make things work properly. In the VerifyEmail component, cut the timeActive state and paste it into the App component after the currentUser state.

// src/App.js function App() {   // ...   const [timeActive, setTimeActive] = useState(false)    // ...

Next, put timeActive and setTimeActive inside the object of AuthProvider value prop. It should look like this:

// src/App.js // ... <AuthProvider value={{currentUser, timeActive, setTimeActive}}> // ... 

Now we can access timeActive and setTimeActive within the children of AuthProvider. To fix the error in our code, go to the VerifyEmail.js file and de-structure both timeActive and setTimeActive from useAuthProvider:

// src/VerifyEmail.js const {timeActive, setTimeActive} = useAuthValue()

Now, to change the timeActive state after a verification email has been sent to the registered user, add the following import in the Register.js file:

// src/Register.js import {useAuthValue} from './AuthContext'

Next, de-structure setTimeActive from useAuthValue with this snippet among the other states in the Register component:

// src/Register.js const {setTimeActive} = useAuthValue()

Finally, in the register function, set the timeActive state with the .then the method of sendEmailVerification:

// src/Register.js // ... .then(() => {   setTimeActive(true)   history.push('/verify-email') }) // ...

With this, a user will be able to send a verification email without getting any errors from Firebase.

The last thing to fix concerning user verification is to take the user to their profile page after they have verified their email. To do this, we will use a reload function in the currentUser object. It allows us to reload the user object coming from Firebase, that way we will know when something has changed.

First, let’s make the needed imports. In the VerifyEmail.js file, let’s add this:

// src/VerifyEmail.js import {useHistory} from 'react-router-dom'

We are importing useHistory so that we can use to navigate the user to the profile page. Next, add the following line of code after the states:

// src/VerifyEmail.js const history = useHistory()

And, finally, add the following lines of code after the history variable:

// src/VerifyEmail.js // ...  useEffect(() => {   const interval = setInterval(() => {     currentUser?.reload()     .then(() => {       if(currentUser?.emailVerified){         clearInterval(interval)         history.push('/')       }     })     .catch((err) => {       alert(err.message)     })   }, 1000) }, [history, currentUser])  // ...

In the above code, we are running the reload function every one second until the user’s email has been verified, and, if it has, we are navigating the user to their profile page.

To test this, let’s verify our email by following the instructions in the email sent from Firebase. If all is good, we will be automatically taken to our profile page.

Right now the profile page is showing no user data and he Sign Out link does not work. That’s ur next task.

Working on the user profile page

Let’s start by displaying the Email and Email verified values. For this, we will make use of the currentUser state in AuthContext. What we need to do is import useAuthValue, de-structure currentUser from it, and then display the Email and Email verified value from the user object.

Here is what the Profile.js file should look like:

// src/Profile.js import './profile.css' import {useAuthValue} from './AuthContext'  function Profile() {   const {currentUser} = useAuthValue()    return (     <div className='center'>       <div className='profile'>         <h1>Profile</h1>         <p><strong>Email: </strong>{currentUser?.email}</p>         <p>           <strong>Email verified: </strong>           {`$ {currentUser?.emailVerified}`}         </p>         <span>Sign Out</span>       </div>     </div>   ) }  export default Profile

With this, the Email and Email verified value should now be displayed on our profile page.

To get the sign out functionality working, we will use the signOut function. It takes only one argument, which is the auth instance. So, in Profile.js. let’s add those imports.

// src/Profile.js import { signOut } from 'firebase/auth'  import { auth } from './firebase'

Now, in the return statement, modify the <span> that contains “Sign Out” so that is calls the signOut function when clicked:

// src/Profile.js // ... <span onClick={() => signOut(auth)}>Sign Out</span> // ...

Creating a Private Route for the Profile component

Right now, even with an unverified email address, a user can access the profile page. We don’t want that. Unverified users should be redirected to the login page when they try to access the profile. This is where private routes come in.

In the src directory, let’s create a new PrivateRoute.js file and add the following code to it:

// src/PrivateRoute.js import {Route, Redirect} from 'react-router-dom' import {useAuthValue} from './AuthContext'  export default function PrivateRoute({component:Component, ...rest}) {   const {currentUser} = useAuthValue()    return (     <Route       {...rest}       render={props => {         return currentUser?.emailVerified ? <Component {...props} /> : <Redirect to='/login' />     }}>     </Route>   ) }

This PrivateRoute is almost similar to using the Route. The difference is that we are using a render prop to redirect the user to the profile page if their email is unverified.

We want the profile page to be private, so well import PrivateRoute:

// src/App.js import PrivateRoute from './PrivateRoute'

Then we can replace Route with PrivateRoute in the Profile component. The Profile route should now look like this:

// src/App.js <PrivateRoute exact path="/" component={Profile} />

Nice! We have made the profile page accessible only to users with verified emails.

Creating login functionality

Since only users with verified emails can access their profile page when logged in with the signInWithEmailAndPassword function, we also need to check if their email has been verified and, if it is unverified, the user should be redirected to the verify-email page where the sixty-second countdown should also start.

These are the imports we need to add to the Login.js file:

import {signInWithEmailAndPassword, sendEmailVerification} from 'firebase/auth' import {auth} from './firebase' import {useHistory} from 'react-router-dom' import {useAuthValue} from './AuthContext'

Next, add the following line of code among the states in the Login component.

// src/Login.js const {setTimeActive} = useAuthValue() const history = useHistory()

Then add the following function after the history variable:

// src/Login.js // ...  const login = e => {   e.preventDefault()   signInWithEmailAndPassword(auth, email, password)   .then(() => {     if(!auth.currentUser.emailVerified) {       sendEmailVerification(auth.currentUser)       .then(() => {         setTimeActive(true)         history.push('/verify-email')       })     .catch(err => alert(err.message))   }else{     history.push('/')   }   })   .catch(err => setError(err.message)) }  // ...

This logs in a user and then check if whether they are verified or not. If they are verified, we navigate them to their profile page. But if they are unverified, we send a verification email, then redirect them to the verify-email page.

All we need to do to make this work is call the login function when the form is submitted. So, let’s modify the opening tag of the login_form to this:

// src/Login.js <form onSubmit={login} name='login_form'>

And, hey, we’re done!

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we have learned how to use version 9 of the Firebase Authentication to build a fully functioning user registration and authentication service in React. Is it super easy? No, there are a few thing we need to juggle. But is it a heck of a lot easier than building our own service from scratch? You bet it is! And that’s what I hope you got from reading this.

References


User Registration and Auth Using Firebase and React originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter and become a supporter.

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Easy Dark Mode (and Multiple Color Themes!) in React

I was working on a large React application for a startup, and aside from just wanting some good strategies to keep our styles organized, I wanted to give this whole “dark mode” thing a shot. With the huge ecosystem around React, you might think that there would be a go-to solution for style themes, but a little web searching shows that really isn’t the case.

There are plenty of different options out there, but many of them tie into very specific CSS strategies, like using CSS Modules, some form of CSS-in-JS, etc. I also found tools specific to certain frameworks, like Gatsby, but not a generic React project. What I was looking for was a basic system that’s easy to set up and work with without jumping through a ton of hoops; something fast, something easy to get a whole team of front-end and full-stack developers onboarded with quickly.

The existing solution I liked the best centered around using CSS variables and data attributes, found in this StackOverflow answer. But that also relied on some useRef stuff that felt hack-y. As they say in every infomercial ever, there’s got to be a better way!

Fortunately, there is. By combining that general CSS variable strategy with the beautiful useLocalStorage hook, we have a powerful, easy-to-use theming system. I’m going to walk through setting this thing up and running it, starting from a brand new React app. And if you stick around to the end, I also show you how to integrate it with react-scoped-css, which is what makes this my absolutely preferred way to work with CSS in React.

Project setup

Let’s pick this up at a very good place to start: the beginning.

This guide assumes a basic familiarity with CSS, JavaScript, and React.

First, make sure you have a recent version of Node and npm installed. Then navigate to whatever folder you want your project to live in, run git bash there (or your preferred command line tool), then run:

npx create-react-app easy-react-themes --template typescript

Swap out easy-react-themes with the name of your project, and feel free to leave off the --template typescript if you’d rather work in JavaScript. I happen to like TypeScript but it genuinely makes no difference for this guide, other than files ending in .ts/.tsx vs .js/.jsx.

Now we’ll open up our brand new project in a code editor. I’m using VS Code for this example, and if you are too, then you can run these commands:

cd easy-react-themes code .
Not much to look at yet, but we’ll change that!

Running npm start next starts your development server, and produces this in a new browser window:

And, finally, go ahead and install the use-local-storage package with:

npm i use-local-storage

And that’s it for the initial setup of the project!

Code setup

Open the App.tsx file and get rid of the stuff we don’t need.

We want to go from this…

…to this.

Delete the entire content in App.css:

Woot! Now let’s create our themes! Open up the index.css file and add this to it:

:root {   --background: white;   --text-primary: black;   --text-secondary: royalblue;   --accent: purple; } [data-theme='dark'] {   --background: black;   --text-primary: white;   --text-secondary: grey;   --accent: darkred; }

Here’s what we have so far:

See what we just did there? If you’re unfamiliar with CSS Custom Properties (as also known as CSS variables), they allow us to define a value to be used elsewhere in our stylesheets, with the pattern being --key: value. In this case, we’re only defining a few colors and applying them to the :root element so they can be used be used wherever else we need them across the whole React project.

The second part, starting with [data-theme='dark'], is where things get interesting. HTML (and JSX, which we’re using to create HTML in React) allows us to set completely arbitrary properties for our HTML elements with the data-* attribute. In this case, we are giving the outermost <div> element of our application a data-theme attribute and toggling its value between light and dark. When it’s dark, the CSS[data-theme='dark'] section overrides the variables we defined in the :root, so any styling which relies on those variables is toggled as well.

Let’s put that into practice. Back in App.tsx, let’s give React a way to track the theme state. We’d normally use something like useState for local state, or Redux for global state management, but we also want the user’s theme selection to stick around if they leave our app and come back later. While we could use Redux and redux-persist, that’s way overkill for our needs.

Instead, we’re using the useLocalStorage hook we installed earlier. It gives us a way to store things in local storage, as you might expect, but as a React hook, it maintains stateful knowledge of what it’s doing with localStorage, making our lives easy.

Some of you might be thinking “Oh no, what if the page renders before our JavaScript checks in with localStorage and we get the dreaded “flash of wrong theme?” But you don’t have to worry about that here since our React app is completely rendered client-side; the initial HTML file is basically a skeleton with a with a single <div> that React attaches the app to. All of the final HTML elements are generated by JavaScript after checking localStorage.

So, first, import the hook at the top of App.tsx with:

import useLocalStorage from 'use-local-storage'

Then, inside our App component, we use it with:

const defaultDark = window.matchMedia('(prefers-color-scheme: dark)').matches; const [theme, setTheme] = useLocalStorage('theme', defaultDark ? 'dark' : 'light'); 

This does a few things for us. First, we’re checking if the user has set a theme preference in their browser settings. Then we’re creating a stateful theme variable that is tied to localStorage and the setTheme function to update theme. useLocalStorage adds a key:value pair to localStorage if it doesn’t already exist, which defaults to theme: "light", unless our matchMedia check comes back as true, in which case it’s theme: "dark". That way, we’re gracefully handling both possibilities of keeping the theme settings for a returning user, or respecting their browser settings by default if we’re working with new users.

Next, we add a tiny bit of content to the App component so we have some elements to style, along with a button and function to actually allow us to toggle the theme.

The finished App.tsx file

The secret sauce is on line 14 where we’ve added data-theme={theme} to our top-level <div>. Now, by switching the value of theme, we are choosing whether or not to override the CSS variables in :root with the ones in the data-theme='dark' section of the index.css file.

The last thing we need to do is add some styling that uses those CSS variables we made earlier, and it’ll up and running! Open App.css and drop this CSS in there:

.App {   color: var(--text-primary);   background-color: var(--background);   font-size: large;   font-weight: bold;   padding: 20px;   height: calc(100vh - 40px);   transition: all .5s; } button {   color: var(--text-primary);   background-color: var(--background);   border: 2px var(--text-primary) solid;   float: right;   transition: all .5s; }

Now the background and text for the main <div>, and the background, text, and outline of the <button> rely on the CSS variables. That means when the theme changes, everything that depends on those variables update as well. Also note that we added transition: all .5s to both the App and <button> for a smooth transition between color themes.

Now, head back to the browser that’s running the app, and here’s what we get:

Tada! Let’s add another component just to show how the system works if we’re building out a real app. We’ll add a /components folder in /src, put a /square folder in /components, and add a Square.tsx and square.css, like so:

Let’s import it back into App.tsx, like so:

Here’s what we have now as a result:

And there we go! Obviously, this is a pretty basic case where we’re only using a default (light) theme, and a secondary (dark) theme. But if your application calls for it, this system could be used to implement multiple theme options. Personally, I’m thinking of giving my next project options for light, dark, chocolate, and strawberry—go nuts!

Bonus: Integrating with React Scoped CSS:

Using React Scoped CSS is my favorite way to keep each component’s CSS encapsulated to prevent name collision messiness and unintended style inheritance. My previous go-to for this was CSS Modules, but that has the downside of making the in-browser DOM look like a robot wrote all of the class names… because that’s exactly the case. This lack of human-readability makes debugging far more annoying than it has to be. Enter React Scoped CSS. We get to keep writing CSS (or Sass) exactly the way we have been, and the output looks like a human wrote it.

Seeing as the the React Scoped CSS repo provides full and detailed installation instructions, I’ll merely summarize them here.

First, install and configure Create React App Configuration Override (CRACO) according to their instructions. Craco is a tool that lets us override some of the default webpack configuration that’s bundled into create-react-app (CRA). Normally, if you want to adjust webpack in a CRA project, you first have to “eject” the project, which is an irreversible operation, and makes you fully responsible for all of the dependencies that are normally handled for you. You usually want to avoid ejecting unless you really, really know what you’re doing and have a good reason to go down that road. Instead, CRACO let’s us make some minor adjustments to our webpack config without things getting messy.

Once that’s done, install the React Scoped CSS package:

npm i craco-plugin-scoped-css

(The README instructions use yarn for installation instead of npm, but either is fine.) Now that it’s installed, simply rename the CSS files by adding .scoped before the .css, like so:

app.css -> app.scoped.css

And we need to make sure we’re using a new name when importing that CSS into a component:

import './app.css'; -> import './app.scoped.css';

Now all of the CSS is encapsulated so that it only applies to the components they’re imported into. It works by using data-* properties, much like our theme system, so when a scoped CSS file is imported into a component, all of that component’s elements are labeled with a property, like data-v-46ef2374, and the styles from that file are wrapped so that they only apply to elements with that exact data property.

That’s all wonderful, but the little trick to making that work with this theming system is that we explicitly don’t want the CSS variables encapsulated; we want them applied to the whole project. So, we simply don’t change index.css to have scoped in it… in other words, we can leave that CSS file alone. That’s it! Now we have a powerful theming system working in harmony with scoped CSS— we’re living the dream!

Thank you so much taking a read through this guide, and if it helped you build something awesome, I would love to know about it!


The post Easy Dark Mode (and Multiple Color Themes!) in React appeared first on CSS-Tricks. You can support CSS-Tricks by being an MVP Supporter.

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React Suspense: Lessons Learned While Loading Data

Suspense is React’s forthcoming feature that helps coordinate asynchronous actions—like data loading—allowing you to easily prevent inconsistent state in your UI. I’ll provide a better explanation of what exactly that means, along with a quick introduction of Suspense, and then go over a somewhat realistic use case, and cover some lessons learned.

The features I’m covering are still in the alpha stage, and should by no means be used in production. This post is for folks who want to take a sneak peek at what’s coming, and see what the future looks like.

A Suspense primer

One of the more challenging parts of application development is coordinating application state and how data loads. It’s common for a state change to trigger new data loads in multiple locations. Typically, each piece of data would have its own loading UI (like a “spinner”), roughly where that data lives in the application. The asynchronous nature of data loading means each of these requests can be returned in any order. As a result, not only will your app have a bunch of different spinners popping in and out, but worse, your application might display inconsistent data. If two out of three of your data loads have completed, you’ll have a loading spinner sitting on top of that third location, still displaying the old, now outdated data.

I know that was a lot. If you find any of that baffling, you might be interested in a prior post I wrote about Suspense. That goes into much more detail on what Suspense is and what it accomplishes. Just note that a few minor pieces of it are now outdated, namely, the useTransition hook no longer takes a timeoutMs value, and waits as long as needed instead.

Now let’s do a quick walkthrough of the details, then get into a specific use case, which has a few lurking gotchas.

How does Suspense work?

Fortunately, the React team was smart enough to not limit these efforts to just loading data. Suspense works via low-level primitives, which you can apply to just about anything. Let’s take a quick look at these primitives.

First up is the <Suspense> boundary, which takes a fallback prop:

<Suspense fallback={<Fallback />}>

Whenever any child under this component suspends, it renders the fallback. No matter how many children are suspending, for whatever reason, the fallback is what shows. This is one way React ensures a consistent UI—it won’t render anything, until everything is ready.

But what about after things have rendered, initially, and now the user changes state, and loads new data. We certainly don’t want our existing UI to vanish and display our fallback; that would be a poor UX. Instead, we probably want to show one loading spinner, until all data are ready, and then show the new UI.

The useTransition hook accomplishes this. This hook returns a function and a boolean value. We call the function and wrap our state changes. Now things get interesting. React attempts to apply our state change. If anything suspends, React sets that boolean to true, then waits for the suspension to end. When it does, it’ll try to apply the state change again. Maybe it’ll succeed this time, or maybe something else suspends instead. Whatever the case, the boolean flag stays true until everything is ready, and then, and only then, does the state change complete and get reflected in the UI.

Lastly, how do we suspend? We suspend by throwing a promise. If data is requested, and we need to fetch, then we fetch—and throw a promise that’s tied to that fetch. The suspension mechanism being at a low level like this means we can use it with anything. The React.lazy utility for lazy loading components works with Suspense already, and I’ve previously written about using Suspense to wait until images are loaded before displaying a UI in order to prevent content from shifting.

Don’t worry, we’ll get into all this.

What we’re building

We’ll build something slightly different than the examples of many other posts like this. Remember, Suspense is still in alpha, so your favorite data loading utility probably doesn’t have Suspense support just yet. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fake a few things and get an idea of how Suspense works.

Let’s build an infinite loading list that displays some data, combined with some Suspense-based preloaded images. We’ll display our data, along with a button to load more. As data renders, we’ll preload the associated image, and Suspend until it’s ready.

This use case is based on actual work I’ve done on my side project (again, don’t use Suspense in production—but side projects are fair game). I was using my own GraphQL client, and this post is motivated by some of the difficulties I ran into. We’ll just fake the data loading in order to keep things simple and focus on Suspense itself, rather than any individual data loading utility.

Let’s build!

Here’s the sandbox for our initial attempt. We’re going to use it to walk through everything, so don’t feel pressured to understand all the code right now.

Our root App component renders a Suspense boundary like this:

<Suspense fallback={<Fallback />}>

Whenever anything suspends (unless the state change happened in a useTransition call), the fallback is what renders. To make things easier to follow, I made this Fallback component turn the entire UI pink, that way it’s tough to miss; our goal is to understand Suspense, not to build a quality UI.

We’re loading the current chunk of data inside of our DataList component:

const newData = useQuery(param);

Our useQuery hook is hardcoded to return fake data, including a timeout that simulates a network request. It handles caching the results and throws a promise if the data is not yet cached.

We’re keeping (at least for now) state in the master list of data we’re displaying:

const [data, setData] = useState([]);

As new data comes in from our hook, we append it to our master list:

useEffect(() => {   setData((d) => d.concat(newData)); }, [newData]);

Lastly, when the user wants more data, they click the button, which calls this:

function loadMore() {   startTransition(() => {     setParam((x) => x + 1);   }); }

Finally, note that I’m using a SuspenseImg component to handle preloading the image I’m displaying with each piece of data. There are only five random images being displayed, but I’m adding a query string to ensure a fresh load for each new piece of data we encounter.

Recap

To summarize where we are at this point, we have a hook that loads the current data. The hook obeys Suspense mechanics, and throws a promise while loading is happening. Whenever that data changes, the running total list of items is updated and appended with the new items. This happens in useEffect. Each item renders an image, and we use a SuspenseImg component to preload the image, and suspend until it’s ready. If you’re curious how some of that code works, check out my prior post on preloading images with Suspense.

Let’s test

This would be a pretty boring blog post if everything worked, and don’t worry, it doesn’t. Notice how, on the initial load, the pink fallback screen shows and then quickly hides, but then is redisplayed.

When we click the button that’s loads more data, we see the inline loading indicator (controlled by the useTransition hook) flip to true. Then we see it flip to false, before our original pink fallback shows. We were expecting to never see that pink screen again after the initial load; the inline loading indicator was supposed to show until everything was ready. What’s going on?

The problem

It’s been hiding right here in plain sight the entire time:

useEffect(() => {   setData((d) => d.concat(newData)); }, [newData]);

useEffect runs when a state change is complete, i.e., a state change has finished suspending, and has been applied to the DOM. That part, “has finished suspending,” is key here. We can set state in here if we’d like, but if that state change suspends, again, that is a brand new suspension. That’s why we saw the pink flash on initial load, as well subsequent loads when the data finished loading. In both cases, the data loading was finished, and then we set state in an effect which caused that new data to actually render, and suspend again, because of the image preloads.

So, how do we fix this? On one level, the solution is simple: stop setting state in the effect. But that’s easier said than done. How do we update our running list of entries to append new results as they come in, without using an effect. You might think we could track things with a ref.

Unfortunately, Suspense comes with some new rules about refs, namely, we can’t set refs inside of a render. If you’re wondering why, remember that Suspense is all about React attempting to run a render, seeing that promise get thrown, and then discarding that render midway through. If we mutated a ref before that render was cancelled and discarded, the ref would still have that changed, but invalid value. The render function needs to be pure, without side effects. This has always been a rule with React, but it matters more now.

Re-thinking our data loading

Here’s the solution, which we’ll go over, piece by piece.

First, instead of storing our master list of data in state, let’s do something different: let’s store a list of pages we’re viewing. We can store the most recent page in a ref (we won’t write to it in render, though), and we’ll store an array of all currently-loaded pages in state.

const currentPage = useRef(0); const [pages, setPages] = useState([currentPage.current]);

In order to load more data, we’ll update accordingly:

function loadMore() {   startTransition(() => {     currentPage.current = currentPage.current + 1;     setPages((pages) => pages.concat(currentPage.current));   }); }

The tricky part, however, is turning those page numbers into actual data. What we certainly cannot do is loop over those pages and call our useQuery hook; hooks cannot be called in a loop. What we need is a new, non-hook-based data API. Based on a very unofficial convention I’ve seen in past Suspense demos, I’ll name this method read(). It is not going to be a hook. It returns the requested data if it’s cached, or throws a promise otherwise. For our fake data loading hook, no real changes were necessary; I simple copy-and-pasted the hook, then renamed it. But for an actual data loading utility library, authors will likely need to do some work to expose both options as part of their public API. In my GraphQL client referenced earlier, there is indeed both a useSuspenseQuery hook, and also a read() method on the client object.

With this new read() method in place, the final piece of our code is trivial:

const data = pages.flatMap((page) => read(page));

We’re taking each page, and requesting the corresponding data with our read() method. If any of the pages are uncached (which really should only be the last page in the list) then a promise is thrown, and React suspends for us. When the promise resolves, React attempts the prior state change again, and this code runs again.

Don’t let the flatMap call confuse you. That does the exact same thing as map except it takes each result in the new array and, if it itself is an array, “flattens” it.

The result

With these changes in place, everything works as we expected it to when we started. Our pink loading screen shows once on their initial load, then, on subsequent loads, the inline loading state shows until everything is ready.

Parting thoughts

Suspense is an exciting update that’s coming to React. It’s still in the alpha stages, so don’t try to use it anywhere that matters. But if you’re the kind of developer who enjoys taking a sneak peek at upcoming things, then I hope this post provided you some good context and info that’s useful when this releases.


The post React Suspense: Lessons Learned While Loading Data appeared first on CSS-Tricks. You can support CSS-Tricks by being an MVP Supporter.

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Introducing Svelte, and Comparing Svelte with React and Vue

Josh Collingsworth is clearly a big fan of Svelte, so while this is a fun and useful comparison article, it’s here to crown Svelte the winner all the way through.

A few things I find compelling:

One of the things I like most about Svelte is its HTML-first philosophy. With few exceptions, Svelte code is entirely browser-readable HTML and JavaScript. In fact, technically, you could call Svelte code as a small superset of HTML.

And:

Svelte is reactive by default. This means when a variable is reassigned, every place it’s used or referenced also updates automatically. (React and Vue both require you to explicitly initialize reactive variables.)

I do find the component format nice to look at, like how you just write HTML. You don’t even need a <template> around it, or to return anything. I imagine Astro took inspiration from this in how you can also just chuck a <style> tag in there and scope styles if you want. But I think I prefer how the “fenced” JavaScript at the top only runs during the build by default.


P.S. I really like Josh’s header/footer random square motif so I tried to reverse engineer it:

To Shared LinkPermalink on CSS-Tricks


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A Themeable React Data Grid With Great UX-Focused Features

(This is a sponsored post.)

KendoReact can save you boatloads of time because it offers pre-built componentry you can use in your app right away. They look nice, but more importantly, they are easily themeable, so they look however you need them to look. And I’d say the looks aren’t even the important part. There are lots of component libraries out there that focus on the visuals. These components tackle the hardest interactivity problems in UI/UX, and do it with grace, speed, and accessibility in mind.

Let’s take a look at their React Data Grid component.

The ol’ <table> element is the right tool for the job for data grids, but a table doesn’t offer most of the features that make for a good data browsing experience. If we use the KendoReact <Grid /> component (and friends), we get an absolute ton of extra features, any one of which is non-trivial to pull off nicely, and all together make for an extremely compelling solution. Let’s go through a list of what you get.

Sortable Columns

You’ll surely pick a default ordering for your data, but if any given row of data has things like ID’s, dates, or names, it’s perfectly likely that a user would want to sort the column by that data. Perhaps they want to view the oldest orders, or the orders of the highest total value. HTML does not help with ordering in tables, so this is table stakes (get it?!) for a JavaScript library for data grids, and it’s perfectly handled here.

Pagination and Limits

When you have any more than, say, a few dozen rows of data, it’s common that you want to paginate it. That way users don’t have to scroll as much, and equally importantly, it keeps the page fast by not making the DOM too enormous. One of the problems with pagination though is it makes things like sorting harder! You can’t just sort the 20 rows you can see, it is expected that the entire data set gets sorted. Of course that’s handled in KendoReact’s Data Grid component.

Or, if pagination isn’t your thing, the data grid offers virtualized scrolling — in both the column and row directions. That’s a nice touch as the data loads quickly for smooth, natural scrolling.

Expandable Rows

A data grid might have a bunch of data visible across the row itself, but there might be even more data that a user might want to dig out of an entry once they find it. Perhaps it is data that doesn’t need to be cross-referenced in the same way column data is. This can be tricky to pull off, because of the way table cells are laid out. The data is still associated with a single row, but you often need more room than the width of one cell offers. With the KendoReact Data Grid component, you can pass in a detail prop with an arbitrary React component to show when a row is expanded. Super flexible!

Notice how the expanded details can have their own <Grid /> inside!

Responsive Design

Perhaps the most notoriously difficult thing to pull off with <table> designs is how to display them on small screens. Zooming out isn’t very good UX, nor is collapsing the table into something non-table-like. The thing about data grids is that they are all different, and you’ll know data is most important to your users best. The KendoReact Data Grid component helps with this by making your data grid scrollable/swipeable, and also being able to lock columns to make sure they continue to be easy to find and cross-reference.

Filtering Data

This is perhaps my favorite feature just because of how UX-focused it is. Imagine you’re looking at a big data grid of orders, and you’re like “Let me see all orders from White Clover Markets.” With a filtering feature, perhaps you quickly type “clover” into the filter input, and viola, all those orders are right there. That’s extra tricky stuff when you’re also supporting ordering and pagination — so it’s great all these features work together.

Grouping Data

Now this feature actually blows my mind 🤯 a little bit. Filtering and sorting are both very useful, but in some cases, they leave a little bit to be desired. For example, it’s easy to filter too far too quickly, leaving the data you are looking at very limited. And with sorting, you might be trying to look at a subset of data as well, but it’s up to your brain to figure out where that data begins and ends. With grouping, you can tell the data grid to strongly group together things that are the most important to you, but then still leverage filtering and sorting on top of that. It instantly makes your data exploration easier and more useful.

Localization

This is where you can really tell KendoReact went full monty. It would be highly unfortunate to pick some kind of component library and then realize that you need localization and realize it wasn’t made to be a first-class citizen. You avoid all that with KendoReact, which you can see in this Data Grid component. In the demo, you can flip out English for Spanish with a simple dropdown and see all the dates localized. You pull off any sort of translation and localization with the <LocalizationProvider> and <IntlProvider>, both comfortable React concepts.

Exporting to PDF or Excel

Here’s a live demo of this:

C’mon now! That’s very cool.

That’s not all…

Go check out the docs for the React Data Grid. There are a bunch more features we didn’t even get to here (row pinning! cell editing!). And here’s something to ease your mind: this component, and all the KendoReact components, are keyboard friendly and meet Section 508 accessibility standards. That is no small feat. When components are this complex and involve this much interactivity, getting the accessibility right is tough. So not only are you getting good-looking components that work everywhere, you’re getting richly interactive components that deliver UX beyond what you might even think of, and it’s all done fast and accessiblty. That’s pretty unreal, really.


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Links on React and JavaScript II


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