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Do you need to use the Vue Composition API?

If you're keeping up with the Vue ecosystem, you'll likely know that Vue 3 is currently in pre-alpha, and coming with it is the new Composition API. This is a new optional syntax for writing "composition functions" -- functions that can easily be reused between components.

Current ways to reuse code in Vue

Vue 2 supports a few ways to reuse code between components;

  • Mixins
  • Renderless components
  • Higher-order components

These methods of reuse each come with their own drawbacks, namely:

  • Unclear where component options are coming from (mixins)
  • Namespace clashes (higher-order components, mixins)
  • Performance costs (higher-order components, renderless components)

Composition API to the rescue

The Composition API aims to solve these issues by offering a mechanism for logic reuse that doesn't encounter these issues. Re-usable code can be extracted into "composition functions", which any component can then use within the new setup component option.

  • Unclear component options are no longer an issue because any properties exposed to the template are now returned from an explicit call to a composition function

  • Namespace clashes are no longer an issue because you can assign any name you like to both the composition functions and their return values

  • Performance costs are reduced because no unnecessary component instances are created for logic reuse

Do you need to use it?

If we take a look at the issues with the current API that we listed above, we'll notice that these are only prominent in larger projects, which make heavy use of the code reuse patterns. In small to medium size projects, these issues are often not a problem.

The Composition API was built with these large-scale projects in mind, where components get extremely large and contain multiple features that become difficult to reason about.

So do you need to use the Composition API for smaller projects? Probably not. That being said, I do believe that there are some benefits to using it in small to medium size projects, those being readability and type-checking.

The Composition API improves the readability of Vue code by making it obvious where the properties exposed on the template come from. If you want to know where a property comes from you can trace it back to the composition function that declared it in the setup method. You can then scope your focus to the contents of that composition function, making it much easier to reason about what you are reading.

Type inference is another great benefit of the Composition API. Vue 3 is being written in TypeScript, and first-class support for the new API is being added to the Vetur VS Code extension. This will add a nice boost to developer experience, since even JavaScript users will be able to benefit from type-checking.

Closing Thoughts

Personally I am quite a big fan of the Composition API, hence why I am writing about it. I think however that you should not immediately rewrite your app using the new API. If and when you do start to migrate your app, you should definitely take advantage of the fact that the new API is purely additive and is able to be used seamlessly with the current API to slowly migrate parts of your app that suffer from the re-usability issues that the Composition API aims to solve.

What are your thoughts?

Top comments (3)

seangwright profile image
Sean G. Wright

How do you feel about the option to backport the composition API to existing Vue 2 apps using the official npm package?

I like the composition API a lot as well, and I especially love the ability to organize code based on feature, not based on what part of the Vue component DSL you need to add your functionality in (method vs data vs computed, ect...).

brattonross profile image

I've spent a bit of time playing with it so far and enjoyed using it. It seems like currently since the Vue 3 release is still in pre-alpha, the team aren't committing too much time to it. I'm hoping that once Vue 3 is officially released we'll see the Vue 2 plugin updated as well.

The organization of code by logical concern is something that I'm looking forward to as well!

avxkim profile image
Alexander Kim

Have you tried class API style? I am liking class API more than options and composition API, tbh.