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Christina Gorton
Christina Gorton

Posted on • Updated on

React Hooks: useState

This week Lambda students are learning React! One area where students have been confused is what is useState?

I have been married for 12 years. An age old relationship problem is deciding what to eat. 😂
Making sure you are the first to ask "What do you want for dinner?" So you don't have to decide.

So I created a simple food app to help my husband and I decide what we should have for dinner. And to help you all understand useState 🎉

I'll be referencing this CodeSandBox throughout the article.

Edit jsx-demo

What is useState?

useState is a Hook that lets you add React state to function components.
Here we declare a new state variable, which I called "activeFood"

const [activeFood, setActiveFood] = useState(0);
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Side Note
The JavaScript syntax above is called “array destructuring”.
It means that we’re making two new variables activeFood and setActiveFood, where activeFood is set to the first value returned by useState, and setActiveFood is the second.

It is equivalent to this code:

  var foodStateVariable = useState(0); // Returns a pair
  var activeFood = foodStateVariable[0]; // First item in a pair
  var stActiveFood= foodStateVariable[1]; // Second item in a pair
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So what does useState do?

In this instance it is declaring a "state variable" which we named activeFood. Like any variable we could name it whatever we wanted.
In React state variables are preserved. They do not vanish like they normally would when a function exits.

What do we pass to useState as an argument?

Per the React Docs:
The only argument to the useState() Hook is the initial state. Unlike with classes, the state doesn’t have to be an object.

Here we pass 0 as initial state for our variable.

What does useState return?

It returns a pair of values: the current state (our variable activeFood) and a function that updates it (setActFood). This is why we write const [activeFood, setActiveFood] = useState(0); In this app I use another function randomFood to randomize setActiveFood when the user clicks the button.

Let's review what I've done.

Line 1: We import the useState Hook from React. It lets us keep local state in a function component.

Line 36: Inside the Card component, we declare a new state variable by calling the useState Hook.
It returns a pair of values, to which we give names.
We’re calling our variable activeFood because it is the food that will be displayed.
We initialize it to zero by passing 0 as the only useState argument.
The second returned item is itself a function. It lets us update the activeFood so we’ll name it setActiveFood.

Line 48: When the user clicks, we call our function randomFood which randomizes our setActiveFood function. React will then re-render the Card component, passing the new activeFood value to it.

Top comments (2)

wboakye profile image
William Boakye • Edited

Very clear and well written. Had do mention this post on Twitter. 😊

coffeecraftcode profile image
Christina Gorton

Thank you! Should have another on useEffect soon.