re: React Beginner Question Thread ⚛ VIEW POST

FULL DISCUSSION
 

Is there a shift to make the React API more functional and less class-based? Why are classes a good choice for current lifecycle and state implementation?

 

When we use state and lifecycle methods, the component identity becomes important. On a form with two buttons, two instances of a Button component are independent because each has its own state, and may mount, update, or unmount at different times.

For better or worse, classes are how the vast majority of people think of “identity” in JavaScript (and many other languages). You can design your own bespoke system that creates objects through factories, uses prototypical inheritance directly and whatnot, but you’ll most likely end up with something that feels a lot like using classes. Except that it’s a dialect nobody else is familiar with so you have to educate your users about your pseudo-class system (and maintain it). This is basically why went away from the createClass() helper. We’re in a business of UI libraries, not class abstractions. Sebastian goes into this here: youtu.be/4anAwXYqLG8?t=21m33s.

We might not want to keep using classes forever though. They have their own problems (and I don’t mean stylistic ones). Our two big directions to explore in 2018 are async rendering and compilation. Classes make both of them harder because you can put any field on the this instance and mutate it at any given time. For async rendering, this is a problem because changes can be “stashed” and “reapplied” later (much like Git) but React only knows what to do with props and state rather than arbitrary objects you put on the instance. For compilation, this is a problem because classes are too hard to “fold” statically because you can just do too many things in a class.

So, considering these real issues, we might introduce a different, more functional API for components in the future. However, it is important that it will be informed by actual problems we experience with classes, and not just a stylistic or dogmatic preference.

 

Oooh acync rendering and compilation both seem exciting.

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