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👻 Jotai - State Simply Managed

paolotiu
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Originally published at paolotiu.com Updated on ・4 min read

As I refine my stack more and more, one of the values I look for is simplicity.
Simplicity allows me to move quick and iterate much faster. Jotai provides that for me.

Why Jotai?

With so many state management libraries out there, why should Jotai even be considered?

Structure

Jotai structures state in a bottom-up approach which consists of atoms.
This is contrary to the way redux/zustand structures their state (a top-down approach).
Your preference may vary, but the way Jotai does it is more straightforward to me.

Top down versus bottom up

Setup

Using Jotai for the first time is quick --- very quick. Actually, let me show you.

First create a primitive atom

import { atom } from 'jotai';

const countAtom = atom(0);
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Then use that atom anywhere in your component

It works as you would expect useState to work.

import { countAtom } from '../jotai.ts'

function Counter() {
  const [count, setCount] = useAtom(countAtom)
  return (
    <h1>
      {count}
      <button onClick={() => setCount(c => c + 1)}>one up</button>
      // ...rest of code here
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Performance

Jotai was born to solve the extra re-render issue in React.
Though most of the time this won't be an issue when using any popular state management libraries, it's still good.

Benchmarks

This benchmark ran my machine with Ryzen 5 2600, Windows 11 Insiders Preview inside WSL2.
The write scores are low compared to the original benchmarks.
Most likely it's either because I'm running it inside WSL2, or its a machine difference.
To see the benchmarks ran on another machine go to this pull request.

type atoms ops/s
read 100 6 519 582
read 1000 6 524 333
read 10000 6 594 886
write 100 394 417
write 1000 400 393
write 10000 414 026

Extra

There are a few more things as to why you should consider Jotai.

  • Typescript oriented
  • No string keys needed
  • Lightweight (2.4kB minfied + gzipped)
  • The mascot (it's cute c'mon)

Getting Started

Atoms

Atoms are at the core of Jotai, the building blocks to create your state.
I think the docs says it best.

State in Jotai is a set of atoms. An atom is a piece of state. Unlike useState in React, atoms are not tied to specific components.

Primitive atoms

These atoms are as simple as it gets. Just pass an initial value.

import { atom } from 'jotai';

const countAtom = atom(0);
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Derived atoms

Derived atoms are atoms that depend on other atoms.
Whenever the atoms they depend on changes the value of these atoms also update.

There are three types of derived atoms:

  • Read-only atom
  • Write-only atom
  • Read-Write atom

To create a derived atom we must pass a read function and an optional write function.

const readOnlyAtom = atom((get) => get(countAtom) * 2);

const writeOnlyAtom = atom(
  null, // it's a convention to pass `null` for the first argument
  (get, set, update) => {
    // `update` is any single value we receive for updating this atom
    // It can be an object, string, int, etc.
    set(countAtom, get(countAtom) - update.value);
  }
);

const readWriteAtom = atom(
  (get) => get(countAtom) * 2,
  (get, set, newValue) => {
    set(countAtom, newValue / 2);
    // you can set as many atoms as you want at the same time
  }
);
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The get is used to read other atom values. It reacts to changes of its dependencies.

The set is used to write to write an atom value.
It will invoke the write function of the target atom.

Note

The value returned by the atom function doesn't hold any state.
It creates an atom config. We call these atoms, but it's important to know that these do not hold any state.
We'll see why in our next point.

Provider

Provider is used to provide state for a component subtree.
This means that we can use atoms in different locations, and they can have different values.
Providers can be used for multiple subtrees, even nested. It works just like the React Context would.

A Provider is not needed though, without it the atom will use default state it was defined with.

Here's an example for different Provider situations:

Edit Multiple Providers

Other Goodies

atomWithStorage

Jotai's minimalistic core API allows various utils to be built based on it.
My favorite is atomWithStorage.
It allows you to persist values in localStorage, sessionStorage, or for React Native AsyncStorage.
I find it to be perfect for theming.

The first parameter is the key within your chosen storage.

The second parameter is the initial value

import { useAtom } from 'jotai';
import { atomWithStorage } from 'jotai/utils';

const themeAtom = atomWithStorage<'dark' | 'light'>('theme', 'light');

const Page = () => {
  const [theme, setTheme] = useAtom(themeAtom);

  return (
    <>
      <h1>Welcome to {theme} mode!</h1>
      <button
        onClick={() =>
          setDarkMode((prev) => (prev === 'dark' ? 'light' : 'dark'))
        }
      >
        toggle theme
      </button>
    </>
  );
};
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Integrations

Jotai can integrate with other popular libraries.
Here are some notable ones:

Getting Async

Jotai has first-class support for async. It fully leverages React Suspense.
They have fantastic docs. Check it out!

Conclusion

Jotai is my choice for global state management. Pair it with react-query, and boom!
You have straightforward state management all throughout. Don't be fooled though, simple does not mean powerful.

How about you? What's your state management solution?
You can contact me any time if you have questions or just wanna chat!

For more tips and tricks you can follow me on twitter. I also have a newsletter if you're into that.

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