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JavaScript React

Using the React State Hook

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React is a library for creating frontend views. It has a big ecosystem of libraries that work with it. Also, we can use it to enhance existing apps.

In this article, we’ll look at how to use the state hook to keep dynamic states in a function component.

Using the State Hook

We can use the React.useState method to create a state with a corresponding function to change the state.

For example, we can write the following code to add a hook to our app:

import React from "react";  
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";
function App() {  
  const[count, setCount] = React.useState(0); 
  return (  
    <div>  
      <button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>Count {count}</button>  
    </div>  
  );  
}

In the code above, we have the React.useState hook with the default 0 passed in. It returns an array with the state, which we called count, and a function to set the state, which is called setCount.

Then in the onClick handler of the button, we can the setCount function to update the count.

Equivalent Class Example

The example above would be the same as the following class:

class App extends React.Component {  
  constructor(props) {  
    super(props);  
    this.state = {  
      count: 0  
    };  
  } 

  render() {  
    return (  
      <div>  
        <button onClick={() => this.setState({ count: this.state.count + 1 })}>  
          Count: {this.state.count}  
        </button>  
      </div>  
    );  
  }  
}

In the code above, we have this.state initialized in the constructor with count 0. Then in the button we pass in a click event handler that calls setState to update the count state by incrementing it by 1.

Therefore, this.setState({ count: this.state.count + 1 }) is the same as setCount(count + 1) and count is the same as this.state.count.

Hooks and Function Components

A function component looks like:

const App = props => <p>foo</p>;

or:

function App(props) {  
  return <p>foo</p>;  
}

They were previously known as stateless components. However, now that React has hooks, they can keep their own state. Therefore, they should be called function components.

What’s a Hook?

A hook is a special function that lets us hook into React features. useState in the example above is a hook that lets us add React state to function components.

Declaring a State Variable

useState declares a state variable. In the example above, we have a variable called count but we can call it anything else.

useState has the same capabilities as this.state that we had in a class.

Variables disappear when the function exists but state variables are preserved by React.

The only argument for useState is the initial state. The state doesn’t have to be an object unlike classes.

We can have any type of data as the initial state.

If we want to store multiple values in state, then we’ll call useState for each kind of data.

useState always gives us the current state. It’s not only for creating the initial state.

Reading State

In the example, that we had:

import React from "react";  
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";
function App() {  
  const [count, setCount] = React.useState(0); 
  return (  
    <div>  
      <button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>Count {count}</button>  
    </div>  
  );  
}

We get the current state from count returned by useState .

Updating State

Instead of calling this.setState like we do in class components, we call the setCount function directly.

Therefore, we don’t have to worry about the value of this .

What Do Square Brackets Mean?

The square brackets in:

const [count, setCount] = React.useState(0);

is the destructuring assignment operation, which means that values from an array are assigned to variables depending on the position.

The first element is assigned to the first variable, the second is assigned to the second variable, etc.

const [count, setCount] = React.useState(0);

is the same as:

const countState = React.useState(0);  
const count = countState[0];  
const setCount = countState[1];

Using Multiple State Variables

We will call useState as many times as we need to use multiple state variables.

For example, we can write:

function App() {  
  const [count, setCount = React.useState(0);  
  const [foo] = React.useState({ text: "bar" });  
  return (  
    <div>  
      <button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>Count {count}</button>  
      <p>{foo.text}</p>  
    </div>  
  );

In the code above, we have 2 calls to useState to create 2 states, count and foo .

States can have object values, so we don’t have to create too many states.

Conclusion

We can use the useState hook to get and set dynamic states in a function component.

It returns the current state and a function to update the state in an array.

Then we can use them directly to display data and call the returned function to update the state.

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