7 React Best Practices Every Web Developer Should Follow

React…the most popular library of Javascript for building user interfaces. For developers, this library is one of the favorite libraries to build any kind of beautiful applications. Learning React might be easy for you. You start using React and you start developing an application. You create one component to build some features and then another for some other feature. When your application starts growing either you add a few lines in the existing component or you just create one more component. This goes on and if you won’t pay attention to these components or the codes you have written then you may end up with a lot of messy code in your application. You will find some code is redundant, some components are not reusable, few components have too many lines of code and a lot of issues there. Later it will be difficult to maintain the project. 

7-React-Best-Practices-Every-Web-Developer-Should-Follow

Well, React is easy to learn but if you won’t follow some best practices then you will and up like a scenario given above. It will be tough for another developer as well to work on the same application. In this blog let’s discuss some tips and best practices to write better React code in your application. 
 

1. File Organization

Most of the beginners make mistake in organizing the file properly in React application. A proper structure of folders and files is not just important in the React app but also in other applications. It helps in understanding the flow of the project and adding other features in the application. The file structure of create-react-app is one possible way of organizing the files, but when the applications grow rapidly, it becomes a little bit difficult task. 

Create an asset folder to keep your top-level CSS, images, and font files. You can create a helper folder to put other files for any kind of file for functionalities. Maintain one folder to keep all the components of your React project. Also, maintain the subfolder for minor components used by any large component. It will be easier to understand the file hierarchy if you keep large components in their own folder and the small components that are used by the components in a subfolder. 



In React, index.js is the main entry point used by developers but it becomes difficult to navigate once you have several files, all named index.js. In this situation, you can add a package.json file to each of your components folders and you can set the main entry point for this corresponding folder. It’s not the good practice to add pacjkage.json file in each folder but it will be easy to handle the files. 

Example:  A component Tags.js can be declared as an entry point as the code given below… 
 

{
"main": 'Tags.js'
}

 

2. Keep Your Components Small

React works on the components’ reusability principle. Try to maintain and write smaller components instead of putting everything into a single massive component. Small size components are easy to read, easy to update, easy to debug, maintain, and reuse. Now the question is how big a component should be? Take a look at your render method. If it has more than 10 lines your component is probably too big. Try to refactor the code and split the components into smaller ones. In React, a component should only be responsible for one functionality (single responsibility principle). You can create smaller and reusable components when you follow this principle. This way everyone can work easily on your application. 
 

3. Use Functional Components

A lot of beginners get confused about whether they should create a Class component or functional component. If you aren’t using the life cycle method or component state then it’s efficient to write functional components. Functional components are much easier to read and test because they are plain JavaScript functions without state or life cycle-hooks. Some of the advantages are as follows:

  • Fewer lines of code and better performance
  • Easier to read, easy to understand and easy to test.
  • No need to use ‘this’ binding.
  • Easier to extract smaller components.

Class Component 
 

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import React, { Component } from 'react';
  
class Button extends Component {
  render() {
    const { children, color, onClick } = this.props;
    return (
      <button onClick={onClick} className={`Btn ${color}`}>
        {children}
      </button>
    );
  }
}
  
export default Button;

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Functional Component 
 

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import React from 'react';
  
export default function Button({ children, color, onClick }) {
  return (
    <button onClick={onClick} className={`Btn ${color}`}>
      {children}
    </button>
  );
}

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There is one problem with functional component i.e developers have no control over the re-rendering process. When something changes React will re-render the functional component even if the component changes itself. In the former version, the solution was Pure component. PureComponent allows shallow props and state comparison which means React “test” if the content of the component, props, or the component itself has changed. The Component will re-render when props or content of the component or component itself changed. Otherwise, it will skip re-rendering and reuse the last rendered result instead. 

The above problem was solved when a new feature memo was introduced with the release of React v16.6.0. Memo performs shallow prop comparison to the functional component. It checks if the content of the component, props, or the component itself has changed. Based on the comparison react will either reuse last rendered result or re-render. Memo allowed developers to create “pure” functional components and eliminated the use of stateful components or pure components.
 

4. Don’t Use Indexes as a Key Prop

A lot of developers use the index as a value for a key prop. Adding a key prop to the element is required when you create an array of JSX elements. This is commonly done when you use a map() or some other iterator or loop. This is another bad practice in React. React uses the key property to track each element in the array and due to the collapsing nature of an array. This can easily result in the wrong information being rendered in the wrong place. This is especially apparent when looping through class components with the state. 
The key props are used for identification and it determines what should be rendered or re-rendered. React does not spend time rendering duplicates. So when you have two elements with the same keys React sees them as the same and this can cause some elements to be eliminated.
 

5. Don’t Use Props in Initial State

Using props in the initial state is another bad practice in React. Why? because the constructor is called only once, at the time when the component is created. Next time if you make any changes to the props, the component state will remain the same as the previous value and it won’t be updated. This problems can be fixed by using react life cycle method componentDidUpdate. This method allows you to update the component when props change. Keep in mind that this method won’t be invoked on the initial render so make sure you initialize component state with necessary values probably fetched from props. After that use this method to update those values, and the component, as you need.
 

6. Initialize Component State Without Class Constructor

Most of the developer initializing the component state with with the class constructor which is very common in React. It’s not that much bad practice but it increases the redundancy in your code and creates some performance issue. When you initialize state in the constructor you need to remember about props and you need to call super with props. It also increases the number of lines in your code and creates a performance issue. You can initialize state with class fields instead of initializing state in the constructor. This practice in React helps you reduce noise in your code. Take a look at the code given below and compare both of them. 
 

State Initialize in Constructor 
 

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// Import React library
import React from 'react'
// Create React component
class MyComponent extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props)
    // Initialize component State
    this.state = {
      count: 0
    }
  }
  ...
}

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State Initialize with Class Field 
 

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// Import React library
import React from 'react'
// Create React component
class MyComponent extends React.Component {
  // Initialize component State
  state = {
    count: 0
  }
  ...
}

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7. Reduce The Use of Stateful Components

As the name suggest stateful component store component’s state information and provide necessary context. On the other hand, stateless components have no memory and it doesn’t provide any context. Stateless components require less code to be executed than stateful components. This increases the performance of the application. So reducing the use of stateful components in React is one of the best practices to follow. 

With the release of React 16.8.0 a new feature ‘React Hooks‘ was introduced. This feature helps in writing stateful functional components and it obliterates the use of class components. This new feature is really helpful when the project grows. Earlier we just had one option in React to use state and life cycle method i.e. writing stateful components. Hooks changed this and now developers are no longer bounded to stateful components because they needed to use state. 
 

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