React Split Components: A new way of Function Components without Hooks

1. The Problem of Function Components and Hooks

1. Why Function Components?

Why does React officially promote Functional Components? Class Components isn’t “unusable”.

Because Functional Components are more in line with React’s philosophy UI = f(state).

So Hooks came, bringing “internal variables” and “side effects” to Function Components, making them fully functional. it’s also a “logic sharing” solution.

2. The problem of Function Components

Because every time the function is called, all the internal variables are created again, which is a bit wrong in the development intuition.

UI = f(state) looks like a pure function, pass state and return UI.

Like cookedRice = electricCooker(rice), but if the electricCooker rebuilds its "circuit system" every time it cooks, it's counter-intuitive.

We hope that f is simply "cooking", and other functions are already "carried" instead of "create" every time.

3. The problem of Hooks

To solve the problem of re-creating variables, React provides useState, useCallback, useMemo, useRef.

State needs to be created with useState. For complex data types (function, array, object) passed to sub-components, use useCallback, useMemo to wrap (for large calculations, use useMemo too). To keep a variable, wrap it with useRef.

In the implementation of useEffect, useCallback and useMemo, there must be a thing called deps.

All the above makes Hooks very counter-intuitive to write. Don’t I just use a variable or a function, why do I have to wrap it?

Can’t be like Svelte?

2. Solve the Problem

1. The most intuitive UI = f(state):

function Demo(state) {
return <div>{state.count}</div>;
}

2. This is how React works:

function Demo(props) {
return <div>{props.count}</div>;
}

3. If the component needs to “carry” state and functions, instead of creating new ones each time, it cannot be written in the component:

let count = 0;
const onClick = () => {
count += 1;
};
function Demo() {
return <div onClick={onClick}>{count}</div>;
}

Writing separately destroys the unity, which is not good. Can the component not only hold external variables, but also write them in one function?

4. Naturally, we thought of closure (note that the component are returned internally):

function createDemo() {
let count = 0;
const onClick = () => {
count += 1;
};
return function Demo() {
return <div onClick={onClick}>{count}</div>;
};
}
const Demo = createDemo();

Now the onClick function will never be re-created, so no need to wrap it with useCallback. With closure, we successfully lifted the dependency on useCallback.

But closure has one problem: all component instances share one piece of data. Of course this is incorrect.

5. Solve the data sharing problem of closure, generate its own data for each component instance dynamically:

const create = (fn) => (props) => {
const [ins] = useState(() => fn());
return ins(props);
};
function demo() {
return () => <div />;
}
const Demo = create(demo);

So far, I’m actually finished… Huh? How to use this component?!

3. Make Abilities Complete

1. Solve useState and component update:

const create = (fn) => (props) => {
const [, setState] = useState(false);
const [ins] = useState(() => {
const atom = (initState) => {
return new Proxy(initState, {
get: (target, key) => target[key],
set: (target, key, val) => {
target[key] = val;
setState((s) => !s);
return true;
},
});
};
return fn({ atom });
});
return ins(props);
};
function demo({ atom }) {
const state = atom({
count: 0,
});
const onClick = () => {
state.count += 1;
};
return () => {
const { count } = state;
return (
<>
<h1>{count}</h1>
<button onClick={onClick}>Click me</button>
</>
);
};
}
const Demo = create(demo);

Use create function to pass in the responsive data generation function atom from the parameters, which can be used to generate the responsive state.

As a result, we successfully lifted the dependency on useState.

Above is already a usable component, try it here: codesandbox.io/s/react-split-components-1-ycw80

2. Solve useMemo, useRef, solve props:

function demo({ props, atom }) {
const state = atom({
count: 0,
power: () => state.count * state.count,
});
const countRef = { current: null }; const onClick = () => {
const { setTheme } = props;
setTheme();
state.count += 1;
console.log('countRef', countRef.current);
};
return () => {
const { theme } = props;
const { count, power } = state;
return (
<>
<h1>{theme}</h1>
<h1 ref={countRef}>{count}</h1>
<h1>{power}</h1>
<button onClick={onClick}>Click me</button>
</>
);
};
}
const Demo = create(demo);

Pass props implemented by Proxy from the function parameters.

Because variables are re-created every time, so wrap them with useMemo and useRef before, with closure, it is no longer needed, variables will never be re-created, and the component naturally hold the updated values of variables.

And the similar monitoring mechanism of useMemo, Proxycan be used to support computed data type inatom.

Therefore, we successfully lifted the dependence on useMemo and useRef.

Try the above code here: codesandbox.io/s/react-split-components-2-wl46b

3. Solve useEffect:

function demo({ atom, onMount, onEffect }) {
const state = atom({
loading: true,
data: null,
});
const getData = () => {
request().then((res) => {
state.data = res.data;
state.loading = false;
});
};
const onReload = () => {
state.loading = true;
getData();
};
onMount(() => {
console.log('mounted!');
getData();
});
onEffect(state.data, (val, prevVal) => {
console.log('state.data', val, prevVal);
});
return () => {
const { loading, data } = state;
return (
<>
<h1>{loading ? 'loading...' : JSON.stringify(data)}</h1>
<button onClick={onReload}>Reload data</button>
</>
);
};
}
const Demo = create(demo);

Pass onMount and onEffect from the function parameters.

onMount is called during mount with only one callback function parameter. onEffect has two parameters. The first is the data to be monitored. When the data changes, the callback function of the second parameter will be called.

Both onMount and onEffect support similar to useEffect to clean-up side effects (such as unsubscription) in the returned function.

onEffect only supports monitoring one single props.xxx or state.xxx, because props and state are responsive data, and the data in all callback functions can always be up-to-date, so there is no need to put in deps to receive update. Monitoring one single data can clearly indicate the source that "logic processing" relies on, thereby making the code clearer.

As a result, we successfully lifted the dependency on useEffect.

Try it here: codesandbox.io/s/react-split-components-3-zw6tk

Example of using onEffect to implement subscription: codesandbox.io/s/react-split-components-4-y8hn8

4. Other Hooks

So far, we have solved useState, useEffect, useCallback, useMemo, useRef, these are the most commonly used in development. There are 5 remaining official Hooks: useContext, useReducer, useImperativeHandle, useLayoutEffect, useDebugValue, I won't deal with them one by one.

4. Introducing React Split Components (RiC)

Just like Higher-Order Components, this design pattern needs a name.

Considering that closure splits “variables + logics” and “component code”, learning the naming style of React Server Components, I named it React Split Components, which can be abbreviated as RiC, the small i here is a good expression of the "split" feature (Mainly after searching, I found that RSC, RPC, RLC, RTC are all occupied. Oh, the "split" has only 5 letters.).

Features of React Split Components:

1. Remove the dependence on Hooks, but not purely Functional Components

Through closure, no Hooks are required to wrap. This allows React developers to free themselves from the “counter-intuition of Functional Components” and “cumbersomeness of Hooks” and write pure JS intuitive code similar with Svelte.

After all, closure is a natural feature of JS.

2. Only at the writing level, no need for ESLint support

In fact, when designing the implementation of useEffect, I thought of a way to use existing code: change useEffect(fn, deps) to watch(deps, fn). But if like this, the deps of watch will need an ESLint plugin to support (because Hooks deps needs plugin support, otherwise it will easy to make mistake).

If not necessary, do not add entity. We want to achieve as natural as possible, as simple as possible, as intuitive as possible.

3. Like High-Order Components, it’s a “design pattern”, not API, no lib needed

It’s not an official React API, doesn’t need to be support by building tools (such as React Server Components), doesn’t need 3rd-party lib support (create can be encapsulated to a npm package, but considering that everyone has different habits and needs, you can implement the helper function yourself, the above code can be a reference).

React Split Components final code demo: codesandbox.io/s/react-split-components-final-9ftjx

5. Hello, RiC

Look at React Split Components (RiC) example again:

function demo({ atom }) {
const state = atom({
count: 0,
});
const onClick = () => {
state.count += 1;
};
return () => {
const { count } = state;
return (
<>
<h1>{count}</h1>
<button onClick={onClick}>Click me</button>
</>
);
};
}
const Demo = create(demo);

GitHub: github.com/nanxiaobei/react-split-components

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