How to Debug React Components using React Developer Tools

How to Debug React Components using React Developer Tools

This tutorial begins by installing the React Developer Tools browser extension. You’ll then build a text analyzer as a test application, which will take a block of text and display information such as word count, character count, and character usage. Finally, you will use React Developer Tools to explore the text analyzer’s components and keep track of the changing props and context. The examples will use the Chrome browser, but you can also use the plugin for Firefox. How to Debug React Components using React Developer Tools

Introduction

Since React apps are made to scale and grow quickly, it’s easy for subtle bugs to infiltrate your code. The  React Developer Tools browser extension can help you track down these bugs by giving you more insight into the current  state for each  component. React Developer Tools gives you an interface for exploring the React component tree along with the current  props, state, and  context for individual components. React Developer Tools also lets you determine which components are re-rendering and can generate graphs to show how long individual components take to render. You can use this information to track down inefficient code or to optimize data-heavy components.

This tutorial begins by installing the React Developer Tools browser extension. You’ll then build a text analyzer as a test application, which will take a block of text and display information such as word count, character count, and character usage. Finally, you will use React Developer Tools to explore the text analyzer’s components and keep track of the changing props and context. The examples will use the  Chrome browser, but you can also use the plugin for  Firefox.

By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to start using the React Developer Tools to debug and explore any React project.

Prerequisites

  • To use the Chrome React Developer Tools extension, you will need to download and install the  Google Chrome web browser or the open-source  Chromium web browser. You can also following along using the  React Developer Tools FireFox plugin for the  FireFox web browser.
  • You will need a development environment running  Node.js; this tutorial was tested on Node.js version 10.22.0 and npm version 6.14.6. To install this on macOS or Ubuntu 18.04, follow the steps in  How to Install Node.js and Create a Local Development Environment on macOS or the Installing Using a PPA section of  How To Install Node.js on Ubuntu 18.04.
  • A React development environment set up with  Create React App. To set this up, follow Step 1 — Creating an Empty Project  of the How To Manage State on React Class Components tutorial, which will remove the non-essential boilerplate. This tutorial will use debug-tutorial as the project name.
  • You will be using React components and Hooks in this tutorial, including the useState and context Hooks. You can learn about components and Hooks in our tutorials  How To Create Custom Components in React,  How To Manage State with Hooks on React Components, and  How To Share State Across React Components with Context.
  • You will also need a basic knowledge of JavaScript and HTML, which you can find in our  How To Build a Website with HTML series and in  How To Code in JavaScript. Basic knowledge of CSS would also be useful, which you can find at the  Mozilla Developer Network.

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