Top 10 Custom React Hooks you Should Have in Your Toolbox

Top 10 Custom React Hooks you Should Have in Your Toolbox

In this article, we'll discuss some cool stuff related to Custom Hooks

In this article, we'll discuss some cool stuff related to Custom Hooks

The custom hooks you should probably have in your arsenal

Hooks came and conquered React and shook the whole developer community. Scrolling down your twitter feed without noticing the word hooks is a rare occasion these days. And by this day, I hope you have accepted your fate and have adopted them in your codebase.

Have these thoughts ever crossed your mind when you are done with a code segment?

How can this code be optimized?🤔> How can this code be optimized?🤔> How can this code be optimized?🤔
Of course, they did and so came Custom hooks to our rescue. You probably know what are custom hooks and chances are you might have written them if you haven’t do check out my previous article where I teach the art of writing them.

I prefer fewer keystrokes rather than overwriting the monotonous and repetitive code.

How can this code be optimized?🤔
It can be pretty gruesome writing custom hooks every time we encounter a different problem. Sure, it’s challenging and I know you love to encounter them, but there can be times that you are running short on time or have some deadlines that you have to keep up with.

But thanks to our awesome and nerdy React community that we have already been blessed with thousands of these hooks. It’s up to us to use them to their full potential and that is what this post is for, to make you aware of these wonderful hooks that every developer should have in his arsenal.

Without any further ado, let’s get into what you are here for.

1. useArray hook

Array manipulation is what a dev goes through every weekday. Adding elements to an array or removing an element at a given index is a daily routine for us. useArray reduces this burden by providing us with various array manipulation methods. This hook is a part of the react-hanger package.

Installation:-

yarn add react-hanger

Including it in our file is super easy:

import {useArray} from 'react-hanger'

Usage:

Building a todo list was never this simple. We provide the array in the hook and get access to these methods and array in the todos object below.

useArray hook

I have discussed its implementation in my previous article.

For a much detail look into the hook, you can check out the Bit component or the GitHub repo.

2. react-use-form-state hook

Forms are everywhere, even in the smallest of applications we have to encounter forms and manage their state. Managing form state in React can be a bit unwieldy sometimes.

react-use-form-state is a small React Hook that attempts to simplify managing form state, using the native form input elements you are familiar with.

Installation:

npm i react-use-form-state

Usage:

useFormState hook

formState has a structure like this:

{
  "values": {
    "name": "Mary Poppins",
    "email": "[email protected]",
    "password": "1234",
    "plan": "free",
  },
  "validity": {
    "name": true,
    "email": true,
    "password": false,
    "plan": true,
  },
  "touched": {
    "name": true,
    "email": true,
    "password": true,
    "plan": true,
  }
}

It’s a much efficient way to keep track of the state of the form. There is more to it so please check out the docs.

For a much detail look into the hook, you can check out the Bit component or the GitHub repo.

3. react-fetch-hook

Making ajax calls is like the most basic and most performed task for a frontend developer. And the React community is quick enough to create a hook for this purpose too.

Installation:

npm i react-fetch-hook

Usage:

useFetch hook

Not much to say, useFetch hook gets us the data and the isLoading state.

We can also provide the required options object to the hook.

Options provided to the hook

For a much detailed look, you can check out the Bit component or the GitHub repo.

4. useMedia hook

useMedia is a React sensor hook that tracks the state of a CSS media query. We all know the importance of the media queries and how much important is responsiveness for any site.

Usage:

useQuery hook

An object is provided to the hook, which returns a boolean response.

For a much detailed look, you can check out the Bit component or the GitHub repo.

5. react-useportal hook

React Portals provide a first-class way to render children into a DOM node that exists outside the DOM hierarchy of the parent component. And this hook helps us do that.

Installation:

yarn add react-useportal

Usage:

usePortal hook

This is pretty easy to use. This hook provides us with two methods openPortal and closePortal (one opens the portal and another close it), one boolean value isOpen to show the status of the portal and a component to wrap the content of the portal. There is a lot to this hook, so do check out the docs.

For a much detail look into the hook, you can check out the Bit component or the GitHub repo.

6. react-firebase-hooks

We all appreciate the greatness of firebase and use it a lot in our projects, whether its for authentication or storage. And this hook is the one we really need.

Installation:

npm i react-firebase-hooks

Usage:

Below is the useAuthState hook, for authentication.

useAuthState hook

The hook wraps around the firebase.auth().onAuthStateChange() method to ensure that it is always up to date.

Parameters: auth: firebase.auth.Auth

Returns: AuthStateHook containing:

  • initialising: If the listener is still waiting for the user to be loaded
  • user: The firebase.User, or null, if no user is logged in

For a much detailed look, you can check out the useAuthState Bit component or the GitHub repo.

7. use-onClickOutside hook

An outside click is a way to know if the user clicks everything but a specific component. You may have seen this behavior when opening a dropdown menu or a modal or a dropdown list.

Usage:

useOnClickOutside hook

We provide the modal or component nodes to the ref and pass the ref inside our hook. If there is a click outside this modal then the close function runs.

For a much detailed look, you can check out the Bit component or the GitHub repo.

8. useIntersectionObserver hook

A React hook for using intersection observers.

The Intersection Observer API provides a way to asynchronously observe changes in the intersection of a target element with an ancestor element or with a top-level document’s viewport.

Installation:

npm i react-use-intersection-observer

Usage:

useIntersectionObserver hook

For a much detailed look, you can check out the Bit component or the GitHub repo.

9. use-location hook

The name says it all, this hook is used for getting the location of the browser.

Usage:

This hook is super useful and super easy to use:

useLocation

Check out the hook in much more detail with the Bit component, here.

10. use-redux hook

This one is for my redux readers. This hook returns the store and dispatch property.

Installation:

yarn add use-redux

Usage:

useRedux hook

The dispatch method is responsible for firing actions that cause changes in the store. There is a lot more to this so do check out the docs.

For a much detailed look, you can check out the Bit component or the GitHub repo.

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed some cool stuff related to Custom Hooks. Hope you liked this article and learned something new. Please feel free to comment and ask anything.

I am pretty sure I missed out a lot of great custom hooks that are dwelling out there, so do tell me in the comment section what I missed :)

Thanks for reading 🙏 💖.

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JavaScript developers should you be using Web Workers?

JavaScript developers should you be using Web Workers?

Do you think JavaScript developers should be making more use of Web Workers to shift execution off of the main thread?

Originally published by David Gilbertson at https://medium.com

So, Web Workers. Those wonderful little critters that allow us to execute JavaScript off the main thread.

Also known as “no, you’re thinking of Service Workers”.

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

Before I get into the meat of the article, please sit for a lesson in how computers work:

Understood? Good.

For the red/green colourblind, let me explain. While a CPU is doing one thing, it can’t be doing another thing, which means you can’t sort a big array while a user scrolls the screen.

This is bad, if you have a big array and users with fingers.

Enter, Web Workers. These split open the atomic concept of a ‘CPU’ and allow us to think in terms of threads. We can use one thread to handle user-facing work like touch events and rendering the UI, and different threads to carry out all other work.

Check that out, the main thread is green the whole way through, ready to receive and respond to the gentle caress of a user.

You’re excited (I can tell), if we only have UI code on the main thread and all other code can go in a worker, things are going to be amazing (said the way Oprah would say it).

But cool your jets for just a moment, because websites are mostly about the UI — it’s why we have screens. And a lot of a user’s interactions with your site will be tapping on the screen, waiting for a response, reading, tapping, looking, reading, and so on.

So we can’t just say “here’s some JS that takes 20ms to run, chuck it on a thread”, we must think about where that execution time exists in the user’s world of tap, read, look, read, tap…

I like to boil this down to one specific question:

Is the user waiting anyway?

Imagine we have created some sort of git-repository-hosting website that shows all sorts of things about a repository. We have a cool feature called ‘issues’. A user can even click an ‘issues’ tab in our website to see a list of all issues relating to the repository. Groundbreaking!

When our users click this issues tab, the site is going to fetch the issue data, process it in some way — perhaps sort, or format dates, or work out which icon to show — then render the UI.

Inside the user’s computer, that’ll look exactly like this.

Look at that processing stage, locking up the main thread even though it has nothing to do with the UI! That’s terrible, in theory.

But think about what the human is actually doing at this point. They’re waiting for the common trio of network/process/render; just sittin’ around with less to do than the Bolivian Navy.

Because we care about our users, we show a loading indicator to let them know we’ve received their request and are working on it — putting the human in a ‘waiting’ state. Let’s add that to the diagram.

Now that we have a human in the picture, we can mix in a Web Worker and think about the impact it will have on their life:

Hmmm.

First thing to note is that we’re not doing anything in parallel. We need the data from the network before we process it, and we need to process the data before we can render the UI. The elapsed time doesn’t change.

(BTW, the time involved in moving data to a Web Worker and back is negligible: 1ms per 100 KB is a decent rule of thumb.)

So we can move work off the main thread and have a page that is responsive during that time, but to what end? If our user is sitting there looking at a spinner for 600ms, have we enriched their experience by having a responsive screen for the middle third?

No.

I’ve fudged these diagrams a little bit to make them the gorgeous specimens of graphic design that they are, but they’re not really to scale.

When responding to a user request, you’ll find that the network and DOM-manipulating part of any given task take much, much longer than the pure-JS data processing part.

I saw an article recently making the case that updating a Redux store was a good candidate for Web Workers because it’s not UI work (and non-UI work doesn’t belong on the main thread).

Chucking the data processing over to a worker thread sounds sensible, but the idea struck me as a little, umm, academic.

First, let’s split instances of ‘updating a store’ into two categories:

  1. Updating a store in response to a user interaction, then updating the UI in response to the data change
  2. Not that first one

If the first scenario, a user taps a button on the screen — perhaps to change the sort order of a list. The store updates, and this results in a re-rendering of the DOM (since that’s the point of a store).

Let me just delete one thing from the previous diagram:

In my experience, it is rare that the store-updating step goes beyond a few dozen milliseconds, and is generally followed by ten times that in DOM updating, layout, and paint. If I’ve got a site that’s taking longer than this, I’d be asking questions about why I have so much data in the browser and so much DOM, rather than on which thread I should do my processing.

So the question we’re faced with is the same one from above: the user tapped something on the screen, we’re going to work on that request for hopefully less than a second, why would we want to make the screen responsive during that time?

OK what about the second scenario, where a store update isn’t in response to a user interaction? Performing an auto-save, for example — there’s nothing more annoying than an app becoming unresponsive doing something you didn’t ask it to do.

Actually there’s heaps of things more annoying than that. Teens, for example.

Anyhoo, if you’re doing an auto-save and taking 100ms to process data client-side before sending it off to a server, then you should absolutely use a Web Worker.

In fact, any ‘background’ task that the user hasn’t asked for, or isn’t waiting for, is a good candidate for moving to a Web Worker.

The matter of value

Complexity is expensive, and implementing Web Workers ain’t cheap.

If you’re using a bundler — and you are — you’ll have a lot of reading to do, and probably npm packages to install. If you’ve got a create-react-app app, prepare to eject (and put aside two days twice a year to update 30 different packages when the next version of Babel/Redux/React/ESLint comes out).

Also, if you want to share anything fancier than plain data between a worker and the main thread you’ve got some more reading to do (comlink is your friend).

What I’m getting at is this: if the benefit is real, but minimal, then you’ve gotta ask if there’s something else you could spend a day or two on with a greater benefit to your users.

This thinking is true of everything, of course, but I’ve found that Web Workers have a particularly poor benefit-to-effort ratio.

Hey David, why you hate Web Workers so bad?

Good question.

This is a doweling jig:

I own a doweling jig. I love my doweling jig. If I need to drill a hole into the end of a piece of wood and ensure that it’s perfectly perpendicular to the surface, I use my doweling jig.

But I don’t use it to eat breakfast. For that I use a spoon.

Four years ago I was working on some fancy animations. They looked slick on a fast device, but janky on a slow one. So I wrote fireball-js, which executes a rudimentary performance benchmark on the user’s device and returns a score, allowing me to run my animations only on devices that would render them smoothly.

Where’s the best spot to run some CPU intensive code that the user didn’t request? On a different thread, of course. A Web Worker was the correct tool for the job.

Fast forward to 2019 and you’ll find me writing a routing algorithm for a mapping application. This requires parsing a big fat GeoJSON map into a collection of nodes and edges, to be used when a user asks for directions. The processing isn’t in response to a user request and the user isn’t waiting on it. And so, a Web Worker is the correct tool for the job.

It was only when doing this that it dawned on me: in the intervening quartet of years, I have seen exactly zero other instances where Web Workers would have improved the user experience.

Contrast this with a recent resurgence in Web Worker wonderment, and combine that contrast with the fact that I couldn’t think of anything else to write about, then concatenate that combined contrast with my contrarian character and you’ve got yourself a blog post telling you that maybe Web Workers are a teeny-tiny bit overhyped.

Thanks for reading

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Further reading

An Introduction to Web Workers

JavaScript Web Workers: A Beginner’s Guide

Using Web Workers to Real-time Processing

How to use Web Workers in Angular app

Using Web Workers with Angular CLI


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