Debug Your React App, But Don't Die Trying: A How-To Guide

Debug Your React App, But Don't Die Trying: A How-To Guide

Debugging is a daily part of every developer's life. I usually go through a process when I encounter a bug that helps me move pretty quickly through issues.

There are so many weird things that happen when you're working on a React app. Sometimes you fix a bug in one place and it causes a bug in some seemingly unrelated area. It's like a game of whack-a-mole and you can approach it with a strategy.

Take advantage of all the browser tools

You might be able to quickly find the problem by looking at the network tab in the developer tools of your browser and notice an odd status code. You can also use the element tab to start tracking down DOM or event issues. Sometimes you can start by inspecting an element and that will show you the right source file to dig in.

With React in particular, installing the React Dev Tools in Chrome is a game-changer. You can look at the props of components, find out which components are nested inside of each other, and see if things are being rendered as you expect. Use these tools to give you a great place to start looking for an issue.

Once you've figured out which file is a good starting point, jump in there and start looking for anything unusual. Are there any states that aren't being updated? Is there a function that isn't being called as expected? Is there an unnecessary div that's throwing off your styles?

This is where the debugging effort can take you down the rabbit hole. Try and approach it as systematically as possible. If you found the method that's causing issues, start drilling in there. Spend some time looking in this place, but if you notice you're spending more than an hour there, it might be time to go down another rabbit hole.

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