You Don’t Know useState Until You’ve Used Functional Updates

You Don’t Know useState Until You’ve Used Functional Updates

When we might need useState functional updates and how to use them

When we need to hold any state, useState is the most common solution in React nowadays. It returns the current state value and a method to update it:

const [state, setState] = useState(initialValue);

Most of the time, setState is used in a straightforward way when we call it with our desired state value passed as an argument: setState(newState).

It’s simple and sufficient in most cases.

However, it’s not the only way to modify the state with setState. In the React documentation about useState, there is a paragraph explaining a functional way to update the state: functional updates.

Basically, they let you pass a function to setState instead of a value. That function will receive the current state as the first parameter and the returned value will become a new state, like this:

setState(currentState => {
  const newState = modify(currentState);
  return newState;
});

When Might I Need to Use Functional Updates?

If we are operating in a synchronous environment, most of the time, a regular setState will be sufficient. It starts to get complicated when multiple pieces of the application share the state and we have to work with asynchronous functions (e.g. when making API requests).

In other words, when we call an asynchronous function and reach the point of calling setState, other variables that we calculate a new state from might already be outdated.

javascript react reactjs react-hook

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