Component Composition

This sample gives a basic example of refactoring the Hello World application by composing the UI with modular components.

Source Code

https://github.com/charleslbryant/hello-react-and-typescript/releases/tag/0.0.7

src/helloworld.tsx

/// <reference path="../typings/tsd.d.ts" />

import * as React from 'react';
import HelloForm from './helloform';
import HelloContent from './hellocontent';

export default class HelloWorld extends React.Component<any, any> {
    constructor(props: any){
        super(props);
        this.state = { name: this.props.defaultName };
        this.handleChange = this.handleChange.bind(this)
    }

    public handleChange(event: any) : void {

        this.setState({ name: event.target.value });
    }

    public render() {
        return (
            <div>
                <HelloForm 
                    name = { this.state.name }
                    handleChange = { this.handleChange } 
                />
                <HelloContent 
                    name = { this.state.name }
                />
            </div>
        );
    }
}

The HelloWorld component is updated to compose the same UI as the previous example using two modular components, HelloForm and HelloContent.


import * as React from 'react';
import HelloForm from './helloform';
import HelloContent from './hellocontent';

To compose with components the components you want to compose have to be in scope. To do this we import the components. HelloForm and HelloContent are imported by using the import statement with the from value being the relative path to the component with no extension.


public render() {
    return (
        <div>
            <HelloForm 
                name = { this.state.name }
                handleChange = { this.handleChange } 
            />
            <HelloContent 
                name = { this.state.name }
            />
        </div>
    );
}

The actual composition occurs in the render method. We add the HelloForm and HelloContent components. Notice that the name of the components start with uppercase to differentiate them from HTML elements. Each of the components accept some properties and we pass them with a syntax that is similar to defining HTML attributes.


By composing UIs in this manner we move from an imperative style of building UIs to a declarative one. Instead of defining every element and attribute we want to use in the UI we delegate the definition to a modular reusable component.

Since the modular components are reusable we can compose multiple UIs with them. We can compose with components developed by other teams. We get to focus on the unique aspects of our domain and delegate other lower level concerns to modular components.

src/helloform.tsx

/// <reference path="../typings/tsd.d.ts" />

import * as React from 'react';

export default class HelloForm extends React.Component<any, any> {
    constructor(props: any){
        super(props);
    }

    public render() {
        return (
            <div>
                <input 
                    value={ this.props.name }
                    onChange={ e => this.props.handleChange(e) }
                />
            </div>
        );
    }
}

Here we have a new component responsible for the collecting user input for our tiny application. By now this code should be familiar. We just moved the input element from the HelloWorld component and encapsulated it in this new component.

For this simple example we are storing all of our components in one folder. As your application grows you may want to use a folder structure that makes the number of component files more manageable. When you are at the point of doing this you will have to address the reference path for the TypeScript typings. It will become a maintenance issue having to keep the path in sync as you move components and build new folder structures, but we won't go into that just yet.

src/hellocontent.tsx

/// <reference path="../typings/tsd.d.ts" />

import * as React from 'react';

export default class HelloContent extends React.Component<any, any> {
    constructor(props: any){
        super(props);
    }

    public render() {
        return (
            <div>
                Hello { this.props.name }!
            </div>
        );
    }
}

This is a component responsible for displaying the hello message. Again, this component is a result of encapsulating this section of the DOM out of the HelloWorld component.

Stateless Components

One interesting observation about these components is that they are stateless. They don't hold any state and they rely on a parent component to pass props to it in order to do its work. This includes event handlers and data as you can see in the sample code.

When possible using stateless components are preferred in React. They help to improve performance because they lessen the amount of processing that React has to do with the component.