An Introduction to React Redux
It makes the state management much easier in React. Why is it hard to manage that sector, you ask? From what we all know if you have no React and if you build a project it’s pretty simple, right? You can just pass the data via props, action, etc that makes it work quite smoothly.
So, why do we need Redux for it?
Well, when you build when you’re learning, you build small examples and passing props and all that stuff is easy. You feel like you don’t need anything else if this should be working, but when your application grows to a certain level where the readability comes to an issue. That’s where the Redux comes in the picture that makes your life much easier. You must be wondering, managing something globally isn’t like an anti-pattern.
What is Redux?
What is Redux used for?
If you have ever built an application with a complex UI. You’ve probably come across this situation where you need to keep different parts of the UI in sync. If the user changes some data in one part of UI and other parts of UI should be immediately updated to reflect the changes. In more complex scenarios the data can also get updated as a result of network requests or background tasks. In this situation, data can flow from one part of the UI to another and change in unpredictable ways. We’ve to write a lot of code to keep everything in sync and when something goes wrong figuring out how the data changed and where it came from becomes really complex.
You might even end up with an infinite loop that is hard to break. If you encountered such problems in your applications then that’s a sign you need a state management library. To summarize it we can say, Redux maintains an entire application’s state in a single immutable state tree (called object), which can’t be directly changed. When something is changed, a whole new object is created (just by using actions and reducers).
State Management Solutions
- Flux (by Facebook), Facebook encountered this problem in 2014 and came up with an architectural pattern known as flux
- Redux is inspired by flux but it has grown more popular due to its simplicity and elegance.
State Management Using Redux
State Management is no doubt the most difficult part of any application. That’s the reason for so many state management libraries to exist and new ones to be released so frequently. State management is a hard problem to solve but the reasons it is difficult is that we overengineer the solution.
One of the primary reasons for React’s success was that React-Redux gave a solution to React that makes it painless to create interactive UIs. For each state in the application if a simple view is designed, React will efficiently update and render the right components when the data changes. The way we can share data across different positions of the tree by just passing the component into the connect function is amazing. The use of reducers, action creators, and so on is also great, but React Redux really stands out because it solved the headache in prop drilling for developers.
If you are building an application using react, you would have a state management library pre-installed in your application. This doesn’t even cost an extra byte for the users and integrates with all React packages.
When we are building a React application, we are basically assembling a bunch of components to make a tree of components starting at <App /> and ending at <input />s, <div />s, and <button />s. We won’t manage all of the low-level composite components that are rendered by our application in a single central location. Instead of that, we can let each component manage that and it will end up being a really effective method in building our UI.
If you need to update the data, there is a single place we have to update. So this immediately solves the problem of synchronizing the data across different parts of the UI but Redux architecture also makes it easy to understand how the data changes in our applications. If something goes wrong we can see exactly how the data changed, whey, when, and where it came from.
In a nutshell, Redux:
- Centralizes the application’s state
- Makes data flow in the application transparent and predictable
Pros and Cons of Redux:
You might be thinking why should we be using Redux and not some other state management library. There are many benefits of using React’s redux for your new application
- Predictable state changes: Applications written with the help of Redux, behave consistently and run in different types of environments (client, server, and native) which are also easy to test
- Centralized state: It helps us not to get confused with which state to sync with what actions.
- Easy debugging: Redux has Dev Tools that make it easy to be traced when, where, why, and how the application’s state is changing. The architecture of Redux lets us log changes, use “time-travel debugging”, and also send complete error reports to a server.
- Preserve page state
- Undo/redo options
- Ecosystem add-ons: React works with all UI layers and has a plethora of add ons to suit your needs.
When not to use Redux?
While using Redux has a lot of advantages which clearly rules over the disadvantages, we should keep in mind certain scenarios it’s better not to use Redux. Those scenarios include:
- When you are having a very tight budget
- When you are working with a small to medium-sized applications
- UI/data flow of your application is very simple
- The data of the application is static in nature.
Redux was built with the concepts of Functional programming in mind. Thus understanding the concepts of functional programming is very important for understanding why and what Redux does. Functional programming allows developers to write clear and more modular code. Writing smaller and simpler isolated functions in scope and logic, the code can be made much easier to test, maintain, and debug. These smaller functions will now become code that can be reused again and again, and that allows developers to write less code which is always a good thing. These functions can be used anywhere without any modification just by copying and pasting. Functions that are being isolated in the scope and that perform only one task will always depend less on other modules in the application, and this reduced coupling is one of many benefits of functional programming.
If you are initially just starting with Redux, it can be noticed that more code is needed and you might also feel that the complexity of your application is really increasing a lot because of that. This might be true initially but Redux will show its usefulness when your application is growing with lots of components. Redux will really aid you in keeping a clean and consistent structure of your project. Redux ensures a clear data flow and makes the components always stay in sync. It is a must for optimal handling of any application with a large number of components.