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@use-it/instance

0.2.0 • Public • Published

@use-it/instance 🐘

A custom React Hook that provides a sensible alternative to useRef for storing instance variables.

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Why?

useRef is weird. The official React docs say:

useRef returns a mutable ref object whose .current property is initialized to the passed argument (initialValue). The returned object will persist for the full lifetime of the component.

Note that useRef() is useful for more than the ref attribute. It’s handy for keeping any mutable value around similar to how you’d use instance fields in classes.

The fact that you have to access it via .current is strange. The fact that the React docs call out that you can use it for more than ref attributes is telling. They have to know that useRef is confusing too.

That's why I created useInstance. You treat the object returned by useInstance just like you would this in a class component, so you're already familiar with how it works.

So… Use useRef if you're dealing with actual DOM elements—use useInstance for instance properties and methods.

Some may say "Six of this, hald dozen of another," and they could be right. But if you're in the "half-dozen" camp, useInstance might well be for you!

Installation

$ npm i @use-it/instance

or

$ yarn add @use-it/instance

Usage

Here is a basic setup. Most people will name the returned object self or that or instance, but you can call it anything you'd like.

import useInstance from '@use-it/instance';
 
// Then from within your function component
const instance = useInstance(initialInstance);

Parameters

Here are the parameters that you can use. (* = optional)

Parameter Description
initialInstance Is an object or a function that returns an object that represents the initial instance value. Defaults to an empty object literal.

Return

The return value is an object that WILL NOT change on subsequent calls to your function component. Use it just like you would to create instance properties and methods in a class component.

Examples

A replacement for useRef

Here's an example where you might use useRef. Within the closure of the useEffect, if we simply reference callback directly, we will see callback as it was during the creation of the function. Instead we must make it "live" throughout many render cycles.

function useInterval(callback, delay) {
  const savedCallback = useRef();
  savedCallback.current = callback;
 
  useEffect(() => {
    function tick() {
      savedCallback.current();
    }
    if (delay !== null) {
      let id = setInterval(tick, delay);
      return () => clearInterval(id);
    }
  }, [delay]);
}

And here's the same code using useInstance. It has a more familiar class component-like syntax. Again, think of self as this.

function useInterval(callback, delay) {
  const self = useInstance();
  self.savedCallback = callback;
 
  useEffect(
    () => {
      function tick() {
        self.savedCallback();
      }
      if (delay !== null) {
        let id = setInterval(tick, delay);
        return () => clearInterval(id);
      }
    },
    [delay]
  );
}

A replacement for useCallback/useMemo

You can also use useInstance in place of useCallback and useMemo for some cases.

Take for instance (pardon the pun), this simple up/down counter example. You might use useCallback to ensure that the pointers to the increment and decrement function didn't change.

const useCounter = initialCount => {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(initialCount);
  const increment = useCallback(() => setCount(c => c + 1));
  const decrement = useCallback(() => setCount(c => c - 1));
 
  return {
    count,
    increment,
    decrement,
  };
};

Or, you could store them in the instance, much like you might have done with a class component.

const useCounter = initialCount => {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(initialCount);
  const self = useInstance({
    increment: () => setCount(c => c + 1),
    decrement: () => setCount(c => c - 1),
  });
 
  return {
    count,
    ...self,
  };
};

What is the benefit of keeping functions in instances variable instead of using useCallback? This is from the official Hooks documentation.

In the future, React may choose to “forget” some previously memoized values and recalculate them on next render.

Instance variables never forget. 🐘

Lazy initialization

If computing the initialInstance is costly, you may pass a function that returns an initialInstance. useInstance will only call the function on mount.

Not that creating two functions is expensive, but we could re-write the example above using a lazy initializer, like this.

// this is only called once, on mount, per component instance
const getInitialInstance = setCount => ({
  increment: () => setCount(c => c + 1),
  decrement: () => setCount(c => c - 1),
});
 
const useCounter = initialCount => {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(initialCount);
  const self = useInstance(getInitialInstance(setCount));
 
  return {
    count,
    ...self,
  };
};

Notice that we moved getInitialInstance into a static fucntion outside of useCounter. This helps to reduce the complexity of useCounter. An added side effect is that getInitialInstance is now highly testable.

You might even take this one step further and refactor your methods into it's own cusom Hook. Isn't coding fun? 😊

const getInitialInstance = setCount => ({
  increment: () => setCount(c => c + 1),
  decrement: () => setCount(c => c - 1),
});
 
const useCounterMethods = setCount => 
  useInstance(getInitialInstance(setCount));
 
const useCounter = initialCount => {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(initialCount);
  const methods = useCounterMethods(setCount);
 
  return {
    count,
    ...methods,
  };
};

Live demo

You can view/edit the "you clicked" sample code above on CodeSandbox.

Edit demo app on CodeSandbox

License

MIT Licensed

Contributors

Thanks goes to these wonderful people (emoji key):

Donavon West
Donavon West

🤔 🚇 🚧 👀 💻 🎨

This project follows the all-contributors specification. Contributions of any kind welcome!

Install

npm i @use-it/instance

DownloadsWeekly Downloads

17

Version

0.2.0

License

MIT

Unpacked Size

11.2 kB

Total Files

7

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