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2.7.3 • Public • Published


React components for tree structures

useTree is a set of components and hooks that make it ridiculously easy to work with lazy-loaded tree structures like navigation menus or tables of contents.

With useTree you can focus on how to render your tree structure and forget about loading data and managing tree state. useTree is easy to implement for any data source you can think of.


npm install -S use-tree


Using useTree is as easy as:

import { TreeContainer } from 'use-tree';
import { myTreeDataSource } from './data';
import { List } from './list';

const MyTreeComponent = () => (
    <TreeContainer source={myTreeDataSource} rootElement={List} />

Here, myTreeDataSource is responsible for loading the data for your tree elements, and List is a custom component of your choice that renders the data from that tree.

What TreeContainer will do for you is:

  • Call myTreeDataSource to load all required data.
  • Pass the currently loaded tree data to List, and update that data to re-render whenever new data arrives.
  • Manage which tree nodes are expanded and collapsed and use that information to load new data from myTreeDataSource.
  • Include information in the data passed to List to allow it to show a loading state when child nodes are being fetched from the source.
  • Make sure that re-rendering List works with React.memo() so that only the nodes that really need updates are re-rendered.
  • Allow components inside List to expand and collapse tree nodes in one line of code.
  • Allow you to make one tree node "active" and load and expand all nodes above it.

Components and hooks

useTree provides these components and hooks:

  • TreeContainer: the easiest entry point for normal use. Wrap this around your component, pass a data source of interface TreeSource, and you're usually good to go.
  • useTreeLoader(): take a source and the current tree state and load data from the source to expand the tree, returning a simple an up-to-date data structure with tree data.
  • useTreeController() / useTreeNodeController(id: string) / useTreeNodesController(ids: string[]): return an object that allows you to control the state of the current tree (from context).
  • useTreeContent(): return the data for the current tree (from context).

We will now describe these in more detail.


The main wrapper component. Start here. This sets up tree loading and a tree context for a data source. It also allows you to pass the tree state and allow you to manage the tree state yourself.


  • source: TreeSource: the data source that useTree will fetch tree data from (described below).
  • state?: TreeState: the current state of the tree. Pass this to use TreeContainer in controlled mode. This property tells useTree which tree nodes are expanded and which (if any) is active. If you pass a new state, useTree will update the tree data immediately and load the required data.
    • defaultState?: TreeState: the state to start with. If you pass this, but not state, then TreeContainer will manage state internally (uncontrolled).
  • onStateChange?: (st: TreeState) => void: called whenever the tree state changes from within (usually through useTreeController()). Use this if you want to manage tree state in your own state container (like Redux).
  • loaderOptions?: TreeLoaderOptions: options for loading data from the tree source. See useTreeLoader().
  • rootElement?: React.FC<{ tree: Tree<T> }>: if passed, this element will be shown within the tree container. It will receive the tree as a prop.
  • render?: (props: { tree: Tree<T> }) => ReactNode: if passed, this function will be called and its output tree is rendered within the tree container.

interface TreeSource

Interface for a data source to fetch tree data, usually from a server. A data source should implement these two methods:

  • children(id: string | null): Promise<Array<TreeSourceNode<T>>>: fetch an array of all children of a specified node, or all root elements if id is null.
  • trail(id: string): Promise<Array<TreeSourceNode<T>>>: fetch a tree node and all its ancestors. The first element of the array should be the node, the seconds its parent, the third its parent's parent, all the way up to the root.

Type TreeSourceNode<T> contains all the properties of T (which is a type that you can define) as well as these properties:

  • id: string: a unique identifier (within the tree) of the node.
  • hasChildren: boolean: whether or not this node has child elements.


If you have the full content of the tree available in an object and you don't need lazy loading, you can use staticTreeSource(data) to turn it into a TreeSource. Your data must be an array of root nodes which conform to StaticTreeSourceNode<T>:

  • All properties from TreeSourceNode<T>
  • children?: Array<StaticTreeSourceNode<T>>

interface TreeState

This interface describes the current display state of a tree. It contains two properties:

  • activeId?: string | null: the ID of the tree node that is active. Within a navigation tree, this usually represents the current page or chapter. Setting an ID here causes useTree to load all of the ancestors of this node and all their child elements, to allow you to display the active item within its tree.
  • expandedIds?: { [k: string]: boolean }: a dictionary of which elements are (or are not) expanded. Adding an element here as expanded will cause useTree to load its child elements, if they are not already known.


Get an object that lets you control the current tree (from context). Provides these methods:

  • updateState(updater: (oldState: TreeState, tree: RootTree<T>) => TreeState): void: update the tree state with your own updater function.
  • setExpanded(id: string, expanded?: boolean): void: expanded or collapse a tree node.
  • toggleExpanded(id: string): void: toggle the expanded state of a tree node.
  • setActiveId(id: string | null): void: set which (if any) tree node is active.

useTreeNodeController(id: string)

Same as useTreeController(), but only for one tree node. You should, for instance, use this inside the component you use to render your tree nodes to control their expanded/collapsed state. Provides these methods:

  • setExpanded(expanded?: boolean): void.
  • toggleExpanded(): void.
  • setActive(active?: boolean): void.

useTreeNodesController(ids: string[])

Same as useTreeNodeController(), but for multiple tree nodes. Not all methods make sense, so it only provides:

  • setMultipleExpanded(expanded?: boolean): void.


When used inside the context of a tree, returns the current data of the tree. This can be used if you have several components nested inside your <TreeContainer> that all want to display the tree (or parts thereof).


Use this if you want full control and don't want to use TreeContainer. This hook takes a TreeSource and a TreeState and returns the most up-to-date tree data structure with type RootTree<T>. It will load data from the source if necessary and re-render as that data comes in.

The third argument to this hook is an optional TreeLoaderOptions. These options are as follows:

  • loadingTransitionMs?: number: if set, isLoading on the children element of a node will only be set after we have been loading for the specified number of milliseconds. This prevents jarring unnecessary loading animations if data is usually loaded very quickly.

Rendering a tree

When rendering a tree through the rootElement of TreeContainer or by passing the result of useTreeLoader() directly to your component, your component should accept these data types. We will assume that your TreeSource is of type TreeSource<T> where T is your own type that contains your own properties for tree nodes.

Root element properties:

  • tree: RootTree<T>

Type RootTree

  • All properties from Tree<T>
  • allNodes: {[k: string]: TreeNode<T>}: all currently loaded tree nodes, indexed by ID.

Type Tree

  • isLoading: boolean: whether the items are still being loaded.
  • items: Array<TreeNode<T>>: an array of the currently loaded child nodes.

Type TreeNode

  • All properties from T
  • id: string
  • hasChildren: boolean
  • isExpanded: boolean
  • isActive: boolean
  • isActiveTrail: boolean
  • depth: number
  • children: Tree<T>


useTree supports Typescript and contains generic typings. Of course you can also use it in plain old Javascript.


Developed by Sebastiaan Besselsen at Sdu Uitgevers, The Netherlands.



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