How to Use useState or useEffect Hook in React

How to Use useState or useEffect Hook in React

In the landscape of modern web development, React has emerged as one of the most popular libraries, thanks in part to its efficient rendering and state management capabilities. With the introduction of React Hooks, developers now have a powerful tool at their disposal to harness stateful logic and lifecycle features within functional components, marking a significant shift away from the traditional class-based approach. This evolution not only simplifies the codebase but also enhances its readability and maintainability, making Hooks an indispensable part of React development.

Introduction to React Hooks

React Hooks, introduced in React 16.8, revolutionize the way developers build components. By allowing the use of state and other React features in functional components, Hooks offer a more intuitive and functional approach to component development. This shift encourages the composition of reusable stateful logic, making code easier to share among components and ultimately leading to more maintainable and scalable applications.

Understanding useState Hook

At the heart of React Hooks lies the useState hook, a cornerstone for state management in functional components.

Basic Syntax of useState

The useState hook is remarkably straightforward to use. It is invoked within a functional component, returning an array with two elements: the current state value and a function that allows updating this value. The initial state is passed as an argument during the first invocation. Here’s the basic syntax:

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

This pattern of destructuring allows for concise and readable state management within components.

Example: Simple Counter Application

To illustrate the useState hook in action, consider a simple counter application. This example demonstrates how to initialize, display, and update state in response to user interactions:

1import React, { useState } from 'react';
3function Counter() {
4 const [count, setCount] = useState(0);
6 return (
7 <div>
8 <p>You clicked {count} times</p>
9 <button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>
10 Click me
11 </button>
12 </div>
13 );

In this snippet, useState is used to keep track of the number of times a button is clicked. The setCount function updates the state, prompting the component to re-render and display the new count.

useState with Objects and Arrays

Managing state that is structured as objects or arrays requires a nuanced approach to ensure updates are performed correctly. When updating state holding these data structures, it’s crucial to spread the previous state and apply the updates to avoid direct mutation. For example:

const [user, setUser] = useState({ name: 'John', age: 30 });

const updateUser = () => {
setUser(prevUser => ({
age: prevUser.age + 1

This approach ensures the state is updated immutably, maintaining the integrity of React’s state management.

Understanding useEffect Hook

The useEffect hook extends the capabilities of functional components by enabling side effects, operations that can affect other components or cannot be done during rendering.

Basic Syntax of useEffect

The basic form of useEffect takes two arguments: a function where the side effect occurs, and an optional array of dependencies that triggers the effect when changed.

useEffect(() => {
// Side effect logic here
}, [dependencies]);

This hook effectively replaces lifecycle methods such as componentDidMount, componentDidUpdate, and componentWillUnmount in class components.

When to Use useEffect: Side Effects in React

The useEffect hook is versatile, catering to a wide range of use cases from data fetching, setting up subscriptions, and manually changing the DOM in React components. It’s particularly useful when your component needs to interact with external resources or perform operations that should occur after render. For instance, fetching data from an API and setting it to state when a component mounts can be achieved as follows:

useEffect(() => {
const fetchData = async () => {
const response = await fetch('');
const data = await response.json();

}, []); // The empty array signifies the effect runs only once after the initial render

This pattern showcases useEffect‘s power in executing side effects seamlessly within functional components, fostering cleaner and more efficient code.

Example: Fetching Data from an API

One of the most common scenarios in web development is fetching data from an API. React’s useEffect Hook is perfectly suited for this task. Here’s how you can use it:

1import React, { useState, useEffect } from 'react';
3function FetchData() {
4 const [data, setData] = useState([]);
6 useEffect(() => {
7 const fetchData = async () => {
8 const response = await fetch('');
9 const jsonData = await response.json();
10 setData(jsonData);
11 };
13 fetchData();
14 }, []); // Dependency array
16 return (
17 <div>
18 { => (
19 <div key={}>{item.title}</div>
20 ))}
21 </div>
22 );

This snippet demonstrates a functional component that fetches data from an API and displays it. The empty dependency array [] ensures the effect runs only once after the initial render, mimicking the behavior of componentDidMount in class components.

Cleanup Function in useEffect

The cleanup function in useEffect is essential for preventing memory leaks, especially in components that set up subscriptions or listeners. It’s invoked when the component unmounts or before the effect runs again. Here’s a practical example:

useEffect(() => {
const subscription = dataSource.subscribe();
return () => {
// Clean up the subscription
}, []);

This pattern is particularly useful for events, timers, or any external connections established by the component.

Rules of Hooks

The Rules of Hooks are vital to ensure your components work as expected:

  1. Only Call Hooks at the Top Level: Avoid calling Hooks inside loops, conditions, or nested functions.
  2. Only Call Hooks from React Functions: Call them from within React functional components, not regular JavaScript functions.

These rules are enforced by the ESLint plugin eslint-plugin-react-hooks.

Building a Small Project Combining useState and useEffect

Let’s create a simple project to demonstrate the power of combining useState and useEffect.

Introduction to the Project Idea

Our project will be a dynamic counter that fetches its initial value from an API and allows the user to increment or decrement it. This will illustrate useState for managing state and useEffect for side effects like API calls.

Step-by-Step Guide to Building the Project

  1. Setup: Create a new React app using create-react-app.
  2. Fetching Initial Counter Value: Use useEffect to fetch the initial counter value from an API when the component mounts.
  3. Implementing the Counter: Utilize useState to manage the counter’s state and implement functions to increment and decrement the value.
  4. Display and Interaction: Render the counter value and buttons for interaction, demonstrating the stateful logic and effects in action.

Common Mistakes and Best Practices

A common pitfall is misusing the dependency array in useEffect, leading to infinite loops or stale closures. Ensure dependencies are correctly specified, and use functional updates when updating state based on the previous state.

Using the Dependency Array in useEffect Correctly

The dependency array should include all variables and props that the effect depends on. If your effect doesn’t depend on any values from props or state, you can pass an empty array [] as a signal to React that your effect doesn’t need to re-run.

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