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Roact - React for Roku

Like React.js, but for Roku


Call RoactRenderScene() from your Scene's init() method (your scene really shouldnt do much of anything else)

The key thing to know about this vs. normal React is:

  • In React, there are React Components and they eventually render DOM elements.
  • In Roact, the Roact Components contain the equivalent 'React Component' code and the equivalent DOM (SG component) code in the same file.

To create Roact Components:

  • create SG component as normal, but extend RoactComponent
  • dont add any children or fields via xml markup
  • in your .brs file, you can implement any of these methods:

componentDidMount - will be called after your component has been fully created (including all children) and added to the visual tree. you can use findNode at this point if necessary

componentDidUpdate(prevProps, prevState) - will be called after each render and can be used to perform side-effects related to props changing. Note that is is called regardless of whether the props or state actually changed or not.

shouldComponentUpdate(nextProps, nextState - can return false to short-circuit rendering. if you do not implement this, it will always return true

render - must return a single virtual node (h)

You can also handle the onKeyEvent() method as usual. In reaction to user input or any time you want to modify the state of a component, call the setState() field with the updated fields:

setState({changedProperty: newValue})

Just like with React, you only have to specify the state properties that changed.

Passing functions as props

Components should be self-contained and not have intrinsic knowledge about their parents. However, there is often a need for an action in a child component to trigger something in the parent. In React, this is done by passing functions as part of the props that get sent to the child. Since Scene Graph components do not allow setting function fields, functions cannot be passed directly in the same way. However, there is an equivalent mechanism:

In your parent component define a function field:

    <function name="handleSquareClick"/>

To pass this to a child component:

clickHandler = createHandler("handleSquareClick")
return h("Square", {onClick: clickHandler})

To execute the function from the child component:

sub buttonClicked()
    props =
    executeHandler(props.onClick, {index: props.index})
end sub

Since the function is a normal SG node function field, it can take one arbitrary argument.

Lifecycle method mapping

Roact provides a subset of the full React lifecycle methods. In most cases, the methods that are provided are the same, but there are a few differences:

constructor > init()
componentDidMount > componentDidMount()
componentDidUpdate > componentDidUpdate(prevProps, prevState)
shouldComponentUpdate > shouldComponentUpdate(nextProps, nextState)
render > render()

The other React lifecycle methods have either been deprecated by React in recent versions, or are generally not applicable to Roku development.

Mixing-and-matching normal SG nodes

Roact lets you mix and match Roact components with normal SG components, just like you can mix and match React components and normal DOM components. Simply specify the normal component name as the type passed to h() and specify the field values as the props. NOTE: some normal SG components intrinsicly create their own children. Roact can handle this and allows you to specify additional Roact-style children as well, but if the SG component dynamically changes the number or order of its children, you may encounter issues.

'Button is a normal SG component that intrinsicly creates its own children
h("Button", {
    text: "button text"
    textColor: "0xff0000"
}, [
    'CustomComponent can still be added as an _additional_ child to Button
    h("CustomComponent", {
        blink: true

Roact + Redoku = 💖

Just like Redux works great with React, Redoku works great with Roact. The easiest way to use them together is to make your Roact components inherit from ConnectedComponent instead of RoactComponent. That provides two benefits:

  1. It provides a mapState() function that you can use to map Redoku global state to your component's local state (similar to mapStateToProps in Redux, but the global state is mapped to state instead of props). mapState() takes a single argument, which is a function with this signature: function(state, prevState) - use the incoming Redoku state (and prevState, if desired) and return an associative array that will be used to update your component's local state. When you use mapState(), it takes care of observing the Redoku state for you so you do not need to do:"state", "stateChanged")
  2. Provides an optimized default implementation of shouldComponentUpdate() - this will cause your component to only re-render when when mapState() has updated your state.


  • source/Roact.brs - contains all of the Roact runtime functions
  • components/RoactComponent.xml & components/RoactComponent.brs - base class for Roact components
  • components/ConnectedComponent.xml & components/ConnectedComponent.brs - base class for Redoku-aware Roact components

What about JSX

Since BrightScript does not have a large community of tools, there is nothing similar to Babel or other JSX transpilers. While it would theoretically be possible to write such a tool, it is outside the scope of this framework.

Essentially, Roact is like using React without JSX


React for Roku







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