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Introduction

This section attempts to explain "Why" you would use Redux. (Taken from the original Redux.JS book by Dan Abramov):

Motivation

As the requirements for single-page applications have become increasingly complicated, our code must manage more state than ever before. This state can include server responses and cached data, as well as locally created data that has not yet been persisted to the server. UI state is also increasing in complexity, as we need to manage active routes, selected tabs, spinners, pagination controls, and so on.

Managing this ever-changing state is hard. If a model can update another model, then a view can update a model, which updates another model, and this, in turn, might cause another view to update. At some point, you no longer understand what happens in your app as you have lost control over the when, why, and how of its state. When a system is opaque and non-deterministic, it's hard to reproduce bugs or add new features.

As if this wasn't bad enough, consider the new requirements becoming common in front-end or mobile development. As developers, we are expected to handle optimistic updates, loading data from multiple sources, fetching data before performing route transitions, and so on. We find ourselves trying to manage a complexity that we have never had to deal with before, and we inevitably ask the question: is it time to give up? The answer is no.

This complexity is difficult to handle as we're mixing two concepts that are very hard for the human mind to reason about: mutation and asynchronicity. I call them Mentos and Coke. Both can be great in separation, but together they create a mess. Libraries like React attempt to solve this problem in the view layer by removing both asynchrony and direct DOM manipulation. However, managing the state of your data is left up to you. This is where Redux enters.

Following in the steps of Flux, CQRS, and Event Sourcing, Redux attempts to make state mutations predictable by imposing certain restrictions on how and when updates can happen. These restrictions are reflected in the three principles of Redux.

Three Principles

1. Single source of truth

The state of your whole application is stored in an object tree within a single store.

This makes it easy to create universal apps, as the state from your server can be serialized and hydrated into the client with no extra coding effort. A single state tree also makes it easier to debug or inspect an application; it also enables you to persist your app's state in development, for a faster development cycle. Some functionality which has been traditionally difficult to implement - Undo/Redo, for example - can suddenly become trivial to implement, if all of your state is stored in a single tree.

2. State is read-only

The only way to change the state is to emit an action, an object describing what happened.

This ensures that neither the views nor the network callbacks will ever write directly to the state. Instead, they express an intent to transform the state. Because all changes are centralized and happen one by one in a strict order, there are no subtle race conditions to watch out for. As actions are just plain Dart objects, they can be logged, serialized, stored, and later replayed for debugging or testing purposes.

3. Changes are made with pure functions

To specify how the state tree is transformed by actions, you write pure reducers.

Reducers are just pure functions that take the previous state and an action, and return the next state. Remember to return new state objects, instead of mutating the previous state. You can start with a single reducer, and as your app grows, split it off into smaller reducers that manage specific parts of the state tree. Because reducers are just functions, you can control the order in which they are called, pass additional data, or even make reusable reducers for common tasks such as pagination.

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