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Direct manipulation

React Native provides several methods to directly access the underlying host node. This can be useful when you need to make changes directly to a component without using state/props to trigger a re-render of the entire subtree, or when you want to focus a view or measure its on-screen dimensions.

The methods described are available on most of the default components provided by React Native for Web. Note, however, that they are not available on the composite components that you define in your own app.

Instance methods

blur()

Removes focus from an input or view. This is the opposite of focus().

focus()

Requests focus for the given input or view. The exact behavior triggered will depend the type of view.

measure(callback: (x, y, width, height, pageX, pageY) => void)

For a given view, measure determines the offset relative to the parent view, width, height, and the offset relative to the viewport. Returns the values via an async callback.

Note that these measurements are not available until after the rendering has been completed.

measureLayout(relativeToNativeNode: DOMNode, onSuccess: (x, y, width, height) => void)

Like measure, but measures the view relative to another view, specified as relativeToNativeNode. This means that the returned x, y are relative to the origin x, y of the ancestor view.

As always, to obtain a native node handle for a component, you can use findNodeHandle(component).

measureInWindow(callback: (x, y, width, height) => void)

Determines the location of the given view in the window and returns the values via an async callback.

setNativeProps(nativeProps: Object)

This function sends props straight to the underlying DOM node.

About setNativeProps

setNativeProps is the React Native equivalent to setting properties directly on a DOM node. Use direct manipulation when frequent re-rendering creates a performance bottleneck. Direct manipulation will not be a tool that you reach for frequently.

setNativeProps and shouldComponentUpdate

setNativeProps is imperative and stores state in the native layer (DOM, UIView, etc.) and not within your React components, which makes your code more difficult to reason about. Before you use it, try to solve your problem with setState and shouldComponentUpdate.

Avoiding conflicts with the render function

If you update a property that is also managed by the render function, you might end up with some unpredictable and confusing bugs because anytime the component re-renders and that property changes, whatever value was previously set from setNativeProps will be completely ignored and overridden.

Why use setNativeProps on Web?

Using setNativeProps in web-specific code is required when making changes to className or style, as these properties are controlled by React Native for Web and setting them directly may cause unintended rendering issues.

setOpacityTo(value) {
  this._childElement.setNativeProps({
    style: { opacity: value }
  })
}

Composite components and setNativeProps

Composite components are not backed by a DOM node, so you cannot call setNativeProps on them. Consider this example:

const MyButton = (props) => (
  <View>
    <Text>{props.label}</Text>
  </View>
)

const App = () => (
  <TouchableOpacity>
    <MyButton label="Press me!" />
  </TouchableOpacity>
)

If you run this you will immediately see this error: Touchable child must either be native or forward setNativeProps to a native component. This occurs because MyButton isn't directly backed by a native view whose opacity should be set. You can think about it like this: if you define a component with React.Component/createClass you would not expect to be able to set a style prop on it and have that work - you would need to pass the style prop down to a child, unless you are wrapping a native component. Similarly, we are going to forward setNativeProps to a native-backed child component.

Forward setNativeProps to a child

All we need to do is provide a setNativeProps method on our component that calls setNativeProps on the appropriate child with the given arguments.

class MyButton extends React.Component {
  setNativeProps(nativeProps) {
    this._root.setNativeProps(nativeProps)
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <View ref={component => this._root = component}>
        <Text>{this.props.label}</Text>
      </View>
    )
  }
}

You can now use MyButton inside of TouchableOpacity!

setNativeProps to clear TextInput value

Another very common use case of setNativeProps is to clear the value of a TextInput. For example, the following code demonstrates clearing the input when you tap a button:

class App extends React.Component {
  _handlePress() {
    this._textInput.setNativeProps({ text: '' })
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <View style={styles.container}>
        <TextInput
          ref={component => this._textInput = component}
          style={styles.textInput}
        />
        <TouchableOpacity onPress={this._handlePress.bind(this)}>
          <Text>Clear text</Text>
        </TouchableOpacity>
      </View>
    )
  }
}
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