😎 Build virtual reality (VR) experiences with A-Frame and React.
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README.md

aframe-react

Build virtual reality experiences with A-Frame and React.



import 'aframe';
import 'aframe-bmfont-text-component';
import {Entity, Scene} from 'aframe-react';
import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';

class VRScene extends React.Component {
  render () {
    return (
      <Scene>
        <Entity geometry={{primitive: 'box'}} material="color: red" position={[0, 0, -5]}/>
        <Entity bmfont-text={{text: 'HELLO WORLD'}} position="{[0, 1, -5]}"/>
      </Scene>
    );
  }
}

See aframe-react-boilerplate for a basic example.

Installation

npm install --save aframe aframe-react react react-dom

What aframe-react Does

A-Frame is a web framework for building virtual reality experiences. Since A-Frame is built on top of the DOM, React is able to sit cleanly on top of A-Frame.

If you are not familiar with the specifics of A-Frame, A-Frame is an entity-component-system (ECS) framework on HTML. ECS is a pattern used in game development that favors composability over inheritance, which is more naturally suited to 3D scenes where objects are built of complex appearance, behavior, and functionality.

In A-Frame, HTML attributes map to components which are composable modules that are plugged into s to attach appearance, behavior, and functionality. aframe-react is a very thin layer on top of A-Frame to bridge with React. It provides an <Entity/> React component that serializes React props to A-Frame components:

// A-Frame + React
<Entity geometry={{primitive: 'box', width: 5}}/>

// to A-Frame.
<a-entity geometry="primitive: box; width: 5"></a-entity>

Built with aframe-react

Fear of the Sky by Amnesty International UK

Best Practices

For performance reasons, it is heavily recommended to let A-Frame handle the 3D, VR, rendering, and behavior pieces, and let React only handle what it's good at: views and state binding.

For instance, if you wanted to do an animation, do not try to tween a property in React land. This is slower due to creating another requestAnimationFrame, being at the whims of React batched updates, and also due to the overhead of passing a property from React to HTML. A-Frame already has a render loop and requestAnimationFrame set up, write an A-Frame component using the tick method to hook into the render loop.

Try to use React sparingly in regards to the actual 3D and VR bits. React has a bit of overhead and some concerns with the batched updates since it was created with the 2D DOM in mind. Do use it for as a view layer and to manage state.

Why A-Frame with React?

React was built for large web apps to improve DOM performance. It wasn't meant for development of 3D scenes by itself. By attempting to wrap React directly over three.js or WebGL, you run into a lot of performance issues.

Hooks into the Render Loop

Without a framework focused around 3D and VR, there is no structure to hook into the render loop. React implementations generally just create a new requestAnimationFrame within the React components, which is very bad for performance. Because React only wants data to flow down with no child-to-parent communication, entities have a hard time communicating to the scene to hook new behaviors into the render loop.

A-Frame, however, provides a tick method for components to hook into the scene render loop, and these components can be attached to any entity. Here is an example of using A-Frame to provide these facilities across multiple React components. Note how we can write a component that can be applied to different objects.

AFRAME.registerComponent('rotate-on-tick', {
  tick: function (t, dt) {
    this.object3D.rotation.x += .001;
  }
});

<Scene>
  <Box rotate-on-tick/>  <!-- <Entity geometry="primitive: box" rotate-on-tick/> -->
  <Sphere rotate-on-tick/> <!-- <Entity geometry="primitive: sphere" rotate-on-tick/> -->
</Scene>

Provides a DOM

By providing a DOM, it gives React the purpose it was meant for, to provide quicker DOM updates. Although ideally, we use A-Frame directly since there may be performance quirks with React batching its updates which we don't want in 90fps+ real-time rendering.

Composability

A-Frame provides composability over inheritance. React is based around inheritance: to create a new type of object, we extend an existing one. In game development where objects are more complex, it is more appropriate to compose behavior in order to more easily build new types of objects.

Community and Ecosystem

Lastly, A-Frame is backed by a large community and ecosystem of tools and components. Don't be limited by what an assorted library provides when an extensible framework can provide much more. There's even a Redux component for binding to A-Frame without using react-redux.

tl;dr: Wrapping React directly around three.js/WebGL cuts corners and suffers as a result. A-Frame provides a proper bridge.

API

aframe-react ships with Scene and Entity React components, which are all we really need.

<Scene {...components}/>

The Scene React component wraps <a-scene>:

<Scene>
  <Entity/>
</Scene>

<Entity {...components}/>

The Entity React component wraps <a-entity>.

<Entity geometry={{primitive: 'box'}} material='color: red'/>

Primitives

To render A-Frame primitives with all of the aframe-react magic, pass the primitive prop with the name of the primitive:

<Entity primitive='a-box' onClick={() => { console.log('Clicked!'); }}/>

events

To register an event handler, use the events prop:

<Entity events={{click: () => { console.log('Clicked!'); }}}/>

Or use the React-style syntactic sugar, which will infer the event name to register:

<Entity
  onClick={() => { console.log('click event'); }}
  onChildAttached={() => { console.log('child-attached event'); }}
  onComponentinitialized={() => { console.log('componentinitialized event'); }}/>