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This page contains a detailed API reference for the React component class definition. It assumes you're familiar with fundamental React concepts, such as Components and Props, as well as State and Lifecycle. If you're not, read them first.

Overview

React lets you define components as classes or functions. Components defined as classes currently provide more features which are described in detail on this page. To define a React component class, you need to extend React.Component:

class Welcome extends React.Component {
  render() {
    return <h1>Hello, {this.props.name}</h1>;
  }
}

The only method you must define in a React.Component subclass is called render(). All the other methods described on this page are optional.

We strongly recommend against creating your own base component classes. In React components, code reuse is primarily achieved through composition rather than inheritance.

Note:

React doesn't force you to use the ES6 class syntax. If you prefer to avoid it, you may use the create-react-class module or a similar custom abstraction instead. Take a look at Using React without ES6 to learn more.

The Component Lifecycle

Each component has several "lifecycle methods" that you can override to run code at particular times in the process. You can use this lifecycle diagram as a cheat sheet. In the list below, commonly used lifecycle methods are marked as bold. The rest of them exist for relatively rare use cases.

Mounting

These methods are called in the following order when an instance of a component is being created and inserted into the DOM:

Note:

These methods are considered legacy and you should avoid them in new code:

Updating

An update can be caused by changes to props or state. These methods are called in the following order when a component is being re-rendered:

Note:

These methods are considered legacy and you should avoid them in new code:

Unmounting

This method is called when a component is being removed from the DOM:

Error Handling

This method is called when there is an error during rendering, in a lifecycle method, or in the constructor of any child component.

Other APIs

Each component also provides some other APIs:

Class Properties

Instance Properties


Reference

Commonly Used Lifecycle Methods

The methods in this section cover the vast majority of use cases you'll encounter creating React components. For a visual reference, check out this lifecycle diagram.

render()

render()

The render() method is the only required method in a class component.

When called, it should examine this.props and this.state and return one of the following types:

  • React elements. Typically created via JSX. For example, <div /> and <MyComponent /> are React elements that instruct React to render a DOM node, or another user-defined component, respectively.
  • Arrays and fragments. Let you return multiple elements from render. See the documentation on fragments for more details.
  • Portals. Let you render children into a different DOM subtree. See the documentation on portals for more details.
  • String and numbers. These are rendered as text nodes in the DOM.
  • Booleans or null. Render nothing. (Mostly exists to support return test && <Child /> pattern, where test is boolean.)

The render() function should be pure, meaning that it does not modify component state, it returns the same result each time it's invoked, and it does not directly interact with the browser.

If you need to interact with the browser, perform your work in componentDidMount() or the other lifecycle methods instead. Keeping render() pure makes components easier to think about.

Note

render() will not be invoked if shouldComponentUpdate() returns false.


constructor()

constructor(props)

If you don't initialize state and you don't bind methods, you don't need to implement a constructor for your React component.

The constructor for a React component is called before it is mounted. When implementing the constructor for a React.Component subclass, you should call super(props) before any other statement. Otherwise, this.props will be undefined in the constructor, which can lead to bugs.

Typically, in React constructors are only used for two purposes:

You should not call setState() in the constructor(). Instead, if your component needs to use local state, assign the initial state to this.state directly in the constructor:

constructor(props) {
  super(props);
  // Don't call this.setState() here!
  this.state = { counter: 0 };
  this.handleClick = this.handleClick.bind(this);
}

Constructor is the only place where you should assign this.state directly. In all other methods, you need to use this.setState() instead.

Avoid introducing any side-effects or subscriptions in the constructor. For those use cases, use componentDidMount() instead.

Note

Avoid copying props into state! This is a common mistake:

constructor(props) {
 super(props);
 // Don't do this!
 this.state = { color: props.color };
}

The problem is that it's both unnecessary (you can use this.props.color directly instead), and creates bugs (updates to the color prop won't be reflected in the state).

Only use this pattern if you intentionally want to ignore prop updates. In that case, it makes sense to rename the prop to be called initialColor or defaultColor. You can then force a component to "reset" its internal state by changing its key when necessary.

Read our blog post on avoiding derived state to learn about what to do if you think you need some state to depend on the props.


componentDidMount()

componentDidMount()

componentDidMount() is invoked immediately after a component is mounted (inserted into the tree). Initialization that requires DOM nodes should go here. If you need to load data from a remote endpoint, this is a good place to instantiate the network request.

This method is a good place to set up any subscriptions. If you do that, don't forget to unsubscribe in componentWillUnmount().

You may call setState() immediately in componentDidMount(). It will trigger an extra rendering, but it will happen before the browser updates the screen. This guarantees that even though the render() will be called twice in this case, the user won't see the intermediate state. Use this pattern with caution because it often causes performance issues. In most cases, you should be able to assign the initial state in the constructor() instead. It can, however, be necessary for cases like modals and tooltips when you need to measure a DOM node before rendering something that depends on its size or position.


componentDidUpdate()

componentDidUpdate(prevProps, prevState, snapshot)

componentDidUpdate() is invoked immediately after updating occurs. This method is not called for the initial render.

Use this as an opportunity to operate on the DOM when the component has been updated. This is also a good place to do network requests as long as you compare the current props to previous props (e.g. a network request may not be necessary if the props have not changed).

componentDidUpdate(prevProps) {
  // Typical usage (don't forget to compare props):
  if (this.props.userID !== prevProps.userID) {
    this.fetchData(this.props.userID);
  }
}

You may call setState() immediately in componentDidUpdate() but note that it must be wrapped in a condition like in the example above, or you'll cause an infinite loop. It would also cause an extra re-rendering which, while not visible to the user, can affect the component performance. If you're trying to "mirror" some state to a prop coming from above, consider using the prop directly instead. Read more about why copying props into state causes bugs.

If your component implements the getSnapshotBeforeUpdate() lifecycle (which is rare), the value it returns will be passed as a third "snapshot" parameter to componentDidUpdate(). Otherwise this parameter will be undefined.

Note

componentDidUpdate() will not be invoked if shouldComponentUpdate() returns false.


componentWillUnmount()

componentWillUnmount()

componentWillUnmount() is invoked immediately before a component is unmounted and destroyed. Perform any necessary cleanup in this method, such as invalidating timers, canceling network requests, or cleaning up any subscriptions that were created in componentDidMount().

You should not call setState() in componentWillUnmount() because the component will never be re-rendered. Once a component instance is unmounted, it will never be mounted again.


Rarely Used Lifecycle Methods

The methods in this section correspond to uncommon use cases. They're handy once in a while, but most of your components probably don't need any of them. You can see most of the methods below on this lifecycle diagram if you click the "Show less common lifecycles" checkbox at the top of it.

shouldComponentUpdate()

shouldComponentUpdate(nextProps, nextState)

Use shouldComponentUpdate() to let React know if a component's output is not affected by the current change in state or props. The default behavior is to re-render on every state change, and in the vast majority of cases you should rely on the default behavior.

shouldComponentUpdate() is invoked before rendering when new props or state are being received. Defaults to true. This method is not called for the initial render or when forceUpdate() is used.

This method only exists as a performance optimization. Do not rely on it to "prevent" a rendering, as this can lead to bugs. Consider using the built-in PureComponent instead of writing shouldComponentUpdate() by hand. PureComponent performs a shallow comparison of props and state, and reduces the chance that you'll skip a necessary update.

If you are confident you want to write it by hand, you may compare this.props with nextProps and this.state with nextState and return false to tell React the update can be skipped. Note that returning false does not prevent child components from re-rendering when their state changes.

We do not recommend doing deep equality checks or using JSON.stringify() in shouldComponentUpdate(). It is very inefficient and will harm performance.

Currently, if shouldComponentUpdate() returns false, then UNSAFE_componentWillUpdate(), render(), and componentDidUpdate() will not be invoked. In the future React may treat shouldComponentUpdate() as a hint rather than a strict directive, and returning false may still result in a re-rendering of the component.


static getDerivedStateFromProps()

static getDerivedStateFromProps(props, state)

getDerivedStateFromProps is invoked right before calling the render method, both on the initial mount and on subsequent updates. It should return an object to update the state, or null to update nothing.

This method exists for rare use cases where the state depends on changes in props over time. For example, it might be handy for implementing a <Transition> component that compares its previous and next children to decide which of them to animate in and out.

Deriving state leads to verbose code and makes your components difficult to think about.
Make sure you're familiar with simpler alternatives:

This method doesn't have access to the component instance. If you'd like, you can reuse some code between getDerivedStateFromProps() and the other class methods by extracting pure functions of the component props and state outside the class definition.

Note that this method is fired on every render, regardless of the cause. This is in contrast to UNSAFE_componentWillReceiveProps, which only fires when the parent causes a re-render and not as a result of a local setState.

getSnapshotBeforeUpdate()

getSnapshotBeforeUpdate(prevProps, prevState)

getSnapshotBeforeUpdate() is invoked right before the most recently rendered output is committed to e.g. the DOM. It enables your component to capture some information from the DOM (e.g. scroll position) before it is potentially changed. Any value returned by this lifecycle will be passed as a parameter to componentDidUpdate().

This use case is not common, but it may occur in UIs like a chat thread that need to handle scroll position in a special way.

A snapshot value (or null) should be returned.

For example:

embed:react-component-reference/get-snapshot-before-update.js

In the above examples, it is important to read the scrollHeight property in getSnapshotBeforeUpdate because there may be delays between "render" phase lifecycles (like render) and "commit" phase lifecycles (like getSnapshotBeforeUpdate and componentDidUpdate).


componentDidCatch()

componentDidCatch(error, info)

Error boundaries are React components that catch JavaScript errors anywhere in their child component tree, log those errors, and display a fallback UI instead of the component tree that crashed. Error boundaries catch errors during rendering, in lifecycle methods, and in constructors of the whole tree below them.

A class component becomes an error boundary if it defines this lifecycle method. Calling setState() in it lets you capture an unhandled JavaScript error in the below tree and display a fallback UI. Only use error boundaries for recovering from unexpected exceptions; don't try to use them for control flow.

For more details, see Error Handling in React 16.

Note

Error boundaries only catch errors in the components below them in the tree. An error boundary can’t catch an error within itself.


Legacy Lifecycle Methods

The lifecycle methods below are marked as "legacy". They still work, but we don't recommend using them in the new code. You can learn more about migrating away from legacy lifecycle methods in this blog post.

UNSAFE_componentWillMount()

UNSAFE_componentWillMount()

UNSAFE_componentWillMount() is invoked just before mounting occurs. It is called before render(), therefore calling setState() synchronously in this method will not trigger an extra rendering. Generally, we recommend using the constructor() instead for initializing state.

Avoid introducing any side-effects or subscriptions in this method. For those use cases, use componentDidMount() instead.

This is the only lifecycle hook called on server rendering.

Note

This lifecycle was previously named componentWillMount. That name will continue to work until version 17. Use the rename-unsafe-lifecycles codemod to automatically update your components.


UNSAFE_componentWillReceiveProps()

UNSAFE_componentWillReceiveProps(nextProps)

Note:

Using this lifecycle method often leads to bugs and inconsistencies, and for that reason it is going to be deprecated in the future.

If you need to perform a side effect (for example, data fetching or an animation) in response to a change in props, use componentDidUpdate lifecycle instead.

For other use cases, follow the recommendations in this blog post about derived state.

If you used componentWillReceiveProps for re-computing some data only when a prop changes, use a memoization helper instead.

If you used componentWillReceiveProps to "reset" some state when a prop changes, consider either making a component fully controlled or fully uncontrolled with a key instead.

In very rare cases, you might want to use the getDerivedStateFromProps lifecycle as a last resort.

UNSAFE_componentWillReceiveProps() is invoked before a mounted component receives new props. If you need to update the state in response to prop changes (for example, to reset it), you may compare this.props and nextProps and perform state transitions using this.setState() in this method.

Note that if a parent component causes your component to re-render, this method will be called even if props have not changed. Make sure to compare the current and next values if you only want to handle changes.

React doesn't call UNSAFE_componentWillReceiveProps() with initial props during mounting. It only calls this method if some of component's props may update. Calling this.setState() generally doesn't trigger UNSAFE_componentWillReceiveProps().

Note

This lifecycle was previously named componentWillReceiveProps. That name will continue to work until version 17. Use the rename-unsafe-lifecycles codemod to automatically update your components.


UNSAFE_componentWillUpdate()

UNSAFE_componentWillUpdate(nextProps, nextState)

UNSAFE_componentWillUpdate() is invoked just before rendering when new props or state are being received. Use this as an opportunity to perform preparation before an update occurs. This method is not called for the initial render.

Note that you cannot call this.setState() here; nor should you do anything else (e.g. dispatch a Redux action) that would trigger an update to a React component before UNSAFE_componentWillUpdate() returns.

Typically, this method can be replaced by componentDidUpdate(). If you were reading from the DOM in this method (e.g. to save a scroll position), you can move that logic to getSnapshotBeforeUpdate().

Note

This lifecycle was previously named componentWillUpdate. That name will continue to work until version 17. Use the rename-unsafe-lifecycles codemod to automatically update your components.

Note

UNSAFE_componentWillUpdate() will not be invoked if shouldComponentUpdate() returns false.


Other APIs

Unlike the lifecycle methods above (which React calls for you), the methods below are the methods you can call from your components.

There are just two of them: setState() and forceUpdate().

setState()

setState(updater[, callback])

setState() enqueues changes to the component state and tells React that this component and its children need to be re-rendered with the updated state. This is the primary method you use to update the user interface in response to event handlers and server responses.

Think of setState() as a request rather than an immediate command to update the component. For better perceived performance, React may delay it, and then update several components in a single pass. React does not guarantee that the state changes are applied immediately.

setState() does not always immediately update the component. It may batch or defer the update until later. This makes reading this.state right after calling setState() a potential pitfall. Instead, use componentDidUpdate or a setState callback (setState(updater, callback)), either of which are guaranteed to fire after the update has been applied. If you need to set the state based on the previous state, read about the updater argument below.

setState() will always lead to a re-render unless shouldComponentUpdate() returns false. If mutable objects are being used and conditional rendering logic cannot be implemented in shouldComponentUpdate(), calling setState() only when the new state differs from the previous state will avoid unnecessary re-renders.

The first argument is an updater function with the signature:

(state, props) => stateChange

state is a reference to the component state at the time the change is being applied. It should not be directly mutated. Instead, changes should be represented by building a new object based on the input from state and props. For instance, suppose we wanted to increment a value in state by props.step:

this.setState((state, props) => {
  return {counter: state.counter + props.step};
});

Both state and props received by the updater function are guaranteed to be up-to-date. The output of the updater is shallowly merged with state.

The second parameter to setState() is an optional callback function that will be executed once setState is completed and the component is re-rendered. Generally we recommend using componentDidUpdate() for such logic instead.

You may optionally pass an object as the first argument to setState() instead of a function:

setState(stateChange[, callback])

This performs a shallow merge of stateChange into the new state, e.g., to adjust a shopping cart item quantity:

this.setState({quantity: 2})

This form of setState() is also asynchronous, and multiple calls during the same cycle may be batched together. For example, if you attempt to increment an item quantity more than once in the same cycle, that will result in the equivalent of:

Object.assign(
  previousState,
  {quantity: state.quantity + 1},
  {quantity: state.quantity + 1},
  ...
)

Subsequent calls will override values from previous calls in the same cycle, so the quantity will only be incremented once. If the next state depends on the current state, we recommend using the updater function form, instead:

this.setState((state) => {
  return {quantity: state.quantity + 1};
});

For more detail, see:


forceUpdate()

component.forceUpdate(callback)

By default, when your component's state or props change, your component will re-render. If your render() method depends on some other data, you can tell React that the component needs re-rendering by calling forceUpdate().

Calling forceUpdate() will cause render() to be called on the component, skipping shouldComponentUpdate(). This will trigger the normal lifecycle methods for child components, including the shouldComponentUpdate() method of each child. React will still only update the DOM if the markup changes.

Normally you should try to avoid all uses of forceUpdate() and only read from this.props and this.state in render().


Class Properties

defaultProps

defaultProps can be defined as a property on the component class itself, to set the default props for the class. This is used for undefined props, but not for null props. For example:

class CustomButton extends React.Component {
  // ...
}

CustomButton.defaultProps = {
  color: 'blue'
};

If props.color is not provided, it will be set by default to 'blue':

  render() {
    return <CustomButton /> ; // props.color will be set to blue
  }

If props.color is set to null, it will remain null:

  render() {
    return <CustomButton color={null} /> ; // props.color will remain null
  }

displayName

The displayName string is used in debugging messages. Usually, you don't need to set it explicitly because it's inferred from the name of the function or class that defines the component. You might want to set it explicitly if you want to display a different name for debugging purposes or when you create a higher-order component, see Wrap the Display Name for Easy Debugging for details.


Instance Properties

props

this.props contains the props that were defined by the caller of this component. See Components and Props for an introduction to props.

In particular, this.props.children is a special prop, typically defined by the child tags in the JSX expression rather than in the tag itself.

state

The state contains data specific to this component that may change over time. The state is user-defined, and it should be a plain JavaScript object.

If some value isn't used for rendering or data flow (for example, a timer ID), you don't have to put it in the state. Such values can be defined as fields on the component instance.

See State and Lifecycle for more information about the state.

Never mutate this.state directly, as calling setState() afterwards may replace the mutation you made. Treat this.state as if it were immutable.