10 Top Tips For React Developers

Writing clean code can be a challenging task. To excel, react developers need to stay up to date with relevant tools, continually learn new techniques and be adept at problem-solving. Some of the skills required may take months or even years to perfect. However, others can be picked up relatively easily and can make a huge difference to the success of a development project. 

React is an easy-to-use framework that can create highly interactive and engaging user interfaces. As a popular frontend technology, it has a firm place in most developers’ toolkits. That said, there are some tips and tricks that can drastically improve your capabilities when it comes to React. Ultimately, by following best practices, you can realise the full benefit of its features, while keeping code clean and organised. 

So, without further ado, here are 10 best practice tips that, whether you’re a seasoned React developer or are new to React, will help you to write better, reusable code for your projects. 

1. Get to Grips With Components

In React, there are two main types of components. Functional components are basically javascript, they are stateless and simply accept data and display the output. Class components, on the other hand, are more complex, they are stateful and implement logic and state. If what you’re writing doesn’t need to manage the state, then you should always use the functional component. Ultimately, functional components are easier to test, debug and refactor and they reduce the lines of code required. It’s a case of not overcomplicating things if it’s not necessary. 

2. Adopt The Single Responsibility Principle

As React enables you to create huge components that execute a number of tasks, the temptation is to do just that. However, if you want your code to be reusable, having large components is going to make that harder. Instead of putting several functionalities into one component, one component should be responsible for each function. By adhering to the single responsibility principle, you will be able to reuse and scale your code as your project grows. 

3. Use the Style-Component Library 

While mastering components in React is fundamental and has changed the way applications are built, it doesn’t naturally work and scale with CSS. To construct and manage styles in a component-specific manner, CSS in JavaScript is needed. Style-component is one of the easiest ways to use CSS in JavaScript to style React component systems. The tool gives freedom to build custom components with CSS, enforces the use of props and supports server-side rendering. 

4. Maintain Your Folder and File Structure

A well-organised folder and file structure is the only way to make sense of project flow and simplify code maintenance and extraction. In React, it’s advisable to create a separate folder for each file related to a component. Files should then be organised according to components and if smaller components are used by larger components they should all be kept only within the larger component folder. If the same hierarchy is kept across an entire project, it will be much easier to manage. 

5. Consolidate Duplicate Code

It’s well known amongst developers that it’s best to keep code as brief and concise as possible. It’s no different with React, which is why you need to try to avoid duplication. You should always scrutinise your code for patterns and similarities to try to catch any repetition. If you do find duplication, you should remove it. 

6. Isolate Stateful Components

React components are either stateful or stateless. Stateful components keep track of changing data, store information about the component’s state and provide context. Stateless components, on the other hand, have no memory and only receive inputs from their parent component.  To make components less complex, it’s a best practice to isolate stateful logic from the rendering stateless logic. 

7. Follow Naming Conventions

As well as file and folder structure, naming conventions are fundamental in React. They help you to easily handle code and help ensure that it is consistent and correct. There are a few naming conventions in React that you should be aware of: the component should be PascalCase, elements should be unique and methods should be written in camelCase. Remember also that it’s a wise idea to name components after the function they execute too.

8. Learn to Use Hooks

While React is already a great JavaScript framework, using hooks can help you to build cleaner code and implement similar functionalities faster. What’s more, hooks help to solve the majority of problems with classes. Originally, React mainly used class components. However, with React hooks, you can use functional components to avoid having to switch between classes, higher-order components and render props. If you’ve got time to master creating your own custom hooks, you can write some exceptionally clean and reusable code. 

9. Use Fragments for Better Readability

Fragments are an incredibly helpful way to tidy up the Document Object Model (DOM) and improve readability. Fragments can be used as a parent element to return multiple elements from a component with no additional nodes added to the DOM. 

10. Fully Test Your Entire Code 

It is advisable to create a test directory to ensure that new code won’t break existing functionality. Unit testing will allow you to check individual components, integration testing verifies if pieces of models work well together and end-to-end testing checks the entire application flow. Ultimately, you should write tests for the entire code to fully test its integrity. 

By following these tips and tricks on best practices, any developer will be able to build up their confidence in React, write better code more quickly and avoid problems down the road. What’s more, by building up your skillset with React, you can be sure of creating clean, well-organised projects that are scalable. 

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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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