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Components Interacting

Returning HTML Elements and Components

A class component’s render() method can return any JSX, including a mix of HTML elements and custom React components.

In the example, we return a <Logo /> component and a “vanilla” HTML title.

This assumes that <Logo /> is defined elsewhere.

class Header extends React.Component { render() { return ( <div> <Logo /> <h1>Codecademy</h1> </div> ); } }

React Component File Organization

It is common to keep each React component in its own file, export it, and import it wherever else it is needed. This file organization helps make components reusable. You don’t need to do this, but it’s a useful convention.

In the example, we might have two files: App.js, which is the top-level component for our app, and Clock.js, a sub-component.

// Clock.js import React from 'react'; export class Clock extends React.Component { render() { // ... } } // App.js import React from 'react'; import { Clock } from './Clock'; class App extends React.Component { render() { return ( <div> <h1>What time is it?</h1> <Clock /> </div> ); } }


React class components can access their props with the this.props object.

In the example code below, we see the <Hello> component being rendered with a firstName prop. It is accessed in the component’s render() method with this.props.firstName.

This should render the text “Hi there, Kim!”

class Hello extends React.Component { render() { return <h1>Hi there, {this.props.firstName}!</h1>; } } ReactDOM.render(<Hello firstName="Kim" />, document.getElementById('app'));


A React component’s defaultProps object contains default values to be used in case props are not passed. If a prop is not passed to a component, then it will be replaced with the value in the defaultProps object.

In the example code, defaultProps is set so that profiles have a fallback profile picture if none is set. The <MyFriends> component should render two profiles: one with a set profile picture and one with the fallback profile picture.

class Profile extends React.Component { render() { return ( <div> <img src={this.props.profilePictureSrc} alt="" /> <h2>{}</h2> </div> ); } } Profile.defaultProps = { profilePictureSrc: '', }; class MyFriends extends React.Component { render() { return ( <div> <h1>My friends</h1> <Profile name="Jane Doe" profilePictureSrc="" /> <Profile name="John Smith" /> </div> ); } }


Components can pass information to other components. When one component passes information to another, it is passed as props through one or more attributes.

The example code demonstrates the use of attributes in props. SpaceShip is the component and ride is the attribute. The SpaceShip component will receive ride in its props.

<SpaceShip ride="Millennium Falcon" />


Every component’s props object has a property named children. Using this.props.children will return everything in between a component’s opening and closing JSX tags.

<List> // opening tag <li></li> // child 1 <li></li> // child 2 <li></li> // child 3 </List> // closing tag

Binding this keyword

In React class components, it is common to pass event handler functions to elements in the render() method. If those methods update the component state, this must be bound so that those methods correctly update the overall component state.

In the example code, we bind this.changeName() so that our event handler works.

class MyName extends React.Component { constructor(props) { super(props); this.state = { name: 'Jane Doe' }; this.changeName = this.changeName.bind(this); } changeName(newName) { this.setState({ name: newName }); } render() { return ( <h1>My name is {}</h1> <NameChanger handleChange={this.changeName} /> ) } }

Call super() in the Constructor

React class components should call super(props) in their constructors in order to properly set up their this.props object.

// WRONG! class BadComponent extends React.Component { constructor() { this.state = { favoriteColor: 'green' }; } // ... } // RIGHT! class GoodComponent extends React.Component { constructor(props) { super(props); this.state = { favoriteColor: 'green' }; } // ... }


React class components can change their state with this.setState(). this.setState() should always be used instead of directly modifying the this.state object.

this.setState() takes an object which it merges with the component’s current state. If there are properties in the current state that aren’t part of that object, then those properties are unchanged.

In the example code, we see this.setState() used to update the Flavor component’s state from 'chocolate' to 'vanilla'.

class Flavor extends React.Component { constructor(props) { super(props); this.state = { favorite: 'chocolate', }; } render() { return ( <button onClick={(event) => { event.preventDefault(); this.setState({ favorite: 'vanilla' }); }} > No, my favorite is vanilla </button> ); } }

Dynamic Data in Components

React components can receive dynamic information from props, or set their own dynamic data with state. Props are passed down by parent components, whereas state is created and maintained by the component itself.

In the example, you can see this.state set up in the constructor, used in render(), and updated with this.setState(). this.props refers to the props, which you can see in the render() method.

class MyComponent extends React.Component { constructor(props) { super(props); this.state = { showPassword: false }; } render() { let text; if (this.state.showPassword) { text = `The password is ${this.props.password}`; } else { text = 'The password is a secret'; } return ( <div> <p>{text}</p> <button onClick={(event) => { event.preventDefault(); this.setState((oldState) => ({ showPassword: !oldState.showPassword, })); }} > Toggle password </button> </div> ); } }

Component State in Constructor

React class components store their state as a JavaScript object. This object is initialized in the component’s constructor().

In the example, the component stores its state in this.state.

class MyComponent extends React.Component { constructor(props) { super(props); this.state = { favoriteColor: 'green', favoriteMusic: 'Bluegrass', }; } render() { // ... } }

Don’t Change State While Rendering

When you update a React component’s state, it will automatically re-render. That means you should never update the state in a render function because it will cause an infinite loop.

In the example, we show some bad code that calls this.setState() inside of its render() method.

class BadComponent extends React.Component { constructor(props) { super(props); this.count = 0; } render() { // Don't do this! This is bad! this.setState({ count: this.state.count + 1 }); return <div>The count is {this.state.count}</div>; } }