React Hooks, at the time of this writing (2019-11), have been around for about one year.

At this stage, it is clear that Hooks are here to stay. The React team plans to build many future technologies on top of React Hooks.


We have a demo of React Hooks in our git-ignore-tests repository. Clone a copy of the repo into the ~/.Git directory. For this exercise, we don’t want to be using a copy of the repo that is involved with our midterm or anything else.

Go to the command prompt and checkout the hooks branch:

git checkout hooks

Navigate into git-tester and run the build script.


Hook Functions

The first thing you might notice in the code is that all the React classes are gone. We no longer have code like this:

export default class GetBranches extends Component { ... }

Instead, we have this:

export default function GetBranches() { ... }

We use the keyword function rather than class, and we don’t extend anything since we no longer have classes and inheritance.

NOTE: Which are better: functions or classes? I think this is probably the wrong question. Instead, we ask about the trade-offs. What is good and bad about classes? What is good and bad about functions? What do we gain or lose by switching between them? To learn more, try this Google search or one like it.

The return Statement

Another significant change is that we use a simple return statement rather than the React.Component render method. To illustrate this, I’ll go back to week one, and revisit the function component in our React Basics assignment:

import React from 'react';

export const ReactBasicsFunctionComponent = () => (
   <h1>An H1 element in a React Function Component</h1>

We could also write this like this:

import React from 'react';

export function ReactBasicsFunctionComponent() {
     <h1>An H1 element in a React Function Component</h1>

Hopefully, you see that these are two ways of doing the same thing.

At any rate, you should compare the examples above to the code in our demo and see that they both have the same structure. The differences are in the relative complexity of the return statements and the addition of the queryGetBranches function.


With the preliminaries out of the way, the next step is to see how we handle state.

Start by looking at the way we import React:

import React, { useState } from 'react';

Here we import a new function called useState that is part of React Hooks. Here is how we use it:

const [branches, setBranches] = useState(['unknown']);

This statement says that we are going to:

  • Create a variable called branches
  • Create a method called setBranches
  • Initialize branches to this array [‘unknown’]
    • We pass in the array as the sole parameter to the imported useState function.

The key takeaway here is that we no longer initialize state in a constructor. Instead, we create state by writing statements like the one shown above.

So far, the trade-offs between the old class syntax and the new hooks syntax come close to being a wash. It takes work to create a constructor and declare state, but it also takes quite a bit of code to write the new syntax, particularly if you want to declare multiple bits of state. It’s also worth noting that most developers understand constructors and know what should happen in them, but the hooks syntax is unique to hooks and unfamiliar to most developers.

Having said this, we can now turn to study more of the syntax employed by React Hooks. Here we see how Hooks simplifies our code.

Instead of calling this.setState, we can now call setBranches:

async function queryGetBranches() {
    try {
        let response = await fetch('/system-environment/getBranches');
        let result = await response.json();
    } catch (ex) {

This is very intuitive to me, because I know exactly what the function does: it sets our branches variable.

Here is how to use branches in our code down in the return statement:

{branches.map((branch, index) => { ... })}

For me, this is simpler than writing:

{this.state.branches.map((branch, index) => { ... })}


React Hooks do simplify our code, but I am not so happy about losing React Class Components because I like the class syntax.

Regardless of how resistant to change I may be, it looks as though React Hooks are going to play an increasingly large roll in the future of React. Hooks first showed up about a year ago (Fall, 2018). Now they are embraced heavily both by the React team and large portions of the React community.

NOTE: We can use React Hooks and React Class Components in the same application. So we need not move over all our code at once.

Nothing is certain, but right now it certainly looks as though new development should be based on React hooks. It is the wave of the future.

Turn it in

Our goal for this week is to have our midterm code moved over to both React Router DOM and to Hooks. You can leave your midterm code in the midterm branch. But I want you to create a new branch called week09 and to convert the components in your midterm to React Hooks.

You should end up with at least four React Function components that use hooks and that can be accessed via the React Router DOM menu:

  • YouRang
  • GetBranches
  • GitIgnoreTests
  • BadFileTests

NOTE: It is up to you whether you start your conversion with React Router DOM or React Hooks. Perhaps in some cases you might do both things in a single step: first create a new component based on hooks, then make sure it can be created and displayed via a React Router DOM menu.