We often want to have events triggered just as our components load. With React Hooks, we can use a method called useEffect that will allow us to do this, and a number of other powerful things.

Mounting and Updating

In an attempt to modify the pace of our learning, I have been perhaps criminally remiss in not introducing the React class methods called:

These “life-cycle” methods are called automatically by React. I don’t think I need to spell out in more depth when they are called as they are well named after the event that triggers them. The links do, however, lead to more in-depth explanations.

NOTE: Above I talk about rendering a component. In the world of React Class Components, a component is rendered by calling our implementation of the render method. There is no render method in a React Function component, so instead of talking about calls to render, we just talk about rendering the component. These are two ways of talking about the same thing.

Handling Effects

In React function components, events like componentDidMount do not exist. Instead, we have useEffect, just as we have useState as an alternative to setState

Finding the right name for this new method was difficult, and I do not find useEffect to be as descriptive a name as componentDidMount. What exactly is meant be the word effect? The developers of React think of effects as “Data fetching, setting up a subscription, and manually changing the DOM”. I believe they mean that if you want to call fetch, set up an event, or ask to rerender your component, then useEffect is the proper way to handle or setup these effects.

Suppose we want to have YouRang called automatically when our component is loaded, rather than having to press a button. In a React Class Component use componentDidMount. In our function components, use useEffect, and pass in the name of the method that contains our call to fetch. But this is not quite enough, as it sets up an infinite loop. We call fetch and change the components state, and this causes render to be called, which causes useEffect to be called, which starts the whole cycle from the beginning, and so on, forever and ever. To stop this endlessly looping, pass an empty array as a second parameter to useEffect:

  • The first parameter is a callback. Inside the call back we call fetch 
  • The second parameter is an empty array
import React, {useState, useEffect} from 'react';

function YouRang() {

    // Code omitted here.

    useEffect(function() {
    }, []);

    // Code omitted here.


export default YouRang;

To help you see both parameters clearly, here is another way to view the call to useEffect:

const callback = function() {

useEffect(callback, []);

And here is what it looks like with ES6 arrow syntax:

useEffect(() => {
}, []);

To help you see the two parameters, I’ll format it slightly differently:

useEffect(() => { queryYouRang(); }, []);

The input Parameter

The second parameter we pass to useEffect allows us to fire effects only under certain conditions. By default, useEffect is fired every time our component is rendered, which is what led us into the infinite loop described above. But we can tell React to fire the event only if certain props or state are changed. As we have seen, if we pass in an empty array, then useEffect is called only after the first time the component is rendered.

NOTE: Recall that we use to think of rendering a component as the time when our implementation of render was called.

If we want useState to be called at other times, then pass in array of props or state that should trigger a new call to useEffect. Hopefully we will have a chance to explore how this works in more depth before the final. If not, we will likely look at next quarter.

Turn it in

Where possible, transform your existing components to render automatically rather than on button clicks. In some cases, it might still make sense to keep the button. If not, remove it. Please include branch, folder and a tag.