Presentational and Container Components – Medium

Presentational and Container #Components:  by @dan_abramov #reactjs

  • Both presentational and container components can contain other presentational or container components just fine.
  • ** In an earlier version of this article I claimed that presentational components should only contain other presentational components.
  • When you notice that some components don’t use the props they receive but merely forward them down and you have to rewire all those intermediate components any time the children need more data, it’s a good time to introduce some container components.
  • Presentational components can be stateful, and containers can be stateless too.
  • Functional components are simpler to define but they lack certain features currently available only to class components.

You’ll find your components much easier to reuse and reason about if you divide them into two categories.

@HappyFunCorp: Presentational and Container #Components: by @dan_abramov #reactjs

There’s a simple pattern I find immensely useful when writing React applications. If you’ve been doing React for a while, you have probably already discovered it. This article explains it well, but I want to add a few more points.

You’ll find your components much easier to reuse and reason about if you divide them into two categories. I call them Container and Presentational components* but I also heard Fat and Skinny, Smart and Dumb, Stateful and Pure, Screens and Components, etc. These all are not exactly the same, but the core idea is similar.

My presentational components:

My container components:

I put them in different folders to make this distinction clear.

Remember, components don’t have to emit DOM. They only need to provide composition boundaries between UI concerns.

Take advantage of that.

I suggest you to start building your app with just presentational components first. Eventually you’ll realize that you are passing too many props down the intermediate components. When you notice that some components don’t use the props they receive but merely forward them down and you have to rewire all those intermediate components any time the children need more data, it’s a good time to introduce some container components. This way you can get the data and the behavior props to the leaf components without burdening the unrelated components in the middle of the tree.

This is an ongoing process of refactoring so don’t try to get it right the first time. As you experiment with this pattern, you will develop an intuitive sense for when it’s time to extract some containers, just like you know when it’s time to extract a function. My free Redux Egghead series might help you with that too!

It’s important that you understand that the distinction between the presentational components and the containers is not a technical one. Rather, it is a distinction in their purpose.

By contrast, here are a few related (but different!) technical distinctions:

Stateful and Stateless. Some components use React setState() method and some don’t. While container components tend to be stateful and presentational components tend to be stateless, this is not a hard rule. Presentational components can be stateful, and containers can be stateless too.

Classes and Functions. Since React 0.14, components can be declared both as classes and as functions. Functional components are simpler to define but they lack certain features currently available only to class components. Some of these restrictions may go away in the future but they exist today. Because functional components are easier to understand, I suggest you to use them unless you need state, lifecycle hooks, or performance optimizations, which are only available to the class components at this time.

Both presentational components and containers can fall into either of those buckets. In my experience, presentational components tend to be stateless pure functions, and containers tend to be stateful pure classes. However this is not a rule but an observation, and I’ve seen the exact opposite cases that made sense in specific circumstances.

Don’t take the presentational and container component separation as a dogma. Sometimes it doesn’t matter or it’s hard to draw the line. If you feel unsure about whether a specific component should be presentational or a container, it might be too early to decide. Don’t sweat it!

This gist by Michael Chan pretty much nails it.

* In an earlier version of this article I called them “smart” and “dumb” components but this was overly harsh to the presentational components and, most importantly, didn’t really explain the difference in their purpose. I enjoy the new terms much better, and I hope that you do too!

Presentational and Container Components – Medium