useState

Perhaps the most critical part of React is the ability for individual components to own and manage their own state. Historically (with Class components), the way we've accomplished this is by adding a **state** property on the component's instance (**this**) and updating that state with the **setState** method.

This worked fine, but with the advent of React Hooks, we no longer need to use Classes for our stateful components. Instead, we can use function components and make them stateful with the **useState** Hook.

useState

**useState** comes built-in with React and can be accessed via **React.useState**. It takes in a single argument, the initial value for that piece of state, and returns an array with the first item being the state value and the second item being a way to update that state.

The canonical and more precise way to write the code above is to use Array destructuring and put it all on one line. You can see that in the full example here.


The Mental Model

Now that we've seen a simple example for how the **useState** API works, before we get into more advanced use cases, it's important to have a solid mental model for the actual functionality that it provides. Namely, **useState** allows you to trigger a component re-render, and it can preserve values between renders.

Trigger Re-renders

The concept here is the same as before when we'd invoke **setState**. Whenever you invoke the updater function that **useState** gives you, assuming the argument you pass in is different from the current state value, React will cause a re-render to the component, updating the UI.

Preserve Values

Typically when you invoke a function in JavaScript, unless you're utilizing closures, you expect any values defined in that function to get garbage collected once the function is finished executing and you expect each subsequent call to that function to produce its own unique values.

Because React Components are now just functions, naturally you may want to apply the same intuition to them. However, if that were the case, React wouldn't work. The whole point of React is that components are able to describe their UI based on their current state, **View = fn(state)**. This implies that React, under the hood, has some way to preserve values between function calls to prevent them from being garbage collected once the function has finished executing. The public API for this, as you've seen, is **useState**.

The way I like to think about **useState** is it's the tool to preserve values between function calls/renders and to trigger a re-render of the component.

In a future lesson, you'll learn of another Hook (useRef) that, like useState, allows you to preserve values between renders but, unlike useState, won't trigger a re-render to the component.

setState vs useState

Right away you'll notice a few differences between the **useState** Hook and the traditional way we've managed state in Class components. First, there's no more instance wide API for updating all of the state of the component as there was with **setState**. Instead, each piece of state comes with its own updater function. Second, and this is related to the first point, there's no instance wide API for setting the initial values of all of the state properties on the component as there was with **state = {}**. Instead, each unique piece of state should have its own **useState** invocation (and therefore its own value and updater function).

Class

useState


State Objects

Perhaps the most important distinction between **setState** and **useState** is how they handle objects. Historically, all of the state for our component would live on an object, **this.state**. Whenever we wanted to update that state, we'd call **setState**passing it an object representing the state changes we wanted to make. Any properties that existed on our state previously, that weren't included in the object passed to **setState**, would stay the same since React would merge the two objects to form the new state.

With **useState**, that's not the case. Unlike **setState****useState** won't merge the new object with the previous state. Instead, it'll replace it completely.

This design decision makes sense in the context of what we mentioned earlier, that "each unique piece of state should have its own **useState** invocation (and therefore its own value and updater function)."

Of course, you can get around this by manually merging the previous state with the new state if you want, but that'll come with a performance hit.

If the most logical data type for your piece of state is an object, it's best to use the **useReducer** Hook which we'll see in an upcoming lesson.


Functional Updates

With **setState**, whenever you set the current state based on the previous state, it's recommended to pass a function as an argument to **setState** instead of an object. The reason for this is state updates may be asynchronous. There's a lot of work happening under the hood when you call **setState**, so for React to guarantee that the state value is up to date, they have you pass them a function that receives **state**rather than relying on referencing state from the component instance.

Here, we're incrementing or decrementing **count** based on its previous value, so we use the function form of **setState**.

With **useState**, the same logic applies. Whenever you're setting the current state based on the previous state, you'll want to pass a function to your updater function so you get the correct, most up to date value.


Lazy State Initialization

Here's a scenario. What if the initial value for a piece of state was the result of an expensive calculation? Something like this.

If you play around with that code, you'll notice that, even though React only uses the value calculated from **getExpensiveCount** on the initial render, anytime the component re-renders, the "expensive" **getExpensiveCount** is being invoked. That's not ideal at all. We only want to calculate the initial state once, not on every render. Luckily for us, React gives us an escape hatch for this scenario.

If the initial value for a piece of state is the result of an expensive calculation, you can pass **useState** a function that when invoked, will resolve to the initial state. When **useState** sees that it received a function as its initial state argument, it'll only invoke it once on the initial render.

If you're confused by the difference between the last two examples, note that the key lies in what we pass to useState. In the first example, we pass useState a function invocation. In the second, we pass it a function definition. What that means is that, from useState's perspective, in the first example, it receives 999 since that's what getExpensiveCount returns. In the second, it receives a function that it needs to invoke to get the initial value.


Now that you know the API and mental model behind the **useState** Hook, the next Hook we're going to dive into is **useEffect** which will allow us to replace our lifecycle methods.

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