Demystifying React useState

Here's a quick explaination on React's useState! My assumption is you are familiar with how class components work in React, so I'll explain what the hooks equivalents are 🚀

Let's get straight to it

useState vs setState

In React Class Components, there is this concept of two types of components. One is a stateful component, and another is a stateless component. The general principle is you have state in components where it makes sense.

For instance, if you have a <Footer> component, it doesn't really need to hold any variables of interest. But, if you're building a task management tool like trello, you'll want to store something for the tasks, users, etc.

Let's jump into code 😃

Here's a simplified example

import react from "react";

class TrelloBoard extends React {
  state = {
    boardTitle: "Hello Board!";

Note - you do not need constructor functions in React, since babel transpiles it for you behind the scenes

In our state, we have boardTitle which is in the form of a string

Let's say I modify the task board's title. It calls a function of modifyBoardTitle

import react from "react";

class TrelloBoard extends React {

  // state is above
  modifyBoardTitle(newTitle) ({
      boardTitle: newTitle
    return (
      <button onClick={() => this.modifyBoardTitle("BrownFox")}>Click me!</button>

When we click this button, it converts the boardTitle variable to "BrownFox".

Okay enough class stuff, let's go to hooks! Here's the equivalent using useState

import {useState} from "react";

const TrelloBoard = () => {
  const [boardTitle, setBoardTitle] = useState('');
  render (
    <button onClick={() => setBoardTitle("BrownFox")}>Click me!</button>

The equivalent in hooks is much simpler, as it's just a getter and setter with no side-effects. Let's see how this part works:

const [boardTitle, setBoardTitle] = useState('');

It works as follows:

  1. The first argument is the name of the variable, boardTitle
  2. The second argument is the name of the function that will modify boardTitle, in this case - setBoardTitle
  3. useState('') -> this sets an initial stateValue of ''

We abstracted away the need for a function (in this case, modifyBoardTitle). This makes it easier to maintain in the long run 😄

I made another article on useEffect as well that you may find helpful

Hi 👋

I'm Vincent Tang, a software engineer specialized in product design and manufacturing. I [learn without boundaries](, and write lessons I've learned to my past self. From engineering, to manufacturing, to leadership, and psychology. I'm the founder of Tampa Devs and I also run a coding podcast called Code Chefs