Are you a beginner that wants to get into programming but don't know where to start? Or you know about programming but know that you for sure want to get into web development? Or are you a complete beginner that believes programming is all about manipulating zeroes and ones on a display like they display in 80s-90s Hollywood films? Well, you're looking at the right article! This article is catered to any who fits the following description:
Programming is a large discipline, you can get into data engineering, web development, mobile application development, and much more. Here at LateefLab, (obviously) we're focused on web development. One of the most, if not, most popular things in web development is ReactJS.
What is React?
Installation (or just use your browser!)
You have two options on how you can use on your computer:
First, install the latest LTS (long term support) version of NodeJS on your computer. Secondly, follow these steps to install Create-React-App on your computer. Create-React-App is a way to bootstrap your React environment with most of the necessary packages to get you using React quickly.
Thankfully with recent advancements in the web, you can follow along without leaving your browser! Below at the end of this tutorial, there is an embedded, interactive window that contains a copy of this project used in this tutorial. Feel free to use it, we placed it there for curious individuals like yourself so you can tinker and learn without leaving your web browser.
For those doing local development (if you're using StackBlitz, you don't need to do this as the project was setup for you), open your cmd/terminal and do the following commands:
$ npx create-react-app react-hook-todo-tutorial
Open the folder titled react-hook-todo-tutorial in your text editor/IDE. You would see the following file structure:
Before we get started, lets install a npm package (Bootstrap) to improve our React project. NPM (Node Package Manager) is package manager for NodeJS, it is one of the supported package managers for React and often used to install/uninstall external packages in our projects. We'll use npm install Bootstrap so we can to add Bootstrap styling to our components. In your cmd/terminal, run the following command:
$ npm install bootstrap
In React, components are the building blocks of our application.Most React developers love to keep their folder structure as organized as possible. One popular way to keep our project organized is to make folders specifically for our components. Inside of your text editor/IDE, make a folder within the /src folder titled components
Your folder structure should look like this:
Nearly all we're focusing on in this tutorial is within the /src folder. However since we're using Bootstrap, we have to import the Bootstrap CSS. Within our project's root folder, open index.js. index.js is the entry point to our React application. You'll notice that the App component is already there within the ReactDOM.render() method. This means that when we startup our application, we're telling it to render the App component (and whatever else the App component is supposed to render). While inside index.js, add the following line to import Bootstrap CSS and save the file:
Alternatively, you can open the index.css, add the following line to import Bootstrap CSS and save the file:
Your entire index.js should look like the following:
Exploring App.js (Part 1)
Open the /src folder and take a look at App.js. This is where we'll write the bulk of our application. We'll use React Hooks to control state of our components. React Hooks help us control the behavior of our component by using functions instead of classes. For more information on React Hooks, take a look at the official documentation.
To get things started, import the React Hook useState at the top of the file:
Since we're creating a simple todo list application, lets get started with some default todos so we can manipulate and harness the power of React (using Hooks)! Copy and paste the following snippet inside your function App():
On line 4, we defined a state variable, named todos and a function to control todos, named setTodos. The syntax for using the useState Hook is [*state variable*, *function to set state variable*] = useState([..])
Beginning on line 6, we define 2 state props; someText (string type) and isCompleted (boolean type). Using "key:value" pairs, we created 3 static todos that'll appear when we run our application.
Creating TodoItem component
Next, we're going to make our first reusable component! One of the best features of React is to leverage reusable components. How often do you see websites/apps that have timelines/feeds, where each post has the same exact structure as you scroll through the website/app? The answer is: nearly all the time. React makes it easy to replicate the same behavior for our own application.
In your text editor/IDE, make a new file named TodoItem.js inside of the /components folder and open that file. This is where we define our TodoItem() component. It is considered a child component to the App() component, as the App() component is called before the its child, TodoItem() (like a family ancestral tree). Copy, paste, and save the following in TodoItem.js:
TodoItem() is small in comparison to our App() component, so you may thinking, "why separate each component"? From a technical perspective, you are not required to have a separate file for each component in your React application. However, as a code base grows over time with new features, it is considered a good practice to separate each component. One rule of thumb I personally follow to determine if I should separate a component into its own file is how I design my user interface. If a component is a specific part of my UI (TodoItem() renders each individual todo) then it should separate into its own file and imported in it's parent component. The parent component will be responsible for controlling the behavior of the child component.
Exploring App.js (Part 2)
Go back to our App.js file, lets import the TodoItem() component we just created. Copy and paste the following at the top of the App.js:
Lets add some functionality to our application. Copy, paste, and save the following code. Place it directly under where we last left off in the snippet of App() you copy and pasted earlier:
Here we defined 2 functions, completeTodo and removeTodo. Here is a deeper dive into each function:
To complete our App() component, we need to actually render some UI. At the bottom of our App(), copy and paste the following:
In our render() method, we created a few <div> to add some organization to our HTML, but take close look at line 4 and line 6. Line 4 is highlights one of React's strong-suits that you can combine business logic with UI. At line 4, we're creating an array/list of todos and giving each individual todo an unique identifier, called index. Starting in line 6, we actually render our TodoItem() component, passing in all the required props that TodoItem() needs (just like how we defined our child component).
Creating InputTodo component
Wouldn't it be great to have some user input in our app? Of course! Lets create a component that'll take in some user input and we can add an item to our todo state variable (effectively creating a larger list).
In your text editor/IDE, make a new file named InputTodo.js inside of the /components folder, open the file. This is where we'll define our InputTodo() component. Similar to the TodoItem() component, InputTodo() is also a child component to App(). Copy, paste, and save the following:
There is few things to explain in this component. This child component also has it's own state variable, value. We're using the useState() Hook to control the value of value.
This child component only takes in 1 prop from its parent component, addTodo. Remember, the plan is to have this component rendered from the App() component and have some value (defined in InputTodo() as addTodo) passed into it so we can manipulate it.
We also define a function within our component, handleSubmit. handleSubmit is required as our render() method uses an JSX form and we submit a form in React, we must provide some functionality on how to actually handle a form submission. Here is a breakdown of handleSubmit:
Finally, we build the UI for our component, using some Bootstrap styling. Take a close look our how we define our input tag using the current value of our state variable, value and how we call setValue(). Lastly, in the last line of the file, we export the component so we can reuse it throughout our application.
Exploring App.js (Part 3)
Go back to our App.js file, lets import the InputTodo() component we just created. At the top of the file, copy and paste the following:
Now lets render the InputTodo() component. (Important note: You can render the component anywhere in the UI as you want, thats the power of isolating each component as reusable, child components). Copy and paste the following in our render() method within our App() component:
Launching our Application!
Make sure you've saved all files we worked on. Go to you cmd/terminal, enter the following command to start your local development server:
You should see all the components we've built and have the ability to check off todos, remove todos, and add todos. Congratulations, this start of your developer journey! Here is a completed project here in StackBlitz:
Like the content posted on this site? Need help with another web project? Want to give some feedback? Feel free to contact me via email or social media!Know more!