Tushar Tiwari


Behind the Scenes of React useState Hook.

Demystifying React's useState by Rebuilding the Hook from scratch.

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Tushar Tiwari
·Nov 14, 2021·
Behind the Scenes of React useState Hook.
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So every React developer must have used React's useState Hook someday, but if you haven't here's a little intro -
In React, the useState hook is used inside a Functional Component to declare, read and update state variable.

Syntax -

const [value, setValue] = useState(defaultValue);

Example -

import React, { useState } from 'react';

function Example() {
  // Declare a new state variable, which we'll call "count"
  const [count, setCount] = useState(0);

  return (
      <h1>The counter example</h1>
      <button onClick={() => setCount(count - 1)}>-</button>
      <button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>+</button>

And it Works! ✨✨✨

The simplicity of this hook by simply letting us create a state by calling a function made me wonder how React does all of this magic.

Let's understand how React handles useState by:

Rebuilding the useState hook -

What we've observed is useState is a function that takes value and returns an array of two elememts including a variable having defaultValue of our state and a function to update the state something like this:

const useState = (value) => {
  function setValue() {
    // some logic here...
  const state = [value, setValue];
  return state;

Let's figure out what setValue do?

when we call setValue() it updates our state's value and most importantly makes the application re-renders,
so that's what we are going to do here too.

const rootEl = document.getElementById("root");

function setValue(newValue) {    
    value = newValue;     // 1. update value
    renderReact();        // 2. rerender React

function renderReact() {

And yes, we did both things but still, the count is not getting updated in the browser. Why so?

I smashed my head like a hundred times and finds out It's because every time we call setValue using Btn Click our useState expects it as a new hook we just want to create and declare a new state for us from defaultValues and returns that.

To better understand this, try pressing + below and see the console.
You will notice that it's giving the same default state on every Btn click.

To solve this, we need to do three things -

  1. Declare the state outside the useState function so that it doesn't get garbage collected when the function completes its execution.
  2. Add up a condition inside useState that says don't create a new state if there's already a state.
  3. Instead of assigning the newValue to value, assign it to state[0] because we know that state has already been initialized.

Let's do it.

let state = [];          // 1st condition
const useState = (value) => {
  if(state.length)       // 2nd condition
    return state;

  function setValue(newValue) {
    state[0] = newValue;  // 3rd condition

And finally, after a lot of tweaking the code, it is finally working.

PS: This code only works for single useState per Component, If you want to use multiple states check out this awesome talk by Ryan. I assure you it's worth the time.

This definitely is just a broad picture of what useState does. It handles a lot of other things like maintaining hooks Array, memory cells etc.

Conclusion -

We are at the very end of this article and now you may think that I know all about hooks, but really it is just the tip of the iceberg. Understanding the code which we write is definitely an awesome idea. So, I recommend you don't just stop here and check out some of the resources below:

Resources -

That's it for this article, I hope you liked this. Please share your feedback and questions (if any) in replies!

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