Josh Pitzalis

Making the Web Stuffs

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Things To Learn Before Redux

With React’s new context API you can go a long way with a plain old react app before things become tedious. I encourage you to learn how to use the new context API before you reach for redux.

I also have tremendous respect for component setState. Learn how to use it before you start with redux. Did you know setState takes a callback? Did you know you can pass setState an updater function? Did you know that you can declare state changes outside of a component?

Using Redux before you understand how to use higher order components can also be a little confusing. Before you start using redux understand higher order components well enough to know when it’s better to use a render prop.

If you’re comfortable with context, you’ve mastered setState batching and you know what a prop-namespace-clash is, and you are still finding you app hard to manage then you are going to love redux.


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React Component Defaults

I’m giving up stateless functional components for a while.

They’re super nice but they’re not worth the refactor when you need a lifecycle method.

You could use recompose, which is also super nice, but completely avoidable.

Sticking to Class Components means I won’t need Recompose or a refactor.

If I’m going with Class Components then I might as well go with Pure Class Components.

React.PureComponent stops components from needlessly re-rendering. PureComponent is not something you use on a special occasion, it’s a sensible default.

The only reason I’d need to use a regular class component is when I want the component to re-render when a nested prop or value in state changes.

Then it’s back to React.Component and a shouldComponentUpdate(). A regular component without a shouldComponentUpdate method is now a red flag for me.

I use Pawel’s amazing snippet generator to create my new...

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Typechecking Non-React Code

When you build a component in React you have the option to explicitly declare the type of props that it can, or must, accept by using the prop-types library.

This may seem like pointless extra work when you’re starting out, but when you begin working with other people declaring your props is a fantastic way to communicate how a component can be used and what it needs to work.

What you probably didn’t know is that Typechecking also make your code run faster. The V8 engine in chrome has something called Ignition, which is an interpreter. If your code consistently runs without type errors then V8 will skip the interpretation process and jump straight to turbo. Break the rules once and all your code will need to be interpreted from that point onwards. Strongly typed code runs in the fast lane.

The ‘prop-types’ library works for react code but it doesn’t work with all the non-react...

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Hot Modules In Create React App

Create React App automatically reloads css style changes but not other code changes.

Adding hot modules to a create-react-app lets you change source code in your app and see the changes without the app reloading.

Below the ReactDOM.render function in src/index.js add the following snippet:

if ( {"./App", () => {
    const NextApp = require("./App").default;

That’s it.

Go to your browser, update some source code and the changes will appear immediately.

Unfortunately, your app will lose internal state with any changes. I haven’t figured out a way to maintain state without ejecting or rewiring the app. To rewire you app checkout Dave Ceddia’s article on the topic.

If you want follow the approach above but you have a component in the index file (like a Routes...

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React setState takes an updater function

If you increment a count in state using a state update function 3 times then the final count will be 3.

state = {count: 0}

this.setState( previousState => ({count: previousState.count++}))
this.setState( previousState => ({count: previousState.count++}))
this.setState( previousState => ({count: previousState.count++}))

this.state.count = 3

If you increment state 3 times just using a regular object then the changes will get batched together. Something that often gets overlooked is that setState  is asynchronous. State may not change immediately on calling setState because react batches state changes for performance.

state = {count: 0}

this.setState( { count: this.state.count++})
this.setState( { count: this.state.count++})
this.setState( { count: this.state.count++})

this.state.count = 1

The rule is if you need to reference current state then use an updater function, if you...

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Learning Log

Kent C. Dodds tweeted about someone’s learning log today. What a neat idea. Blogs can be a lot of work. A log sounds much more manageable.

I had a look at said log and it was intense. There is no way I could keep something like that up. I’d be logging full time.

Hello Code, a software duo from Australia, has these beautiful monthly blog posts where they sum up key metrics from each of their projects. Visitors, signups, profit, the important essentials without all the fluff.

Applying the Hello Code approach to a learning log might work:

How many hours have you spent coding?

  • 2126 in total since 2015

I calculate this by using rescue time. Rescue time is an app that keeps rack of what apps you use and what websites you visit. Whenever its a coding specific app like an editor or a website like Github, it logs that time and time spent coding. Not perfect but effortless and good enough...

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Getting Truffle to Work With React

Truffle is a handy tool that helps you compile and deploy smart contracts. I ran into a bunch of gotchas the first time I tried setting a project up with truffle and react, so I’m going to walk your through the basics.

Truffle has made it simple to build Dapps with different frontend frameworks by creating pre-configured boilerplates projects called truffle boxes. To create a react truffle box create an empty folder and navigate into it in the command line, then type truffle unbox react.

Before you can use your truffle box you have to compile and deploy the example smart contract that comes with the boilerplate. To do this, type truffle develop in the command line and this will start a truffle development console. Inside the console type compile, wait for it to finish compiling and then type migrate.

The ‘develop’ command will create a test blockchain for you to use while you are...

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React + Firestore : Deploying Your Application


  1. To get setup please refer to part 1 : React + Firestore : Get Setup In Five Steps.

  2. Please refer to part 2 for the basics of reading and writing to the database in React + Firestore: CRUD.

Initialise A Firebase Project

To be able to deploy a project to firebase hosting you will need to have firebase-tools installed on your computer. To do this open up your terminal and type npm install -g firebase-tools

When firebase-tools is finished installing, navigate to your the folder with the react project you want to deploy. Then type firebase init into the terminal.

You will be asked which firebase features you would like to include. We are going to use the example project in React + Firestore: CRUD]( so we are going to select Firestore and Hosting. Use teh arrow keys to move up and down and then the space bar to select a feature. Press enter to...

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React + Firestore : Authentication


  1. To get setup please refer to part 1 : React + Firestore : Get Setup In Five Steps.

  2. Please refer to part 2 for the basics of reading and writing to the database in React + Firestore: CRUD.

  3. Please refer to part 3 for how to deploy your application in React + Firestore : Deploying Your Application.

Authentication Setup

  • To set up authentication in the firebase console go to the authentication section under DEVELOP in the left-hand pane (1), clicking on the ‘sign-in method’ tab (2), find the provider you want (3) and enabling it (4), before saving your settings (5).


We’re going to use Google to sign in because you already have a google account and you’ve connected it by being logged into the firebase console.

Other 3rd party logins require setting up an app on the respective social platform and then entering some keys here. This is a bit of a detour so I recommend checking out...

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React + Firestore : CRUD


One of the biggest barriers to learning React used to be the overwhelming amount of tooling involved. Beginners were forced to make important decisions about things they don’t understand before they could create anything.

React solved this problem in 2016 by releasing something called Create React App. Now there is an official way to create single-page React applications with zero configuration. If you chose to use create-react-app then you don’t have to make any other decisions.

I believe firebase is create-react-app for the backend. It lets you start building full-stack applications without having to get lost in a wormhole of build tools and server-side boilerplate. Using only Firebase and React you can build and deploy a full-stack project set up in a weekend.

To get setup please refer to React + Firestore : Get Setup In Five Steps.

Read From The Firestone

Lets manually add...

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