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Dhilip kumar
Dhilip kumar

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Creating Infinite Scroll with 15 Elements

Infinite scrolling is where we load a part of the result up front, and on reaching the end of the loaded list we load the next set of results and so on.

So what is the problem?

Let us say that there is a list with 10,000 elements, say each element is displayed inside an <li> tag. So when we reach the end of the list then there will be 10,000 <li> nodes attached to the parent.

In case of complex <li> with more number of children inside it , this will cause a huge hit in the website's performance and also affects scrolling performance of the webpage.

How to overcome this overloaded DOM size?

  • It can be overcome by Unloading or discarding the top <li> which are not part of the user viewport.
  • (i.e) As and when the user scrolls down we start adding the new rows and should delete the existing rows which are above the fold.
  • We will be achieving this with fixed children size, say 15 rows max and we will update the same for new set of inputs thus maintaining a lower DOM size.

Things to consider:

*Adding new node to the bottom of the list should be done when the last element of the list enters the viewport.
*After adding the new elements to the DOM the existing elements should be deleted such that the deleted elements lies above the fold.(i.e) out of user's viewport.
*When the user scrolls up and reaches the top element then we should load the deleted top elements and should delete the bottom ones, which are below the viewport.

What are we gonna Implement?

A Component that can render a list of n number of items with fixed window size of 15 elements.(i.e) At any time only 15 DOM nodes will be present even on infinite scrolling through n elements.

Output:

Approach:

  • We are going to get some help from CSS in achieving this.(We will make use of CSS's Absolute positioning).

  • Our Parent div which wraps all our element is going be of relative in position.

  • All our children will be positioned absolutely with respect to the parent div.

  • We calculate the top for each of the child and apply it in style parameter of the <li>.

  • At any given time we will maintain 15 <li> elements in the DOM maximum.

Note: For Simplicity, we are going to consider only fixed size <li> cases.

Implementation:

Initialization:

import React from "react";
const THRESHOLD = 15;

class SlidingWindowScroll extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = {
      start: 0,
      end: THRESHOLD
    };
    this.$topElement = React.createRef();
    this.$bottomElement = React.createRef();
  }
}
  • We have created our SlidingWindowScroll component which has a state with start value and end value in it.
  • start is the starting index of the list array which has to be loaded lazily on scroll.
  • end is the last index of the list array.
  • THRESHOLD gives the maximum number of <li> elements that should be present in the DOM.
  • We create two refs:

    • this.$topElement, will point the first element(0th index) in the list item.
    • this.$bottomElement, will point the last element(14th index) in the list item.
  • Whenever the new elements are added or deleted the refs has to be updated accordingly to point to the top and bottom of the presently rendered list.

Render:

 getReference = (index, isLastIndex) => {
    if (index === 0)
      return this.$topElement;  // Attach this ref for first element
    if (isLastIndex) 
      return this.$bottomElement; // Attach this ref for last element
    return null;
  }
render() {
    const {list, height} = this.props;
    const {start, end} = this.state;
    const updatedList = list.slice(start, end);
    const lastIndex = updatedList.length - 1;
    return (
      <ul style={{position: 'relative'}}>
        {updatedList.map((item, index) => {
          const top = (height * (index + start)) + 'px';
          const refVal = this.getReference(index, index === lastIndex);
          const id = index === 0 ? 'top' : (index === lastIndex ? 'bottom' : '');
          return (<li className="li-card" key={item.key} style={{top}} ref={refVal} id={id}>{item.value}</li>);
        })}
      </ul>
    );
  }
  • We get the list and height from props and start and end of the list from state.
  • updatedList gives the new set of elements to be rendered.
  • <ul> is made relative.
  • For each item in the list, we calculate it's top position from its relative parent.
  • It is calculated by the position of the current item in the list (index + start) multiplied by height of each element.
  • refVal gives the ref that has to be attached. It will have reference to this.$topElement in case of index 0 and reference to this.$bottomElement in case of last index.
  • We attach id with value top for first element and bottom as id for last element.

Setting up the Observer for refs:


  componentDidMount() {
    this.intiateScrollObserver();
  }

  componentDidUpdate(prevProps, prevState) {
    if ((prevState.end !== this.state.end) || (prevState.start !== this.state.start)) {
      this.intiateScrollObserver();
    }
  }

  • On Mounting and on whenever the value for start or end changes the ref which points to the top and bottom of the rendered <li> is changed.
  • Since the ref starts pointing to different element we will have to listen to those two refs to know when they come into viewport.

We use IntersectionObserver to identify if the root or bottom element is in the viewport.

intiateScrollObserver = () => {
    const options = {
      root: null,          // To listen to window scroll
      rootMargin: '0px',   // if there is any margin associated with it
      threshold: 0.01      // if 1% of the element is in view
    };
    this.observer = new IntersectionObserver(this.callback, options);
    if (this.$topElement.current) {
      this.observer.observe(this.$topElement.current);
    }
    if (this.$bottomElement.current) {
      this.observer.observe(this.$bottomElement.current);
    }
  }
  • We create our IntersectionObserver with a callback that should get fired when the elements enters and leaves the viewport and options
  • In options we specify that we are listening to the scroll event in window and the element should be marked as visible even when 1% of the element comes into view(by means of threshold key).
  • Then, we observe both the refs (this.$topElement and this.$bottomElement) to know when it enters/ leaves viewport.

Handling viewport entry of <li>

callback = (entries, observer) => {
    entries.forEach((entry, index) => {
      const listLength = this.props.list.length;
      const {start, end} = this.state;
      // Scroll Down
      // We make increments and decrements in 10s
      if (entry.isIntersecting && entry.target.id === "bottom") {
        const maxStartIndex = listLength - 1 - THRESHOLD;     // Maximum index value `start` can take
        const maxEndIndex = listLength - 1;                   // Maximum index value `end` can take
        const newEnd = (end + 10) <= maxEndIndex ? end + 10 : maxEndIndex;
        const newStart = (end - 5) <= maxStartIndex ? end - 5 : maxStartIndex;
        this.updateState(newStart, newEnd);
      }
      // Scroll up
      if (entry.isIntersecting && entry.target.id === "top") {
        const newEnd = end === THRESHOLD ? THRESHOLD : (end - 10 > THRESHOLD ? end - 10 : THRESHOLD);
        let newStart = start === 0 ? 0 : (start - 10 > 0 ? start - 10 : 0);
        this.updateState(newStart, newEnd);
      }
    });
  }

  • Whenever this.$topElement or this.$bottomElement comes into viewport or leaves the viewport callback will be called.
  • entries is an array with all observers in the order of creation.
  • entries in our case will have this.$topElement and this.$bottomElement.
  • isIntersecting property gives if the element is in viewport and id helps us in deciding if it is the bottom element that came into view or the top one.
  • We make calculation to maintain 15 elements between start and end of the state.
  • We add and remove items in number of 10 and we make sure atleast 15 elements are present.
  • Finally, we update state with new values for start and end.

Updating State:

resetObservation = () => {
    this.observer.unobserve(this.$bottomElement.current);
    this.observer.unobserve(this.$topElement.current);
    this.$bottomElement = React.createRef();
    this.$topElement = React.createRef();
  }

  updateState = (newStart, newEnd) => {
    const {start, end} = this.state;
    if (start !== newStart || end !== newEnd) {
      this.resetObservation();
      this.setState({
        start: newStart,
        end: newEnd
      });
    }
  }
  • We set the state with new values and also reset all the observer.
  • While resetting, all the observers should be made unobserve to not to observe it's change in the future. And we create a new ref for this.$bottomElement and this.$topElement.

Now on scroll we have only 15 elements at a time but giving the user the sense of having it all in the DOM.

Have a unique key to avoid re-rendering of same <li>s.

Output:

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Discussion (3)

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hermetheus profile image
Allan

This is awesome! I appreciate the tutorial!

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sreeragsprks profile image
Sreeragsprks

Thank you for this amazing tutorial... cleared most of my doubts regarding DOM recycling

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dhilipkmr profile image
Dhilip kumar Author

Glad that it helped :)