DEV Community

Itay Schechner
Itay Schechner

Posted on

Using Forms In React.js, The Right Way (no library needed)

TL;DR

  • In order to create composable, reusable and readable components, we use component factories that take advantage of TypeScript and the Context API.
  • Combining context wrappers, context actions and context form inputs will enhance the readability and reusability of your code by a mile.

Introduction

What if you could create form utilities that are so modular and reusable, that all you need to compose a signup form from the components of a login form is to define you want the email to be unique!

What if you could create extremely readable components that you can spend hours looking at?

What if anyone reading your component could immediately see in their imagination how it looks like on the web?

Check out the example below:
Example

My name is Itay and I’m a frontend developer who specializes in back-of-the-frontend code, particularly in React.js.

In this article, I’m going to describe my approach for writing form logic in react. Even if you decide to adopt some of it to your codebase, I guarantee it will be much cleaner.

NOTE: This post is heavily based on subjects I wrote about in my previous post, and it uses context logical wrappers and actions.

In this post, you’ll learn about:

  1. The useField hook
  2. Form stages and form input factories.

In the end, I’ll show you a detailed authentication form example.

The Field Hook

Let’s start with some TypeScript:

TS

We can now use this those types to create our custom hook. From the type definition, we understand the functionality of this hook:

  • the hook will manage the field state
  • the hook is responsible for showing the errors and providing a method to show them. From that, we understand that the hook will consist of an error visiblity state as well.
  • the hook provides no method to hide the errors, meaning it should take care of that on its own.

Let’s see what we can build with that:

Hook

If you take this hook and use it in your apps, it will already be a lot easier for you. However, I want to show you how to take your forms to the next level with form input factories and form stages.

Form Input Factories

A kind reminder:

A component factory is a function that returns a functional component. It defers from HOC by not taking a component in the arguments.

Let's start, again, with some TypeScript:

TS

Now that we understand the parameters, let's write the factory. I want to have a way to override the label and the hint when needed.

Factory

You can then create a custom context that contains the fields for you form, and let the context wire the logic for everything.

Note that you can add more fields to the form (such as name), and not render their input in the login form but do render them in the signup form - and everything would still work exactly as expected

Let's create out fields:

Fields

Form Stages

A form stage is anything that happens while filling out the form, and you don’t know how much time it will take.

Form stages consist of those two types:

  1. A user filling an input field
  2. Async validations of the values in the form. For example - validating your email and password on login.

I highly recommend storing your stages in a TypeScript enum, like the example below, and then create logical wrappers to toggle between the stages. Let’s see how it can supercharge our codebase and make it extremely readable.

Stage

You can now use form stages to conditionally render Loading messages, or hide inputs that aren’t required in the current phase of the form, creating a “flow” for the users filling out the form.

Let's see the full logic behind the Auth Form Context:

Stages

In one of my projects, I created a much more complex authentication form with name and password confirm fields, but the reusability features saved me a lot of time doing that!

Enchancements

  • If you wanted to, you could also create a passwordVisible boolean value and compose a conditional warpper out of it, creating the visibility option for your password input field.

Something like:

Password Input Field

  • You can also upgrade the context action factory, providing a disabledConsumer argument to disable the button when values aren’t validated.

Check out a cool usage in my project:

GitHub logo itays123 / partydeck

A cool online card game!

Discussion (2)

Collapse
jai_type profile image
Jai Sandhu

Interesting approach, how do you clear the form when it’s submitted?

Collapse
itays123 profile image
Itay Schechner Author

If you need to clear the form on submit, set the value of the fields in the submit handler of your context. Then create a form warpper with the on Submit event, or attach it to the onClick event of the submit button and the onKeyEnter event of the last input field.