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sahra πŸ’«
sahra πŸ’«

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at dev.to

 

Best practices for optimizing the performance of your React application

Introduction

In this article, we are going to dive into understanding of the best practices and techniques for optimizing the performance of your React application. We would also be looking into some advanced techniques like implementing a caching strategy, utilizing hooks like useMemo that will help you to identify and solve any performance bottlenecks in your application. And, you'll have the knowledge to improve the performance of your application. So, let's get started.

Table Of Contents (TOC)

Understanding the Basics

When it comes to understanding the basics of optimizing the performance of your React application, there are two key concepts that you need to be familiar with: the Virtual DOM and minimizing re-renders.

Let's start with the Virtual DOM. The Virtual DOM is a representation of the actual DOM (Document Object Model) that React uses to track changes in your application's components. When a component's state or props change, React updates the Virtual DOM first and then compares it to the actual DOM to determine which changes need to be made. This allows React to make efficient updates by only changing the parts of the DOM that have actually changed, rather than re-rendering the entire page.

Here's a simple example of how the Virtual DOM works in practice. Let's say you have a component that displays a list of items, and you want to add a new item to the list. Instead of re-rendering the entire list, the Virtual DOM will only update the specific part of the DOM that corresponds to the new item.

class List extends React.Component {
  state = { items: ['item 1', 'item 2'] }

  handleClick = () => {
    this.setState(prevState => ({
      items: [...prevState.items, 'item 3']
    }))
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <div>
        <ul>
          {this.state.items.map((item, index) => (
            <li key={index}>{item}</li>
          ))}
        </ul>
        <button onClick={this.handleClick}>Add Item</button>
      </div>
    );
  }
}
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When you click the "Add Item" button, the component's state will update and the Virtual DOM will re-render with the new item. React will then compare the Virtual DOM to the actual DOM and make the necessary changes, which in this case is just adding the new item to the list.

Now, let's talk about minimizing re-renders. As the name suggests, minimizing re-renders means reducing the number of times a component is re-rendered. This is important because re-rendering a component can be a costly operation, especially if it has a lot of child components that also need to be re-rendered. Minimizing re-renders will help to improve the overall performance of your application.

shouldComponentUpdate is a lifecycle method in React that allows you to control when a component should re-render. By default, whenever the state or props of a component change, React will re-render that component and all of its child components. However, in some cases, you may want to prevent a component from re-rendering if certain conditions are not met.

Here's an example of how you might use the shouldComponentUpdate lifecycle method to minimize re-renders in a component:

class MyComponent extends React.Component {
  shouldComponentUpdate(nextProps, nextState) {
    // Only re-render if the name prop changes
    return nextProps.name !== this.props.name;
  }

  render() {
    return <div>Hello, {this.props.name}</div>;
  }
}
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In this example, the MyComponent will only re-render if the name prop changes, which will help to minimize the number of re-renders and improve performance.

Identifying Performance Bottlenecks

A performance bottleneck is a point in the application where the performance is significantly impacted, usually due to a high number of re-renders or a complex component that takes a long time to render. Identifying these bottlenecks is crucial because it allows you to focus your optimization efforts where they are needed most.

There are several tools and techniques that you can use to identify performance bottlenecks in your React application. One of the most popular tools is the React Developer Tools browser extension, which allows you to inspect the component tree and see how many times each component is re-rendered.

Here's an example of how you might use the React Developer Tools to identify a performance bottleneck in a component:

class MyComponent extends React.Component {
  state = { count: 0 }
  // state with a count of 0

  handleClick = () => {
    this.setState(prevState => ({
      count: prevState.count + 1
    }));
  }
  // handleClick function to increment the state count by 1

  render() {
    return (
      <div>
        <button onClick={this.handleClick}>Increment</button>
        <p>Count: {this.state.count}</p>
      </div>
    );
  }
  // render function with a button and a p element that displays the count
}
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In this example, when the button is clicked, the handleClick function is called which increments the count by 1 and re-renders the component. You can use the React Developer Tools to inspect the component and see how many times it is re-rendered.

Implementing a caching strategy

Caching involves storing the results of expensive operations or computations in memory so that they can be reused later, instead of recalculating them each time they are needed. This can greatly improve the performance of your application by reducing the number of expensive operations that need to be performed.

There are several ways to implement a caching strategy in a React application. One of the most popular ways is to use a caching library such as lru-cache or memoize-one. These libraries provide a simple API for caching the results of functions.

Here's an example of how you might use the memoize-one library to cache the results of a function:

import memoize from 'memoize-one';

const expensiveFunction = (arg1, arg2) => {
  // Expensive operation that takes a lot of time
  return result;
}

const memoizedFunction = memoize(expensiveFunction);

class MyComponent extends React.Component {
  state = { arg1: '', arg2: '' }

  handleChange = (event) => {
    this.setState({ [event.target.name]: event.target.value });
  }

  handleClick = () => {
    const result = memoizedFunction(this.state.arg1, this.state.arg2);
    console.log(result);
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <div>
        <input name="arg1" onChange={this.handleChange} value={this.state.arg1} />
        <input name="arg2" onChange={this.handleChange} value={this.state.arg2} />
        <button onClick={this.handleClick}>Get Result</button>
      </div>
    );
  }
}
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In this example, we use the memoize-one library to cache the results of the expensiveFunction, which is an expensive operation that takes a lot of time. We then use the memoizedFunction in our component's handleClick function.
By doing this, the expensiveFunction will only be invoked when the inputs arg1 and arg2 change, otherwise, the cached result will be returned.

Another way to implement caching in your React application is by using the useMemo and useCallback hooks. These hooks allow you to cache the results of functions or computations and only re-run them when specific dependencies change.

Here's an example of how you might use the useMemo hook to cache the results of a function:

import { useMemo } from 'react';

const expensiveFunction = (arg1, arg2) => {
  // Expensive operation that takes a lot of time
  return result;
}

function MyComponent() {
  const [arg1, setArg1] = useState('');
  const [arg2, setArg2] = useState('');
  // state to hold the inputs

  const memoizedResult = useMemo(() => expensiveFunction(arg1, arg2), [arg1, arg2]);
  //caching the result of the expensiveFunction

  return (
    <div>
      <input name="arg1" onChange={e => setArg1(e.target.value)} value={arg1} />
<input name="arg2" onChange={e => setArg2(e.target.value)} value={arg2} />
<button onClick={() => console.log(memoizedResult)}>Get Result</button>
</div>
);
}
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In this example, we use the useMemo hook to cache the results of the expensiveFunction and only re-run it when the inputs arg1 and arg2 change. We then use the memoizedResult in our component's onClick function and display it in the console.

Using functional components and hooks

Functional components are a simpler and more lightweight way to define a component in React. They are defined as a plain JavaScript function that takes props as an argument and returns JSX. They don't have access to lifecycle methods and state, so they are less prone to bugs, and they are easier to test and reason about.

Here's an example of a simple functional component that takes a name prop and returns a greeting:

const Greeting = ({name}) => <div>Hello, {name}</div>
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Hooks are another way to use functional components to improve the performance of your React application. Hooks are functions that allow you to use state and lifecycle methods in functional components. They are designed to make it easy to reuse stateful logic between components.

Here's an example of a functional component that uses the useState hook to keep track of a counter:

import { useState } from 'react';

const Counter = () => {
  const [count, setCount] = useState(0);

  return (
    <div>
      <p>Count: {count}</p>
      <button onClick={() => setCount(count + 1)}>Increment</button>
    </div>
  );
}
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By using functional components and hooks, you can improve the performance of your React application by making your code more readable, organized and easy to reason about, as well as making it more composable and testable.

Lazy Loading and Code Splitting

Lazy loading and code splitting are techniques that can greatly improve the performance of your React application by loading only the code that is needed for a specific route or component, instead of loading the entire application at once. This can help to reduce the initial load time of your application and improve the overall user experience.

One way to implement lazy loading and code splitting in your React application is by using React Router. React Router allows you to define a dynamic import function that loads the code for a specific route only when the user navigates to that route.

Here's an example of how you might use React Router to lazy load a component:

import { Route, Switch } from 'react-router-dom';

const Home = React.lazy(() => import('./Home'));
const About = React.lazy(() => import('./About'));

function App() {
  return (
    <Suspense fallback={<div>Loading...</div>}>
      <Switch>
        <Route exact path="/" component={Home} />
        <Route path="/about" component={About} />
      </Switch>
    </Suspense>
  );
}
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In this example, we use the React.lazy function to dynamically import the Home and about components. The Suspense component is used to provide a loading state while the code for the lazy-loaded components is being loaded.

Another way to implement lazy loading and code splitting is by using webpack and the dynamic import() syntax. This allows you to split your code into smaller chunks that can be loaded on demand.

Here's an example of how you might use webpack and the import() syntax to code split a component:

import Loadable from 'react-loadable';

const LoadableComponent = Loadable({
  loader: () => import('./MyComponent'),
  loading: () => <div>Loading...</div>,
});

function App() {
  return <LoadableComponent />;
}
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In this example, we use the react-loadable library to split the MyComponent into a separate chunk, which will only be loaded when the LoadableComponent is rendered.

Profiling and Debugging Tools

When it comes to optimizing the performance of your React application, profiling and debugging tools are essential. These tools allow you to analyze the performance of your application and identify areas that need improvement. They provide detailed information about the performance of your application, such as the time taken to render a component, the number of re-renders, and the size of the JavaScript bundle.

One of the most popular tools for profiling and debugging React applications is the React Developer Tools browser extension. This extension allows you to inspect the component tree, view the props and state of each component, and see how many times each component is re-rendered. It also allows you to analyze the performance of your application by measuring the time taken to render a component and the number of re-renders.

Another popular tool is the Chrome DevTools Performance panel. This panel allows you to record the performance of your application and analyze the results to identify areas where the performance could be improved. It also allows you to view the JavaScript call stack, which can help you to identify the source of performance issues.

Here's an example of how you might use the Chrome DevTools Performance panel to profile the performance of your React application:

Open the Chrome DevTools and go to the Performance panel.
Click the "Record" button to start recording the performance of your application.
Perform the actions that you want to analyze (e.g. clicking a button that triggers a re-render).
Click the "Stop" button to stop recording.
Analyze the results to see which actions had the biggest impact on the performance and identify the bottlenecks.

Here are a few libraries that can be used for profiling and debugging your React application:

  • The React-axe library, which is an accessibility testing tool that can help you to identify and fix accessibility issues in your application.
  • The why-did-you-render library, which is a library that helps you to understand why a component is re-rendering and which props or state changes are causing the re-render.
  • The react-tracker library, which is a library that allows you to track the performance of your components and the impact of different props and state changes.

These tools can help you to identify performance bottlenecks, memory leaks, and other issues that may be impacting the performance of your React application. By using these tools, you can gain a deeper understanding of how your application is performing and make informed decisions about how to optimize its performance.

Conclusion

In conclusion, optimizing the performance of your React application is an important aspect of building a high-performing and scalable application. The article outlined several best practices for improving the performance of your React application, including identifying performance bottlenecks, implementing a caching strategy, using functional components and hooks, lazy loading and code splitting, and using profiling and debugging tools. By following these best practices, you can improve the performance of your application and provide a better user experience. It's important to keep in mind that performance optimization should be an ongoing process, as new issues may arise and new techniques may become available. However, by staying informed and using the right tools and techniques, you can ensure that your React application is always performing at its best.

References:

That's it for this article😊 ...I hope you found it enlightening, if you did, please don't forget to leave a likeπŸ‘ and follow for more content. Have any questions? Please don't hesitate to drop them in the comment section

Top comments (2)

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htmnk profile image
Erik Petrinec

Interesting read, well done. Did you have any cases when u had to use the mentioned memo libraries over useCallback/useMemo?

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sarahokolo profile image
sahra πŸ’«

Thank you. Personally i haven't really had any case where useCallback/useMemo couldn't do the job, but working with complex data structures and a need to create multiple derived state values based on the same props would probably be a very good case, as it could help make your code more readable and maintainable.

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