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Use SWR with Geolocation

sergiodxa profile image Sergio Daniel Xalambrí Originally published at sergiodxa.com ・4 min read

While SWR is mostly used to fetch data from an API, it could be used to read data from any source, in this case, we will create a fetcher function to get the current position in latitude and longitude of the user.

We will also subscribe to location changes and update the data SWR used to ensure we keep it up-to-date.

Running Demo

This is the final project running in CodeSandbox

Creating the Fetcher

First of all, we need to create the fetcher we will pass to SWR, this function must return a Promise resolved to the data we want SWR to cache. However, Geolocation API uses a callback, to convert it to a Promise we could return an instance of Promise and manually resolve it when we get the location.

function fetcher() {
  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    function onSuccess({ coords }) {
      resolve([coords.latitude, coords.longitude]);
    }

    navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition(onSuccess, reject);
  });
}

As you can see, the onSuccess callback we pass to navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition will resolve the Promise with an array with the latitude and longitude.

Using SWR in a Component

Now we need to use our fetcher in a component. First, we need to create a component where we will call useSWR as the key we will use geolocation this key is not going to be used by the fetcher in our case, as you would typically do if you used an API endpoint, as the fetcher we will use our function from above.

function App() {
  const { data: position, mutate } = useSWR("geolocation", fetcher);

  if (!position) {
    return (
      <Map zoom={15}>
        <TileLayer
          url="https://{s}.tile.openstreetmap.org/{z}/{x}/{y}.png"
          attribution='&copy; <a href="http://osm.org/copyright">OpenStreetMap</a> contributors'
        />
      </Map>
    );
  }

  return (
    <Map center={position} zoom={15}>
      <TileLayer
        url="https://{s}.tile.openstreetmap.org/{z}/{x}/{y}.png"
        attribution='&copy; <a href="http://osm.org/copyright">OpenStreetMap</a> contributors'
      />
      <Marker position={position} />
    </Map>
  );
}

As you can see, we detect if the position exists and render a centered map with a marker if it exists and a non-centered map without a marker, if it does not, exists.

Note: The Map, TileLayer and Marker components come from the react-leaflet library, but could be easily replaced with Google Map components if desired. I have used this one because it does not need any API key to work.

Subscribing to Location Changes

To subscribe to changes in the current location, we could use the navigator.geolocation.watchPosition function, and this function receives a callback similar to navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition, we could then use the mutate function from SWR to update the cached data.

To run that function, we could use the useEffect hook of React.

React.useEffect(() => {
  const id = navigator.geolocation.watchPosition((position) => {
    mutate([position.coords.latitude, position.coords.longitude], false);
  });
  return () => navigator.geolocation.clearWatch(id);
}, [mutate]);

Notice we are getting an id from watchPosition, this id is the watcher's identification. We later use it in the returned function to unsubscribe. This let us stop calling mutate after the component unmounts.

We also call mutate without passing the key, this is because useSWR will also return a mutate function (you can see it in the step before) with the key predefined, so we only need to pass the rest of the arguments.

In our case we disable the revalidation because we can trust the data we received, there is no need to call getCurrentPosition again after a new position comes from watchPosition.

All Combined

If we combined all the code above, we will get the following code:

import React from "react";
import useSWR from "swr";
import { Map, TileLayer, Marker } from "react-leaflet"; // the Map library

// Our fetcher function
function fetcher() {
  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    function onSuccess({ coords }) {
      resolve([coords.latitude, coords.longitude]);
    }

    navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition(onSuccess, reject);
  });
}

export default function App() {
  const { data: position, mutate } = useSWR("geolocation", fetcher);

  // Our effect is defined after useSWR and before the condition
  React.useEffect(() => {
    const id = navigator.geolocation.watchPosition((position) => {
      mutate([position.coords.latitude, position.coords.longitude], false);
    });
    return () => navigator.geolocation.clearWatch(id);
  }, [mutate]);

  if (!position) {
    return (
      <Map zoom={15}>
        <TileLayer
          url="https://{s}.tile.openstreetmap.org/{z}/{x}/{y}.png"
          attribution='&copy; <a href="http://osm.org/copyright">OpenStreetMap</a> contributors'
        />
      </Map>
    );
  }

  return (
    <Map center={position} zoom={15}>
      <TileLayer
        url="https://{s}.tile.openstreetmap.org/{z}/{x}/{y}.png"
        attribution='&copy; <a href="http://osm.org/copyright">OpenStreetMap</a> contributors'
      />
      <Marker position={position} />
    </Map>
  );
}

You can see the application working in the demo at the beginning of the article, if you are on Google Chrome (or another Chromium-based browser) you can mock your sensors in the DevTools to simulate being in another part of the world, and the map will update in real-time.

You can also open it in your mobile phone and go out for a walk to see how you move, the amount of distance and accuracy of your location will vary per physical device.

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