The Best React Tools and Libraries to Speed Up Front-End Development

react logo

Being the most popular front-end JavaScript framework, the React ecosystem is alive and full of useful tools and packages that you can integrate into your application. Here we’ll cover some of the more useful ones and show you how to use them.

React DevTools

react devtools

React Devtools is an extremely useful Chrome and Firefox extension when debugging React applications. You can think of it as Chrome’s Items Inspector: it lets you navigate your app tree, but rather than showing HTML and CSS, you view props and status.

You can also select items as you would with Chrome’s developer tools, which can be handy when working with complex apps.

The extension also includes the Reaction profiler, which results in more component rendering and helps eliminate poor performance and janks in your application.

The profiler can analyze your application and generate a bar graph of the most rendering-intensive components.

React router

React-router is the go-to package for handling path-based routing in your application. It adds a new component that sits at the top level of your application and routes to other components based on the URL path, allowing you to organize everything into “container” components that represent individual pages.

For example, the top Your app component might look like this:

Export default function App () {
come back (

);
}

the The component looks at all of its children and finds a component with a path argument that matches the given path. If it matches, all child components of the are rendered, typically containing a container component for an entire page.

You can even define paths with variables, such as users /: userID, which can be retrieved from the child component with useParams ().

Because React Router handles all of the routing itself, it’s incredibly customer-focused. This is called a single page application or SPA. Instead of requesting new pages from a server, the client dynamically rewrites the current page. In the case of React Router, it routes based on URL to provide a seamless experience – your users will just think your site is loading instantly.

Redux

Redux is a state container for your React application. It adds a global data store that you can connect to from any component, with actions and reducers that you can send to change the current state.

Really, Redux is just fancy packaging for React Context API. Context allows you to pass data to any component without manually passing props through intermediate components. While you can implement your own basic global database similar to Redux quite easily, Redux has a few advantages over this approach.

First of all, Redux’s debugging tools are fantastic. Since the state is immutable and can only be updated through actions and reducers, it allows time travel debugging. You can scroll through time and watch your actions affect the current state, and explore your state tree using Redux Devtools.

redux development tools

Redux can also be extended with middleware and provides a good platform for package interoperability. For example, Redux Saga is a side effects model for Redux that makes it easier to work with asynchronous actions, such as retrieving data from a database or browser cache.

Redux also handles component updates cleanly: a single state change will not render each connected component, only those it affects, thus avoiding unnecessary jerking.

Stylized components

stylized components

style components makes it easier to work with CSS in React. While you can just give everything class names and style them as usual, it’s not as “smart” and doesn’t connect to props and status very easily. React has its own styling system, but it uses a different syntax, and it’s a bit clunky.

Styled Components solves this problem by allowing you to write CSS directly into a literal string, creating a new “styled component” in the process. For example, you can create a button that changes color based on primary props by replacing the background value with a function that searches for props, like this:

Const button = styled.a`
border radius: 3px;
padding: 0.5rem 0;
background: $ {props => props.primary? “palevioletred”: “white”};
border: 2px plain white; “

You are also not limited to primitives – you can create stylish versions of your own components.

React Bootstrap

react bootstrap

Prime is the most popular frontend library on the web. It provides many different components for common UI elements like navigation bars, forms, maps and more, saving you from writing them from scratch.

React Bootstrap offers Bootstrap primitives as React components, which you can extend with custom styling to meet your application’s needs. Bootstrap eliminates behind-the-scenes formatting issues like padding, margins, flexbox, and layout, leaving you to focus on the style and functionality of your app.

You can browse their component library here to learn more.

Book of stories

If your application uses a lot of components, you might be interested in a better way to manage and test them. Book of stories provides a sandboxed environment for building and testing UI components in isolation, as well as an easy way to manage and organize your component library as a whole.

storybook

Each component is visible in isolation and has several “buttons” that control the data sent to them. You can even write extensive documentation for the component, which helps improve internal usability. Of course, Storybook does require some level of additional configuration for each component, and writing documentation isn’t free, but for large teams with a very crowded ./components folder, Storybook can help you organize it. .

If you want to demonstrate how to use it, they have many live demos available online from companies like IBM, Uber, and Coursera that use Storybook to manage their component libraries.

If Storybook is too much for you, you can try Style guide, which provides an easy-to-maintain style guide for your developers to refer to.

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