Redux FAQ: Design Decisions

Table of Contents

Design Decisions

Why doesn't Redux pass the state and action to subscribers?

Subscribers are intended to respond to the state value itself, not the action. Updates to the state processed synchronously, but notifications to subscribers can be batched or debounced, meaning that subscribers are not always notified with every action. This is a common performance optimization to avoid repeated re-rendering.

Batching or debouncing is possible by using enhancers to override store.dispatch to change the way that subscribers are notified. Also, there are libraries that change Redux to process actions in batches to optimize performance and avoid repeated re-rendering:

  • redux-batch allows passing an array of actions to store.dispatch() with only one notification,
  • redux-batched-subscribe allows batching of subscribe notifications that occur as a result of dispatches.

The intended guarantee is that Redux eventually calls all subscribers with the most recent state available, but not that it always calls each subscriber for each action. The store state is available in the subscriber simply by calling store.getState(). The action cannot be made available in the subscribers without breaking the way that actions might be batched.

A potential use-case for using the action inside a subscriber -- which is an unsupported feature -- is to ensure that a component only re-renders after certain kinds of actions. Re-rendering should instead be controlled instead through:

  1. the shouldComponentUpdate lifecycle method
  2. the virtual DOM equality check (vDOMEq)
  3. React.PureComponent
  4. Using React-Redux: use mapStateToProps to subscribe components to only the parts of the store that they need.

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Why doesn't Redux support using classes for actions and reducers?

The pattern of using functions, called action creators, to return action objects may seem counterintuitive to programmers with a lot of Object Oriented Programming experience, who would see this is a strong use-case for Classes and instances. Class instances for action objects and reducers are not supported because class instances make serialization and deserialization tricky. Deserialization methods like JSON.parse(string) will return a plain old Javascript object rather than class instances.

As described in the Store FAQ, if you are okay with things like persistence and time-travel debugging not working as intended, you are welcome to put non-serializable items into your Redux store.

Serialization enables the brower to store all actions that have been dispatched, as well as the previous store states, with much less memory. Rewinding and 'hot reloading' the store is central to the Redux developer experience and the function of Redux DevTools. This also enables deserialized actions to be stored on the server and re-serialized in the brower in the case of server-side rendering with Redux.

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Why does the middleware signature use currying?

The curried function signature of declaring middleware is deemed unnecessary by some, because both store and next are available when the applyMiddleware function is executed. This issue has been determined to not be worth introducing breaking changes.

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Why does applyMiddleware use a closure for dispatch?

applyMiddleware takes the existing dispatch from the store and closes over it to create the initial chain of middlewares that have been invoked with an object that exposes the getState and dispatch functions, which enables middlewares that rely on dispatch during initialization to run.

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  • Why does applyMiddleware use a closure for dispatch?

Why doesn't combineReducers include a third argument with the entire state when it calls each reducer?

combineReducers is opinionated to encourage splitting reducer logic by domain. As stated in Beyond combineReducers,combineReducers is deliberately limited to handle a single common use case: updating a state tree that is a plain Javascript object by delegating the work of updating each slice of state to a specific slice reducer.

It's not immediately obvious what a potential third argument to each reducer should be: the entire state tree, some callback function, some other part of the state tree, etc. If combineReducers doesn't fit your use case, consider using libraries like combineSectionReducers or reduceReducers for other options with deeply nested reducers and reducers that require access to the global state.

If none of the published utilities solve your use case, you can always write a function yourself that does just exactly what you need.

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Why doesn't mapDispatchToProps allow use of return values from getState() or mapStateToProps()?

There have been requests to use either the entire state or the return value of mapState inside of mapDispatch, so that when functions are declared inside of mapDispatch, they can close over the latest returned values from the store.

This approach is not supported in mapDispatch because it would mean also calling mapDispatch every time the store is updated. This would cause the re-creation of functions with every state update, thus adding a lot of performance overhead.

The preferred way to handle this use-case--needing to alter props based on the current state and mapDispatchToProps functions--is to work from mergeProps, the third argument to the connect function. If specified, it is passed the result of mapStateToProps(), mapDispatchToProps(), and the container component's props. The plain object returned from mergeProps will be passed as props to the wrapped component.

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