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· 6 min read
Louis Petrik

Introduction

In the world of TypeScript, two essential concepts stand out: interfaces and types. Both play a crucial role in defining the structure and behavior of objects, but they differ in their implementation and intended usage. In this article, we will dive deep into the realm of interfaces and types, exploring their nuances and understanding when to use each.

Understanding Interfaces

Interfaces in TypeScript provide a way to define the shape of an object. They act as a contract, ensuring that an object adheres to a specific structure. By defining properties, methods, and their respective types, interfaces allow developers to enforce consistency and facilitate collaboration within their codebases.

Advantages of Interfaces

  • Structural typing: Interfaces focus on the shape of an object rather than its origin. This means that if an object meets the requirements outlined by an interface, it is considered compatible, regardless of its explicit declaration of implementing that interface.
  • Extensibility: Interfaces can be extended, enabling developers to build upon existing contracts and create more specialized interfaces. This promotes code reuse and modularity, making it easier to manage complex projects.
  • Better documentation: Interfaces serve as a form of documentation for code. By defining the expected structure and behavior of objects, interfaces provide clarity and improve the readability of codebases.

Example: Creating an Interface

Let's consider an example where we define an interface for a Person object:

interface Person {
name: string;
age: number;
greet: () => void;
}

In this case, the Person interface specifies that any object implementing it must have a name property of type string, an age property of type number, and a greet method that takes no arguments and returns nothing.

Understanding Types

Types in TypeScript, on the other hand, are more versatile and can define not only the structure of an object but also aliases for other types. While interfaces are limited to describing the shape of an object, types allow developers to create complex unions, intersections, and mapped types.

Advantages of Types

  • Flexible type definitions: Types enable developers to create custom types that can be used in a variety of scenarios, including aliasing existing types, defining unions, intersections, and conditional types. This flexibility allows for greater expressiveness when working with complex data structures.
  • Mapped types: TypeScript provides mapped types, such as Partial, Readonly, and Record, which allow developers to transform existing types or create new ones based on the properties of another type. This feature can significantly reduce code duplication and enhance code maintainability.

Example: Creating a Type Alias

Let's create a type alias that represents a Circle object:

type Circle = {
radius: number;
area: number;
};

In this example, the Circle type defines a radius property of type number and an area property of type number. This alias can be used throughout the codebase to represent circles consistently.

When to Use Interfaces or Types

Choosing between interfaces and types depends on the specific use case and the desired outcome. While both serve similar purposes, they excel in different scenarios.

Use Interfaces When:

  • You want to enforce the shape and structure of an object explicitly.
  • You need to extend existing contracts and create specialized interfaces.
  • You want t provide clear documentation and improve code readability.

Use Types When:

  • You need to define unions, intersections, or conditional types.
  • You want to create aliases for existing types.
  • You require mapped types to transform or derive new types based on existing ones.

Conclusion

In conclusion, interfaces and types in TypeScript are powerful tools for structuring and defining objects and their types. Interfaces focus on enforcing the shape of an object and promoting code consistency, while types provide more flexibility and versatility. Understanding the distinctions between interfaces and types empowers developers to write cleaner, more maintainable code.

Remember, the choice between interfaces and types depends on the specific requirements of your project. By utilizing the appropriate tool, you can optimize your codebase and improve collaboration among developers.

· 11 min read
Louis Petrik

This article serves as a broad overview of React.js. For more details, check out the linked pages.

React.js is a popular JavaScript library for building user interfaces, especially for single-page applications. It's used for handling the view layer in web and mobile apps. React allows you to design simple views for each state in your application, and it will efficiently update and render the components when your data changes. The core aspects of React that every developer should grasp include components, state and props, hooks, routing with React-Router, Context API, and higher order components.

Introduction to React.js

React.js was developed by Facebook to address the need for a dynamic and high performing User Interface(UI). The main feature of React.js is the ability to break down complex UI into simpler components by utilizing the power of JSX. Not only does this make the code more readable and easier to maintain, but it also improves performance through efficient DOM manipulation.

import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';

function Hello() {
return <h1>Hello, world!</h1>;
}

ReactDOM.render(
<Hello />,
document.getElementById('root')
);

This is a simple example of a functional component in React. We have a function Hello that returns a single <h1> element. The ReactDOM.render method then takes the Hello component and renders it to the DOM at the root div.

Understanding React.js Components

Components are the building blocks of any React application, and a single app usually consists of multiple components. A component is essentially a JavaScript class or function that accepts inputs (called props) and returns a React element that describes how a section of the UI should appear.

import React from 'react';

functino Welcome() {
return <h1>Welcome, {this.props.name}</h1>;
}

In the above code snippet, Welcome is a simple React class component that takes in a prop (in this case, name) and outputs an <h1> element. You can use the Welcome component like any other HTML tag, <Welcome name="John Doe" />, and it will output <h1>Welcome, John Doe</h1>.

Grasping React.js State and Props

In React, both state and props are JavaScript objects. While both of them hold information that influences the output of render, they are different in their functionality with respect to component. Props (short for properties) are a way of passing data from parent to child components, whereas state is a data structure that allows a component to control its own rendering.

import React, { useState } from 'react';

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

function handleClick() {
setCount(count + 1);
}

return (
<div>
<p>You clicked {count} times</p>
<button onClick={handleClick}>
Click me
</button>
</div>
);
}

In this code snippet, we have a simple Counter component that increments a value every time a button is clicked. The state is initialized in the constructor and then updated using the setState method.

Introduction to React Hooks

React Hooks are a new addition in React 16.8 that lets you use state and other React features without writing a class. Hooks are functions that let you "hook into" React state and lifecycle features from function components. You can even write your own, custom hooks. The state of the component can be manipulated using the useState hook.

import { useState } from "react";

function FavoriteColor() {
const [color, setColor] = useState("red");

return (
<>
<h1>My favorite color is {color}!</h1>
<button
type="button"
onClick={() => setColor("blue")}
>Blue</button>
</>
)
}

const root = ReactDOM.createRoot(document.getElementById('root'));
root.render(<FavoriteColor />);

In the above example, we first import the useState hook from the react library. Then, in the FavoriteColor component, we declare a state variable color, and set its initial value to "red". The useState hook returns a pair: the current state value and a function that lets you update it. You can call this function (setColor) from an event handler or somewhere else to update the state. The component will re-render with the new state when the setState function is called. This example also demonstrates how to read state in the component and how to update it. The useState hook can be used to keep track of any type of data including strings, numbers, booleans, arrays, and objects.

Styling React components

React.js is a go-to choice for many developers when creating user interfaces. But, what about styling those interfaces? The truth is, styling in React.js is as integral as any other aspect of your application, bringing your UI to life. Let’s explore two of the most popular methods for styling in React.js: CSS-in-JSX and Styled-Components.

CSS-in-JS

In a typical HTML and CSS setup, you might have separate stylesheets. But with React.js, you can inject your CSS right into your JSX. This approach, known as CSS-in-JS, is a powerful tool in creating dynamic, visually appealing components.

const myStyle = {
color: "white",
backgroundColor: "DodgerBlue",
padding: "10px",
fontFamily: "Arial"
};

const MyComponent = () => {
return <h1 style={myStyle}>Hello Style!</h1>;
};

In the above example, the myStyle object contains CSS properties and values, defined in camelCase notation. This style object is then passed to the style attribute of the HTML element in the JSX. The resulting h1 tag will have a white color text on a DodgerBlue background, styled with Arial font and a padding of 10px.

Leveraging the Power of Styled-Components

While CSS-in-JSX provides a quick way to style components, styled-components bring an extra level of power and flexibility. Styled-components is a library for React and React Native that allows you to use component-level styles in your application that are written with a mixture of JavaScript and CSS.

import styled from 'styled-components';

const StyledButton = styled.button`
background-color: coral;
color: white;
font-size: 1em;
padding: 0.25em 1em;
border: 2px solid palevioletred;
border-radius: 3px;
`;

const MyComponent = () => {
return <StyledButton>Click me</StyledButton>;
};

In this code snippet, we first import the styled object from the styled-components library. We then create a StyledButton component using the styled.button syntax. The CSS for this component is written within a template literal, enclosed in backticks. The resulting StyledButton component can be used just like any other React component.

Routing with React-Router

React Router is a standard library system built on top of the React and used to create routing in the React application using React Router Package. It provides the synchronous URL on the browser with data that will be displayed on the web page. It maintains the standard structure and behavior of the web application and is used for developing single page web applications.

import { BrowserRouter as Router, Route, Switch } from "react-router-dom";
import Home from "./Home";
import About from "./About";

function App() {
return (
<Router>
<Switch>
<Route path="/about">
<About />
</Route>
<Route path="/">
<Home />
</Route>
</Switch>
</Router>
);
}

In the above example, the BrowserRouter is used as a <Router> component. The <Switch> component is used to render only the first <Route> or <Redirect> that matches the location. The <Route> component is used to define the mapping between the URL path and the component that should be rendered. The <Route path="/about"> means that the About component will be rendered when the URL path is '/about'.

Context API

React's Context API is a feature for component tree-wide state management. A context in React is a way to share values between components without having to explicitly pass a prop through every level of the tree.

const colors = {
blue: "#03619c",
yellow: "#8c8f03",
red: "#9c0312"
};

export const ColorContext = React.createContext(colors.blue);

// In your App component
import React from 'react';
import { ColorContext } from "./ColorContext";

function App() {
return (
<ColorContext.Provider value={colors}>
<Home />
</ColorContext.Provider>
);
}

// Using the Consumer
return (
<ColorContext.Consumer>
{colors => <div style={colors.blue}>Hello World</div>}
</ColorContext.Consumer>
);

// Using useContext Hook
import React, { useContext } from "react";
import ColorContext from './ColorContext';

const MyComponent = () => {
const colors = useContext(ColorContext);

return <div style={{ backgroundColor: colors.blue }}>Hello World</div>;
};

React's Context API allows you to share specific data from all levels of your application, thereby solving problems related to prop-drilling. The above example demonstrates how to create a context using the createContext method and pass data as a prop【22†source】. The Provider component enables the data in your context throughout your entire application. It wraps the context of your function and facilitates its functionality throughout【23†source】. The Consumer component allows you to subscribe to a context’s changes, it will update and adjust your application based on the modification【24†source】. Lastly, the useContext Hook is used in functional components to access the context within a functional component and works with a Provider and Consumer in one call【26†source】.

Higher Order Components

Higher-Order Component (HOC) is an advanced technique in React for reusing component logic. It's not a feature built into React, but rather a pattern that emerges from React’s compositional nature. A higher-order component is a function that takes a component and returns a new component. More details on HOCs in plain JavaScript.

function withExtraPropAdded(component) {
const Component = component;
return function(props) {
return <Component {...props} extraProp="someValue" />;
}
}

// Use this HOC in another component
const ComponentWithExtraProp = withExtraPropAdded(SomeComponent);

In this example, withExtraPropAdded is a higher-order component that takes a component and returns a new component with an extra prop. The SomeComponent is wrapped by the HOC and the resulting component ComponentWithExtraProp has an additional prop extraProp.

Conclusion

React.js offers a robust solution for building user interfaces in JavaScript. Its component-based architecture allows developers to build complex UIs from isolated and reusable pieces of code. Features like state, props, context, and hooks enable us to manage data and side-effects in our application. Libraries like React Router aid in creating single-page applications with multiple views and linking. By understanding these core concepts, you can leverage the full potential of React.js in your projects and create efficient, scalable, and maintainable web applications.

FAQ

What is React.js and what are its core concepts?

React.js is a popular JavaScript library for building user interfaces, especially for single-page applications. It's used for handling the view layer in web and mobile apps. React allows you to design simple views for each state in your application, and it will efficiently update and render the components when your data changes. The core aspects of React that every developer should grasp include components, state and props, hooks, routing with React-Router, Context API, and higher order components.

There are two popular methods for styling in React.js: CSS-in-JSX and Styled-Components. CSS-in-JS is a powerful tool in creating dynamic, visually appealing components by injecting your CSS right into your JSX. On the other hand, styled-components is a library for React and React Native that allows you to use component-level styles in your application that are written with a mixture of JavaScript and CSS.

· 4 min read
Louis Petrik

What is a Virtual DOM?

Concept of Virtual DOM

Virtual DOM (V-DOM) is a concept in programming where an ideal, or "virtual", representation of a UI is kept in memory and synced with the "real" DOM by a library such as ReactJS. The process involves creating a copy of the DOM in memory, where the manipulation is faster, and then updating the real DOM to match the virtual one.

Benefits of Virtual DOM

The primary advantage of the V-DOM is that it's fast. Changes happen quickly in the V-DOM and only necessary changes are transferred to the real DOM. This minimizes the performance cost of updating the DOM, which is a relatively slow operation compared to other JavaScript operations.

How React, Vue and others use the V-DOM

V-DOM in React

React uses the V-DOM as a way to boost the performance of its apps. When a component’s state changes in a React app, a new V-DOM representation of the component is created. React then compares this new representation with the previous one and makes the minimum necessary changes in the real DOM.

V-DOM in Vue

Similarly, Vue also uses the V-DOM to improve the performance of its applications. Vue’s reactivity system tracks dependencies during a component’s render, allowing the system to know precisely which components actually need to re-render when state changes.

Other libraries using V-DOM

Several other JavaScript libraries also make use of V-DOM, including Preact and Inferno, both of which are considered lighter and faster alternatives to React, particularly for applications that need to be highly performant.

Virtual DOMs lead to overhead

The Downsides of V-DOM

Despite its benefits, the V-DOM approach has its downsides. One of the major disadvantages is the memory overhead, as it requires keeping two copies of the DOM. Additionally, the diffing and patching process, which determines the minimum changes to update the real DOM, can also be quite expensive.

Performance implications

Although the V-DOM performs better than directly manipulating the DOM in many cases, for some complex apps with large states, the performance benefits can diminish. The process of creating and comparing V-DOM trees can become a bottleneck, especially for apps that require real-time updates.

Alternatives to the virtual DOM

Server Components

Server components allow developers to build parts of the UI on the server, which can then be sent to the client.

This can be a more efficient approach because it only sends the components that need to be updated, reducing the size of updates and the cost of diffing and patching.

Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR)

ISR is a strategy used by Next.js that allows developers to use static generation for a page, but update the page data incrementally after it's been built. This allows for extremely fast page loads while also enabling the page data to be updated on a regular basis.

Svelte and the absence of V-DOM

Svelte is an innovative framework that compiles your code to efficient imperative code that surgically updates the DOM. As a result, Svelte doesn't need a V-DOM, and there's no diffing or patching process. This makes Svelte potentially faster and more efficient than V-DOM-based frameworks.

Summary

While the Virtual DOM has been a key feature of many popular JavaScript frameworks and libraries, it's not without its downsides. The memory overhead and potential performance bottlenecks can make it less suitable for some complex applications. Thankfully, there are several alternatives out there, from server components and incremental static regeneration to innovative frameworks like Svelte. The choice of whether to use a V-DOM or an alternative approach will depend on the specific needs of your application.

FAQs

  1. What is a Virtual DOM? A Virtual DOM is a programming concept where a "virtual" representation of the UI is kept in memory and synced with the real DOM by a library.

  2. How do React and Vue use the Virtual DOM? React and Vue use the Virtual DOM to improve the performance of their apps. They create a new V-DOM representation whenever a component's state changes and then updates the real DOM with the minimum necessary changes.

  3. Why does the Virtual DOM lead to overhead? The Virtual DOM approach leads to overhead because it requires keeping two copies of the DOM and involves an expensive diffing and patching process.

  4. What are some alternatives to the Virtual DOM? Alternatives to the Virtual DOM include server components, incremental static regeneration, and frameworks like Svelte that don't require a V-DOM.

  5. Is the Virtual DOM outdated? The Virtual DOM isn't necessarily outdated, but there are situations where other technologies may be more efficient or suitable. The choice will depend on the specific needs of your application.