npm i ts-remote-data-react


Components and hooks for using RemoteData in React

by ExtraHop

0.3.1-beta (see all)License:BSD-2-ClauseTypeScript:Built-In
npm i ts-remote-data-react


This package provides React hooks and components to work with the RemoteData type defined by ts-remote-data.


Imagine a UI that synchronously renders a line chart.

import React, { FunctionComponent } from 'react';

const LineChart: FunctionComponent<{
    timeRange: { start: number; end: number; };
    values: Series[];
    error?: unknown;
}> = props => (
    <TimeAxisChart range={props.timeRange}>
        <LineSeriesLayer data={props.values} error={props.error} />

This component works, but it's not the easiest thing to work with. It can't be rendered until we know the values for both timeRange and values. What happens while those are being fetched from the server? How about if something goes wrong fetching the values? It'd be easy to forget to check error before trying to do something with values, and if the caller is passing [] in the error case, we might not even realize something's gone wrong until our code is running.

We'd like the following behaviors:

  1. We will wait 200ms for the server to give us the current time range, but if it takes longer than that we want a loading spinner.
  2. As soon as the time range is available, we'll start rendering axes, with no series data.
  3. In case of error, we'd like to show that error in lieu of any series information.
  4. Once the series data is available, if the user changes the viewed time range, we'll animate the outgoing data to its new x-axis position, then seamlessly swap in the new data without bouncing back to a loading state.

To do this, we'll use the RemoteSuspense component and the useRemoteLatest hook this package provides.

import React, { FunctionComponent } from 'react';
import RemoteData from 'ts-remote-data';
import { RemoteSuspense, useRemoteLatest } from 'ts-remote-data-react';

const LineChart: FunctionComponent<{
    timeRange: RemoteData<{ start: number; end: number }>;
    values: RemoteData<Series[]>;
}> = props => {
    const values = useRemoteLatest(props.values);
    return (
            loadingFallback={<LoadingSpinner />}
            {timeRange => (
                <TimeAxisChart range={timeRange}>
                        data={RemoteData.getOr(values, [])}

Let's step through this to understand exactly what's happening.

First, by accepting a RemoteData for the timeRange and values props, our chart is saying that it can be rendered immediately. Because every T is a RemoteData<T>, we can change the prop types of our component without updating any calling code. This makes it really easy to incrementally add better loading states to our existing codebase.

Once we're inside the component, we wrap the values we're passed in useRemoteLatest. After values is in the ready state, we'll keep showing that value if the component is rerendered with values going back to the loading state. This way, if the user changes the time range, our LineSeriesLayer will keep getting the old data, so it can animate the series moving out of view to the left or right, and then will instantly bring in the new data once it's ready.

Next, the RemoteSuspense component lets us keep TimeAxisChart unmodified by adapting our RemoteData into something a synchronously-available value for its child function. The component is similar to React.Suspense, with a couple key differences:

  1. Because failure is a first-class concept in RemoteData, we have separate fallbacks for the loading and failure states. In this case, we're not using failureFallback, but we are using the loadingFallback to show a spinner. The loadingTimeout indicates that we'll wait 200ms to render the spinner, rather than the component's default 150ms.
  2. Within the RemoteSuspense child, we reference the render prop argument, rather than the value in props. We think this is more explicit - for example, you can see that timeRange is protected by the RemoteSuspense but that values is not - and that the control flow is less surprising. Using RemoteData.all and in the data prop and then array destructuring of the render prop argument, you can very concisely join multiple data dependencies together before rendering the children.

Finally, we use the RemoteData.getOr and RemoteData.asFailure functions to satisfy the prop types of LineSeriesLayer while making sure that LineChart cannot simultaneously have an error and series data.

Activity Indicator

Now that we have a LineChart component which handles remote data for us, we can use that in a page. However, imagine we get a complaint: When users change the time range the new data can take 2 seconds to arrive. Users think the page is not responding, and are confused.

We don't want to go back to tearing down the chart and showing a loading spinner; that undoes the work we've done on making a smooth experience. Worse, if there were several charts on-screen, the user would see an entire meadow's worth of loading spinners come into bloom.

We want something to show an indicator when background activity is occurring. In keeping with React's declarative philosophy, we'd like this to be declarative, and we'd rather it not be something devs have to remember to add themselves.

This is the problem ActivityIndicator solves. It takes advantage of the fact that displaying stale data strongly implies background activity to automatically track when data updates are in-flight, and then renders an element of your choice when that update is taking too long.

The ActivityIndicator is not designed for use on initial data loads, as those cases are best handled closer to the not-yet-initialized UI by using RemoteSuspense. However, it is possible to directly declare background activity is occurring using the useActivityIndicator hook; this can be very useful when some task is in progress that doesn't have a clear UI surface.

usePromise and useAsyncOperation

React's useEffect hook deliberately doesn't support async operations, as components need to think about the possibility of user input invalidating an async task before it completes. However, it's common to need an ad-hoc fetch or similar call inside a component, and combining useEffect with useState every time is boilerplate that can hide subtle race conditions or other bugs.

This package provides three hooks to solve the issue: usePromise, usePromiseState, and useAsyncOperation.

usePromise is appropriate in cases where your component receives a Promise that it didn't initiate. For example, if you have a module-scope function which - after being called once - always returns the same promise, your component doesn't "own" that promise; it is merely subscribing to the results. Calling usePromise(somePromise) will return a RemoteData<T> and will add then and catch handlers to the promise. If you change the promise before it completes, further updates to the old promise will be ignored.

usePromiseState is the async equivalent of useState. Like usePromise, it gives you a RemoteData view of some Promise, but you control when it updates, and changing it forces a rerender. If a user can initiate an async action, such as testing connectivity to a cloud service, you can have the onClick event of the button set the promise and start the test.

useAsyncOperation is for cases where your component needs to make a new promise. For example, the user chooses a category of products and you then fetch the best sellers in that category. This hook takes two arguments: The async function to invoke, and the dependencies array. To allow cancellation of outstanding requests due to user actions, the provided async function will be given an AbortSignal as its first argument. When the deps change, the signal will be invoked; this allows you to cancel outstanding fetches or other now-irrelevant async work.

Tips / Best Practices

  • Rather than directly using RemoteSuspense in your feature code, create components for your project which capture your common data fetching behaviors. For example, RemoteDataPanel might include a div wrapper for adding CSS grid properties and would pull in your own centered loading spinner, while RemoteDataLine would show a skeleton line until its data was ready.
  • When using useRemoteLatest, you may want a data change not to preserve old data - for example, a text-based search may want to immediately throw out old results when the user changes their search string. In this case, wrap the component calling useRemoteLatest in a component whose key prop is set to be the value that should cause old results not to appear. React's own behavior with keys will then cause the component to be recreated, which will prevent it from accessing the old data.
  • useAsyncOperation provides an AbortSignal so your function can avoid doing extra work if the result becomes irrelevant. While it's not necessary to consume the signal - the hook will still prevent a stale promise from causing re-renders - but checking the signal between calculation steps or passing it to fetch will reduce the CPU and network usage of your app.



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