Why and When You Should Use Redux
As soon as an application becomes even moderately complex, it becomes unwieldy to pass these state parameters and properties between all the components (typically via a process known as prop drilling). This is where state management tools come into play, enabling developers to view, control and synchronize the ‘global state’ of an application across all of its components.
Redux creates a single ‘data store’ for managing state that can be accessed throughout the entire application. Redux essentially makes it easier for developers to understand when, where, why, and how the state of an application has changed, and gives confidence that the application will behave in a predictable manner when it does.
Benefits of Redux
- Centralization: Redux strips away responsibility for state management from each individual component and puts it in the hand of a single store that holds data from anywhere in the application. As a result, there is no need to write cumbersome code to pass data through multiple levels of components. Moreover, having a single store to manage the global state of the application makes it much easier to visualize and understand data flow and how it will affect behavior.
- Predictability: Ensuring predictable outcomes is at the core of what Redux is about. Its predictability is determined by its three core principles.
Redux also has strict rules about how code should be organized, which helps when it comes to maintenance.
- ‘Time-Travel Debugging’: Because Redux logs all actions and states over time, it is simple to trace any bugs that emerge. You can also take debugging to the next level with Redux DevTools, which allows you to skip backwards and forwards in time to inspect the state of the application at any point. DevTools include a number of other powerful features that can maximize the usefulness of Redux.
When to use Redux
This just underscores the importance of knowing when to use Redux. The library’s own website includes the disclaimer, in bold:
“Not all apps need Redux. It's important to understand the kind of application you're building, the kinds of problems that you need to solve, and what tools can best solve the problems you're facing.”
Using Redux for state management implies a trade-off. It introduces complexity, indirection and constraints into your code, which can be frustrating if there is no good reason for doing so. Using Redux also means learning how it works, which again could be a waste of time if you don’t need it. As a rule of thumb - and one shared by one of Redux’s creators, Dan Abramov - you don’t need to use Redux unless you’re unable to manage state within React or other front-end frameworks you’re working with.
Keeping this in mind, here are some scenarios when Redux might be the best solution:
- When multiple components need to access the same application state. For example, once a user logs in to a personal account on an application, the information about that user needs to be shared with a range of components that may not interact directly. In this case, Redux’s single store is an optimized way to map a state across components.
- When you’re working on a large application with several other people. Again, the Redux single store becomes more beneficial as the complexity of an application increases. If many people are working on it (and you don’t have an alternative system for sharing information), then Redux can also help keep everyone on the same page.
- When application state is updated frequently. This often implies consumer-facing applications, where there is a lot of user interaction (for example, adding goods to a basket, then removing some, going through the payment process, etc).
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