Addressing valueLink deprecation in React 15

kennethblogmay

React version 15 has deprecated valueLink which was a property on form elements for expressing two-way binding between the value of the form element and a state property of the component using the element. The recommended replacement is to explicitly specify the value as a prop and to supply an onChange handler instead.

At Rescale, we use valueLink a lot. When creating components for modifying business objects—our business objects are usually immutable Record instances of the Immutable library—we use the pattern of passing the business object to the component via props, and then initializing a state property on the component to said object via getInitialState. Here’s pseudocode for illustration:

What’s good about this pattern is that since our business objects are immutable, the company passed into the component (this.props.company) will be guaranteed not to change in the course of modifying the company within this component, but the company referenced by state (this.state.company) may change when handleNameChange gets called. With this pattern, the state of the component can be thought of as a “staging” area for changes to the model. We can do stuff like compare the company referenced by state with the company referenced by props to determine whether any changes were made, and we can easily revert changes or abandon changes.

As you can see though, it gets a bit tedious creating handlers for every field of the model that can be modified by the form. In our example we needed handlers for changes to name and changes to budget. But, it’s not too hard to create a function that will generate an object with an appropriate { requestChange, value } pair and then feed that object to valueLink. Indeed that’s what react-addons-linked-state-mixin and reactlink-immutable is used for.

However, in React 15, we are to use value and onChange instead of valueLink. Switching over to use value isn’t that big of a deal, we just write it out like in the example above. The only caveat is that for checkboxes we need to use checked instead of value.

Creating a factory that generates handlers for onChange is something we decided to implement ourselves since we use a mix of simple component states (states with simple string or boolean values) and states that reference Immutable objects. Here’s such a factory for generating onChange handlers (named linkState, not to be confused with the this.linkState given by react-addons-linked-state-mixin):

We can use this to replace the valueLinks in the above example:

What’s nice about our implementation is that we don’t need to use mixins which may be deprecated in the future, and we’re using the same factory function for creating handlers that deal with simple states as well as for deep modifications of immutable objects. This means we can remove the react-addons-linked-state-mixin and reactlink-immutable dependencies in our projects.

This article was written by Kenneth Chung.