/* Code Comments */

Incrementing State In Functional Components

June 04, 2019

I was recently looking through the Material UI documentation for their <Stepper> component. In their implementation of the Horizontal Linear Stepper, they used the useState React Hook to set the state.

The implementation caught my attention because of the use of a parameter, prevActiveStep, which wasn’t defined anywhere else.

function handleBack() {
  setActiveStep(prevActiveStep => prevActiveStep - 1)
}

Digging into it, I realized that the useState can behave very similarly to the setState method for class components. Whereas both can set the value for a specific element in state, they can also take a function.

Here’s what that could look like.

React Hooks Version

import React, { useState } from ‘react’;

function MyComponent() {

  const [activeStep, setActiveStep] = React.useState(0);

  function handleBack() {
    setActiveStep(prevActiveStep => prevActiveStep - 1);
  }

  return (
    ...
    <div>
      <Button onClick={handleBack} >
        Back
      </Button>
    </div>
    ...
}

export default MyComponent;

React Class Component Version

To put this in perspective, let’s look at how this looks with a class component.

import React, { useState } from ‘react’;

class MyComponent{
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = {
      activeStep: 0,
    }
  }

  function handleBack() {
    this.setState( prevState => ({ activeStep: prevState.activeStep - 1});
  }

  return (
    ...
    <div>
      <Button onClick={handleBack} >
        Back
      </Button>
    </div>
    ...
}

export default MyComponent;

I appreciate the concision of this approach, though just to be explicit, it works the same as the following by not reassigning a state variable within setState (which React tends to complain about).

function handleBack() {
  const activeStep = this.state.activeStep - 1
  this.setState({ activeStep })
}

Resources:

How to use the increment operator in React | Stack Overflow
Stepper React component | Material-UI


Stephen Weiss

Written by Stephen Weiss who lives in Chicago with his wife, Kate, and dog, Finn. Follow him on Twitter!