So you have a good understanding of the fundamentals of React? You’re comfortable with the basics and able to create simple React projects from scratch? But if you want to become an expert in React JS, there’s still plenty more to learn. In this post, we will answer the question of how to master React JS and help you take your skills to the next level.
This definitive guide breaks down the key concepts and major topics to advance your knowledge in React. In case you are just getting started, check out my post about how to learn React JS quickly first. Alright, let’s get started!
1. Have a good grasp of core React features
It’s important that you have a good grasp of core React features and their usage. This will make it easier for you to learn advanced concepts later on. Let’s take a look at some major aspects of React.
Components and Props
Components are the building blocks of React apps. They provide the basic structure that you’ll use to build your app’s UI, and they are reusable to compose them together into more complex components. A component is just a function that returns a React element.
State and Lifecycle
State is similar to props, yet it is private and entirely under the control of the component. State is the representation of the component’s data at a given point in time.
The lifecycle of a React component is the set of events that are triggered when a component is created, mounted, updated, and unmounted. States can be updated during the life cycle events.
Events can be used to trigger changes in your application, such as when the user clicks on a button or submit a form. Event management in React is quite similar to event handling with DOM elements.
Lists and Keys
Keys are strings to uniquely identify each element in a list. Keys are used to indicate which items in a list have been modified or removed.
A React component can only return a single element. However, a component returning several elements is a popular pattern in React. Fragments allow you to group a list of elements without introducing unnecessary nodes to the DOM.
2. Learn advanced React concepts
Here are some of the most important advanced topics you should know about if you want to master React:
Code splitting is a technique that allows you to split your app into smaller chunks. The main idea behind code splitting is that you can load the smallest chunk of code required for your app when it’s first loaded. This will save you from loading unnecessary code, which could be loaded later on when needed.
React context allows you to transfer data through the component hierarchy without having to pass props downward at each level. Context is usually used to share global states such as settings, themes, and currently logged-in user info.
Refs in React are an important part of how you interact with the DOM. You can use refs to traverse the DOM tree, get the value of any property on an element and even call methods on elements.
Error boundaries are a way to provide added safety for your React.js application. They help ensure that your app doesn’t crash when an error occurs somewhere in the component tree. Error boundaries allow us to catch errors in our components and react accordingly.
React can use portals to render content into a DOM node that exists outside the DOM hierarchy of the parent component. Hover cards, tooltips, modals, dialogs, and loaders are the most typical use cases for portals.
Profiler API is a mechanism to monitor React applications, including the performance and resource usage of individual components. It can be used to can identify bottlenecks in your app.
Higher-order components (HOCs) are a way to reuse code in React. They are used to extend a component with new functionality, without having to write any new code. This can be useful when you want to add some new behavior to an existing component, or if you want to reuse the same component with different uses.
Render props is a technique for sharing code between components in React.js. The term “render prop” refers to a function that returns a value that may be used in your component’s render method.
Accessibility is a big deal in modern web development. People with disabilities use the internet to communicate and learn, so it’s important that your React site are accessible to all of them.
Strict mode is a feature for identifying potential issues in a React application. It does not display any apparent user interface. It performs some additional checks and warnings in development mode and does not affect the production build.
3. Understand React hooks
With hooks, it is possible to use React state and lifecycle functions inside functional components. Hooks improve React by allowing you to write simpler code that implements identical features faster and more effectively. You should have a good understanding of the most used hooks such as
Some advantages of using React hooks include:
- You don’t need to use classes to have access to states
- You don’t need to worry about
thiskeyword in classes
- There’s no need for method bindings
- Hooks encourage the writing of concise and reusable functional components
- Sharing states between components is much easier
4. Learn state management in React
React is a fantastic library for building user interfaces, but it doesn’t come with an official state management solution. You might want to learn a state management library that helps you manage your application state.
When you use a state management library, you get many benefits:
- You can control how your app works by handling the data flow with ease.
- You can take advantage of efficient (and testable) designs by separating concerns with clear boundaries.
- Your code becomes easier to follow because it’s stored in a single location.
If you have to work with legacy projects, learn Redux. If you start a green-field project, my recommendation is to use Zustand.
5. Proficient in using a UI library
UI libraries provide style guides and reusable components such as typography, layouts, buttons, form inputs, alerts, and so on. UI libraries are great for building complex user interfaces quickly, so it’s worth learning one.
Material UI is the most popular library for building UIs that align with Google’s Material Design style guide. The library provides a set of core components and themes that can be used to create beautiful, responsive interfaces.
Ant Design is the perfect React enterprise UI framework for creating custom apps and dashboards. It gives developers access to high-quality components for creating rich, engaging, and interactive user interfaces.
Charka UI is a library that makes it easy to build fast and beautiful UIs. It provides a smaller set of components in comparison to Ant Design or Material UI but it’s more flexible.
React Semantic UI lets you build apps with a consistent look and feel across multiple platforms. It includes a set of React components for creating, customizing, and styling the app’s interface.
I personally love to use Ant Design and Material UI.
6. Learn popular third-party libraries in React ecosystem
React is great but it’s just a library, not a framework. To be able to develop a complete web application, you need to integrate it with other libraries.
The React ecosystem is huge. There are thousands of libraries and tools that can help you build your application with React.
Here are some popular packages and tools you should learn:
- Routing: React Router
- Network request: Axios
- Data fetching: React Query (highly recommend)
- Form: React Hook Form, React Final Form, and Formik
- Internationalization: React I18n Next
- Animation: Framer Motion, React Spring
- Testing: Jest, Enzyme, React Testing Library, and Cypress
- Documentation: Storybook
- Creating a new project: Create React App, Vite (recommend)
7. Consider using TypeScript
The advantages of using TypeScript with React are:
- Prop type checking, no need to use
- Code is more well-documented and easy to reason about
- Better JSX support
- Many third-party libraries support TypeScript by default now
8. Consider learning Next JS
Next.js is a framework that enables you to write scalable, performant React code without the need for configuration. That is why so many businesses rely on Next to ship production apps.
Next JS provides many benefits:
- Zero configuration
- Built-in routing support
- Server-side rendering
- Static site generation
- Caching and code-slitting
- Support TypeScript and Sass modules by default
- and so on
If you have already known React, Next.js is also very simple to learn and use. You can get started right away without having to spend weeks getting familiar with it.
9. Understand best practices in React
React is unopinionated. It does not give you any ideas on the way you code in React. So it’s up to you to organize the folder structures and components of your React project.
You should follow React best practices before, during, and after writing the code to ensure code readability and maintainability. Here are some good resources for you:
10. Create your own React libraries or Contribute to open-source projects
If you’re already an experienced developer and know how to write React components, why not write your own libraries? You can use whatever features are missing from the official docs or npm packages. If something is missing from these, then just implement it yourself!
Contributing to open-source projects is also a great way to enhance your React skills by learning from experienced developers. Open-source projects are usually run by passionate people who love sharing their work with others.
11. Deep dive into how React works internally
When you understand how React works under the hood, you can become a master of React. Some core concepts behind React you should research include:
- Virtual DOM
- React Renderer
- React Reconciliation
Here is a good tutorial video to get started:
How To Master React JS: Conclusion
At this point, you should have a good answer about how to master React JS. We covered some of the most important topics in this guide that you can use to maximize your understanding of React, and also to become a better developer. I hope that you learned something by reading this post, and sincerely hope it helps you on your journey to mastering React!