Core Concepts of Redux Store Management

September 14, 2021

This article discusses the core concepts of Redux store management. We will understand how to manage state in applications, reference components, as well as perform asynchronous operations.

Let’s first discuss what Redux is all about and how it can be integrated into an application.

Key takeaways

The following subtopics are covered in this article:

  • What is Redux and store management?
  • How to set up the Redux store.
  • Actions and reducers in Redux Data Flow.
  • Connecting an application to the Redux store.
  • Making asynchronous calls with Redux Thunk.

What is Redux and store management?

Redux is a JavaScript library that depicts how an application’s state should be managed and accessed.

It supports state management via a centralized store.

Though there are many libraries like Flux that support state management, data flow in Redux is clear and easier to integrate.

Application state

The application state refers to data collected and stored for reference by components.

Data required to load each component or the entire application is stored in the state.

In the past, state management was quite challenging. Redux helps to resolve some of the problems that developers usually experience.

A store, in this context, is a container provided by Redux for managing, accessing, and monitoring the dynamic state of an application.

Remember that the state is not static, simply because every request that comes into the application manipulates the state and prompts re-rendering of the whole application.

Not only is the application state managed by the Redux Store, but also the actions triggered by the client.

Setting up Redux store

During development, Redux DevTools can be set up in the browser for a better experience.

To install it, search for Redux Extension in the Google Chrome store.

Before accessing the Redux store, we need to install Redux. This can be through the application package manager or locally on the computer.

Redux requires a JavaScript package manager npm or yarn to be installed and configured.

In each Redux application, we will initialize the npm project.

$ npm init

Redux can also be integrated with different JavaScript frameworks like JQuery, React, Vue, Angular, and TypeScript.

Inside the application root directory, open your terminal or bash window and run the following command:

# NPM
$ npm install redux 

# YARN
$ yarn install redux

To save the Redux DevTools in the project modules, type the following command:

$ npm install --save-dev redux-devtools-extension
$ npm install redux-thunk

Having installed the required dependencies, we can now connect the Redux store with the application state.

In the root directory, we can make a folder named Store and then add a store.js file with the following configurations:

    import { createStore, applyMiddleware } from 'redux';
    import { composeWithDevTools } from 'redux-devtools-extension';
    import thunk from 'redux-thunk';

    import rootReducers from './reducers';

    const initialState = {};
    const middleware = [thunk];

    const store = createStore(
        rootReducers,
        initialState,
        composeWithDevTools(applyMiddleware(...middleware))
    );

    export default store;

In this file, we are destructuring some methods from their classes.

The createStore function creates the Redux store which requires parameters like rootReducers, initialState, and composeWithDevTools.

The initialState, as the name implies, is an empty object that stores the whole application state.

The rootReducers is also an object from the reducer file which connects all reducer functions with the store.

Lastly, composeWithDevTools is a function that requires an applyMiddleware to showcase the application state and actions triggered in the browser having the redux extension.

The store file exports the variable store which makes it accessible across the entire application when it is connected.

Finally, connecting the configured store depends on the type of framework that we are targeting.

Assuming we are building a React project, we have to install a react-redux to connect with the Redux Store.

$ npm install react-redux

The connection is made inside an index.js file, as illustrated below:

We are importing Provider from react-redux as a component that requires a compulsory store parameter.

    import React from 'react';
    import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
    import { Provider } from 'react-redux';
    import App from './App';
    import store from './Store/store';

    ReactDOM.render(
    <React.StrictMode>
        <Provider store={store}>
           <App />
        </Provider>
    </React.StrictMode>,
    document.getElementById('root')
    );

However, doing this will make the Redux store accessible by the browser and all activities associated with the state will be monitored.

To reference the Redux dev tools, press CTRL+SHIFT+i on windows or CMD+SHIFT+i on Mac inside your browser.

Action and reducers in Redux data flow

Each client’s action can trigger a specific activity that binds with the reducer.

The store is called by the reducer to update the state based on the data sent. It then re-renders the user interface to display the changes.

What is Action?

In Redux data flow, action is a JavaScript function that returns an object with type and payload properties.

The action type describes the kind of operation to be performed by the reducer, while the action payload refers to the data received from the client for each action.

Note that payload can also be an object itself. A demo can be found below and all actions are included in the action.js file. Note that you can change this file name.

    export const YOUR_TYPE = (name) => {
        return {
            type: "YOUR_TYPE",
            payload: {
                id: 1,
                value: name 
            }
        }
    }

What Reducer is all about

As stated, Redux reducers can be called whenever an action is triggered.

Therefore, Reducers are JavaScript functions that require both the state, action, and ‘return’ part of the application state to change based on the received action.

However, a reducer should never mutate the whole application state directly. Alternatively, they can copy out the part of the state that needs to be changed and return it once it’s updated.

Asynchronous operations such as API calls are not allowed in reducers.

We use a conditional statement to switch between action types and each type returns its updated state.

Note that the number of reducer functions depends on the size of the application. If there is more than one reducer, then you need rootReducers. This component will combine all reducers for the store.

This is achieved by making use of the combineReducers function from redux and passing in the reducers.

Normal reducers are constrained to a specific folder while root reducers are exported to the store.

For instance, in the reducers folder, we can have different files for each reducer and one index.js file for the rootReducer:

    import { combineReducers } from "redux";
    import leads from './leads';
    import auth from './auth';

    export default combineReducers({
        leadsReducer: leads,
        authReducer: auth
    })

The Redux reducer logic instance is highlighted below:

    import * as actionTypes from './actions';

    const initialState = {
        leads: []
    }

    const leads = function(state=initialState, action){
        switch(action.type) {
            case actionTypes.YOUR_TYPE_1:
                return {
                    ...state, 
                    leads: action.payload 
                }
            case actionTypes.YOUR_TYPE_2:
                return{
                    ...state,
                    leads: [...state.leads, action.payload]
                }
            default:
                return state;
        }
    }

    export default leads;

The ...state command or spread operator copies the whole state object, so that the required part can be referenced.

Connecting the Redux Store to app components

Although the Redux store has been connected to the application, each app component should reference the state directly.

In this context, we will require a module named connect() from react-redux.

This connect() function requires four optional parameters named mapStateToProps, mapDispatchToProps, mergeProps and options.

This only provides the component with data from the Redux store.

    export default connect(mapStateToProps?, mapDispatchToProps?, mergeProps?, options?)(COMPONENT)

Let us break down each parameter and learn more about them.

    mapStateToProps? : (state, ownProps?) => object

If this parameter is used, the new component will subscribe to the store for updates. mapStateToProps connects the store’s state with the component props that also wrap the connect() module.

This takes in a maximum of two parameters. The state parameter is compulsory. Therefore, if it is not used, use null or undefined.

    mapDispatchToProps?: Object | (dispatch, ownProps?) => Object

mapDispatchToProps may either be an object, function or undefined. It requires a maximum of two parameters.

Moreover, if used, the component will receive the action triggers from the store.

``js mergeProps?: (stateProps, dispatchProps, ownProps) => Object


`mergeProps` should be specified with a maximum of three parameters and by default, the component receives `ownProps`, `stateProps`, and `dispatchProps` if not specified.

```js
    options?: Object

In version v6 of react-redux, the code above allows every connected component to pass a context object. The context can be sent through the options parameter.

    {
        context?: object
    }

Making asynchronous calls

There are so many types of asynchronous calls that can be done in Redux.

As noted, performing async operations like API calls must never be done in reducers.

Each asynchronous call involves a function that takes parameters from the component calling them and returns another function with dispatch() and getState()? arguments.

The data from the API will be dispatched as the payload together with the specific action type.

Every dispatch method calls the Redux store which triggers the reducers based on the type of action received.

The reducer then returns the updated state required by the caller, which gets to the component in form of properties i.e props.

The following code demonstrates an instance of asynchronous calls in a Redux application:

    import axios from 'axios';
    import * as actionTypes from '../actions/types'

    export const loadUser = () => (dispatch, getState) => {
        // calling loading action
        dispatch({type: actionTypes.USER_LOADING});
        axios.get('http://localhost/8000/api/auth/user', tokenConfig(getState))
            .then(res => {
                dispatch({
                    type: actionTypes.USER_LOADED,
                    payload: res.data
                })
            })
            .catch(err => {
                console.log(err)
                dispatch({
                    type: actionTypes.AUTH_ERROR
                })
            })
    }

Here, the loadUser function is returning another arrow function that has both the dispatch() and getState as arguments.

We used axios and referenced the get HTTP method to have a specific user access a token from the state.

If the API is successfully called and such a user exists, then the dispatch() function returns both the action type and the data as payload. If this process fails, the catch() dispatches an action type for the error.

Conclusion

Redux allows the flow of data triggered by client actions through the application which prompts the Redux store.

Reducers act as intermediaries that switch the action type and return part of the updated state to the store.

You can read more about Redux from here.

Happy coding!


Peer Review Contributions by: Monica Masae


About the author

Arafat Olawumi Olayiwola

Arafat is a software engineer who is passionate about the over-whelming technologies out there. He likes to develop scalable and user friendly applications that run on all platforms and responsive. Python and JavaScript languages are his favorites stack.

This article was contributed by a student member of Section's Engineering Education Program. Please report any errors or innaccuracies to enged@section.io.