Matt Hamlin

The Dependency Array

This blog post is the first in what I expect to be a series on hooks, this blog post assumes you have a decent initial understanding of them. I highly suggest starting with the ReactJS Docs on them first.

Some of the built-in hooks from the React package expose a second argument which acts as an indicator or signal to React to determine if the function provided as the first argument to the hook should be invoked again.

In this post I will only reference useEffect, however there are several hooks which follow this pattern:

  • useMemo
  • useCallback

In general, the notes below will apply to these other hooks as well.

I have also ordered the examples below based off of how frequently they will most likely be used, the first being the most frequent example and the last being the least frequently used.

Passing Dependencies:

This example may be the most frequent example of using the useEffect hook, here we indicate to React that the function we provided to useEffect depends on the count variable from the components own scope. React will then track the count variable, and call the effect function when the count value changes.

An Empty Dependency Array:

This example will call the function provided to useEffect only on the components first render. This can be useful for cases like tracking when a component renders, or fetching some initial data that doesn't depend on any other values.

No Dependency Array:

This will cause the function provided to useEffect to be called on every render of the App component.

This should be used rarely within regular code, frequently the function provided in this case is actually dependent on some value from the parent scope of the component and should be included in the array of dependencies like shown below.

Have feedback about this post or questions, don't hesitate to reach out on Twitter (@immatthamlin)!