Giorgio Polvara's Blog

Null Components Should be Hooks

Photo by Ben Hershey

Before Hooks were introduced in React I used to create "null components". In other words components that render nothing. One example of such component is the following:

class PageTitle extends React.Component {
  componentDidMount() {
    document.title = this.props.title;
  }

  componentDidUpdate() {
    document.title = this.props.title;
  }

  render() {
    return null;
  }
}

This component renders nothing at all. Its only use is to change the page title.

With Hooks it could be rewritten to something like this:

function PageTitle(props) {
  useEffect(() => {
    document.title = props.title;
  }, [props.title]);
  return null;
}

I think null components should all become Hooks instead. It's easy to see why. If we remove the return statement and rename PageTitle to usePageTitle we have our Hook:

function usePageTitle(title) {
  useEffect(() => {
    document.title = title;
  }, [title]);
}

If PageTitle and useTitle are so similar what's the advantage of using the Hook version?

When I use a component I generally expect something to appear on the page. With Hooks I expect the opposite. So, converting PageTitle to usePageTitle makes it obvious to any developer who's using my code that nothing will be rendered on the page.

Here's the rule of thumb: is your component always rendering nothing? Convert it to a Hook.

Would you like to have a civil discussion about this post? Hit me up on twitter.