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What are the differences between functional and class components?

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Before the introduction of Hooks in React, functional components were called stateless components and were behind class components on feature basis. After the introduction of Hooks, functional components are equivalent to class components.

Although functional components are the new trend, the react team insists on keeping class components in React. Therefore, it is important to know how these both components differ.

On the following basis let’s compare functional and class components:

Decalaration

Functional components are nothing but JavaScript functions and therefore can be declared using an arrow function or the function keyword:

function card(props){

 return(

   <div className="main-container">

     <h2>Title of the card</h2>

   </div>

 )

}

const card = (props) =>{

 return(

   <div className="main-container">

     <h2>Title of the card</h2>

   </div>

 )

}

Class components on the other hand, are declared using the ES6 class:

class Card extends React.Component{

 constructor(props){

   super(props);

 }

 render(){

   return(

     <div className="main-container">

       <h2>Title of the card</h2>

     </div>

   )

 }

}

Handling props

Let’s render the following component with props and analyse how functional and class components handle props:

<StudentInfo name="Vivek" rollNumber="23" />

In functional components, the handling of props is pretty straight forward. Any prop provided as an argument to a functional component, can be directly used inside HTML elements:

function StudentInfo(props){

 return(

   <div className="main">

     <h2>{props.name}</h2>

     <h4>{props.rollNumber}</h4>

   </div>

 )

}

In the case of class components, props are handled in a different way:

class StudentInfo extends React.Component{

 constructor(props){

   super(props);

 }

 render(){

   return(

     <div className="main">

       <h2>{this.props.name}</h2>

       <h4>{this.props.rollNumber}</h4> 

     </div>

   )

 }

}

As we can see in the code above, this keyword is used in the case of class components.

Handling state

Functional components use React hooks to handle state.

It uses the useState hook to set state of a variable inside the component:

function ClassRoom(props){

 let [studentsCount,setStudentsCount] = useState(0);

 const addStudent = () => {

   setStudentsCount(++studentsCount);

 }

 return(

   <div>

     <p>Number of students in class room: {studentsCount}</p>

     <button onClick={addStudent}>Add Student</button>

   </div>

 )

}

Since useState hook returns an array of two items, the first item contains the current state, and the second item is a function used to update the state.

In the code above, using array destructuring we have set the variable name to studentsCount with a current value of “0” and setStudentsCount is the function that is used to update the state.

For reading the state, we can see from the code above, the variable name can be directly used to read the current state of the variable.

We cannot use React Hooks inside class components, therefore state handling is done very differently in a class component:

Let’s take the same above example and convert it into a class component:

class ClassRoom extends React.Component{

          constructor(props){

            super(props);

            this.state = {studentsCount : 0};

         

            this.addStudent = this.addStudent.bind(this);

          }

         

          addStudent(){

            this.setState((prevState)=>{

              return {studentsCount: prevState.studentsCount++}

            });

          }

         

          render(){

            return(

              <div>

                <p>Number of students in class room: {this.state.studentsCount}</p>

                <button onClick={this.addStudent}>Add Student</button>

              </div>

<span style

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