Tuesday, December 06, 2016

ReactJS Tip: CSS Transition Groups and Vendor Bundling

Every developer finding their way around ReactJS is going to come across CSS Transition Groups sooner or later. These helpful components built by the ReactJS team but distributed separately help to manage animations related to adding or removing elements from a list. This is important in ReactJS, because the virtual DOM reuses nodes as much as it can, meaning what seems like a new element but really be reusing nodes underneath.
You can read all about the ReactCSSTransitionGroup at the React documentation, but I want to note about one way you might trip integrating it with your project: building vendor bundles for your dependencies.
If you use Browserify to bundle your own code and its dependencies for distribution, you may be using the vendor bundle pattern. This is the practice of separating your distribution into two bundles: one containing your dependencies, including ReactJS itself, and one with your own project code. This is a good pattern because you can rebuild just your project bundle during development, allowing you to iterate much faster without rebuilding a large number of non-changing dependencies.
This tip is about what happens when you move to add ReactCSSTransitionGroup to your project by first installing the package.
npm install --save-dev react-addons-css-transition-group
and import this in the packages where you need to use it.
import ReactCSSTransitionGroup from 'react-addons-css-transition-group';
And now you have fundamentally broken your project. Why? Because the react-addons-css-transition-group module itself depends on react creating a second copy of ReactJS in your application bundle, in addition to the copy already in your vendor bundle. Operations through the CSS Transition Group will fail in strange ways, as happens when you have multiple copies of ReactJS in a single page.
The solution is simply to add this new module to your vendor bundle.
var vendor = browserify({
    debug: false,
    require: ['react', 'react-dom', 'react-addons-css-transition-group'],
});

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I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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