Lecstor's Blog

Reusable React Components [WIP]

December 09, 2018

Building a reusable component library for your app will speed up development, increase consistency of the UI, and reduce the total download size of your app.

Below are a few tips I’ve picked up while building the web app for SafetyCulture.


Don’t give components external margins, use layout components instead.

Setting external margins on your component forces the user of the component to either accept, work around, or override those margins, especially when there are conflicting margins on adjacent elements.

Wrapping components in simple divs with padding (or margins) will keep your components more easily reusable. (see Containers)

Unhandled Props

Passing unhandled props to the rendered element will allow it to be styled via style and className and allow event handlers to be set so your component can be used in ways you didn’t forsee.

eg I needed to add a tooltip to one of my components and the tooltip component needed to add onMouseEnter & onMouseLeave handlers to my button.

This is simple to implement using the ES6 rest operator, eg

const Button = ({ label, ...props }) = <button {...props}>{label}</button>;


If you are using Typescript you’ll need to type your component props accordingly to avoid TS errors when trying to apply unhandled props to the component. Refer to the source of @types/react/index.d.ts that you are using to see what’s available.

export type ButtonProps = {
  label: string;
} & React.HTMLAttributes<HTMLButtonElement>;



If you publish a component to npm that wraps a dom element (like buttons or anchors, etc.), you need to use React.forwardRef, and forward the dom ref so that tools like @reach/menu-button, that manage focus, can compose with it.

Component Composition

Elements as props

Use the children prop or other props that take elements to be rendered.

When this is a viable pattern it is the simplest way to allow maximum customisation of the rendered components.

const Button1 = ({ ...props }) = <button {...props} />;
const Button2 = ({ label, ...props }) = <button {...props}>{label}</button>;

Render-props and Higher-order Components

Component logic can be shared by many components by encapsulating it in it’s own component. These components can be built as Higher-order Components or utilise render props.

Higher-order components are functions that take a component and return a new component with enhanced capabilities.

HOC example on CodeSandbox

function withYear(Component, message) {
  return class extends React.Component {
    render() {
      const { children, ...props } = this.props;
      return (
        <Component {...props}>
          {message} {new Date().getYear() + 1900}: {children}

const Thing = props => <div {...props} />;

const ThingWithYear = withYear(Thing, "from");

The render props pattern allows a component to accept one or more components as props to be rendered with customised props provided by the parent component.

Render props example on CodeSandbox

function WithYear({ component: Component, ...props }) {
  const year = new Date().getYear() + 1900;
  return <Component {...props} year={year} />;

const Thing = ({ message, year, children, ...props }) => (
  <div {...props}>
    {message} {year}: {children}

function App() {
  return (
    <div className="App">
      <WithYear message="from" component={Thing}>
        Hello CodeSandbox

For ultimate flexibility, a render-props component can be wrapped in a HOC allowing the provided functionality to be used in either way.

Render props and HOC example on CodeSandbox

function withYear(Component, message) {
  return props => (
    <WithYear message={message} component={Component} {...props} />


Start with a component that implements the simplest functionality you will need while ensuring that it is as customisable as possible.

const ModeButton = ({ primary, danger, style, ...props }) = {
  const backgroundColor = primary ? "blue" : danger ? "red" : "white";
  return (<button {...props} style={{ backgroundColor, ...style }} />);

You can then create other components that add more functionality..

const SizedModeButton = ({ small, large, style, ...props }) = {
  const padding = small ? "0.5rem" : large ? "1rem" : "0.7rem";
  return <ModeButton primary {...props} style={{ ...style, padding }} />;

..or configure those components for specific use cases.

const LargePrimaryButton = (props = (
  <SizedModeButton large primary {...props} />

When new functionality is then required, new components can be built using the simplest existing components that provide other required functionality.


Container components are great because they are very easy to make completely customisable, though naming is hard and and deciding when to customise and when to create a new container (and name it) wil be an ongoing dilemma.

Using container components also helps you keep your other components more reusable by avoiding setting styles on them that will invariably need to be customised for different use-cases.

By setting default styles on a container component, but also allowing className and style props to be specified, your container components will be simple to use and tweak.

import styled from "styled-components";

const Box = styled.div`
  padding: 5px;
  width: 100%;

  @media (min-width: 700px) {
    padding: 20px;
    width: 50%;

const InputContainer = ({ children, className, style }) => (
  <Box className={className} style={style}>

export default InputContainer;

Jason Galea

Written by Jason Galea from Cairns, Australia.

Full Stack developer specialising in React and NodeJS.

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