🔖 Tags:react.jscodinghooks

Decoding the Magic of React’s useEffect hook

Jul 30, 2023

React has made a profound impact on how we approach front-end development, offering an elegant, declarative, and efficient way to build user interfaces.

Since the introduction of Hooks in version 16.8, the landscape has shifted significantly, and developers have been empowered with a fresh, innovative way to handle side effects in functional components.

One hook that has become indispensable is the useEffect hook. However, its true potential is often misunderstood or underutilized. In this article, we will reveal the magic behind useEffect, discover less-known facets of its behavior, and learn when, why, and how to use it most effectively.

The Unveiling of useEffect

The useEffect hook is designed to handle side effects in functional components, allowing us to perform actions in response to component lifecycle events like mounting, updating, and unmounting.

It takes two arguments: a function where you can place your side-effect logic and a dependency array. The function runs after the render, and it runs again if any dependencies in the dependency array change.

Mastering the Art of Using useEffect

Understanding the basics is good, but we'll now explore some more advanced concepts and situations where useEffect can be a real game-changer.

A Chat App - Using useEffect for Subscriptions

Let's say you're building a chat application, where users need to subscribe to a chat room when they enter and unsubscribe when they leave. Using class components, this logic would be split across different lifecycle methods. However, with useEffect, we can have all the related logic in one place.

import React, { useState, useEffect } from 'react';

function ChatRoom({ chatRoomId }) {
  const [messages, setMessages] = useState([]);

  useEffect(() => {
    function handleNewMessage(newMessage) {
      setMessages(prevMessages => [...prevMessages, newMessage]);

    subscribeToChatRoom(chatRoomId, handleNewMessage);

    return () => {
      unsubscribeFromChatRoom(chatRoomId, handleNewMessage);
  }, [chatRoomId]);

  // ...

In this scenario, when the chatRoomId changes, useEffect cleans up by running the return function, unsubscribing from the old chat room. It then runs the effect again, subscribing to the new chat room.

Performance Monitoring - Using useEffect for Tracking

Imagine that you want to track user behavior in your app, such as how long users spend on a specific page. useEffect allows us to implement this in a clean and efficient way:

import React, { useEffect } from 'react';

function ProductPage({ productId }) {
  useEffect(() => {
    const startTime = Date.now();

    return () => {
      const endTime = Date.now();
      const duration = endTime - startTime;
      trackUserBehavior('productPageViewDuration', duration);
  }, [productId]);

  // ...

When the component mounts, it captures the current time. And when the component unmounts, it calculates the duration of the user's visit and logs it.

When Not to Use useEffect

Just as with any other tool, misuse or overuse of useEffect can lead to performance issues and difficult-to-track bugs.

Overdoing Dependency Arrays

Remember, each time a dependency changes, useEffect runs the cleanup function (if provided) and then the effect function. If you include items that change too frequently or unnecessarily in the dependency array, you could cause unnecessary work and potential performance degradation. Always ensure you only include necessary dependencies.

Ignoring Cleanup

When using useEffect for subscriptions, event listeners, or other side effects that require cleanup, ignoring or forgetting the cleanup function can lead to memory leaks and unexpected behavior. Always ensure to provide a cleanup function where necessary.


Understanding useEffect is fundamental to mastering React Hooks. This hook allows us to encapsulate side-effect logic within our functional components, leading to more readable and maintainable code.

However, careful usage is necessary to prevent unnecessary re-renders and other potential performance issues. By truly understanding and effectively using useEffect, we can build highly efficient and resilient React applications that are easier to reason about and maintain.