SaltyCrane Blog — Notes on JavaScript and web development

What are Redux selectors? Why use them?

Selectors are functions that take Redux state as an argument and return some data to pass to the component.

They can be as simple as:

const getDataType = state => state.editor.dataType;

Or they can do more complicated data transformations like filter a list.

They are typically used in mapStateToProps1 in react-redux's connect:

For example this

export default connect(
  (state) => ({
    dataType: state.editor.dataType,
  })
)(MyComponent);

becomes this:

export default connect(
  (state) => ({
    dataType: getDataType(state),
  })
)(MyComponent);

Why?

One reason is to avoid duplicated data in Redux.

Redux state can be thought of like a database and selectors like SELECT queries to get useful data from the database. A good example is a filtered list.

If we have a list of items in Redux but want to show a filtered list of the items in the UI, we could filter the list, store it in Redux then pass it to the component. The problem is there are two copies of some of the items and it is easier for data to get out of sync. If we wanted to update an item, we'd have to update it in two places.

With selectors, a filterBy value would be stored in Redux and a selector would be used to compute the filtered list from the Redux state.

Why not perform the data transformations in the component?

Performing data transformations in the component makes them more coupled to the Redux state and less generic/reusable. Also, as Dan Abramov points out, it makes sense to keep selectors near reducers because they operate on the same state. If the state schema changes, it is easier to update the selectors than to update the components.

Performance

mapStateToProps gets called a lot so performing expensive calculations there is not good. This is where the reselect library comes in. Selectors created with reselects's createSelector will memoize to avoid unnecessary recalculations. Note if performance is not an issue, createSelector is not needed. TODO: add note about shallowCompare.

References / See also

I got interested in selectors after watching Dan Abramov's video: https://egghead.io/lessons/javascript-redux-colocating-selectors-with-reducers

Redux docs on selectors: http://redux.js.org/docs/recipes/ComputingDerivedData.html

Reselect: https://github.com/reactjs/reselect


1. mapStateToProps can be considered a selector itself

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