What happens when you use RxJS in React? by@domagojk

What happens when you use RxJS in React?

January 25th 2017 46,434 reads
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Dom Kriskovic

Update (02.02.2019): more than two years ago, while experimenting with RxJS and React, I’ve created a library presented in this post. Please note that in the meantime, that library was deprecated.

Using observables seems like . So why don’t we use it in React apps more often?

With observables we can easily manage asynchronous data streams, but what is a stream in a React component?

Streams in React

To determine this, let’s start by analyzing a simple ClickCounter example:


Simple React ClickCounter component

This is a component describing asynchronous behavior. On every click event on a button tag, the state is changed. Or in other words, the state changes as a result of events happening over time.

A sequence of ongoing events ordered in time is a definition of a — stream.

So, instead of defining this.state as an object which will later be overwritten, we can define it more declaratively:


Defining state as a stream

Managing component streams

However, even when defined like this, how will our component know when to update? Somebody still has to invoke this.setState() .

There are some existing solutions for achieving this, but it seemed a bit too complicated to me.

Other more popular options for using “Functional Reactive paradigm” requires you to use another framework or another programming language (like Cycle.js or elm).

But I didn’t like the idea of losing all good things React offers you.

So, I created a small library called Recycle, which is my attempt at solving this issue. It converts “functional/reactive object description” into a React component.

Here is how a ClickCounter looks like when defined using Recycle:


It works by “monkeypatching” React.createElement. Before a component is rendered, if a select query is matched with node element, recycle sets inline event listener defined inupdate function.

Each time event handler dispatches an event, it calls selectedNode.rxSubject.next(e)

In short, Recycle creates a classical React component out of this object by creating inline event handlers and handles component local state by using “Redux style” reducer operator.


  • Greater separation of concerns between component presentation and component logic.


Classical React component — mixing logic and structure

  • You don’t need classes so each part of a component can be defined and tested separately.
  • Component description is more consistent. There is no custom handleClick events or this.setStatestatements that you need to worry about.
  • State is calculated the same way as for redux store: state = reducer(state, action).
  • Redux container looks like a normal component and it’s more clear what it does.
  • Easy to use in an existing React application (choose components which you wish to convert).


  • Observables. They come with trade-offs.
  • You don’t like the idea of selecting nodes using class names, ids or tags
  • Yo need to use advanced React API (like forceUpdateor shouldComponentUpdate)
  • Yo need direct access to DOM elements (using this.refs) for external plugins or similar

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