If you've been following the whole class so far, ignore this. If you're hopping into the middle of this class just to look at the hooks portion, you can still follow this lesson and build along with us! So far we've been building an app that you can checkout on GitHub and then fast-forward this commit: 0f7977ae3ce923ecf7094b82056a809fcaf1e905.

If you just want an explanation of hooks in general, check out the last section, Hooks in Depth

Getting started with hooks

Now we want to make it so you can modify what your search parameters are. Let's make a new route called SearchParams.js and have it accept these search parameters.

import React from "react";

const SearchParams = () => {
  const location = "Seattle, WA";
  return (
    <div className="search-params">
        <label htmlFor="location">
          <input id="location" value={location} placeholder="Location" />

export default SearchParams;

Now add it to your routes:

// delete Pet import, and add SearchParams
import SearchParams from "./SearchParams";

// in App.js, replace all the Pets
<SearchParams />

Now navigate to http://localhost:1234 and see that your have one input box that says "Seattle, WA". Try and type in it. You'll see that you can't modify it. Why? Let's think about how React works: when you type in the input, React detects that a DOM event happens. When that happens, React thinks something may have changed so it runs a re-render. Providing your render functions are fast, this is a very quick operation. It then diffs what's currently there and what its render pass came up with. It then updates the minimum amount of DOM necessary.

Notice we're using className instead of class on the HTML element for CSS classes. This is because class is a reserved word in JS and JSX is still just JS. So instead they opted to use className which is the name of the JS API for interacting with class names.

Like className, htmlFor is used because for is a reserved word in JS.

So if we type in our input and it re-renders, what gets out in the input tag? Well, its value is tied to location and nothing changed that, so it remains the same. In other words, two way data binding is not free in React. I say this is a feature because it makes you explicit on how you handle your data. Let's go make it work.

// in SearchParams.js
import React, { useState } from "react";

// replace location
const [location, updateLocation] = useState("Seattle, WA");

// replace input
  onChange={e => updateLocation(e.target.value)}
  • This is called a hook and as-of-writing one of the very newest features to React and a fundamental shift on how you'll approach to writing React.
  • A hook called such (in my head) because it's a hook that gets caught every time the render function gets called. Because the hooks get called in the same order every single time, they'll always point to the same piece of state. Because of that they can be stateful: you can keep pieces of mutable state using hooks and then modify them later using their provided updater functions.
  • An absolutely key concept for you to grasp is hooks rely on this strict ordering. As such, do not put hooks inside if statements or loops. If you do, you'll have insane bugs that involve useState returning the wrong state. If you see useState returning the wrong piece of state, this is likely what you did.
  • Because the previous point is so absolutely critical, the React team has provided us with a lint rule that help us not fall into that trap. That lint rule relies on us, the developers, to follow the convention of calling our hooks useXxxxxx. If you're willing to do that, the lint rules will guard you from calling the hooks out of order.
  • The argument given to useState is the default value. In our case, we gave it "Seattle, WA" as our default value.
  • useState returns to us an array with two things in it: the current value of that state and a function to update that function. We're using a feature of JavaScript called destructuring to get both of those things out of the array.
  • We use the updateLocation function in the onChange attribute of the input. Every time the input is typed into, it's going to call that function which calls updateLocation with what has been typed into the input. When updateLocation is called, React knows that its state has been modified and kicks off a re-render.
  • You can make your own custom hooks; useState is just one of many.
  • Historically, React has been written using classes with state being on the instance of the component. This is still a supported pattern in React. We'll see how to do it later.

Let's add the ESLint rule. Run npm install -D eslint-plugin-react-hooks. Add this to ESLint:

  "rules": {,
    "react-hooks/rules-of-hooks": "error"
  "plugins": [,

Let's next make the animal drop down.

Run npm install @frontendmasters/pet.

// under React import
import { ANIMALS } from "@frontendmasters/pet";

// under location
const [animal, updateAnimal] = useState("");

// under the location label
<label htmlFor="animal">
    onChange={e => updateAnimal(e.target.value)}
    onBlur={e => updateAnimal(e.target.value)}
    <option />
    {ANIMALS.map(animal => (
      <option key={animal} value={animal}>
  • You can use useState as many times as you need for various pieces of state! Again, this is why ordering is important because React relies on useState to be called in strictly the same order every time so it can give you the same piece of state.
  • Similar to above. We're using onChange and onBlur because it makes it more accessible.

Let's make a third dropdown so you can select a breed as well as an animal.

// under your other state inside the component
const [breed, updateBreed] = useState("");
const [breeds, updateBreeds] = useState([]);

// under the animal label
<label htmlFor="breed">
    onChange={e => updateBreed(e.target.value)}
    onBlur={e => updateBreed(e.target.value)}
    <option />
    {breeds.map(breed => (
      <option key={breed} value={breed}>

So now we have a breed dropdown. The only really new thing we did was use the disabled property to disable the dropdown when you don't have any breeds. We're going to use the Petfinder API to request breeds based on the animal selected. If you select dog, you want to see poodles, labradors, and chihuahuas and parrots, tabbies, and Maine coons. Petfinder has and endpoint that if you give it a valid animal. We'll show you how to do that in the next lesson with effects.

For now, we're going to make a custom hook of our own. Just like useState is a hook, there are a few others like useEffect (which we'll use in the next lesson), useReducer (for doing Redux-like reducers), useRefs (for when you need to have programmatic access to a DOM node), and useContext (for using React's context which we'll do shortly as well.) But like React hooks, we can use these hooks to make our re-usable hooks. Let's make one that creates a stateful dropdown for us so we can avoid duplication of our code.

Make a new file called useDropdown.js. Noticed we prefixed it with use because it's a hook. You should follow that convention.

import React, { useState } from "react";

const useDropdown = (label, defaultState, options) => {
  const [state, updateState] = useState(defaultState);
  const id = `use-dropdown-${label.replace(" ", "").toLowerCase()}`;
  const Dropdown = () => (
    <label htmlFor={id}>
        onChange={e => updateState(e.target.value)}
        onBlur={e => updateState(e.target.value)}
        <option />
        {options.map(item => (
          <option key={item} value={item}>
  return [state, Dropdown];

export default useDropdown;

This looks like we just made the previous dropdowns generic which is exactly what we did. We use hooks internally to keep the state and then we return the component and the state to the user via an array which can destructure later.

In SearchParam.js

// import at the top
import useDropdown from "./useDropdown";

// delete the animal and breed useState calls

// under breeds useState
const [animal, AnimalDropdown] = useDropdown("Animal", "dog", ANIMALS);
const [breed, BreedDropdown] = useDropdown("Breed", "", breeds);

// replace animal and breed label
<AnimalDropdown />
<BreedDropdown />

This extracts out a lot of duplicated logic out into a separate file which can independently maintained and tested which is a big win. Now we have a re-usable stateful dropdown for our entire site! Pretty cool, right?

You will have ESLint errors around un-used variables. This is expected. We'll use them in the next lesson.

Let's go make it make AJAX requests now!


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