When and how to useMemo

Maximizing React Performance: Harnessing the Power of React.memo for Optimal Results - A Comprehensive Guide to Enhance Efficiency and Speed
Saturday, April 8, 2023

React is a popular and powerful library for building user interfaces. However, as your application grows, performance can become a bottleneck. One technique for improving React app performance is by utilizing memoization, a technique that helps avoid unnecessary re-renders of components. In this article, we’ll dive into when to use React.memo and how it can help boost your app’s performance. We’ll also discuss potential pitfalls of using React.memo incorrectly.

What is React.memo?

React.memo is a higher-order component (HOC) that allows you to memoize the result of a component’s render function. Memoization is the process of caching a function’s output based on its input arguments, so the next time the function is called with the same arguments, it returns the cached result instead of recalculating it.

In the context of React, memoization allows you to avoid unnecessary re-renders of components by caching the component’s result when the input props haven’t changed. This optimization technique can significantly improve the performance of your React app, especially if you have complex or frequently updated components.

When to Use React.memo?

Now that we understand what React.memo is let’s explore when to use it. Generally, you should use React.memo when:

  • The component is expensive to render If a component’s render function is expensive and produces a large subtree, it’s a good candidate for memoization. By memoizing the component, you can avoid unnecessary re-renders and improve the overall performance of your app.

  • The component renders frequently If a component renders frequently, memoization can help you avoid unnecessary re-renders. For example, imagine you have a list of items, and each item has a button that can trigger a state update. If the list component isn’t memoized, each time an item is updated, the entire list will be re-rendered. However, if you memoize the list component, React will only re-render the items that have changed, improving your app’s performance.

  • The component has a large number of props If a component has a large number of props, memoization can help you avoid unnecessary re-renders. When you memoize a component, React will only re-render the component if any of its props have changed. By avoiding unnecessary re-renders, you can improve the overall performance of your app.

How to Use React.memo?

Using React.memo is straightforward. You wrap your component in the React.memo function call and pass it as the argument. For example:

Copy code
import React from 'react';

const MyComponent = React.memo(({ propA, propB }) => {
  // component implementation
});

In the example above, we’ve memoized MyComponent, which takes two props propA and propB. React will compare the input props of the component before rendering it. If the input props haven’t changed, React will reuse the previously rendered result.

Custom Comparison Function

By default, React.memo performs a shallow comparison of the input props to determine whether to re-render the component. However, you can provide a custom comparison function to React.memo to perform a more granular comparison. For example, if your component receives an array of objects as a prop, you might want to provide a custom comparison function to compare the objects’ properties instead of the array reference itself.

import React from 'react';

const MyComponent = React.memo(({ items }) => {
  // component implementation
}, (prevProps, nextProps) => {
  return prevProps.items.every((item, index) => {
    return item.id === nextProps.items[index].id;
  });
});

In the example above, we’ve provided a custom comparison function to React.memo that compares each object’s id property in the items prop.

Caveats of Using React.memo

While memoization can significantly improve the performance of your React app, it’s essential to use it correctly. Here are some potential pitfalls to keep in mind:

  • Over-memoization One common mistake when using React.memo is over-memoization. Memoizing every component in your app can lead to decreased performance instead of improving it. Memoization incurs an overhead cost of storing and comparing the input props, so memoizing a component that renders quickly or infrequently might not be worth the cost.

  • Memoizing Impure Components Another potential pitfall of using React.memo is memoizing impure components. Impure components are components that depend on external state or have side effects, such as making an API call. Memoizing an impure component can lead to unexpected behavior and bugs, as React won’t re-render the component when the external state changes or side effects occur.

  • Inappropriate Custom Comparison Function Finally, providing an inappropriate custom comparison function to React.memo can also lead to bugs and unexpected behavior. If your custom comparison function doesn’t accurately reflect the component’s input dependencies, React won’t re-render the component when it should.

Conclusion

In summary, React.memo is a powerful tool for optimizing React app performance. By memoizing components that are expensive to render, render frequently, or have a large number of props, you can avoid unnecessary re-renders and improve your app’s overall performance. However, it’s essential to use React.memo correctly and avoid common pitfalls such as over-memoization, memoizing impure components, and providing an inappropriate custom comparison function.

As a senior React developer, you should strive to understand the best practices for optimizing React app performance, and React.memo is an important technique to add to your toolbox. By using React.memo effectively, you can create fast and responsive React apps that provide an excellent user experience.

Keep reading

If you liked that one here's another:
Next.js Layouts Explained

Wanna show support?

If you find my sporadic thoughts and ramblings helpful.
You can buy me a coffee if you feel like it.
It's not necessary but it's always appreciated. The content will always stay free regardless.