Why can't I update props in react.js?

Why do we have both state and props? Why don't we just have one source of data? I'd like to update a component's props and have it re-render itself and all of its children. Seems simple but I can't figure out how to let a component update its own or its parent's props.

Thanks for any help.

Answers:

Answer

The React philosophy is that props should be immutable and top-down. This means that a parent can send whatever prop values it likes to a child, but the child cannot modify its own props. What you do is react to the incoming props and then, if you want to, modify your child's state based on incoming props.

So you don't ever update your own props, or a parent's props. Ever. You only ever update your own state, and react to prop values you are given by parent.

If you want to have an action occur on a child which modifies something on the state, then what you do is pass a callback to the child which it can execute upon the given action. This callback can then modify the parent's state, which in turns can then send different props to the child on re-render.

Answer

To answer the question of why

In React, props flow downward, from parent to child.

This means that when we call ReactDOM.render, React can render the root node, pass down any props, and then forget about that node. It's done with. It's already rendered.

This happens at each component, we render it, then move on down the tree, depth-first.

If a component could mutate its props, we would be changing an object that is accessible to the parent node, even after the parent node had already rendered. This could cause all sorts of strange behaviour, for example, a user.name might have one value in one part of the app, and a different value in a different part, and it might update itself the next time a render is triggered.

To give a fictional example:

// App renders a user.name and a profile
const App = (props) => 
  React.createElement('div', null, [
    props.user.name,
    React.createElement(Profile, props)
  ])

// Profile changes the user.name and renders it
// Now App has the wrong DOM.
const Profile = ({user}) => {
  user.name = "Voldemort" // Uh oh!
  return React.createElement('div', null, user.name);
}

// Render the App and give it props
ReactDOM.render(
  React.createElement(App, {user: {name: "Hermione"}}), 
  document.getElementById('app'))
);

We render app. It outputs "Hermione" to the Shadow DOM. We render the Profile, it outputs "Voldemort". The App is now wrong. It should say "Voldemort" because user.name is "Voldemort", but we already output "Hermione", and it's too late to change it.

The value will be different in different parts of the app.

Modifying Props would be two-way-binding

Mutating props would be a form of two-way binding. We would be modifying values that might be relied on by another component higher up the tree.

Angular 1 had this, you could change any data anytime from wherever you were. In order to work, it needed a cyclical $digest. Basically, it would loop around and around, re-rendering the DOM, until all the data had finished propagating. This was part of the reason why Angular 1 was so slow.

Answer

In React, state and props serve different goals: state allows a component to maintain some changing values, while props are the mecanism to propagate those values to children.

Children are not allowed to alter by themselves the values they get via props just because React designers find it easier to maintain an application built this way. Their point is that when only one component is allowed to update some piece of state, it is easier to discover who altered it, and find the root of bugs.

Answer

the Component itself changes its state, and changes not its own, but the children's props.

<Parent>
  <Child name={ this.state.childName } />
</Parent>

Parent can change its own state and change the child name, but it will change the props for his children.

edit1: for calling events from the child to its parent, you should pass in the child an event handler like so:

var Child = React.createClass({
  render: function() {
    return (<button onClick={ this.props.onClick }>Hey</button>);
  }
});

var Parent = React.createClass({
  onChildClick: console.log.bind(console), // will print the event..
  render: function() {
    return (<Child onClick={ this.onChildClick } />);
  }
});

React.renderComponent(<Parent />, document.body);

in this code, when you'll click on the Child's button, it will pass the event to its parent. the purpose of passing the events is decoupling the components. maybe in your app you need this specific action, but in another app you'll have, you'll use it differently.

Answer

My solution was fairly different but some people might run into it. On the Chrome Dev tools, it kept saying that my props were read-only and when I tried passing them down even further, I would get an error. Now, the reason why is because I wasn't invoking a render() method. I was instead calling my component like this:

const Navigation = () =>{

    return (
        <div className="left-navigation">
            <ul>
                <Link to='/dashboard'><li>Home</li></Link>
                <Link to='/create-seedz'><li>Create Seedz</li></Link>
                <Link to='/create-promotion'><li>Create Promotion</li></Link>
                <Link to='/setting'><li>Setting</li></Link>
                <SignOutButton  />
            </ul>
        </div>
    );
}

I added a render method and it solved my issue of being able to pass props down:

class Navigation extends Component{
render(){
    return (
        <div className="left-navigation">
            <ul>
                <Link to='/dashboard'><li>Home</li></Link>
                <Link to='/create-seedz'><li>Create Seedz</li></Link>
                <Link to='/create-promotion'><li>Create Promotion</li></Link>
                <Link to='/setting'><li>Setting</li></Link>
                <SignOutButton user={this.props.user} signedOut={this.props.signedOut} authed={this.props.authed}/>
            </ul>
        </div>
    );
}
}

Hopefully this helps someone.

Answer

Contrary to the answers provided here, you actually can update props directly, if you don't mind defying the pedantic circlejerk about "the React way." In React.js, find the following lines of code:

Object.freeze(element.props);
Object.freeze(element);

and comment them out. Voila, mutable props!

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