Reducers

Redux reducers are usually written using switch statements, with each case handling a specific action type.

function counterReducer(state = 0, action) {
switch (action.type) {
case 'increment':
return state + 1
case 'decrement':
return state - 1
case 'multiply':
return state * action.payload
default:
return state
}
}

This pattern works reasonably well, but also has drawbacks:

  • There is some required boilerplate, specifically the wrapping switch (action.type) block and the default: return state case (the latter is easy to forget when writing a new reducer).

  • You have to remember the idiosyncrasies of JavaScript's switch statements, such as the additional braces needed to define variables which should be local to a case (e.g., case 'multiply': { const factor = action.payload; … }).

  • In TypeScript, ensuring that action is typed correctly in every switch branch requires a considerable amount of extra typing effort, often including union types of all types of actions in the app.

Redux Preboiled has several helpers for constructing reducers which address these shortcomings. Here is how you might write the example reducer above with Preboiled:

import {
chainReducers,
onAction,
withInitialState
} from 'redux-preboiled'
const counterReducer = chainReducers(
withInitialState(0),
onAction('increment', state => state + 1),
onAction('decrement', state => state - 1),
onAction('multiply', (state, action) => state * action.payload)
)

This guide details Preboiled's reducer helpers and how they relate, plus how they help you reduce typing effort if you use TypeScript.

Reducing Specific Actions

Preboiled's onAction helper generates reducer-like functions which update the state only in response to actions of a specific type.

import { onAction } from 'redux-preboiled'
const onMultiply = onAction('multiply', (state, action) => {
return state * action.payload
})
onMultiply(2, { type: 'multiply', payload: 4 })
// => 8
onMultiply(2, { type: 'increment' })
// => 2

Note that the functions returned by onAction are not "proper" reducers - they don't provide an initial state. For this reason, we prefer to call them sub-reducers as they are meant to be embedded into actual reducer functions. Later in this guide, we'll see how this can be done easily with the withInitialState and chainReducers helpers.

Integration with createAction

If you generate your action creators using createAction (as described in the Actions guide), you can pass them directly to onAction in place of their corresponding action types.

import { createAction, onAction } from 'redux-preboiled'
const multiply = createAction('multiply').withPayload()
const onMultiply = onAction(multiply, (state, action) => {
return state + action.payload
})

This removes a bit of noise as you don't need to write onAction(multiply.type, ...).

If you use TypeScript, there is another benefit: based on the action creator's type, the TypeScript compiler automatically infers the type of the action argument passed to the state update function. This helps you prevent mistakes, like in the following example:

// TypeScript
// If I forget to call .withPayload() here...
const multiply = createAction('multiply')
const onMultiply = onAction(multiply, (state, action) => {
// ... the TypeScript compiler will complain here:
// Property 'payload' does not exists on type 'Action<"multiply">'.
return state * action.payload
})

You'll also get better autocompletion in IDE's and editors which understand TypeScript, such as Visual Studio Code or WebStorm.

Providing Initial State

Using the withInitialState helper, you can generate reducers which return a specific value as initial state.

There are two ways to use this helper. The first is to pass an initial state value and a reducer-like state update function. The resulting reducer will forward all calls to that function unless called with an undefined state (i.e., during Redux store initialization), in which case it returns the given initial state value instead. One use case for this variant is to make a full reducer from a single onAction sub-reducer:

import { onAction, withInitialState } from 'redux-preboiled'
const onIncrement = onAction('increment', state => state + 1)
const reducer = withInitialState(0, onIncrement)
reducer(undefined, { type: '@@INIT' })
// => 0
reducer(0, { type: 'increment' })
// => 1

Alternatively, you can specify only an initial state when calling withInitialState. In this case, the reducer will simply return any non-undefined state unchanged.

const reducer = withInitialState(0)
reducer(undefined, { type: '@@INIT' })
// => 0
reducer(123, { type: '' })
// => 123

This second version of withInitialState is useful for reducer chains, which we'll look at next.

Chaining Reducers

Redux comes with the combineReducers function, which allows you to compose multiple reducers for different state slices. Preboiled complements this with chainReducers, which is about composing reducers for the same state slice.

chainReducers turns a sequence of (sub-)reducers into a pipeline, or "chain", where the output state of one reducer becomes the input state for the next. Let's look at a silly, but illustrative example:

import { chainReducers } from 'redux-preboiled'
const uppercaseReducer = (state = '', action) => {
return state + action.payload.toUppercase()
}
const lowercaseReducer = (state, action) => {
return state + action.payload.toLowerCase()
}
const reducer = chainReducers(
uppercaseReducer,
lowercaseReducer
)
reducer('', { type: '', payload: 'a' })
// => 'Aa'
reducer('A', { type: '', payload: 'b' })
// => 'AaBb'

For every incoming action, the reducer above first forwards the call to uppercaseReducer, the first reducer in the chain. It then passes the resulting state to the second reducer (lowercaseReducer), whose return value finally becomes the state returned by the chained reducer itself.

Note that for the chain to be a proper reducer, at least one of its functions (usually the first one) must return an initial state if called with an undefined state. A common pattern is to start the chain with a withInitialState reducer, e.g.:

const reducer = chainReducers(
withInitialState(''),
lowercaseReducer,
uppercaseReducer
)

Replacing switch

As shown in this guide's introduction, you can chain multiple onAction sub-reducers as a replacement for the switch reducer pattern.

const counterReducer = chainReducers(
withInitialState(0),
onAction('increment', state => state + 1),
onAction('multiply', (state, { payload }) => state * payload)
)

This works because each sub-reducer only reacts to one specific type of action, and leaves the state unchanged for all others; incoming actions will thus pass through the chain until they reach the matching sub-reducer, or leave the chain without a state change (the equivalent of default: return state in the switch pattern).

Next Steps

In addition to defining actions and reducers, Redux Preboiled also helps you with testing your Redux code. See the Testing guide.