Component State

When a component is rendered what it displays depends on some combination of three things:

  • the value of the params passed to the component

  • the state of the component

  • the state of some other objects on which a component depends

Whenever one of these three things change the component will need to re-render. In this section we discuss how a component's internal state is managed within Hyperstack. Params were covered here... and sharing state between components will be covered here...

The idea of state is built into Ruby and is represented by the instance variables of an object instance.

Components very often have state. For example, is an item being displayed or edited? What is the current value of a text box? A checkbox? The time that an alarm should go off? All these are state and will be represented as values stored somewhere in instance variables.

Lets look at a simple clock component:

class Clock < HyperComponent
  after_mount do
    every(1.second) do
      mutate @time =

  render(DIV) { "The time is #{@time}" }

The after_mount call back sets up a periodic timer that goes off every second and updates the @time instance variable with the current time. The assignment to @time is wrapped in the mutate method which signals the React Engine that the state of Clock has been mutated, this in turn will add Clock to the list of components that need to be re-rendered.

It's that Simple Really

To reiterate: Components (and other Ruby objects) have state, and the state + the params will determine what is rendered. When state changes we signal this using the mutate method, and any components depending on the state will be re-rendered.

State Mutation Always Drives Rendering

It is always a mutation of state that triggers the UI to begin a render cycle. That mutation may in turn cause components to render and send different params to lower level components, but it begins with a state mutation.

What Causes State To Mutate?

Right! Good question! State is mutated by your code's reaction to some external event. A button click, text being typed, or the arrival of data from the server. We will cover these in upcoming sections, but once an event occurs your code will probably mutate some state as a result, causing component depending on this state to update.

Details on the mutate Syntax

The main purpose of mutate is to signal that state has changed, but it also useful to clarify how your code works. Therefore mutate can be used in a number of flexible ways:

  • It can take any number of expressions:

    mutate @state1 = 'something', @state2 = 'something else'
  • or it can take a block:

    mutate do
    ... compute the new state ...
    @state = ...

In both cases the result returned by mutate will be the last expression executed.

The mutator Class Method

This pattern:

class SomeComponent < HyperComponent
  def update_some_state(some_args)
    ... compute new state ...
    mutate ...

is common enough that Hyperstack provides two ways to shorten this code. The first is the mutator class method:

  mutator :update_some_state do |some_args|
    ...compute new state ...

In other words mutator defines a method that is wrapped in a call to mutate. It also has the advantage of clearly declaring that this method will be mutating the components state.

Important note: If you do an early exit from the mutator using a return or break no mutation will occur. If you want to do an early exit then use the next keyword.

The state_accessor, state_reader and state_writer Methods

Often all a mutator method will do is assign a new value to a state. For this case Hyperstack provides the state_accessor, state_reader and state_writer methods, that parallel Ruby's attribute_accessor, attribute_reader and attribute_writer methods:

  state_accessor :some_state
  some_state = some_state + 1 # or just some_state += some_state

In otherwords the state_accessor creates methods that allow read/write access to the underlying instance variable including the call to mutate.

Again the advantage is not only less typing but also clarity of code and intention.

Sharing State

You can also use and share state at the class level and create "stateful" class libraries. This is described in the chapter on HyperState...

The force_update! Method

We said above only state mutation can start a rerender. The force_update! method is the exception to this rule, as it will force a component to rerender just because you said so. If you have to use force_update! you may be doing something wrong, so use carefully.

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