Ref

Provides a way to access DOM nodes or React elements created in the render method.

When to Use Refs

  • Managing focus, text selection, or media playback.
  • Triggering imperative animations.
  • Integrating with third-party DOM libraries.

Creating Refs

class MyComponent extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.myRef = React.createRef();
  }
  render() {
    return <div ref={this.myRef} />;
  }
}

Refs are created using React.createRef() and attached to React elements via the ref attribute.

Refs are commonly assigned to an instance property when a component is constructed so they can be referenced throughout the component.

Adding a Ref to a DOM Element

class CustomTextInput extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    // create a ref to store the textInput DOM element
    this.textInput = React.createRef();
    this.focusTextInput = this.focusTextInput.bind(this);
  }

  focusTextInput() {
    // Explicitly focus the text input using the raw DOM API
    // Note: we're accessing "current" to get the DOM node
    this.textInput.current.focus();
  }

  render() {
    // tell React that we want to associate the <input> ref
    // with the `textInput` that we created in the constructor
    return (
      <div>
        <input
          type="text"
          ref={this.textInput} />
        <input
          type="button"
          value="Focus the text input"
          onClick={this.focusTextInput}
        />
      </div>
    );
  }
}

Adding a Ref to a Class Component

class AutoFocusTextInput extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.textInput = React.createRef();
  }

  componentDidMount() {
    this.textInput.current.focusTextInput();
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <CustomTextInput ref={this.textInput} />
    );
  }
}

class CustomTextInput extends React.Component {
  // ...
}

Refs and Function Components

function CustomTextInput(props) {
  // textInput must be declared here so the ref can refer to it
  let textInput = React.createRef();

  function handleClick() {
    textInput.current.focus();
  }

  return (
    <div>
      <input
        type="text"
        ref={textInput} />
      <input
        type="button"
        value="Focus the text input"
        onClick={handleClick}
      />
    </div>
  );
}

You may not use the ref attribute on function components because they don’t have instances. You should convert the component to a class if you need a ref to it, just like you do when you need lifecycle methods or state. .

Callback Refs

class CustomTextInput extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);

    this.textInput = null;

    this.setTextInputRef = element => {
      this.textInput = element;
    };

    this.focusTextInput = () => {
      // Focus the text input using the raw DOM API
      if (this.textInput) this.textInput.focus();
    };
  }

  componentDidMount() {
    // autofocus the input on mount
    this.focusTextInput();
  }

  render() {
    // Use the `ref` callback to store a reference to the text input DOM
    // element in an instance field (for example, this.textInput).
    return (
      <div>
        <input
          type="text"
          ref={this.setTextInputRef}
        />
        <input
          type="button"
          value="Focus the text input"
          onClick={this.focusTextInput}
        />
      </div>
    );
  }
}

Callback refs is a way to set refs, which gives more fine-grain control over when refs are set and unset.

Instead of passing a ref attribute created by createRef(), you pass a function. The function receives the React component instance or HTML DOM element as its argument, which can be stored and accessed elsewhere.

Ref — Structure map

Clickable & Draggable!

Ref — Related pages: