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Creating a reusable timer component in React

Aug 21, 2019

When you talk about a timer, it can be one of the three: count-down timer, count-up timer or a stop-watch timer. Is it possible to create one component that satisfies all cases? Yes, we will explore on how we can create one React component and reuse it to make different timers.

Component break down

Behind the hood, timer uses counting mechanism. So Let's create a Counter component which will be the core of different Timer components. Our Counter component should be able to -

  • accept start, end, step and delay value
  • do something when the counter stops
  • do something when the counter pauses/resumes
  • do something when the counter ends

Setting the props

We can define the props like this.

class Counter extends Component {
  static propTypes = {
    start: PropTypes.number.isRequired,
    end: PropTypes.number.isRequired,
    step: PropTypes.number.isRequired,
    delay: PropTypes.number,
    isPause: PropTypes.bool
  }

  static defaultProps = {
    delay: 1000,
    isPause: false
  }

  state = {
    current: this.props.start
  }

  render () {
    return <>{this.state.current}</>
  }
}

I have added an additional prop isPause which will be used as a flag for pause/resume state. We need to keep the current value as ther counter runs. Since we cannot mutate the props, we are copyingstart prop into current state. When the counter starts, we will use it record the current counter value.

Btw, if you are wondering what these <>...</> are. It is React Fragment in short syntax. Make sure you are using React version 16.0 or above to use Fragments.

Adding functionality

In a real world application, we might want to do something when the counter ends, e.g. showing an alert. As an addition to start/stop methods, we should support calling a function whenever counter changes its status from pause to resume or when it ends.

static propTypes = {
    // ...
    onCounterEnd: PropTypes.func,    onCounterPause: PropTypes.func,    onCounterResume: PropTypes.func}

Now let's define the counter start and stop methods.

startCounter () {
  this.counterId = setInterval(() => {
    const { current } = this.state
    const { end, step } = this.props

    if (current !== end) {
      this.setState({
        current: current + step
      })
    } else {
      this.stopCounter()
    }
  }, this.props.delay)
}

stopCounter () {
  if (this.counterId) {
    clearInterval(this.counterId)
    this.props.onCounterEnd()
  }
}

In startCounter, we use setInterval method to start the counter. We apply the step on every delay interval until it reaches the end. When it reaches the end, we stop the counter by cleaning up the interval using clearInterval method.

Remember, we want to do something on counter ends. We do that by calling onCounterEnd prop method inside stopCounter.

Using component life cycle methods

Previously, we defined the start and stop methods. But component won't do a thing because we haven't setup the actual function calls. For that, we will use React component life cycle methods.

We want to start the counter as soon as the component is loaded. We can do that by calling startCounter in componentDidMount.

componentDidMount() is invoked immediately after a component is mounted

componentDidMount () {
  this.startCounter()
}

To cleanup the counter, we can use componentWillUnmount method.

componentWillUnmount() is invoked immediately before a component is unmounted and destroyed.

componentWillUnmount () {
  // cleanup counter
  this.stopCounter()
}

Now, the tricky part is handling pause and resume functions. The catch here is we don't need to define new methods. We can reuse startCounter and stopCounter methods.

Remember we defined isPause prop? We will make use of this to handle counter pause/resume state. The logic is simple, if isPause is true, we stop the counter, otherwise, we start the counter. Now the question is how do we know when isPause changes.

Don't worry, we can use another React life cycle method. When isPause prop changes, it will trigger an update in component. After the update,componentDidUpdate life cycle method is invoked. So we can put a call to startCounter and stopCounter methods inside componentDidUpdate. And don't forget to run the onCounterPause and onCounterResume prop methods.

componentDidUpdate (prevProps) {
  if (this.props.isPause !== prevProps.isPause) {
    if (this.props.isPause) {
      this.stopCounter()
      this.props.onCounterPause()
    } else {
      this.startCounter()
      this.props.onCounterResume()
    }
  }
}

Since we are using stopCounter to pause the counter. We need to know if counter has really stopped in order to call onCounterEnd. Again, we can use isPause prop to check if counter has stopped or is just paused.

stopCounter () {
  if (this.counterId) {
    clearInterval(this.counterId)

    if (!this.props.isPause) {      this.props.onCounterEnd()    }  }
}

Reusing Counter component

There are many React patterns. Some may prefer higher order component pattern but here, we will use render prop pattern to reuse the logic inside Counter component. Render prop pattern is pretty simple, the component accepts a function as children prop to render and to pass props.

In our case, we would want to pass current state into children render function like this.

render () {
  return <>{this.props.children(this.state.current)}</>
}

Now, we have a reusable Counter component which we can use to make different types of timer.

class Counter extends Component {
  static propTypes = {
    start: PropTypes.number.isRequired,
    end: PropTypes.number.isRequired,
    step: PropTypes.number.isRequired,
    delay: PropTypes.number,
    isPause: PropTypes.bool,
    onCounterEnd: PropTypes.func,
    onCounterPause: PropTypes.func,
    onCounterResume: PropTypes.func,
    children: PropTypes.func.isRequired
  }

  static defaultProps = {
    onCounterEnd: () => {},
    onCounterPause: () => {},
    onCounterResume: () => {},
    delay: 1000,
    isPause: false
  }

  state = {
    current: this.props.start
  }

  componentDidMount () {
    this.startCounter()
  }

  componentWillUnmount () {
    // cleanup counter
    this.stopCounter()
  }

  componentDidUpdate (prevProps) {
    if (this.props.isPause !== prevProps.isPause) {
      if (this.props.isPause) {
        this.stopCounter()
        this.props.onCounterPause()
      } else {
        this.startCounter()
        this.props.onCounterResume()
      }
    }
  }

  startCounter () {
    this.counterId = setInterval(() => {
      const { current } = this.state
      const { end, step } = this.props

      if (current !== end) {
        this.setState({
          current: current + step
        })
      } else {
        this.stopCounter()
      }
    }, this.props.delay)
  }

  stopCounter () {
    if (this.counterId) {
      clearInterval(this.counterId)

      if (!this.props.isPause) {
        this.props.onCounterEnd()
      }
    }
  }

  render () {
    return <>{this.props.children(this.state.current)}</>
  }
}

Let's make a timer

With Counter component, we can easily make a Timer.

const Timer = ({
  onTimerPause,
  onTimerResume,
  onTimerEnd,
  isPause,
  duration,
  countDown
}) => {
  let start = 0
  let end = duration
  let step = 1

  if (countDown) {
    start = duration
    end = 0
    step = -1
  }

  return (
    <Counter
      start={start}
      end={end}
      step={step}
      onCounterEnd={onTimerEnd}
      onCounterResume={onTimerResume}
      onCounterPause={onTimerPause}
      isPause={isPause}
    >
      {(current) => {
        const min = parseInt(current / 60, 10)
        const sec = parseInt(current % 60, 10)
        const paddedMin = min < 10 ? `0${min}` : min
        const paddedSec = sec < 10 ? `0${sec}` : sec

        return `${paddedMin}:${paddedSec}`
      }}
    </Counter>
  )
}

Timer.propTypes = {
  onTimerPause: PropTypes.func,
  onTimerResume: PropTypes.func,
  onTimerEnd: PropTypes.func,
  isPause: PropTypes.bool,
  duration: PropTypes.number.isRequired,
  countDown: PropTypes.bool
}

Timer.defaultProps = {
  onTimerPause: () => {},
  onTimerResume: () => {},
  onTimerEnd: () => {},
  isPause: false,
  countDown: false
}

In the above example, you can change the timer's count down mode using countDown prop. Depending on the mode, step value is either +1 or -1. We are passing in a render function to format the time as the children prop.

How about a stopwatch

It is very similar to Timer except it asks for maxDuration instead of duration.

const Stopwatch = ({ onPause, onResume, onEnd, isPause, maxDuration }) => (
  <Counter
    start={0}
    step={1}
    end={maxDuration}
    onCounterEnd={onEnd}
    onCounterResume={onResume}
    onCounterPause={onPause}
    isPause={isPause}
  >
    {(current) => {
      const min = parseInt(current / 60, 10)
      const sec = parseInt(current % 60, 10)
      const paddedMin = min < 10 ? `0${min}` : min
      const paddedSec = sec < 10 ? `0${sec}` : sec

      return `${paddedMin}:${paddedSec}`
    }}
  </Counter>
)

Stopwatch.propTypes = {
  onPause: PropTypes.func,
  onResume: PropTypes.func,
  onEnd: PropTypes.func,
  isPause: PropTypes.bool,
  maxDuration: PropTypes.number
}

Stopwatch.defaultProps = {
  onTimerPause: () => {},
  onTimerResume: () => {},
  onTimerEnd: () => {},
  isPause: false,
  maxDuration: 300
}

In the example, we are simply displaying the time. But we could replace that with advanced UI components. You can even make different timer UI in this way.

Summary

In summary, we made a Counter component with customizable properties. We also made use of React life cycle methods to trigger functions based on counter status. We took a step further and use render prop pattern to share the counting logic across different components.

👏👏👏

Ref:

Thanks for reading! Stay awesome and keep on hacking! 😍

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