The announcement of the new beta was made to coincide with ReactEurope which took place in Paris. According to a blog post by Ben Alpert, one of its developers, Facebook is:
“continuing to let React mature and to make minor changes as the APIs continue to settle down”.
React lets you describe what you want to render in a declarative way using components and elements that are shared by packages including react-native, react-art, react-canvas, and react-three. In recognition of this, the main react package is being split into two: react and react-dom.
The react package contains React.createElement, React.createClass and React.Component, React.PropTypes, React.Children, and the other helpers related to elements and component classes. The developers describe these as the isomorphic or universal helpers that you need to build components.
The react-dom package contains:
In react-dom/server we have server-side rendering support with:
The developers anticipate that most components will need to depend only on the react package, which is lightweight and doesn't include any of the actual rendering logic. According to the blog post:
“to start, we expect people to render DOM-based components with our react-dom package, but there's nothing stopping someone from diving deep on performance and writing an awesome-faster-react-dom package which can render the exact same DOM-based components. By decoupling the component definitions from the rendering, this becomes possible.”
This organization also paves the way to writing components that can be shared between the web version of React and React Native, and while this is hard to do at the moment, the plan is to make this easy in a future version so you can share React code between your website and native apps.
The other major change to the new version is the exposing of refs to DOM components as the DOM node itself. The developers looked at what you can do with a ref to a DOM component and realized that it is always used as a call to get the underlying DOM node. The intermediate call is now redundant, and the ref is the actual DOM node.
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