React State Basics

props (short for “properties”) and state are both plain JavaScript objects. While both hold information that influences the output of render, they are different in one important way: props get passed to the component (similar to function parameters) whereas state is managed within the component (similar to variables declared within a function).

The state is an instance of React Component Class can be defined as an object of a set of observable properties that control the behaviour of the component. In other words, the State of a component is an object that holds some information that may change over the lifetime of the component. For example, let us think of the clock that we created in this article, we were calling the render() method every second explicitly, but React provides a better way to achieve the same result and that is by using State, storing the value of time as a member of the component’s state.

By default, a component has no state. The Welcome component from above is stateless:

function Welcome(props) {

return <h1>Hello {}</h1>;


Difference of Props and State

We have already learned about Props and we got to know that Props is also an object that holds information to control the behaviour of that particular component, sounds familiar to State indeed but props and states are nowhere near to be same. Let us differentiate the two.

  • Props are immutable i.e. once set the props cannot be changed, while State is an observable object that is to be used to hold data that may change over time and to control the behavior after each change.
  • States can only be used in Class Components while Props don’t have this limitation.
  • While Props are set by the parent component, State is generally updated by event handlers.
props state
Can get initial value from parent Component? Yes Yes
Can be changed by parent Component? Yes No
Can set default values inside Component?* Yes Yes
Can change inside Component? No Yes
Can set initial value for child Components? Yes Yes
Can change in child Components? Yes No

state is optional. Since state increases complexity and reduces predictability, a Component without state is preferable. Even though you clearly can’t do without state in an interactive app, you should avoid having too many Stateful Components.

Component types

  • Stateless Component — Only props, no state. There’s not much going on besides the render() function and all their logic revolves around the props they receive. This makes them very easy to follow (and test for that matter). We sometimes call these dumb-as-f*ck Components (which turns out to be the only way to misuse the F-word in the English language).
  • Stateful Component — Both props and state. We also call these state managers. They are in charge of client-server communication (XHR, web sockets, etc.), processing data and responding to user events. These sort of logistics should be encapsulated in a moderate number of Stateful Components, while all visualization and formatting logic should move downstream into as many Stateless Components as possible.

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