Why you should not use mapStateToProps too often


In React you often pass down the same properties from some top-level component to the children when they also need access to it. Then, these children pass the props onto their children again, and it continues. This can go several levels deep, and one might think that using Redux’s mapStateToProps would be a nice solution to get around it (at least I did), as mapStateToProps allows each component to access the state directly, and one can just fetch the props from there. However, there are two issues with this approach:

mapStateToProps is called on every state change

The core concept of Redux is to have a single state tree for the whole application. So your state tree probably consists of a lot of independent sub-states that are handled via combineReducers. The problem is that mapStateToProps is called for any state change, no matter if the state change is relevant to this component or not, and if you do some computation inside mapStateToProps, it will be run every time. If you are doing heavy calculations in the selector, there are some libraries like reselect that can check if the relevant part of the state tree changed, and if not simply return the cached value. However, there is still a lot of checking going on which might add up, especially if you keep the components mounted, for instance, when navigating in React-Native.

There is no execution order on mapStateToProps

Update 29.12.2016: As pointed out by Mark Erikson in the comments this is no longer an issue in react-redux 5.0.0:

“Store state change notifications sent to components are now guaranteed to occur top-down.”

Let’s say you have a top-level component rendering child components, and both the top-level component and the child components are connected to the store via mapStateToProps. If a state change happens, there is no guarantee that the top-level component’s mapStateToProps is executed first. Consider the fitness app example from last post: The state consists of a Workout having several Exercises as its children.

Redux State Tree mapStateToProps

The Workout has a corresponding top-level component that gets the exercises from the state (with mapStateToProps) and renders them in an Exercise child component. The exercise child component also gets its props from the state with mapStateToProps, but to do that it needs to know which exercise it actually is. To avoid the identity-crisis, Workout has to pass down some key, let’s use the name prop.

The error now happens when an action to remove the exercise from the workout is dispatched and the state is updated. If the top-level component’s mapStateToProps is called first, everything works fine, as it receives the new exercises array, and triggers a rerender which removes the deleted exercise. But there is no order on mapStateToProps, so we cannot guarantee that the top-level component is executed first, and it might as well happen that the child component’s mapStateToProps is called. The child component then tries to get its props by accessing the state’s exercise array with an invalid key leading to an error.


The solution is to only use mapStateToProps for top-level components and propagate the props for the children from there by passing them down, as it is done in standard React. So don’t use React-Redux’ connect if your only motivation is to avoid passing down props to children.

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