Demystifying Debugging With React Developer Instruments

Essentially the most skilled software program engineers leverage the facility of developer instruments to save lots of time and enhance productiveness. The significance of those instruments multiplies when the time to debug arrives, as debugging stands out as the most tough side of software program improvement.

Enter React Developer Instruments, a browser extension backed by Meta, the creator of React, and utilized by 3 million individuals worldwide. We’ll look at how this instrument can elevate your React debugging expertise—from inspecting elements, states, and props to monitoring rendering and efficiency—all with out the effort of browser console logging.

Net builders should decide the foundation reason for complicated issues in an app each day. One typical technique on the entrance finish is to make use of a number of console.log statements and examine the browser’s console. This strategy can work, however it isn’t notably environment friendly. Fortuitously, React Developer Instruments makes issues simpler and permits us to:

  • See the React part tree.
  • Examine and replace the state/props of any part within the tree.
  • Monitor the time for a part to render.
  • Detect why a part has been re-rendered.

With these options, you must be capable of optimize an app, discover bugs, or pinpoint different points with out a lot effort.

Putting in the Extension

First, comply with these six steps so as to add the React Developer Instruments extension to your browser. We’ll give attention to a Chrome setup, however you could comply with an analogous course of on your most well-liked browser (e.g., Firefox, Edge) if desired:

  1. Go to the Chrome plugin web page.
  2. Click on on Add to Chrome.
  3. Click on on Add extension within the pop-up that seems.
  4. Wait till the obtain is accomplished.
  5. Click on on the extensions (puzzle) icon within the prime proper nook of your browser.
  6. Click on on the pin icon to entry the extension simply.

Now, everytime you go to a web site that’s utilizing React, the extension icon you pinned in step 6 will change its look:

Four variations of the React logo. From left to right, a blue logo with a black background (production), a white logo with a black background and yellow warning triangle (outdated React), a white logo with no background (no React), and a white logo with a red background and a black bug (development).

From left to proper, the icon states proven are used when a web page:

With our extension up and working, subsequent we’ll create an utility to debug.

Making a Check Utility

The create-react-app utility instrument can easily bootstrap an app in seconds. As a prerequisite, set up Node.js in your machine, then create your app by way of the command line:

npx create-react-app app-to-debug

The operation may take a while, because it must initialize the codebase and set up dependencies. As quickly because it’s finished, go to the applying’s root folder and begin your new React app:

cd app-to-debug
npm begin

When compiled, your app seems in your browser:

A webpage with the URL "localhost:3000" shows the React logo. On the screen, a line of text says “Edit src/App.js and save to reload,” and has a Learn React link beneath it.

Our React Developer Instruments extension icon now signifies that we’re working within the improvement setting.

Let’s transfer alongside and be taught extra concerning the precise developer instruments. First, open the developer console (Choice + ⌘ + J on Mac or Shift + CTRL + J on Home windows/Linux). There are a number of tabs obtainable (Components, Console, and so forth.). The one we want at this stage is Parts:

A screenshot displays the same webpage as before on the left, but also shows developer tools on the right of the screen. The developer console displays the contents of the Components tab.

There may be only a single part obtainable at this level. That’s right as a result of our take a look at utility has just one part rendered App (see src/index.js). Click on on the part to indicate its props, the model of react-dom used, and the supply file.

Monitoring Part State

Let’s begin with the characteristic you’ll be utilizing more often than not: checking/modifying the state of a part. To reveal this performance, we’ll make some modifications to the take a look at mission. We are going to substitute the React placeholder homepage with a easy login kind holding three state items: a username string, a password string, and a boolean representing a “Keep in mind me” setting.

Within the src folder, take away App.css, App.take a look at.js, and emblem.svg, then add a brand new LoginForm.js file as follows:

import { useState } from "react";

const LoginForm = () => {
  const [username, setUsername] = useState("");
  const [password, setPassword] = useState("");
  const [rememberMe, setRememberMe] = useState(false);

  return (
        show: "flex",
        flexDirection: "column",
        hole: "8px 0",
        padding: 16,
        sort="textual content"
        onChange={(e) => setUsername(e.currentTarget.worth)}
        onChange={(e) => setPassword(e.currentTarget.worth)}

          onChange={() => setRememberMe(!rememberMe)}
        <label htmlFor="rememberMe">Keep in mind me</label>

      <enter sort="submit" identify="login" worth="Log in" />

export default LoginForm;

Take note of the part declaration strategy. We’re utilizing the named part (const LoginForm => …) to see its identify within the dev instruments. Nameless elements are displayed as Unknown.

LoginForm part will likely be our debugging goal, so let’s render it inside App.js:

import LoginForm from "./LoginForm";

const App = () => {
  return <LoginForm />;

export default App;

Return to the browser window with the Parts tab open. Now, subsequent to the App part you’ll see the LoginForm part. Clicking on LoginForm will reveal all of the state objects we’ve created utilizing useState hooks. Since we haven’t but entered any textual content or examine field inputs, we see two empty strings and false:

A screenshot of the Component tab, displaying the app component and its LoginForm on the left, and a tab for LoginForm on the right with the three hooks states.

Kind something within the username and password fields or click on on the examine field to see the values within the debugging window replace:

A screenshot of the login component with an “admin” username and a hidden password on the left, and the Components tab with updated hooks states (“admin,” “StrongPassword,” and false) on the right.

You might have observed that there aren’t any names for the state variables. All of them are known as State. That is the anticipated habits of the instrument as a result of useState accepts solely the worth argument ("" or false in our instance). React is aware of nothing concerning the identify of this state merchandise.

A utility known as useDebugValue partially solves this drawback. It may set the show identify for customized hooks. For example, you possibly can set the show identify Password for a customized usePassword hook.

Monitoring Part Props

We are able to monitor not solely state modifications, but in addition part props. We’ll first modify LoginForm:

const LoginForm = ({ defaultUsername, onSubmit }) => {
  const [username, setUsername] = useState(defaultUsername);
  const [password, setPassword] = useState("");
  const [rememberMe, setRememberMe] = useState(false);

  return (
        show: "flex",
        flexDirection: "column",
        hole: "8px 0",
        padding: 16,
// ...

The code above will add a defaultUsername property to have a username crammed on the preliminary load, and onSubmit property to manage submit kind actions. We additionally should set these properties’ defaults inside App:

const App = () => {
  return <LoginForm defaultUsername="" onSubmit={() => {}} />;

Reload the web page after the modifications have been made and also you’ll see the props contained in the Parts tab:

The same screenshot as above, with different username/password entries ("" for the username and a blank password) and added props under the Components tab (defaultUsername and onSubmit).

If it is advisable examine how the part will react to a distinct state/props, you are able to do it with out altering any code. Click on on the state/prop worth within the Parts tab and set the specified worth.

Measuring Utility Efficiency

At this level, we must always be aware that monitoring props and state is feasible by way of console.log. Nevertheless, React Developer Instruments presents two benefits over this strategy:

  • First, logging to the console is unrealistic when scaling a mission. The extra logs you might have the tougher it’s to search out what you want.
  • Second, monitoring elements’ states and properties is simply a part of the job. For those who run right into a case when your utility works accurately however is gradual, React Developer Instruments can determine sure efficiency points.

For a common overview of an utility’s efficiency, React Developer Instruments can spotlight DOM updates. Click on on the gear icon within the prime proper nook of the Parts tab.

You’ll see a pop-up with 4 tabs. Click on on the Basic tab and choose the Spotlight updates when elements render examine field. Begin typing within the password area, and also you’ll have your kind wrapped with a inexperienced/yellow body. The extra updates carried out per second, the extra highlighted the body turns into.

The same screenshot as above, with a pop-up appearing over the Components tab. It displays four tabs (General, Debugging, Components, and Profiler), and shows three options inside the General tab: Theme, Display density, and Highlight updates when components render (which is the selected option). The login component shows a filled password field, and appears highlighted in a yellow frame.

For a extra detailed efficiency breakdown, we’ll transfer from the Parts tab to the Profiler tab (don’t neglect to uncheck the spotlight possibility).

Within the Profiler tab, you will notice a blue circle within the prime left nook. It’s a button to start out profiling your utility. As quickly as you click on on it, all state/props updates will likely be tracked. Earlier than performing this step, nevertheless, we’ll click on on the gear icon within the prime proper nook of the tab and examine the Report why every part rendered whereas profiling examine field. It’ll prolong the performance of the profiler with the updates’ explanations.

A screenshot of the login component, with the Profiler tab and a pop-up opened on the right. The profiler is set to record why each component rendered while profiling, and the “Hide commits” functionality is not activated.

The configuration is now full, so let’s proceed and profile our app. Shut the settings overlay and click on on the blue circle button. Begin typing within the password area and choose the “Keep in mind me” field. Then click on the circle button once more to cease profiling and see the outcomes.

Screenshot of a complete configuration, showing the login component on the left side, and the profiler activated and outputting results on the right. The results state why the component rendered (Hook 2 changed) and list when it was rendered and at what speed (in milliseconds).

Within the profiling outcomes, you must see itemized updates of the LoginForm part. Our instance exhibits 9 updates: eight for every character within the password area and one for the “Keep in mind me” examine field. For those who click on on any replace, you should have a proof of why the render occurred. For instance, the primary render says “Hook 2 modified.”

Let’s take a look at the second hook of the LoginForm part:

const [password, setPassword] = useState("");

Our end result is sensible because the second hook is answerable for password state administration. For those who click on on the final render, it’s going to present “Hook 3 modified” as a result of our third hook handles the “Keep in mind me” state.

Viewing React useReducer and Context

The examples above present a glimpse of easy eventualities. Nevertheless, React’s API contains extra difficult options, resembling Context and useReducer.

Let’s add them to our utility. First, we should add a file with the context. The context we’re going to make will likely be used for logging a person in and offering the data of the login motion. We’ll create the AuthenticationContext.js file with the next content material:

import { useCallback, useContext, useReducer } from "react";
import { createContext } from "react";

const initialState = {
  loading: false,
  token: undefined,
  error: undefined,

const AuthenticationContext = createContext({
  logIn: () => {},

const reducer = (state, motion) => {
  change (motion.sort) {
    case "LOG_IN":
      return { ...state, loading: true };
    case "LOG_IN_SUCCESS":
      return { ...state, loading: false, token: motion.token };
    case "LOG_IN_ERROR":
      return { ...state, loading: false, error: motion.error };
      return motion;

const mockAPICall = async (payload) => ({ token: "TOKEN" });

export const AuthenticationContextProvider = ({ youngsters }) => {
  const [state, dispatch] = useReducer(reducer, initialState);

  const logIn = useCallback(async (payload) => {
    attempt {
      dispatch({ sort: "LOG_IN" });
      const response = await mockAPICall(payload);
      dispatch({ sort: "LOG_IN_SUCCESS", token: response.token });
    } catch (error) {
      dispatch({ sort: "LOG_IN_ERROR", error });
  }, []);

  return (
    <AuthenticationContext.Supplier worth={{ ...state, logIn }}>

export const useAuthentication = () => useContext(AuthenticationContext);

This context will present the loading standing, error, end result (token), and motion to carry out (logIn) of our authentication logic. As you possibly can see from the reducer operate, initiating the login motion will set the loading worth to true. The token will likely be up to date if the response is profitable; in any other case, an error will likely be set. We gained’t add successful standing worth as a result of this worth is obtainable via token (if there’s a token, we’ve had a profitable operation).

To populate our app with these values, we’ll must replace our App.js file:

import { AuthenticationContextProvider } from "./AuthenticationContext";
import LoginForm from "./LoginForm";

const App = () => {
  return (
      <LoginForm defaultUsername="" />

export default App;

Now you can reload the web page, open the Parts tab and see the context within the part tree:

A screenshot displaying the login component on the left, with the Components dev tab on the right. The component tree now shows four nested components, from top to bottom: App, AuthenticationContextProvider, Context.Provider, and LoginForm. AuthenticationContextProvider is selected and shows two hooks, Reducer and Callback.

There are two nodes added: AuthenticationContextProvider and Context.Supplier. The primary one is the customized supplier we’re utilizing to wrap the applying in App.js file. It comprises a reducer hook with the present state. The second is the context illustration displaying the precise worth supplied all through the part tree:

  worth: {
    error: undefined,
    loading: false,
    token: undefined,
    logIn: ƒ () {}

To make sure that React Developer Instruments can monitor reducer modifications and present the precise state of the context, we’ll regulate the LoginForm.js file to make use of the logIn motion because the onSubmit callback:

import { useCallback, useState } from "react";
import { useAuthentication } from "./AuthenticationContext";

const LoginForm = ({ defaultUsername }) => {
  const { logIn } = useAuthentication();

  const [username, setUsername] = useState(defaultUsername);
  const [password, setPassword] = useState("");
  const [rememberMe, setRememberMe] = useState(false);

  const onSubmit = useCallback(
    async (e) => {
      await logIn({ username, password, rememberMe });
    [username, password, rememberMe, logIn]

  return (
// ...

Now, when you return to the browser and click on Log in, you’ll see that token, which was undefined, has an up to date worth in Context.Supplier’s props.

Debugging a React utility doesn’t cease at React Developer Instruments. Engineers can leverage a number of utilities and their mixture of options to create the proper course of for his or her wants.

Why Did You Render

The primary instrument value mentioning is a first-class efficiency analyst, why-did-you-render. It’s not as easy to make use of as React Developer Instruments, but it surely enhances render monitoring by explaining every render with human-readable textual content, with state/props variations and concepts on the best way to repair points.

Screenshot of why-did-you-render indicating that Child: f was rerendered because the props object changed.

Redux DevTools

Redux is a widely known state administration library utilized by many React engineers, and you’ll be taught extra about it by studying my earlier article. In brief, it consists of two components: actions and states. Redux DevTools is a person interface representing actions triggered in your app and the ensuing state. You possibly can see the add-on in motion on a Medium webpage:

Screenshot of Redux DevTools inspecting a page.

Simplified Downside-solving for Your Subsequent App

React Developer Instruments is a straightforward but highly effective addition to your workflow that makes issues simpler to repair. Relying in your necessities, you could profit from extra instruments, however React Developer Instruments ought to be your place to begin.

Along with your new React Developer Instruments skillset, you’ll grasp debugging your subsequent app and might discover any React-based web page or app a number of occasions sooner in comparison with a standard code-check.

The editorial crew of the Toptal Engineering Weblog extends its gratitude to Imam Harir for reviewing the code samples and different technical content material offered on this article.

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