A thought on React Context default value

How do you like this idea?

Introduction

It’s been about a year since React Context API is out. This is powerful and it’s even more powerful with upcoming React Hooks API, namely useContext. Please check out official documents to learn them in detail.

Now, this very short article is just about the default value of a context. When you create a context, you pass a default value in the first argument.

The defaultValue argument is only used when a component does not have a matching Provider above it in the tree. This can be helpful for testing components in isolation without wrapping them. Note: passing undefined as a Provider value does not cause consuming components to use defaultValue.

So, this is only used if there’s no Provider. It’s often the case that we require a Provider and if it doesn’t exist, we warn developers.

Typical solution

In various code, what I see is something like the following:

import { createContext, useContext } from 'React';
const MyContext = createContext(null);
export const MyProvider = MyContext.Provider;
export const useMyValueFoo = () => {
const value = useContext(MyContext);
if (!value) {
throw new Error('You probably forgot to put <MyProvider>.');
}
return value.foo;
};

The intention behind this code is to let developers notice if they forget to put Provider in the component tree.

My proposal

I thought what if we set this warning object in the default value. This would only work if we use an object value for a context, but here’s the code:

import { createContext, useContext } from 'React';
const warningObject = {
get foo() {
throw new Error('You probably forgot to put <MyProvider>.');
},
};
const MyContext = createContext(warningObject);
export const MyProvider = MyContext.Provider;
export const useMyValueFoo = () => {
const value = useContext(MyContext);
return value.foo;
};

Again, this only works for an object value. I’m not sure other possible drawbacks. Maybe, it’s hard to add a type annotation?

I’ve used it in my project. If you are interested, please check out how it’s really used in the repository.

Final notes

React hooks is still in alpha, but we are expecting it soon. Meanwhile, we look for its possibilities. Feedbacks are always welcome.