2 easy ways to get data from Unsplash.com in React

Since Unsplash.com released their API and I just love their content, I decided to write a short article on how to use it with React. Unsplash is awesome! :) Enjoy.

➡️ Github Repo is available here ⬅️

“Everything negative — pressure, challenges — is all an opportunity for me to rise.”
— Kobe Bryant

📄 Table of contents

Set up the basics

To set up the basics, I use the code base from another project I did, using:

  • create-react-app
  • React components that basically render images in a list

Fetch data with the fetch API

componentDidMount() {
fetch('https://api.unsplash.com/photos/?client_id=' + cred.APP_ID)
.then(res => res.json())
.then(data => {
this.setState({ imgs: data });
.catch(err => {
console.log('Error happened during fetching!', err);
  • use componentDidMount lifecycle when fetching data (DOM is represented)
  • describe a fetch method using Promise functionality
  • transform the call into a JSON object and pass it into state
  • after that, simply render out each image from the fetched link

➡️ See the Github Repo after those steps ⬅️

Fetch data using a library

Fetching can also be accomplished by one of many libraries. I will use axios, since it provides cool features like:

  • Make XMLHttpRequests from the browser
  • Make http requests from node.js
  • Supports the Promise API
  • Intercept request and response
  • Transform request and response data
  • Cancel requests
  • Automatic transforms for JSON data
  • Client side support for protecting against XSRF

So the next steps are:

  • add the axios package
  • simply adapt the fetch method to the methods from the axios package
componentDidMount() {
.get('https://api.unsplash.com/photos/?client_id=' + cred.APP_ID)
.then(data => {
this.setState({ imgs: data.data });
.catch(err => {
console.log('Error happened during fetching!', err);

Very easy and works well:)

➡️ See the Github Repo after those steps ⬅️

Looks like this:

Add search feature

  • adapt your fetched link (add query and search parameters)
  • make your request dynamic, connecting the search query to your app
  • add a searchbar component
  • make sure to bind all methods (use the arrow functions or bind them manually)
performSearch = query => {
.then(data => {
this.setState({ imgs: data.data.results });
.catch(err => {
console.log('Error happened during fetching!', err);

Polish up React code

  • use the ref-attribute for the input

ref={input => (this.query = input)}
  • set a default for your performSearch method and put the performSearch into the componentDidMount lifecycle
  • render out a different component when no images can be found with an if statement
  • use conditional rendering to render a paragraph when the fetch is not finished (setting a flag to the state and changing it in the fetch method)
<div className="main-content">
? <p>Loading</p>
: <ImgList data={this.state.imgs} />}

➡️ See the Github Repo after those steps ⬅️

⭐ That was incredible easy and already shows how much you can do with the API :)

Adapt to Unsplash guidelines

When using an API always, ALWAYS, make sure to read their guidelines. ➡️ Unsplash API guidelines

So as an example here, I didn’t credit Unsplash or the photographer. Therefore I have to improve my app by retrieving more information from the data and adding credits to the owners:

const Img = props =>
<a href={props.link}>
<img src={props.url} alt="Unsplash Image here" />
Photo by
<a href={props.user}>{props.name}</a>
<a href={props.link}> See on Unsplash</a>

Now it looks like

➡️ See the finished app on Github ⬅️

Useful links & credits

  • I did a treehouse course, that covers an app with a similar approach:

If you gained something from this article let me know with a comment or heart. Make sure to follow for more :)

Like what you read? Give Daniel Deutsch a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.