Context

Context allows you to pass a value to a child deep down the tree without having to pass it through every component in-between via props. A very popular use case for this is theming. In a nutshell context can be thought of a way to do pub-sub-style updates in Preact.

There are two different ways to use context: Via the newer createContext API and the legacy context API. The difference between the two is that the legacy one can't update a child when a component inbetween aborts rendering via shouldComponentUpdate. That's why we highly recommend to always use createContext.



createContext

First we need to create a context object we can pass around. This is done via the createContext(initialValue) function. It returns a Provider component that is used to set the context value and a Consumer one which retrieves the value from the context.

const Theme = createContext('light');

function ThemedButton(props) {
  return (
    <Theme.Consumer>
      {theme => {
        return <button {...props} class={'btn ' + theme}>Themed Button</button>;
      }}
    </Theme.Consumer>
  );
}

function App() {
  return (
    <Theme.Provider value="dark">
      <SomeComponent>
        <ThemedButton />
      </SomeComponent>
    </Theme.Provider>
  );
}Run in REPL

An easier way to use context is via the useContext hook.

Legacy Context API

We include the legacy API mainly for backwards-compatibility reasons. It has been superseded by the createContext API. The legacy API has known issues like blocking updates if there are components in-between that return false in shouldComponentUpdate. If you nonetheless need to use it, keep reading.

To pass down a custom variable through the context a component needs to have the getChildContext method. There you return the new values you want to store in the context. The context can be accessed via the second argument in function components or this.context in a class-based component.

function ThemedButton(props, context) {
  return (
    <button {...props} class={'btn ' + context.theme}>
      Themed Button
    </button>;
  );
}

class App extends Component {
  getChildContext() {
    return {
      theme: 'light'
    }
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <div>
        <SomeOtherComponent>
          <ThemedButton />
        </SomeOtherComponent>
      </div>
    );
  }
}Run in REPL

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