Tutorial

This guide walks through building a simple "ticking clock" component. More detailed information for each topic can be found in the dedicated pages under the Guide menu.

:information_desk_person: This guide assumes that completed the Getting Started document and have successfully set up your tooling. If not, start with preact-cli.



Hello World

Out of the box, the two functions you'll always see in any Preact codebase are h() and render(). The h() function is used to turn JSX into a structure Preact understands. But it can also be used directly without any JSX involved:

// With JSX
const App = <h1>Hello World!</h1>;

// ...the same without JSX
const App = h('h1', null, 'Hello World';Run in REPL

This alone doesn't do anything and we need a way to inject our Hello-World app into the DOM. For this we use the render() function.

const App = <h1>Hello World!</h1>;

// Inject our app into the DOM
render(App, document.body);Run in REPL

Congratulations, you've build your first Preact app!

Interactive Hello World

Rendering text is a start, but we want to make our app a little more interactive. We want to update it when data changes. :star2:

Our end goal is that we have an app where the user can enter a name and display it, when the form is submitted. For this we need to have something where we can store what we submitted. This is where Components come into play.

So let's turn our existing App into a Components:

import { h, render, Component } from 'preact';

class App extends Component {
  render() {
    return <h1>Hello, world!</h1>;
  }
}

render(App, document.body);Run in REPL

You'll notice that we added a new Component import at the top and that we turned App into a class. This alone isn't useful but it's the precursor for what we're going to do next. To make things a little more exciting we'll add a form with a text input and a submit button.

import { h, render, Component } from 'preact';

class App extends Component {
  render() {
    return (
      <div>
        <h1>Hello, world!</h1>
        <form>
          <input type="text" />
          <button type="submit">Update</button>
        </form>
      </div>
    );
  }
}

render(App, document.body);Run in REPL

Now we're talking! It's starting to look like a real app! We still need to make it interactive though. Remember that we'll want to change "Hello world!" to "Hello, [userinput]!", so we need a way to know the current input value.

We'll store it in a special property called state of our Component. It's special, because when it's updated via the setState method, Preact will not just update the state, but also schedule a render request for this component. Once the request is handled, our component will be re-rendered with the updated state.

Lastly we need to attach the new state to our input by setting value and attaching an event handler to the input event.

import { h, render, Component } from 'preact';

class App extends Component {
  // Initialise our state. For now we only store the input value
  state = { value: '' }

  onInput = ev => {
    // This will schedule a state update. Once updated the component
    // will automatically re-render itself.
    this.setState({ value: ev.target.value });
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <div>
        <h1>Hello, world!</h1>
        <form>
          <input type="text" value={this.state.value} onInput={this.onInput} />
          <button type="submit">Update</button>
        </form>
      </div>
    );
  }
}

render(App, document.body);Run in REPL

At this point the app shouldn't have changed much from a users point of view, but we'll bring all the pieces together in our next step.

Well add a handler to the submit event of our <form> in similar fashion like we just did for the input. The difference is that it writes into a different property of our state called name. Then we swap out our heading and insert our state.name value there.

import { h, render, Component } from 'preact';

class App extends Component {
  // Add `name` to the initial state
  state = { value: '', name: 'world' }

  onInput = ev => {
    this.setState({ value: ev.target.value });
  }

  // Add a submit handler that updates the `name` with the latest input value
  onSubmit = () => {
    this.setState({ name: this.state.value });
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <div>
        <h1>Hello, {this.state.name}!</h1>
        <form onSubmit={this.onSubmit}>
          <input type="text" value={this.state.value} onInput={this.onInput} />
          <button type="submit">Update</button>
        </form>
      </div>
    );
  }
}

render(App, document.body);Run in REPL

Boom! We're done! We can now enter a custom name, click "Update" and our new name appears in our heading.

A Clock Component

We wrote our first component, so let's get a little more practice. This time we build a clock.

import { h, render, Component } from 'preact';

class Clock extends Component {
  render() {
    let time = new Date().toLocaleTimeString();
    return <span>{time}</span>;
  }
}

render(<Clock />, document.body);Run in REPL

Ok, that was easy enough! Problem is, that the time doesn't change. It's frozen at the moment we rendered our clock component.

So, we want to have a 1-second timer start once the Component gets added to the DOM, and stop if it is removed. We'll create the timer and store a reference to it in componentDidMount, and stop the timer in componentWillUnmount. On each timer tick, we'll update the component's state object with a new time value. Doing this will automatically re-render the component.

import { h, render, Component } from 'preact';

class Clock extends Component {
  state = { time: Date.now() }

  // Called whenever our component is created
  componentDidMount() {
    // update time every second
    this.timer = setInterval(() => {
      this.setState({ time: Date.now() });
    }, 1000);
  }

  // Called just before our component will be destroyed
  componentWillUnmount() {
    // stop when not renderable
    clearInterval(this.timer);
  }

  render() {
    let time = new Date(this.state.time).toLocaleTimeString();
    return <span>{time}</span>;
  }
}

render(<Clock />, document.body);Run in REPL

And we did it again! Now we have a ticking clock!

Built by a bunch of lovely people like @rpetrich.