Recreating redux-toolkit's createSlice

on erock's blog

Learn how to use createSlice by implementing it yourself
#redux

# What is a slice?

In redux, a slice is a "slice" of your redux state object.

1store.getState();
2/*
3{
4  token: '', // this is a slice
5  users: {}, // this is a slice
6  todos: {}, // this is a slice
7}
8*/

# Actions and reducers per slice

Splitting up reducer logic is an import concept in redux where we compose multiple reducers into one big reducer using combineReducers. For every slice, there is a single corresponding reducer. When building store data inside redux, it is very common to build a set of actions and a reducer that responds to those actions.

# What is createSlice?

createSlice is a higher-order function that accepts the slice name (e.g. token, user, todos), a set of reducers, and returns a single reducer along with the action creators for that reducer. The goal of createSlice is to reduce the boilerplate required to add data to redux the canonical way.

The createSlice we know of today from redux-toolkit was inspired by autodux. I also helped build the original implementation in redux-toolkit and have been using it for every redux project since. It is a powerful helper function that has gained a ton of popularity in the redux community.

However, it is common for engineers learning redux for the first time to be completely overwhelmed by the terms and phrases used by the redux community. This is exacerbated by the fact that every reducer is now wrapped by createSlice.

In this post, I want to demystify createSlice by building our own stripped down version of it for new engineers to use as a reference guide when learning redux.

# BYO createSlice

In order to build our own createSlice we need to build a couple of other helper functions first.

Note: all of these implementations are simplified versions of the official ones to be used as a learning guide. If you dig into the redux-toolkit source code, you'll see that most of the code are typings and embellishments on top of the code written in this article.

For our example usage we will be recreating redux's example todo list

1type ToDo {
2  id: string;
3  text: string;
4  completed: boolean;
5}

# BYO createAction

createAction is a simple helper function that accepts a string and returns an action creator.

 1function createAction<P = any>(type: string) {
 2  const actionCreator = (payload?: P) => {
 3    return {
 4      type,
 5      payload,
 6    };
 7  };
 8
 9  // this overrides the default stringification
10  // method so when we stringify the action creator
11  // we get the action type
12  actionCreator.toString = () => `${type}`;
13  return actionCreator;
14}

# Example usage for createAction

 1const addTodo = createAction<ToDo>("ADD_TODO");
 2addTodo({
 3  id: "1",
 4  text: "build my own createAction",
 5  completed: true,
 6});
 7/*
 8{
 9  type: 'ADD_TODO',
10  payload: {
11    id: '1',
12    text: 'build my own createAction',
13    completed: true
14  },
15}
16*/

# BYO createReducer

createReducer is a function that accepts an object where the keys are the action type and the values are the reducer.

The redux-toolkit version of createReducer leverages immer to handle state updates. I won't go into the details of how immer works but just know that it is a clever way for the end-developer to appear to mutate their state object while under-the-hood immer actually handles updates to the state in an immutable, redux-friendly manner.

For the purposes of our demonstration, we will not be using immer.

 1// for the purposes of this demonstration I'm removing
 2// types because otherwise it would dramatically increase
 3// the complexity of this code.
 4function createReducer(initialState, reducers) {
 5  /*
 6    This is a reducer function that selects one of the
 7    other reducer functions based on the action  type (key).
 8    When we call this reducer, we do a lookup on our
 9    `reducers` object by the key which, in this case,
10    is the `action.type`.  If there's a match we call that
11    reducer function with the `action.payload`.
12
13    If our `reducers` object was
14    { increment: (state, payload) => state += 1 }
15    and the reducer function received:
16      state = 0, action = { type: 'increment' }
17    we match the action type with the reducers key
18    'increment',call that reducer function, and the new
19    state value would be `1`.
20  */
21  const reducer = (state = initialState, action) => {
22    const caseReducer = reducers[action.type];
23    if (!caseReducer) {
24      return state;
25    }
26    // note that I am not passing the entire action
27    // object to each reducer, simply the payload
28    return caseReducer(state, action.payload);
29  };
30
31  return reducer;
32}

# Example usage for createReducer

 1import { createStore } from "redux";
 2
 3type State = ToDo[];
 4const addTodo = createAction<ToDo>("ADD_TODO");
 5const toggleTodo = createAction<string>("TOGGLE_TODO");
 6const reducer = createReducer([], {
 7  addTodo: (state: State, payload: ToDo) => {
 8    return [...state, action.payload];
 9  },
10  toggleTodo: (state, payload: string) => {
11    return state.map((todo) => {
12      // when we find the todo id that
13      // matches the payload we toggle the completed state
14      if (todo.id === payload) {
15        return { ...todo, completed: !todo.completed };
16      }
17      return todo;
18    });
19  },
20});
21
22const store = createStore(reducer, []);
23store.dispatch(
24  addTodo({
25    id: "1",
26    text: "byo createAction",
27    completed: true,
28  }),
29);
30store.dispatch(
31  addTodo({
32    id: "2",
33    text: "byo createReducer",
34    completed: false,
35  }),
36);
37store.dispatch(
38  addTodo({
39    id: "3",
40    text: "byo createSlice",
41    completed: false,
42  }),
43);
44/*
45  [
46    { id: '1', text: 'byo createAction', completed: true }
47    { id: '2', text: 'byo createReducer', completed: false }
48    { id: '3', text: 'byo createSlice', completed: false }
49  ]
50*/
51store.dispatch(toggleTodo("2"));
52/*
53  [
54    { id: '1', text: 'byo createAction', completed: true }
55    { id: '2', text: 'byo createReducer', completed: true }
56    { id: '3', text: 'byo createSlice', completed: false }
57  ]
58*/

# createSlice implementation

Okay, now that we have our implementation for createAction and createReducer built, we can move onto building our createSlice.

 1// helper to build action types scoped to the
 2// slice name to avoid naming conflicts
 3const actionTypeBuilder = (slice) => (action) =>
 4  slice ? `${slice}/${action}` : action;
 5
 6export default function createSlice({
 7  name,
 8  initialState,
 9  reducers,
10  extraReducers = {},
11}) {
12  const actionKeys = Object.keys(reducers);
13  const createActionType = actionTypeBuilder(name);
14
15  /*
16  `createSlice` will create an action for each key:value
17  pair inside the main `reducers` property.
18  `extraReducers` does not create an action for the key:value
19  pair which allows outside actions to map to a
20  reducer inside our slice.
21  */
22  const reducerMap = actionKeys.reduce((map, action) => {
23    map[createActionType(action)] = reducers[action];
24    return map;
25  }, extraReducers);
26
27  // using our `createReducer` :tada:
28  const reducer = createReducer(initialState, reducerMap);
29
30  // this builds an object where the key is the
31  // actionType and the value is the corresponding
32  // actionCreator
33  const actionMap = actionKeys.reduce((map, action) => {
34    const type = createActionType(action);
35    // using our `createAction` :tada:
36    map[action] = createAction(type);
37    return map;
38  }, {});
39
40  return {
41    actions: actionMap,
42    reducer,
43    name,
44  };
45}

# Example usage for createSlice

 1import { createStore } from "redux";
 2
 3const { reducer, actions } = createSlice({
 4  name: "todos",
 5  initialState: [],
 6  reducers: {
 7    addTodo: (state: State, payload: ToDo) => {
 8      return [...state, action.payload];
 9    },
10    toggleTodo: (state, payload: string) => {
11      return state.map((todo) => {
12        if (todo.id === payload) {
13          return { ...todo, completed: !todo.completed };
14        }
15        return todo;
16      });
17    },
18  },
19});
20const { addTodo, toggleTodo } = actions;
21console.log(
22  addTodo({
23    id: "1",
24    text: "build my own createAction",
25    completed: true,
26  }),
27);
28/*
29{
30  type: 'todos/ADD_TODO',
31  payload: {
32    id: '1',
33    text: 'build my own createAction',
34    completed: true
35  },
36}
37*/
38
39// after this point everything works exactly
40// the same as our previous example
41const store = createStore(reducer, []);
42store.dispatch(
43  addTodo({
44    id: "1",
45    text: "byo createAction",
46    completed: true,
47  }),
48);
49
50store.dispatch(
51  addTodo({
52    id: "2",
53    text: "byo createReducer",
54    completed: false,
55  }),
56);
57store.dispatch(
58  addTodo({
59    id: "3",
60    text: "byo createSlice",
61    completed: false,
62  }),
63);
64/*
65  [
66    { id: '1', text: 'byo createAction', completed: true }
67    { id: '2', text: 'byo createReducer', completed: false }
68    { id: '3', text: 'byo createSlice', completed: false }
69  ]
70*/
71store.dispatch(toggleTodo("2"));
72/*
73  [
74    { id: '1', text: 'byo createAction', completed: true }
75    { id: '2', text: 'byo createReducer', completed: true }
76    { id: '3', text: 'byo createSlice', completed: false }
77  ]
78*/
79// all of our todos are done!
80store.dispatch(toggleTodo("3"));

# Conclusion

This article demonstrates how leveraging a few simple helper functions significantly reduces the amount of boilerplate code required to add state and reducer logic to your redux app. All three of these functions can be used independently of each other. I also hope this article demystifies createSlice, which is now considered the canonical way to use redux.

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