<-- /notes<-- /notes/react-101

Life Cycle Methods (LCMs)

React has certain methods that are called in response to certain times in a components life cycle. These methods are automatically bound to the component and simply need to be declared to be used. They can be split into three categories, mounting, updating and unmounting life cycle methods. They all follow the same process, so one unified example will be at the bottom of this note.

Mounting LCM

These methods are invoked when the given component is being mounted or unmounted. React uses the term 'mount' to describe the act of initializing the component into the DOM. That being said, mounting != rendering! These functions will not be called every render, only when being added/removed from the DOM. Here is the:

This method is invoked when the given component is mounted. React uses the term 'mount' to describe the act of initializing the component into the DOM. That being said, mounting !== rendering! This function will not be called every render, only when being added to the DOM. Here is the method:

  • componentDidMount() : Called immediately after the component has rendered

A common use-case for this LCM is to retrieve any data that the component will need for it's render, so any AJAX, or API requests should probably go in here.

Updating LCMs

These methods are invoked during the updating process (or re-rendering) of the given component. The method names are fairly self explanatory, but they operate slightly differently than the mounting LCMs. You can use these with regards to whenever a component's state and/or props are changed. Some of these methods also accept objects containing the the properties/state of the next render (nextProps, nextState), or the previous render (prevProps, prevState). The methods are as follows:

  • shouldComponentUpdate(nextProps, nextState)) : Called just before the new render() to determine if this component should re-render

NOTE: shouldComponentUpdate() must return a Boolean if declared. If true, this component will re-render and the opposite if false.

  • componentDidUpdate( prevProps , prevState ) : Called after a component has updated (re-rendered)

Unmounting LCMs

There's only one method here, and it's invoked during the unmounting process. Simply stated, this is just when the component is being removed from the DOM, AKA the opposite of mounting.

  • componentWillUnmount() : Called just before a component has been removed/unmounted


class App extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {...}
  componentWillMount() {
    //ex. show a loading bar
  componentDidMount() {
    //ex. change opacity to show a load
  componentWillReceiveProps( nextProps ) {
    //ex. change something based on a future prop
  shouldComponentUpdate() {
    //if ( someCondition ) return true
    //  true -> component updates
    //  false -> component doesn't update
    //ex. don't update if certain state
  componentWillUpdate() {
    //ex. do a flashy change animation

  componentDidUpdate() {
    //ex. log the change
  componentWillUnmount() {
    //ex. say goodbye
  render() {
    //actually render the component

Execution Order

If we were to have each of the functions applied to one component (see example above), a good question to ask would be about the execution order. Remember, mounting occurs on 'load'/'unload', updating occurs on 're-rendering'. Therefore, no updating LCMs take place in the Mounting Order and vice versa. Knowing this, we have two separate orders:

Mounting Order

If the component is now being initialized, rendered, then removed from the DOM, the execution order is the following:

  • render()
  • componentDidMount()

Updating Order

If the component has it's props changed and re-renders, the execution order is the following:

  • shouldComponentUpdate()
  • render()
  • componentDidUpdate()

If the component has it's state changed via this.setState(), the execution order is the same except that it will not include componentWillReceiveProps().

For more in-depth details on LCMs, visit the React Docs