React Higher-Order Components

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A higher-order component (HOC) is an advanced technique in React for reusing component logic. HOCs are not part of the React API, per se. They are a pattern that emerges from React’s compositional nature. Concretely, a higher-order component is a function that takes a component and returns a new component.

It is a function that takes a component and returns a new component. According to the official website, it is not the feature(part) in React API, but a pattern that emerges from React compositional nature. They are similar to JavaScript functions used for adding additional functionalities to the existing component.

A higher order component function accepts another function as an argument. The map function is the best example to understand this. The main goal of this is to decompose the component logic into simpler and smaller functions that can be reused as you need.


const NewComponent = higherOrderComponent(WrappedComponent);  
A Gentle Introduction to Higher-Order Components in React

We know that component transforms props into UI, and a higher-order component converts a component another component and allows to add additional data or functionality into this. Hocs are common in third-party libraries. The examples of HOCs are Redux’s connect and Relay’s createFragmentContainer. Now, we can understand the working of HOCs from the below example.

//Function Creation  
function add (a, b) {  
  return a + b  
function higherOrder(a, addReference) {  
  return addReference(a, 20)  
//Function call  
higherOrder(30, add) // 50  

In the above example, we have created two functions add() and higherOrder(). Now, we provide the add() function as an argument to the higherOrder() function. For invoking, rename it addReference in the higherOrder() function, and then invoke it. Here, the function you are passing is called a callback function, and the function where you are passing the callback function is called a higher-order(HOCs) function.


Create a new file with the name HOC.js. In this file, we have made one function HOC. It accepts one argument as a component. Here, that component is App.


import React, {Component} from 'react';  
export default function Hoc(HocComponent){  
    return class extends Component{  
            return (  

Now, include HOC.js file into the App.js file. In this file, we need to call the HOC function.

App = Hoc(App);  

The App component wrapped inside another React component so that we can modify it. Thus, it becomes the primary application of the Higher-Order Components.


import React, { Component } from 'react';  
import Hoc from './HOC';  
class App extends Component {  
  render() {  
    return (  
        <h2>HOC Example</h2>  
        JavaTpoint provides best CS tutorials.  
App = Hoc(App);  
export default App;  


When we execute the above file, it will give the output as below screen.

React Higher-Order Components

Higher-Order Component Conventions

  • Do not use HOCs inside the render method of a component.
  • The static methods must be copied over to have access to them. You can do this using hoist-non-react-statics package to automatically copy all non-React static methods.
  • HOCs does not work for refs as ‘Refs’ does not pass through as a parameter or argument. If you add a ref to an element in the HOC component, the ref refers to an instance of the outermost container component, not the wrapped component.
What Are Higher-Order Components in React? | Aleksandr Hovhannisyan

Don’t Mutate the Original Component. Use Composition.

Resist the temptation to modify a component’s prototype (or otherwise mutate it) inside a HOC.

function logProps(InputComponent) {
  InputComponent.prototype.componentDidUpdate = function(prevProps) {
    console.log('Current props: ', this.props);
    console.log('Previous props: ', prevProps);
  // The fact that we're returning the original input is a hint that it has
  // been mutated.
  return InputComponent;

// EnhancedComponent will log whenever props are received
const EnhancedComponent = logProps(InputComponent);

There are a few problems with this. One is that the input component cannot be reused separately from the enhanced component. More crucially, if you apply another HOC to Enhanced Component that also mutates component Did Update, the first HOC’s functionality will be overridden! This HOC also won’t work with function components, which do not have lifecycle methods. Mutating HOCs are a leaky abstraction—the consumer must know how they are implemented in order to avoid conflicts with other HOCs. Instead of mutation, HOCs should use composition, by wrapping the input component in a container component:

function logProps(WrappedComponent) {
  return class extends React.Component {
    componentDidUpdate(prevProps) {
      console.log('Current props: ', this.props);
      console.log('Previous props: ', prevProps);
    render() {
      // Wraps the input component in a container, without mutating it. Good!
      return <WrappedComponent {...this.props} />;

This HOC has the same functionality as the mutating version while avoiding the potential for clashes. It works equally well with class and function components. And because it’s a pure function, it’s composable with other HOCs, or even with itself.

You may have noticed similarities between HOCs and a pattern called container components. Container components are part of a strategy of separating responsibility between high-level and low-level concerns. Containers manage things like subscriptions and state, and pass props to components that handle things like rendering UI. HOCs use containers as part of their implementation. You can think of HOCs as parameterized container component definitions.

Convention: Pass Unrelated Props Through to the Wrapped Component

HOCs add features to a component. They shouldn’t drastically alter its contract. It’s expected that the component returned from a HOC has a similar interface to the wrapped component.

HOCs should pass through props that are unrelated to its specific concern. Most HOCs contain a render method that looks something like this:

render() {
  // Filter out extra props that are specific to this HOC and shouldn't be
  // passed through
  const { extraProp, ...passThroughProps } = this.props;

  // Inject props into the wrapped component. These are usually state values or
  // instance methods.
  const injectedProp = someStateOrInstanceMethod;

  // Pass props to wrapped component
  return (

This convention helps ensure that HOCs are as flexible and reusable as possible.

Convention: Maximizing Composability

Not all HOCs look the same. Sometimes they accept only a single argument, the wrapped component:

const NavbarWithRouter = withRouter(Navbar);

Usually, HOCs accept additional arguments. In this example from Relay, a config object is used to specify a component’s data dependencies:

const CommentWithRelay = Relay.createContainer(Comment, config);

The most common signature for HOCs looks like this:

// React Redux's `connect`
const ConnectedComment = connect(commentSelector, commentActions)(CommentList);

What?! If you break it apart, it’s easier to see what’s going on.

// connect is a function that returns another function
const enhance = connect(commentListSelector, commentListActions);
// The returned function is a HOC, which returns a component that is connected
// to the Redux store
const ConnectedComment = enhance(CommentList);

In other words, connect is a higher-order function that returns a higher-order component!

This form may seem confusing or unnecessary, but it has a useful property. Single-argument HOCs like the one returned by the connect function have the signature Component => Component. Functions whose output type is the same as its input type are really easy to compose together.

// Instead of doing this...
const EnhancedComponent = withRouter(connect(commentSelector)(WrappedComponent))

// ... you can use a function composition utility
// compose(f, g, h) is the same as (...args) => f(g(h(...args)))
const enhance = compose(
  // These are both single-argument HOCs
const EnhancedComponent = enhance(WrappedComponent)

(This same property also allows connect and other enhancer-style HOCs to be used as decorators, an experimental JavaScript proposal.) The compose utility function is provided by many third-party libraries including lodash (as lodash.flowRight), Redux, and Ramda.

Convention: Wrap the Display Name for Easy Debugging

The container components created by HOCs show up in the React Developer Tools like any other component. To ease debugging, choose a display name that communicates that it’s the result of a HOC.

The most common technique is to wrap the display name of the wrapped component. So if your higher-order component is named withSubscription, and the wrapped component’s display name is CommentList, use the display name WithSubscription(CommentList):

function withSubscription(WrappedComponent) {
  class WithSubscription extends React.Component {/* ... */}
  WithSubscription.displayName = `WithSubscription(${getDisplayName(WrappedComponent)})`;
  return WithSubscription;

function getDisplayName(WrappedComponent) {
  return WrappedComponent.displayName || || 'Component';


Higher-order components come with a few caveats that aren’t immediately obvious if you’re new to React.

Don’t Use HOCs Inside the render Method

React’s diffing algorithm (called Reconciliation) uses component identity to determine whether it should update the existing subtree or throw it away and mount a new one. If the component returned from render is identical (===) to the component from the previous render, React recursively updates the subtree by diffing it with the new one. If they’re not equal, the previous subtree is unmounted completely.

Normally, you shouldn’t need to think about this. But it matters for HOCs because it means you can’t apply a HOC to a component within the render method of a component:

render() {
  // A new version of EnhancedComponent is created on every render
  // EnhancedComponent1 !== EnhancedComponent2
  const EnhancedComponent = enhance(MyComponent);
  // That causes the entire subtree to unmount/remount each time!
  return <EnhancedComponent />;

The problem here isn’t just about performance — remounting a component causes the state of that component and all of its children to be lost. Instead, apply HOCs outside the component definition so that the resulting component is created only once. Then, its identity will be consistent across renders. This is usually what you want, anyway.

In those rare cases where you need to apply a HOC dynamically, you can also do it inside a component’s lifecycle methods or its constructor.

Static Methods Must Be Copied Over

Sometimes it’s useful to define a static method on a React component. For example, Relay containers expose a static method get Fragment to facilitate the composition of Graph QL fragments. When you apply a HOC to a component, though, the original component is wrapped with a container component. That means the new component does not have any of the static methods of the original component.

// Define a static method
WrappedComponent.staticMethod = function() {/*...*/}
// Now apply a HOC
const EnhancedComponent = enhance(WrappedComponent);

// The enhanced component has no static method
typeof EnhancedComponent.staticMethod === 'undefined' // true

To solve this, you could copy the methods onto the container before returning it:

function enhance(WrappedComponent) {
  class Enhance extends React.Component {/*...*/}
  // Must know exactly which method(s) to copy :(
  Enhance.staticMethod = WrappedComponent.staticMethod;
  return Enhance;

However, this requires you to know exactly which methods need to be copied. You can use hoist-non-react-statics to automatically copy all non-React static methods:

import hoistNonReactStatic from 'hoist-non-react-statics';
function enhance(WrappedComponent) {
  class Enhance extends React.Component {/*...*/}
  hoistNonReactStatic(Enhance, WrappedComponent);
  return Enhance;

Another possible solution is to export the static method separately from the component itself.

// Instead of...
MyComponent.someFunction = someFunction;
export default MyComponent;

// ...export the method separately...
export { someFunction };

// ...and in the consuming module, import both
import MyComponent, { someFunction } from './MyComponent.js';

Refs Are not Passed Through

While the convention for higher-order components is to pass through all props to the wrapped component, this does not work for refs. That’s because ref is not really a prop — like key, it’s handled specially by React. If you add a ref to an element whose component is the result of a HOC, the ref refers to an instance of the outermost container component, not the wrapped component.

React Higher-Order Components
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