[2020-04-15] Shallow Comparison 101

The notes below are in the context of React (shouldComponentUpdate in particular) but the underlying idea is the same everywhere. When comparing previous props and state to next, a shallow comparison will check that primitives have the same value (eg, 1 equals 1 or that true equals true) and that the references are the same between more complex JavaScript values like objects and arrays.


You’ve probably been hearing not to mutate objects and arrays in props and state. If you were to mutate objects in a parent component, your “pure” child components wouldn’t update. Although the values have changed upstream, the child would be comparing the reference to the previous props and not detect a difference.

Instead, return new objects when you make a change by either leveraging ES6 for object and array spreading or using a library to enforce immutability.

Edit on GithubPublished on 2020-04-15

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