React and Redux are a top choice for front end projects. React provides fast performance, easy ways to create shared components, and a plethora of libraries. Redux lets you simplify state management in your application, but it has serious drawbacks.

In large projects, Redux bloat your project with repetitive code. To support a single store update, you need to create a reducer that handles an action type which is dispatched from an action called inside a component. If that process sounds tedious and confusing, that’s because it is. You end up with tons of simple actions and reducers that all look alike.

People went to great lengths to combat this problem. Suggestions range from using a new state management library, such as Mobx, to abandoning React completely for something like Vue. These suggestions are like throwing the baby out with the bath water. That’s why I was happy to find Redux-Easy which didn’t make me leave these libraries behind.

Enter Redux-Easy

Redux-Easy doesn’t try to replace Redux or React. Instead, it removes the boilerplate and provides helper functions. You don’t need to replace your entire code base. You can incrementally integrate Redux-Easy

To see how well it delivered on these promises, I decided to try it with the classic Todo MVC application. The Redux library even comes with an idiomatic example, which I used as a starting point.

Reducing Boilerplate Code

Redux-Easy simplifies the creation of the store. Instead of manually creating the store, passing it to the Provider, and wrapping your app in the Provider. You use reduxSetup to do all those steps for you:

import React from 'react';
import {reduxSetup} from 'redux-easy';
import App from './App';
import './reducers'; // described next

const initialState = {
  user: {firstName: ''}
};

// The specified component is rendered in the element with
// id "root" unless the "target" option is specified.
reduxSetup({component: <App />, initialState});

You no longer manually group the actions handled by the reducer, nor combine the reducers into to a single root reducer. Instead, you use addReducer. It manages the root reducer for you, and you can add the handler from anywhere:

import {addReducer} from 'redux-easy';

// Call addReducer once for each action type, giving it the
// function to be invoked when that action type is dispatched.
// These functions must return the new state
// and cannot modify the existing state.
addReducer('addToAge', (state, years) => {
  const {user} = state;
  return {
    ...state,
    user: {
      ...user,
      age: user.age + years
    }
  };
});

In vanilla Redux, you have to use mapDispatchToProps and mapStateToProps to pass in the dispatch actions and state. Redux-Easy provides helpers that interact directly with the store.

Instead of mapDispatchToProps, you use the provided dispatch function to fire off action:

onFirstNameChange = event => {
  // assumes value comes from an input
  const {value} = event.target;
  dispatch('setFirstName', value);

  // If the setFirstName action just sets a value in the state,
  // perhaps user.firstName, the following can be used instead.
  // There is no need to implement simple reducer functions.
  dispatchSet('user.firstName', value);
};

Instead of mapStateToProps, you wrap your component in a watch function. This functions lets you map object from the state using the state path:

// The second argument to watch is a map of property names
// to state paths where path parts are separated by periods.
// For example, zip: 'user.address.zipCode'.
// When the value for a prop comes from a top-level state property
// with the same name, the path can be an empty string, null, or
// undefined and `watch` will use the prop name as the path.
export default watch(MyComponent, {
  user: '' // path will be 'user'
});

These tools provide a way to reduce the setup of Redux. However, Redux-Easy doesn’t stop there.

Helpers for Common Actions

Redux-Easy provided dispatchSet, dispatchTransform, and dispatchDelete. These are simple and flexible ways to manage simple modifications to your state. For actions dealing with arrays, there are dispatchPush, dispatchFilter, and dispatchMap.

These helpers do what you would expect. They cover 80% of the actions you need to perform on the store.

With actions like completeTodo, I reduced the traditional flow, spread cross 4 files, to a single function defined on the component using it:

completeTodo = (id) => {
  dispatchMap('todos', todo =>
    todo.id === id ?
      { ...todo, completed: !todo.completed } :
      todo
  )
}

completeTodo is an example of modifying an array. It takes the store path and a function. Then it maps the function over the array pulled from the path. The dispatch, action, and reducer are all taken care of by Redux-Easy

Conclusion

Redux-Easy delivered on its promise of making Redux development shorter and simpler. Using it, I removed 5 out of 7 action handlers. I reduce the lines of code by 10% from 503 to 447, and the number of files by 30% from 20 to 14.

Most importantly, organize the code became simpler. The state logic is closer to where it’s being used and is easier to follow.

You can find the full version of my TodoMVC using Redux-Easy here.