This question has been going round and round in my head since I read the release notes (and other related hype) around React 0.14 - I'm a big fan of React and I think that stateless components (https://facebook.github.io/react/blog/2015/09/10/react-v0.14-rc1.html#stateless-function-components) are an excellent idea, both for the ease of writing such components and for expressing in code the intention that these components should be "pure" in terms of rendering consistently for the same props data.

The question is: how will it be possible for React to optimise these stateless component functions without going whole-hog and assuming that props references are not only immutable in that they shouldn't be manipulated within the component, but also that they can never change outside of the component lifecycle? The reason that "regular" components (aka stateful components - in other words, the components that go through the whole lifecycle; componentWillMount, getInitialState, etc..) have an optional "shouldComponentUpdate" function is that React does not assume that all props and state references are completely immutable. After components have been rendered, certain properties of the props references may change and so the same "props" instance may have different contents later on. This is partially why there was a lot of excitement over the use of fully-immutable structures and why it was said that using Om with React could offer great performance gains; because the immutable structures used there guaranteed that any given instance of any object could never be mutated, so shouldComponentUpdate could perform really cheap reference equality checks on props and state (http://swannodette.github.io/2013/12/17/the-future-of-javascript-mvcs/).

I've been trying to find out more information about this but haven't got anywhere. I can't envisage what performance improvements could be made around stateless components without presuming that props data will consist of immutable types.. maybe some preliminary analysis of non-immutable props types to try to guess whether "props" and "nextProps" represent the same data?

I just wondered if anyone had any inside information or some otherwise enlightening insights onto this. If React did start demanding that props types be "fully immutable" (allow reference equality comparisons to confirm that data has not changed) then I think that would be a great step forward, but it could also be a big change.


There is a github issue in the react project about exactly this.

According to this github issue comment:

For complex components, defining shouldComponentUpdate (eg. pure render) will generally exceed the performance benefits of stateless components. The sentences in the docs are hinting at some future optimizations that we have planned, whereby we won't allocate an internal instance for stateless functional components (we will just call the function). We also might not keep holding the props, etc. Tiny optimizations. We don't talk about the details in the docs because the optimizations aren't actually implemented yet (stateless components open the doors to these optimizations).

and from another reply from the same collaborator:

There are discussions about having a pureRender flag that you could set on the function, or allowing it to participate in the shouldUpdate lifecycle, but that's currently not implemented. At the moment, stateless functions can not be pure-render.

finally from this comment we get an answer to your question:

we don't do pure render by default, but we may provide a way for you to opt-in in the future.

So we will have to see how they'll let us opt in to 'pureRender' :)

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