React Router Overview

Matthew Garcia

React Router has gone through some changes over the years. Here’s an intro to the latest version: React Router 4.

Installing React Router

Same as installing any package. You’ll probably want react-router-dom and not react-router, though:

$ yarn add react-router-dom

# or with npm:
$ npm install react-router-dom --save

Setting Up Routes

It’s actually pretty intuitive. Just define Routes in the child element of a Router:

import React, { Component } from 'react';
// This example's for browser use, so I'm using `BrowserRouter`.
// The are other routers for other environments, though.
import { BrowserRouter, Route } from 'react-router-dom';

// Your components.
import AboutPage from './AboutPage';
import HomePage from './HomePage';

class App extends Component {
  render() {
    return (
      <BrowserRouter>
        <div>
          {/* `component` will render when `path` matches the user's location */}
          {/* `exact` makes it so it only renders if `path` matches exactly. */}
          {/* Otherwise, `HomePage` would render on "mysite.com/About" as well as "mysite.com/". */}
          <Route exact path="/" component={HomePage}/>
          <Route path="/About" component={AboutPage}/>
        </div>
      </BrowserRouter>
    );
  }
}

export default App;

Linking to Routes

Of course, routes aren’t that useful if the user has to manually edit the URL. React Router offers a solution in the form of the Link component:

import React from 'react';
import { Link } from 'react-router-dom';

// Our Home Page.  Exciting stuff.
export default function HomePage() {
  return (
    <div>
      <h1>{'Home Page'}</h1>
      {/* A link to the About route. */}
      <Link to="/About">{'Check out our About Page!'}</Link>
    </div>
  );
}

If you're wondering why you shouldn't just use an anchor tag (<a>): React Router does some cool stuff with the history object.

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