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Lists and Keys

First, let's review how you transform lists in JavaScript.

Given the code below, we use the map() function to take an array of numbers and double their values. We assign the new array returned by map() to the variable doubled and log it:

const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
const doubled = numbers.map((number) => number * 2);
console.log(doubled);

This code logs [2, 4, 6, 8, 10] to the console.

In React, transforming arrays into lists of elements is nearly identical.

Rendering Multiple Components

You can build collections of elements and include them in JSX using curly braces {}.

Below, we loop through the numbers array using the JavaScript map() function. We return an <li> element for each item. Finally, we assign the resulting array of elements to listItems:

const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
  <li>{number}</li>
);

We include the entire listItems array inside a <ul> element, and render it to the DOM:

ReactDOM.render(
  <ul>{listItems}</ul>,
  document.getElementById('root')
);

Try it on CodePen.

This code displays a bullet list of numbers between 1 and 5.

Basic List Component

Usually you would render lists inside a component.

We can refactor the previous example into a component that accepts an array of numbers and outputs an unordered list of elements.

function NumberList(props) {
  const numbers = props.numbers;
  const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
    <li>{number}</li>
  );
  return (
    <ul>{listItems}</ul>
  );
}

const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
ReactDOM.render(
  <NumberList numbers={numbers} />,
  document.getElementById('root')
);

When you run this code, you'll be given a warning that a key should be provided for list items. A "key" is a special string attribute you need to include when creating lists of elements. We'll discuss why it's important in the next section.

Let's assign a key to our list items inside numbers.map() and fix the missing key issue.

function NumberList(props) {
  const numbers = props.numbers;
  const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
    <li key={number.toString()}>
      {number}
    </li>
  );
  return (
    <ul>{listItems}</ul>
  );
}

const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
ReactDOM.render(
  <NumberList numbers={numbers} />,
  document.getElementById('root')
);

Try it on CodePen.

Keys

Keys help React identify which items have changed, are added, or are removed. Keys should be given to the elements inside the array to give the elements a stable identity:

const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
  <li key={number.toString()}>
    {number}
  </li>
);

The best way to pick a key is to use a string that uniquely identifies a list item among its siblings. Most often you would use IDs from your data as keys:

const todoItems = todos.map((todo) =>
  <li key={todo.id}>
    {todo.text}
  </li>
);

When you don't have stable IDs for rendered items, you may use the item index as a key as a last resort:

const todoItems = todos.map((todo, index) =>
  // Only do this if items have no stable IDs
  <li key={index}>
    {todo.text}
  </li>
);

We don't recommend using indexes for keys if the items can reorder, as that would be slow. You may read an in-depth explanation about why keys are necessary if you're interested.

Extracting Components with Keys

Keys only make sense in the context of the surrounding array.

For example, if you extract a ListItem component, you should keep the key on the <ListItem /> elements in the array rather than on the root <li> element in the ListItem itself.

Example: Incorrect Key Usage

function ListItem(props) {
  const value = props.value;
  return (
    // Wrong! There is no need to specify the key here:
    <li key={value.toString()}>
      {value}
    </li>
  );
}

function NumberList(props) {
  const numbers = props.numbers;
  const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
    // Wrong! The key should have been specified here:
    <ListItem value={number} />
  );
  return (
    <ul>
      {listItems}
    </ul>
  );
}

const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
ReactDOM.render(
  <NumberList numbers={numbers} />,
  document.getElementById('root')
);

Example: Correct Key Usage

function ListItem(props) {
  // Correct! There is no need to specify the key here:
  return <li>{props.value}</li>;
}

function NumberList(props) {
  const numbers = props.numbers;
  const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
    // Correct! Key should be specified inside the array.
    <ListItem key={number.toString()}
              value={number} />
  );
  return (
    <ul>
      {listItems}
    </ul>
  );
}

const numbers = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
ReactDOM.render(
  <NumberList numbers={numbers} />,
  document.getElementById('root')
);

Try it on CodePen.

A good rule of thumb is that elements inside the map() call need keys.

Keys Must Only Be Unique Among Siblings

Keys used within arrays should be unique among their siblings. However they don't need to be globally unique. We can use the same keys when we produce two different arrays:

function Blog(props) {
  const sidebar = (
    <ul>
      {props.posts.map((post) =>
        <li key={post.id}>
          {post.title}
        </li>
      )}
    </ul>
  );
  const content = props.posts.map((post) =>
    <div key={post.id}>
      <h3>{post.title}</h3>
      <p>{post.content}</p>
    </div>
  );
  return (
    <div>
      {sidebar}
      <hr />
      {content}
    </div>
  );
}

const posts = [
  {id: 1, title: 'Hello World', content: 'Welcome to learning React!'},
  {id: 2, title: 'Installation', content: 'You can install React from npm.'}
];
ReactDOM.render(
  <Blog posts={posts} />,
  document.getElementById('root')
);

Try it on CodePen.

Keys serve as a hint to React but they don't get passed to your components. If you need the same value in your component, pass it explicitly as a prop with a different name:

const content = posts.map((post) =>
  <Post
    key={post.id}
    id={post.id}
    title={post.title} />
);

With the example above, the Post component can read props.id, but not props.key.

Embedding map() in JSX

In the examples above we declared a separate listItems variable and included it in JSX:

function NumberList(props) {
  const numbers = props.numbers;
  const listItems = numbers.map((number) =>
    <ListItem key={number.toString()}
              value={number} />
  );
  return (
    <ul>
      {listItems}
    </ul>
  );
}

JSX allows embedding any expressions in curly braces so we could inline the map() result:

function NumberList(props) {
  const numbers = props.numbers;
  return (
    <ul>
      {numbers.map((number) =>
        <ListItem key={number.toString()}
                  value={number} />
      )}
    </ul>
  );
}

Try it on CodePen.

Sometimes this results in clearer code, but this style can also be abused. Like in JavaScript, it is up to you to decide whether it is worth extracting a variable for readability. Keep in mind that if the map() body is too nested, it might be a good time to extract a component.

© 2013–2017 Facebook Inc.
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License.
https://facebook.github.io/react/docs/lists-and-keys.html