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React Redux middlewares: Thunk vs Saga

Today we’re going to discuss Redux middlewares for async tasks. But before going through it, we should first understand why do we need them?

As you know, Redux is a library for global state management. Imagine in one part of an application (let’s call it a component) you have a counter and in another part, you want to show the result of that counter as well. You may say that okay why do we need Redux?

Alternative ways

We can simply use context API in order to share the data. The answer is that it’s correct. Indeed it’s your call. But Redux gives you a more structural and advanced way of doing state management.

You may now ask, okay let’s use the Redux. But why do we need Redux middlewares for async tasks? You may suggest react-query only, which is still a valid response. For me handling an async task with react-query is sometimes the best option. Maybe I can give Redux the response of the query. Which is still totally fine. Actually, I prefer using react-query since it gives you a lot of features like caching, retrying, etc.

Redux Middlewares

But sometimes you work on a project that they’re using a Redux middleware. Then you should know how to work with them. Again, here is the question: What is the Redux middleware? Here is the answer:

Provides a 3rd-party extension point between dispatching an action and the moment it reaches the reducer. (For logging, crash reporting, async tasks, etc.)

Let’s see how Redux works without middlewares. (I assume you have already known a decent understanding of Redux and used it in your projects)


const mapDispatchToProps = (dispatch) => {
  return {
    deletePost: (id) => dispatch({type: 'DELETE_POST', id: id}),
    addPost: (post) => dispatch({type: 'ADD_POST', post: post})
  }
}

Here you simply dispatch an action with some payloads. But what if you want to do an async task (like calling an HTTP request)? Read the definition of middleware once again.

Redux Thunk

Here is an example in Redux Thunk. It’s easy to understand. Instead of returning a simple object as an action, you return a function that handles the async task.

// with thunk, instead of returning an object, we can return a function (for async tasks)
const callHttp = () => {
  return function (dispatch) {
    dispatch(beforeCall())
    axios.get()
    .then((res) => {
      dispatch(afterSuccess(res.data))
    })
    .catch((error) => {
      dispatch(afterFail(error.message))
    })
  }
}
const mapDispatchToProps = (dispatch) => {
  return {
    deletePost: (id) => dispatch(callHttp())
  }
}

This may be hard to maintain in a project on a big scale. Also testing and writing some unit tests will be harder as well. But it does the job. Let’s see how the Redux Saga works its own job.

Redux Saga

In thunk, action creator does not return an object, it returns a function, In the saga, it allows you to send action normally. but it has a watcher. whenever a particular action gets dispatched, the watcher catches it. It doesn’t let it go to the reducer. Then when it catches it, it runs the async task. Then it dispatches another action that will reach the reducer. (it’s not the same action) So, imagine we have an AGE_UP action, then we will dispatch the AGE_UP_ASYNC (if we use the AGE_UP it will be in an endless loop). So in reducer, we should use AGE_UP_ASYNC because in this middleware we are catching the AGE_UP and dispatching the AGE_UP_ASYNC.

import { delay } from 'redux-saga';
import { takeEvery, put } from 'redux-saga/effects';

function* ageUpAsync() {
  yield delay(4000);
  yield put({ type: 'AGE_UP_ASYNC', value: 1 })
}

export function* watchAgeUp() {
  yield takeEvery('AGE_UP', ageUpAsync);
} 

I’m not going to go into details like the concept of generator functions, so it’s up to you. I just wanted to have a decent understanding of how they work. First, our watchAgeUp function catches the dispatch. Then run the async task. You may ask what takeEvery does? In line 5, you see the async task is just simply waiting for 4 seconds. So within these 4 seconds, if you dispatch the same action 10 times, it will affect. But if you use takeLatest it won’t affect it.

This was a total summary of Redux’s important middlewares. I hope it was clear. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Source: DEV GENIUS