How To Use Async Await in React (componentDidMount Async)

How to use Async Await in React? In this post we'll see how to fix regeneratorRuntime and and how to handle errors with Fetch and async/await.

How To Use Async Await in React

Do you want to use async/await in React? create-react-app supports async/await out of the box. But if you work with your own webpack boilerplate you may hit regeneratorRuntime is not defined.

In the following post you'll see how to use async/await in React and how to fix such error. You'll learn how to:

  • fix regeneratorRuntime is not defined
  • use async/await in React with Fetch
  • handle errors with Fetch and async/await

Disclaimer

React is changing fast and and the method exposed here could be already obsolete by the time you'll see this article, originally wrote in June 2018. Take the post with a grain of salt. In particular you may want to investigate React Hooks, which have they're own way for fetching data.

How To Use async/await in React: what is async/await?

async/await in JavaScript is nothing more than syntactic sugar over Promises.

Why so? Are JavaScript Promises not enough? Promises are fine, yet in some situations you may end up with a long chain of then/catch.

I would argue, if you find yourself in that position better you simplify the code, But async/await helps writing asynchronous code in a way that looks synchronous.

It makes your code cleaner and readable. Plus you can use try/catch for proper error handling. async/await is convenient and clean: at some point you may want to introduce it in your React components too.

Let's see how.

How To Use Async Await in React: an example with Promises

Before starting off make sure to have a React development environment. To make one you can follow this tutorial of mine: How to set up React, webpack, and babel or you can also use create-react-app.

Let's say you want to fetch data from an API. It's standard React stuff, you put the API call in componentDidMount and that's it:

import React, { Component } from "react";
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";

class App extends Component {
  constructor() {
    super();
    this.state = { data: [] };
  }

  componentDidMount() {
    fetch(`https://api.coinmarketcap.com/v1/ticker/?limit=10`)
      .then(res => res.json())
      .then(json => this.setState({ data: json }));
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <div>
        <ul>
          {this.state.data.map(el => (
            <li>
              {el.name}: {el.price_usd}
            </li>
          ))}
        </ul>
      </div>
    );
  }
}

export default App;

ReactDOM.render(<App />, document.getElementById("app"));

(This component is a contrived example: there's no error handling. Let’s assume we're in the happy path and nothing goes wrong with our fetch call).

NOTE: you can write the very same component as a function with the useEffect hook.

If you run webpack-dev-server with:

npm start

you'll see the code working as expected. Nothing fancy right? Can we do better? Would be nice to use async/await in componentDidMount right? Let's try!

How To Use Async Await in React: using the async/await syntax

Supported since version 7.6.0, async/await is widely used in Node.js. On the front-end it's another story. async/await is not supported by older browsers. (I know, who cares about IE?).

Anyway, using async/await in React requires no magic. But where to put async/await in a React component? Used mostly for data fetching and other initialization stuff componentDidMount is a nice place for async/await.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • put the async keyword in front of your functions
  • use await in the function's body
  • catch any errors

Now, create-react-app supports async/await out of the box. But if you have a webpack boilerplate you may hit an error (more in a minute). Now let's apply async/await to our React component. Open up App.js and adjust componentDidMount:

import React, { Component } from "react";
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";

class App extends Component {
  constructor() {
    super();
    this.state = { data: [] };
  }

  async componentDidMount() {
    const response = await fetch(`https://api.coinmarketcap.com/v1/ticker/?limit=10`);
    const json = await response.json();
    this.setState({ data: json });
  }

  render() {
    return (
      <div>
        <ul>
          {this.state.data.map(el => (
            <li>
              {el.name}: {el.price_usd}
            </li>
          ))}
        </ul>
      </div>
    );
  }
}

export default App;

ReactDOM.render(<App />, document.getElementById("app"));

No error catching, again, let's assume nothing goes wrong with our fetch call. Take a look at the browser's console: regeneratorRuntime is not defined?.

What's that? The key for fixing that error are babel preset env and babel plugin transform runtime. Make sure to install them:

npm i @babel/preset-env @babel/plugin-transform-runtime @babel/runtime --save-dev

Open up .babelrc and update the configuration as follow:

{
  "presets": [
    [
      "@babel/preset-env",
      {
        "targets": {
          "browsers": [
            ">0.25%",
            "not ie 11",
            "not op_mini all"
          ]
        }
      }
    ],
    "@babel/preset-react"
  ],
  "plugins": [
    "@babel/plugin-transform-runtime"
  ]
}

Save the file (run the build again if you don't have webpack-dev-server) and check out the browser. It should work! But we're not done yet. How about errors? What happens if the user goes offline or the API goes down? In the next section we'll se how to handle errors with Fetch and async/await.

How To Use Async Await in React: handling errors

The example we saw so far doesn't handle errors. Granted, in real world apps you would decouple fetch calls from the view. Moreover, the Fetch API has some caveats when it comes to handling errors.

Let's experiment with our component. Induce an error by removing "coinmarketcap" from the url:

async componentDidMount() {
    const response = await fetch(`https://api.com/v1/ticker/?limit=10`);
    const json = await response.json();
    this.setState({ data: json });
}

Run the code and check the console. You get:

TypeError: NetworkError when attempting to fetch resource // in Firefox

Uncaught (in promise) TypeError: Failed to fetch // in Chrome

There is an uncaught error of course. Let's catch it. Add a try/catch block:

async componentDidMount() {
    try {
      const response = await fetch(`https://api.com/v1/ticker/?limit=10`);
      const json = await response.json();
      this.setState({ data: json });
    } catch (error) {
      console.log(error);
    }
}

And re-run the code. You'll see the error logged to the console. So here's the first thing: wrap Fetch in a try/catch to handle network errors. Now let's try another thing. Check this out:

async componentDidMount() {
    try {
      const response = await fetch(`http://httpstat.us/500`);
    } catch (error) {
      console.log(error);
    }
}

What do you see in the console? Nothing. No errors, no sign of life. Why? Fetch will only reject a Promise if there is a network error. In case of 404 or 500 you'll see no errors. That means you must check the response object:

async componentDidMount() {
    try {
      const response = await fetch(`http://httpstat.us/500`);
      if (!response.ok) {
        throw Error(response.statusText);
      }
    } catch (error) {
      console.log(error);
    }
}

Now the error is logged to the console as expected. At this point you can show the user some error message.

How To Use Async Await in React: wrapping up

Used mostly for data fetching and other initialization stuff componentDidMount is a nice place for async/await in React. Here are the steps you need to follow for using async/await in React:

  • configure babel
  • put the async keyword in front of componentDidMount
  • use await in the function's body
  • make sure to catch eventual errors

If you use Fetch API in your code be aware that it has some caveats when it comes to handling errors.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

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Valentino Gagliardi

Hi! I’m Valentino! Educator and consultant, I help people learning to code with on-site and remote workshops. Looking for JavaScript and Python training? Let’s get in touch!

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