Using Fluid with React

In this tutorial, you’ll learn about using the Fluid Framework by building a simple application that enables every client of the application to change a dynamic time stamp on itself and all other clients almost instantly. You’ll also learn how to connect the Fluid data layer with a view layer made in React.

To jump ahead into the finished demo, check out the React demo in our FluidExamples repo.

The following image shows the time stamp application open in four browsers. Each has a button labeled click and beside it a Unix epoch time. The same time is in all four. The cursor is on the button in one browser.

Four browsers with the Timestamp app open in them.

The following image shows the same four clients one second after the click button was pressed. Note that the timestamp has updated to the very same time in all four browsers.

Four browsers with the Timestamp app open in them one second after the button has been pushed.

Note

This tutorial assumes that you are familiar with the Fluid Framework Overview and that you have completed the QuickStart. You should also be familiar with the basics of React, creating React projects, and React Hooks.

Create the project

  1. Open a Command Prompt and navigate to the parent folder where you want to create the project; e.g., c:\My Fluid Projects.

  2. Run the following command at the prompt. (Note that the CLI is npx, not npm. It was installed when you installed Node.js.)

    npx create-react-app fluid-react-tutorial --use-npm
    
  3. The project is created in a subfolder named fluid-react-tutorial. Navigate to it with the command cd fluid-react-tutorial.

  4. The project uses two Fluid libraries:

    Library Description
    fluid-framework Contains the SharedMap distributed data structure that synchronizes data across clients. This object will hold the most recent timestamp update made by any client.
    @fluidframework/tinylicious-client Defines the connection to a Fluid service server and defines the starting schema for the Fluid container.

    Run the following command to install the libraries.

    npm install @fluidframework/tinylicious-client fluid-framework
    

Code the project

  1. Open the file \src\App.js in your code editor. Delete all the default import statements except the one that imports App.css. Then delete all the markup from the return statement. The file should look like the following:

    import './App.css';
    
    function App() {
      return (
    
      );
    }
    
    export default App;
    
  2. Add the following import statements:

    import React from "react";
    import { TinyliciousClient } from "@fluidframework/tinylicious-client";
    import { SharedMap } from "fluid-framework";
    

Move Fluid data to the view

  1. The Fluid runtime will bring changes made to the timestamp from any client to the current client. But Fluid is agnostic about the UI framework. You can use a helper method to get the Fluid data, from the SharedMap object, into the view layer (the React state). Add the following code below the import statements. This method is called when the application loads the first time, and the value that is returned form it is assigned to a React state property.

    const getFluidData = async () => {
    
        // TODO 1: Configure the container.
        // TODO 2: Get the container from the Fluid service.
        // TODO 3: Return the Fluid timestamp object.
    }
    
  2. Replace TODO 1 with the following code. Note that there is only one object in the container: a SharedMap holding the timestamp. Note also that sharedTimestamp is the ID of the SharedMap object and it must be unique within the container.

      const client = new TinyliciousClient();
      const containerSchema = {
          initialObjects: { sharedTimestamp: SharedMap }
      };
    
  3. Replace TODO 2 with the following code. Note that containerId is being stored on the URL hash, and if there is no containerId we create a new container instead.

    let container;
    const containerId = location.hash.substring(1);
    if (!containerId) {
        ({ container } = await client.createContainer(containerSchema));
        const id = await container.attach();
        location.hash = id;
    } else {
        ({ container } = await client.getContainer(containerId, containerSchema));
    }
    
  4. Replace TODO 3 with the following code.

    return container.initialObjects;
    

Get the Fluid data on application startup

Now that we’ve defined how to get our Fluid data, we need to tell React to call getFluidData when the application starts up and then store the result in state. So add the following code at the top of the App() function (above the return statement). Note about this this code:

  • By setting an empty dependency array at the end of the useEffect, we ensure that this function only gets called once.
  • Since setFluidSharedObjects is a state-changing method, it will cause the React App component to immediately rerender.
const [fluidSharedObjects, setFluidSharedObjects] = React.useState();

React.useEffect(() => {
    getFluidData()
    .then(data => setFluidSharedObjects(data));
}, []);

Keep the view synchronized with the Fluid data

The timestamp that is rendered in the application’s UI does not come directly from the fluidSharedObjects state object because that object can be changed by other clients and these changes do not call the setFluidSharedObjects method, so they do not trigger a rerender of the App component. Thus, remote changes would not appear in the current client’s UI.

To ensure that both local and remote changes to the timestamp are reflected in the UI, create a second application state value for the local timestamp and ensure that it is updated (with a state-updating function) whenever any client changes the fluidSharedObjects value.

  1. Below the preceding useEffect add the following code. Note about this code:

    • The fluidSharedObjects state is undefined only when the App component is rendering for the first time.
    • Passing fluidSharedObjects in the second parameter of the useEffect hook ensures that the hook will not pointlessly run if fluidSharedObjects has not changed since the last time the App component rendered.
    const [localTimestamp, setLocalTimestamp] = React.useState();
    
    React.useEffect(() => {
        if (fluidSharedObjects) {
    
            // TODO 4: Set the value of the localTimestamp state object that will appear in the UI.
            // TODO 5: Register handlers.
            // TODO 6: Delete handler registration when the React App component is dismounted.
    
        } else {
            return; // Do nothing because there is no Fluid SharedMap object yet.
        }
    }, [fluidSharedObjects])
    
  2. Replace TODO 4 with the following code. Note about this code:

    • The Fluid SharedObject.get method returns the data of the SharedObject (in this case the SharedMap object), which is roughly the SharedObject without any of its methods. So the setLocalTimestamp function is setting the localTimestamp state to a copy of the data of the SharedMap object. (The key “time” that is passed to SharedObject.get is created in a later step. It will have been set by the time this code runs the first time.)
    • updateLocalTimestamp is called immediately to ensure that localTimestamp is initialized with the current shared timestamp value.
    const { sharedTimestamp } = fluidSharedObjects;
    const updateLocalTimestamp = () => setLocalTimestamp({ time: sharedTimestamp.get("time") });
    
    updateLocalTimestamp();
    
  3. To ensure that the localTimestamp state is updated whenever the sharedTimestamp is changed even by other clients, replace TODO 5 with the following code. Note that because updateLocalTimestamp calls the state-setting function setTimestamp, a rerender is triggered whenever any client changes the Fluid sharedTimestamp.

    sharedTimestamp.on("valueChanged", updateLocalTimestamp);
    
  4. It is a good practice to deregister event handlers when the React component dismounts, so replace TODO 6 with the following code.

    return () => { sharedTimestamp.off("valueChanged", updateLocalTimestamp) }
    

Create the view

Below the useEffect hook, replace the return (); line with the following code. Note about this code:

  • If the localTimestamp state has not been initialized, a blank screen is rendered.
  • The sharedTimestamp.set method sets the key of the sharedTimestamp object to “time” and the value to the current UNIX epoch time. This triggers the valueChanged event on the object, so the updateLocalTimestamp function runs and sets the localTimestamp state to the same object; for example, {time: "1615996266675"}. The App component rerenders and the <span> is updated with the latest timestamp.
  • All other clients update too because the Fluid server propagates the change to the sharedTimestamp on all of them and this valueChanged event updates the localTimestamp state on all of them.
if (localTimestamp) {
    return (
        <div className="App">
            <button onClick={() => fluidSharedObjects.sharedTimestamp.set("time", Date.now().toString())}>
                Get Time
            </button>
            <span>{localTimestamp.time}</span>
        </div>
    )
} else {
     return <div/>;
}

Start the Fluid server and run the application

In the Command Prompt, run the following command to start the Fluid service. Note that tinylicious is the name of the Fluid service that runs on localhost.

npx tinylicious

Open a new Command Prompt and navigate to the root of the project; for example, C:/My Fluid Projects/fluid-react-tutorial. Start the application server with the following command. The application opens in your browser. This may take a few minutes.

npm run start

Paste the URL of the application into the address bar of another tab or even another browser to have more than one client open at a time. Press the Get Time button on any client and see the value change and synchronize on all the clients.

Next steps

  • Try extending the demo with more key/value pairs and a more complex UI.
  • Consider using the Fluent UI React controls to give the application the look and feel of Microsoft 365. To install them in your project run the following in the command prompt: npm install @fluentui/react.
  • Try changing the container schema to use a different shared data object type or specify multiple objects in initialObjects.
  • For an example that will scale to larger applications and larger teams, check out the React Starter Template in the FluidExamples repo.

Tip

When you make changes to the code the project will automatically rebuild and the application server will reload. However, if you make changes to the container schema, they will only take effect if you close and restart the application server. To do this, give focus to the Command Prompt and press Ctrl-C twice. Then run npm run start again.