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React Forms


Just like in HTML, React uses forms to allow users to interact with the web page.


Adding Forms in React

You add a form with React like any other element:

Example:

Add a form that allows users to enter their name:

class MyForm extends React.Component {
  render() {
    return (
      <form>
        <h1>Hello</h1>
        <p>Enter your name:</p>
        <input
          type="text"
        />
      </form>
    );
  }
}
ReactDOM.render(<MyForm />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »


Handling Forms

Handling forms is about how you handle the data when it changes value or gets submitted.

In HTML, form data is usually handled by the DOM.

In React, form data is usually handled by the components.

When the data is handled by the components, all the data is stored in the component state.

You can control changes by adding event handlers in the onChange attribute:

Example:

Add an event handler in the onChange attribute, and let the event handler update the state object:

class MyForm extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = { username: '' };
  }
  myChangeHandler = (event) => {
    this.setState({username: event.target.value});
  }
  render() {
    return (
      <form>
      <h1>Hello {this.state.username}</h1>
      <p>Enter your name:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      </form>
    );
  }
}

ReactDOM.render(<MyForm />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »

Note: You must initialize the state in the constructor method before you can use it.

Note: You get access to the field value by using the event.target.value syntax.


Conditional Rendering

If you do not want to display the h1 element until the user has done any input, you can add an if statement.

Look at the example below and note the following:

1. We create an empty variable, in this example we call it header.

2. We add an if statement to insert content to the header variable if the user has done any input.

3. We insert the header variable in the output, using curly brackets.

Example:

Display the header only if username is defined:

class MyForm extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = { username: '' };
  }
  myChangeHandler = (event) => {
    this.setState({username: event.target.value});
  }
  render() {
    let header = '';
    if (this.state.username) {
      header = <h1>Hello {this.state.username}</h1>;
    } else {
      header = '';
    }
    return (
      <form>
      {header}
      <p>Enter your name:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      </form>
    );
  }
}

ReactDOM.render(<MyForm />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »


Submitting Forms

You can control the submit action by adding an event handler in the onSubmit attribute:

Example:

Add a submit button and an event handler in the onSubmit attribute:

class MyForm extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = { username: '' };
  }
  mySubmitHandler = (event) => {
    event.preventDefault();
    alert("You are submitting " + this.state.username);
  }
  myChangeHandler = (event) => {
    this.setState({username: event.target.value});
  }
  render() {
    return (
      <form onSubmit={this.mySubmitHandler}>
      <h1>Hello {this.state.username}</h1>
      <p>Enter your name, and submit:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      <input
        type='submit'
      />
      </form>
    );
  }
}

ReactDOM.render(<MyForm />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »

Note that we use event.preventDefault() to prevent the form from actually being submitted.


Multiple Input Fields

You can control the values of more than one input field by adding a name attribute to each element.

When you initialize the state in the constructor, use the field names.

To access the fields in the event handler use the event.target.name and event.target.value syntax.

To update the state in the this.setState method, use square brackets [bracket notation] around the property name.

Example:

Write a form with two input fields:

class MyForm extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = {
      username: '',
      age: null,
    };
  }
  myChangeHandler = (event) => {
    let nam = event.target.name;
    let val = event.target.value;
    this.setState({[nam]: val});
  }
  render() {
    return (
      <form>
      <h1>Hello {this.state.username} {this.state.age}</h1>
      <p>Enter your name:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        name='username'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      <p>Enter your age:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        name='age'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      </form>
    );
  }
}

ReactDOM.render(<MyForm />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »

Note: We use the same event handler function for both input fields, we could write one event handler for each, but this gives us much cleaner code and is the preferred way in React.


Validating Form Input

You can validate form input when the user is typing or you can wait untill the form gets submitted.

Example:

When you fill in your age, you will get an alert if the age field is not numeric:

class MyForm extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = {
      username: '',
      age: null,
    };
  }
  myChangeHandler = (event) => {
    let nam = event.target.name;
    let val = event.target.value;
    if (nam === "age") {
      if (!Number(val)) {
        alert("Your age must be a number");
      }
    }
    this.setState({[nam]: val});
  }
  render() {
    return (
      <form>
      <h1>Hello {this.state.username} {this.state.age}</h1>
      <p>Enter your name:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        name='username'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      <p>Enter your age:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        name='age'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      </form>
    );
  }
}

ReactDOM.render(<MyForm />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »

Below you will see the same example as above, but the validation is done when the form gets submitted instead of when you write in the field.

Example:

Same example, but with the validation at form submit:

class MyForm extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = {
      username: '',
      age: null,
    };
  }
  mySubmitHandler = (event) => {
    event.preventDefault();
    let age = this.state.age;
    if (!Number(age)) {
      alert("Your age must be a number");
    }
  }
  myChangeHandler = (event) => {
    let nam = event.target.name;
    let val = event.target.value;
    this.setState({[nam]: val});
  }
  render() {
    return (
      <form onSubmit={this.mySubmitHandler}>
      <h1>Hello {this.state.username} {this.state.age}</h1>
      <p>Enter your name:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        name='username'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      <p>Enter your age:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        name='age'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      <br/>
      <br/>
      <input type='submit' />
      </form>
    );
  }
}

ReactDOM.render(<MyForm />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »


Adding Error Message

Error messages in alert boxes can be annoying, so let's make an error message that is empty by default, but displays the error when the user inputs anything invalid:

Example:

When you fill in your age as not numeric, an error message is dispalyed:

class MyForm extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = {
      username: '',
      age: null,
      errormessage: ''
    };
  }
  myChangeHandler = (event) => {
    let nam = event.target.name;
    let val = event.target.value;
    let err = '';
    if (nam === "age") {
      if (val !="" && !Number(val)) {
        err = <strong>Your age must be a number</strong>;
      }
    }
    this.setState({errormessage: err});
    this.setState({[nam]: val});
  }
  render() {
    return (
      <form>
      <h1>Hello {this.state.username} {this.state.age}</h1>
      <p>Enter your name:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        name='username'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      <p>Enter your age:</p>
      <input
        type='text'
        name='age'
        onChange={this.myChangeHandler}
      />
      {this.state.errormessage}
      </form>
    );
  }
}

ReactDOM.render(<MyForm />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »


Textarea

The textarea element in React is slightly different from ordinary HTML.

In HTML the value of a textarea was the text between the start tag <textarea> and the end tag </textarea>, in React the value of a textarea is placed in a value attribute:

Example:

A simple textarea with some content initialized in the constructor:

class MyForm extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = {
      description: 'The content of a textarea goes in the value attribute'
    };
  }
  render() {
    return (
      <form>
      <textarea value={this.state.description} />
      </form>
    );
  }
}

ReactDOM.render(<MyForm />, document.getElementById('root'));

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Select

A drop down list, or a select box, in React is also a bit different from HTML.

in HTML, the selected value in the drop down list was defined with the selected attribute:

HTML:

<select>
  <option value="Ford">Ford</option>
  <option value="Volvo" selected>Volvo</option>
  <option value="Fiat">Fiat</option>
</select>

In React, the selected value is defined with a value attribute on the select tag:

Example:

A simple select box, where the selected value "Volvo" is initialized in the constructor:

class MyForm extends React.Component {
  constructor(props) {
    super(props);
    this.state = {
      mycar: 'Volvo'
    };
  }
  render() {
    return (
      <form>
      <select value={this.state.mycar}>
        <option value="Ford">Ford</option>
        <option value="Volvo">Volvo</option>
        <option value="Fiat">Fiat</option>
      </select>
      </form>
    );
  }
}

ReactDOM.render(<MyForm />, document.getElementById('root'));

Run Example »