Learning React 2 - Data in with props

Written by Liam McLennan

In Learning React 1 - A first component I showed how to bootstrap a React application and implement a simple component that displays the current date.

The Today component is highly specialized. It displays the current date, but can’t do anything else. Often we would like to generalize a component to increase the opportunities for reuse. This requires the capability to pass data into a React component.

Data is passed to a React component using ‘props’

Props are specified when the component is used, as attributes. We can pass a date to the Today component like this:

ReactDOM.render(<Today day={new Date(2018, 2, 20)} />, document.getElementById('root'));

Then in the Today component this value is available on the props object passed to the function:

function Today(props) {
    return <div>Today is {props.day.toString()}</div>;

Now the output is:

Today is Tue Mar 20 2018 00:00:00 GMT+1000 (AEST)

If you are wondering why it is Mar 20 and not Feb 20, it is because JavaScript uses 0 based indexing for months.

When reading other peoples React code you will often see Object destructuring used to show what is expected in props:

function Today({ day }) {
    return <div>Today is {day.toString()}</div>;

This is a purely syntactical change. The program behaves exactly the same as before.


By introducing props to our React component we have generalized it to work with any date. This is the mechanism by which data is passed to React components, and passed down a hierarchy of React components.

Next: Learning React 3 - Data out with props

Get The Code

The code for this example is on Github. You can access the code as it was at the completion of this step by cloning the repository and checking out the tag that corresponds to this post.

git clone https://github.com/liammclennan/today-react-app.git
git checkout react2

or browse at https://github.com/liammclennan/today-react-app/tree/6c4a389b57211a3c894db10c34f444d37e6b3c69.