Learning React 9 - Data Bound Routes

Written by Liam McLennan

Learning React 8 - AJAX Continued has our application capable for searching a movie API and displaying the list of results. Now we would like to be able to view the details for a selected movie.

A good web application should have a URL for every addressable state, so selecting a movie should change the URL. We will use, /movie/:imdbID. First add an action to the routesMap:

const routesMap = { 
    HOME: '/',
    MOVIE: '/movie/:imdbID'

Then create a new movie component:

function Movie(props) {
    return <div>
            { props.movie 
                ? <p>
                        <img src={props.movie.Poster} alt={`${props.movie.Title} poster`} />
                : <p>Loading...</p>

const ConnectedMovie = connect(
    function mapStateToProps(state) {
        return state.movie;
    function mapDispatchToProps(dispatch) {
        return {};

and update the App component to display the ConnectedMovie component when the MOVIE action is dispatched.

const componentMap = {
    HOME: ConnectedSearch,
    MOVIE: ConnectedMovie

redux-first-router Route Thunks

Now we encounter a problem. When the router sees the route /movie/:imdbID it will cause the application to show the ConnectedMovie component, which expects to display a movie using data from the redux store, but the data is not there. Somehow we need to take the imdbID from the route and populate the redux store. redux-first-router allows for this using an alternative way of specifying the action-to-route mapping, with an included thunk value. This is a function that runs when the route is matched and that has access to the current store. Within the thunk we can read the imdbID from the store (redux-first-router put it on the location key for us), perform a request, and publish the MOVIE_FETCHED action with the data when we are done.

const routesMap = { 
    HOME: '/',
    MOVIE: {
        path: '/movie/:imdbID',
        thunk: async (dispatch, getState) => {
            dispatch({ type: "MOVIE_CLEAR"});
            const imdbID = getState().location.payload.imdbID;
            const movie = await fetch(`http://www.omdbapi.com/?apikey=8e4dcdac&i=${imdbID}`)
            .then((response) => response.json());
            dispatch({ type: "MOVIE_FETCHED", movie });

The MOVIE_CLEAR action is dispatched before the request to clear the previous movie data from the store. The movieReducer then copies the data from the action into the store.

const defaultState = {movie: null};

export const movieReducer = {
    movie: function (state = defaultState, action) {
        switch (action.type) {
            case "MOVIE_CLEAR": 
                return Object.assign({}, state, defaultState);
            case "MOVIE_FETCHED":
                return Object.assign({}, state, {movie: action.movie});
            default: return state;

This is what I mean by a ‘data bound route’. Whenever the route /movie/:imdbID is seen we fetch the data for that route and put it in the store.

If an AJAX request is required because of a user action then dispatch an action, with a promise payload, in the mapDispatchToProps function. redux-promise-middleware will resolve the promise and publish the _FULFILLED version of the action, which can be processed in a reducer.

If a route requires an AJAX request we need a different strategy, because routes map to actions, which are processed in reducers, which don’t have the ability to dispatch new actions. redux-first-router provides the thunk option so that we have a place to do asynchronous operations in response to URL changes, and publish actions when we have a result.

Converting Event Actions to Route Actions

Above I said,

A good web application should have a URL for every addressable state

yet, when we perform a search, the application state changes but the URL does not. When you think about it, most actions represent a state change that can, and should, be reflected in a URL change. When I search for ‘Terminator’ I want the url to change to /search/Terminator. Thus a search for terminator becomes an addressable state that I can link directly to.

redux-first-router synchonizes in both directions. If the URL changes it publishes the corresponding route action. If a route action is dispatched it changes the URL. To make search results addressable we will handle the search form submission, dispatch a route action, then do the search using the route handling thunk. First, modify the action that is dispatched when a user searches:

function mapDispatchToProps(dispatch) {
    return {
        onSearch: (title)=> {
                type: 'SEARCH',
                payload: {title}

This SEARCH action will be a route action. Next, add the SEARCH action to the route configuration, mapped to /search/:title. When the route is matched, read the title from the Redux store, query the API, and then dispatch the SEARCH_FULFILLED action that the searchReducer is already expecting.

const routesMap = { 
    // ...
    SEARCH: {
        path: '/search/:title',
        thunk: async (dispatch, getState) => {
            const title = getState().location.payload.title;
            const results = await fetch(`http://www.omdbapi.com/?apikey=8e4dcdac&s=${encodeURIComponent(title)}`)
                .then((response) => response.json())
            dispatch({ type: "SEARCH_FULFILLED", payload: results });

The routing for the application is now:

Route action URL Thunk Component
HOME / ConnectedSearch
MOVIE /movie/:imdbID Publishes MOVIE_CLEAR actions. Fetches movie data by imdbID. Publishes MOVIE_FETCHED action. ConnectedMovie
SEARCH /search/:title Fetches results by title. Publishes SEARCH_FULFILLED. ConnectedSearch


As the onSearch handler no longer publishes an action with a promise we are no longer using redux-promise-middleware. Many actions can be route changes and do their asynchronous operations with redux-first-router thunks. Actions that do not make sense as route changes, but that still require an asynchronous operation, should still use redux-promise-middleware.


Where sensible, states should be addressable via a route. Where a route requires an asynchronous operations, such as making an AJAX request, use the thunk property of the route configuration object to do the asynchronous operation and dispatch an action when it is complete.

Next: Learning React 10 - Typescript

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/movie-library.git
git checkout react9

or browse at https://github.com/liammclennan/movie-library/tree/react9.