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React.createElement() vs JSX

Written byPhuoc Nguyen
Category
React
Created
03 Sep, 2023
When it comes to creating React components, there are two different approaches: JSX and `React.createElement()`. In this post, we'll explore the differences between the two. Let's dive in.

Syntax

JSX is a syntax extension for JavaScript that allows developers to write HTML-like code directly in their JavaScript files. It's a more concise way of creating React elements than using `React.createElement()`.
One of the key differences between JSX and `React.createElement()` is that JSX lets you write your HTML-like code directly in your JavaScript file. On the other hand, with `React.createElement()`, you need to pass the element type, props, and children as separate arguments.
To give you an example, here's how you can use JSX to create a new React element:
const element = <div className="my-class">Hello World!</div>;
And here's the equivalent code using `React.createElement()`:
const element = React.createElement('div', { className: 'my-class' }, 'Hello World!');
When using React.createElement, you need to provide three parameters.
First, you need to specify the type of element you want to create. This can be an HTML tag like `div`, `span`, or `p`. Alternatively, you can use a reference to a React component like `MyComponent`, or even a functional component like `() => <div>Hello World!</div>`.
The second parameter is where you can pass any properties, or props, to the element. You do this by passing an object containing the properties you want to set, like `{className: 'my-class', onClick: () => console.log('clicked')}`.
Finally, the last parameter is where you specify the element's children. This can be any valid JavaScript expression, including other React elements.

Including JavaScript expressions

One cool thing about JSX is that it allows you to include JavaScript expressions inside your HTML-like code using curly braces `{}`. This makes it easy to work with data from APIs or user input and create dynamic content.
For instance, let's say you have a variable called `name` that stores the user's name. You can use JSX to create a personalized greeting like this:
const greeting = <h1>Hello, {name}!</h1>;
This code will display a personalized greeting, such as `<h1>Hello, John!</h1>`, if the user's name is John.
However, if we were to use `React.createElement()`, we would have to create individual variables for every aspect of the greeting.
const helloElement = React.createElement('h1', null, 'Hello, ');
const nameElement = React.createElement('span', null, name);
const exclamationElement = React.createElement('span', null, '!');
const greeting = React.createElement('div', null, helloElement, nameElement, exclamationElement);
As you can see, using JSX can make our code more concise and easier to read. However, some developers prefer using `React.createElement()` because it is more explicit and closer to standard JavaScript syntax. It's really a matter of personal preference and what works best for your project.

Questions? 🙋

Do you have any questions? Not just about this specific post, but about any topic in front-end development that you'd like to learn more about? If so, feel free to send me a message on Twitter or send me an email. You can find them at the bottom of this page.
I have a long list of upcoming posts, but your questions or ideas for the next one will be my top priority. Let's learn together! Sharing knowledge is the best way to grow 🥷.

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Phước Nguyễn