Skip to main content

Controllable Components

One of the strengths of React is its extensibility model, enabled by a common practice of pushing component state as high up the component hierarchy as possible. For simple components (like an input) this is usually a matter of tying the input value prop to a parent state property via its onChange handler. here is an extremely common pattern:

onChange={(e) => {
this.setState({ value: });

This pattern moves the responsibility of managing the value prop from the input Component to its parent. This is called a controlled component because the parent is in complete control of setting the value prop, in fact the input couldn't change its value even if it wanted to, it will always render the value prop it is given.

Using controlled components is great for flexibility, and helps keep the data flow going in one direction, but it can become tedious to wire up the components every time, even if you don't need the benefits of controlling it. To mitigate this concern React introduces the concept of an uncontrolled Component.

This input, doesn't provide a value prop, instead it uses the defaultValue prop to set an initial value for the input. After that initial setting, the input takes over and manages the value itself requiring no more input from the parent. This is much simpler to set up but, is not conducive to setting the input value from outside the input. In this case however, that isn't needed so we can leave it uncontrolled.

We can extend this pattern to more than just value props, lots of things can be controlled or uncontrolled. For instance the DropdownList component lets you control its open prop for controlling when the dropdown is open or closed.

hint: also try using the "default" form of the prop defaultOpen

When you see that a prop is "controllable" you have the option to let the component handle it, or if you need finer grained control over how, and when, that prop updates you can jump in and handle it yourself.