What is a virtual DOM in React?


Web Development

The virtual DOM is a fundamental React principle. You have almost certainly read of it if you have composed React code in the very last few a long time. Nevertheless, you may perhaps not fully grasp how it will work and why Respond uses it.

This post will cover what a virtual DOM is, its positive aspects in React, and useful example code to enable make clear this strategy.

In this posting:

Idea evaluation: What is the DOM?

To fully grasp the virtual DOM and find out why Respond implements it, let us refresh our information of the genuine browser DOM.

Whenever a world-wide-web doc — this kind of as HTML — is loaded in the browser, an object-based mostly representation of the document’s aspects is created in a tree-like construction. This object representation is known as the Doc Item Product, also regarded as the DOM.

Because of to its item-based character, JavaScript and other scripting languages recognize the DOM and can interact and manipulate the doc written content. For instance, with the DOM, builders can insert or eliminate elements, modify their visual appearance and complete user’s actions on the world-wide-web features.

DOM operations like DOM querying and updating are lighter and therefore are very rapid. However, for the update to mirror on the world-wide-web web page, the web page will have to re-render.

How re-rendering impacts general performance

Re-rendering the page to reflect DOM updates is costly and can lead to general performance shortcomings because the browser has to recalculate the CSS, rerun the structure for just about every seen ingredient, and repaint the webpage.

Let’s simulate a re-rendering webpage with the JavaScript code below:

const update = () => 
 const aspect = `


Time: $new Date().toLocaleTimeString() ` doc.getElementById("root1").innerHTML = ingredient setInterval(update, 1000)

You can see the entire code on CodeSandbox.

The DOM tree symbolizing the document appears to be like so:

Dom Tree Representing Example Javascript Document With Nodes For Header, Form Input, Time Span

By applying a setInterval() callback in the code, we are rendering the condition of the UI just about every second. As we can see in the GIF down below, just after the specified interval, the browser re-renders, runs the format, and repaints the webpage, among other operations.

The browser DOM has no system to review and distinction what has improved and repaint only that DOM node (in this scenario, the rendered time):

Demonstration Of All Nodes Lighting Up After Full Page Re-Renders After Manipulating The Dom Time Text Input

This re-rendering is apparent in the textual content enter. As we can see, the input subject is normally cleared soon after the set interval. This re-rendering system in the browser immediately after DOM manipulations is what leads to effectiveness shortcomings.

Re-rendering in React: Why digital DOM is employed

As we know, React is a ingredient-primarily based library. A React component will naturally re-render if there are condition or prop adjustments or if its parent element re-renders.

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React are not able to afford to pay for the price tag of repainting all of the DOM nodes right after every re-render. To triumph over this problem, Respond applied the idea of virtual DOM.

In its place of letting the browser to redraw all the web page features immediately after each re-render or DOM update, React uses the principle of digital DOM to figure out what accurately has altered without involving the true DOM and then ensures that the precise DOM only repaints the essential information.

This principle allows React enhance general performance.

Virtual DOM in Respond

Digital DOM in React is a “virtual” illustration of the true DOM. It is nothing at all but an item produced to replicate the real DOM.

Contrary to the real DOM, the virtual DOM is affordable to produce because it does not produce to the monitor. It is only out there as a approach to protect against a redraw of unwanted web site aspects through re-render.

Acquire a seem at the subsequent render code representing the React variation of the prior JavaScript case in point:

// ...
const update = () => 
 const ingredient = (


Time: new Day().toLocaleTimeString() ) root.render(ingredient)

For brevity, we have eliminated some of the code. You can see the entire code on CodeSandbox.

We can also publish JSX code in basic React, like so:

const component = React.createElement(
 React.createElement("h3", null, "Respond:"),
   style: "textual content"
 Respond.createElement("span", null, "Time: ", new Day().toLocaleTimeString())

Notice that you can get the Respond code equivalent of JSX code by pasting the JSX things in a babel repl editor.

Now, if we log the React element in the console:

 const component = (


Time: new Day().toLocaleTimeString() ) console.log(element)

We will have a thing like this:

Example Of A Virtual Dom Representing The React Version Of Previous Javascript Example After Logging React Element In The Console

The object, as witnessed previously mentioned, is the virtual DOM.

How Respond implements the virtual DOM

When we render the consumer interface, a virtual DOM for that render is created and stored in memory. If an update takes place in the render, React quickly makes a new digital DOM tree for the update.

To enable make clear this more, let’s visually depict the virtual DOM like so:

Virtual Representation Of Virtual Dom Labeled With Pink Title. Initial Virtual Dom Shown On Left With Updated Virtual Dom Shown On Right

Having said that, do not forget about that the virtual DOM is just a easy item representing the UI. Almost nothing gets drawn on the screen, and so, it is quick to create.

Following React results in the new virtual DOM tree, it compares it to the past snapshot working with a diffing algorithm to determine out what improvements are important.

It then utilizes a library referred to as ReactDOM to guarantee the real DOM only gets and repaints the up to date node or nodes. This method is called reconciliation.

Visual Representation Of Reconciliation Process With Initial Virtual Dom And Updated Virtual Dom Shown Stacked On Left And Actual Dom Shown On Right

When React implements the diffing algorithm, it commences by comparing whether or not or not the two snapshots have the exact same root factor.

If they have the similar component, React moves on and recurses on the characteristics and then the children of the DOM node. If the root components are of different styles — which is scarce in most updates — React will damage the aged DOM nodes and establish a new DOM tree.

If we examine our React render, we will get the adhering to behavior:

Inspecting React Render Showing Only The One Updated Node Lighting Up As It Is Repainted On Re-Rendering

On each render, Respond has a virtual DOM tree it compares with the prior model to figure out what node material receives updated and make sure the up to date node matches up with the real DOM.

In the GIF higher than, we can see that only the rendered time whose point out adjustments receives repainted on every re-render.

In one more case in point down below, we render a basic Respond ingredient that updates the component condition just after a button simply click:

import  useState  from "respond"

const App = () => 
 const [open, setOpen] = useState(bogus)

 return (
I am open ? "opened" : "closed"
) export default App

As outlined previously, updating a component state re-renders the part. On the other hand, as found under, on each individual re-render, React appreciates only to update the course title and the textual content that altered.

Result Of Updating A Component State With Dom Showing Class Name And Changed Text Updating On Every Re-Render

See the code and demo on CodeSandbox.

Recap of virtual DOM and why it’s applied in Respond

Each time we manipulate the virtual DOM elements in React, we bypass the sequence of functions associated when we instantly manipulate the real DOM.

This is attainable because with digital DOM, very little receives drawn on the monitor. Also, with the diffing algorithm, React can finalize what update is vital and update only the object on the true DOM.

The idea of digital DOM in React without doubt can help minimize the efficiency cost of re-rendering the webpage, therefore reducing the time it can take to repaint the screen.

Here is a simple analogy to additional solidify our knowledge of virtual DOM: Consider of manipulating the digital DOM as modifying a structural layout or blueprint as an alternative of rebuilding the true structure.

Enhancing a blueprint to include an update is very low cost in comparison to rebuilding the composition each time an update takes place. When the blueprint is revised and finalized, we can then consist of only the update on the actual construction.


Digital DOM is very little but a technique that Respond takes advantage of to improve the overall performance of an software. It delivers a system that compares two render trees to know what specifically has changed and only updates what is essential on the precise DOM.

Like Respond, Vue and some other frameworks also utilize this method. However, the Svelte framework proposes yet another tactic to making sure an software is optimized. It as an alternative compiles all elements into independent and small JavaScript modules, creating the script quite mild and quick to run.

I hope you savored reading through this short article. Share your views in the comment area if you have concerns or contributions.

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