What is the difference between a class component and a functional component?
In the landscape of React, components can be broadly categorized into two types: class components and functional components. Both can be used to produce similar outputs in the user interface, but they differ in their structure, lifecycle methods, and, with recent advancements, their capabilities.
Functional Components: These are simpler and can be thought of as pure functions that receive props as an argument and return a React element. Historically, functional components were stateless and referred to as “stateless functional components”. They were mainly used for simpler, presentational tasks where lifecycle methods and state weren’t required. However, with the introduction of Hooks, the capabilities of functional components expanded drastically. Developers can now use state, manage side effects, and tap into many features that were once exclusive to class components, all within the more concise syntax of functional components.
The introduction of Hooks didn’t render class components obsolete, and they remain a vital part of the React ecosystem. However, the community has seen a trend towards functional components, thanks to their simplicity and the added powers granted by Hooks. While class components offer a structured, object-oriented approach with lifecycle methods, functional components provide a simpler, more concise way to define components, especially when combined with the capabilities of Hooks.