How to add a live avatar stack to your product with React, Firebase, and Liveblocks
Learn how you can create and add a live avatar stack to your product using React, Firebase, and Liveblocks.
This tutorial aims to guide you on how you can create and add a live avatar stack to your product using React, Firebase, and Liveblocks. By the end of this tutorial, you should have a solid understanding of:
- What a live avatar stack is
- What Liveblocks is
- How to install and connect to Liveblocks
- How to use Firebase in Liveblocks for authentication
- A few Liveblocks React hooks such as
In this guide, we assume that you already have a decent understanding of:
- React and React Hooks,
- Firebase and Firebase functions,
- Basic Node.js and npm for you to follow along easily.
What a live avatar stack is
A live avatar is a pictorial representation of a collaborator working in a virtual space. Applications like Figma and Dropbox use live avatars to represent active users. When the user enters the virtual space, an avatar is created to indicate the user’s presence, and also when the user leaves, the avatar is removed or dimmed to indicate the user’s absence. This helps collaborators to work as though they were in a physical room and can see who is present or not. An avatar stack is a group of avatars and here’s an image of what a typical avatar stack looks like:
Add Liveblocks to your project
To add Liveblocks to your React project, you first need to install Liveblocks packages into your project. To do that please run the following command:
Connect to Liveblocks server
Next, you need to connect to Liveblocks server using the
LiveblocksProvider component in the root of your project (let’s say
index.js file) and pass in
client as a prop to this component. Remember this makes Liveblocks hooks available to all of your components wrapped in the
This is a typical example of what your root file (say
index.js file) should look like:
Connect to Liveblocks room
Remember a room (the virtual space) where users collaborate? The next step is to connect to this room and to do this, we use the
RoomProvider in our
App.js component and set a "live-avatars" ID like so:
Set-up authentication endpoint using Firebase
Remember you can make use of your Liveblocks public key or an authentication endpoint to create a client using the
createClient function. We will be creating an authEndpoint using Firebase. We assume that you have set up your Firebase config and added Firebase to your project.
Users can only interact with rooms they have access to. You can control permission access from an http endpoint by creating a Firebase function.
To do that, let’s first install
@liveblocks/node package in your Firebase functions project.
Next, create a new Firebase callable function (let’s say
auth) as described below. This is where you have to implement your security and define if the current user has access to a specific room.
Don’t forget to replace
sk_live_xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your API key.
We’ve successfully set up our Firebase authentication endpoint!
Create a live avatar stack UI
Here’s the representation of what our avatar stack structure would look like:
This is what our
Avatar.js component should look like:
And here is the
Avatar.module.css file to go alongside with it:
This is what our
AvatarStack.js component should look like:
And here is the
AvatarStack.module.css file to go alongside with it:
And there you have it! Your
AvatarStack component is available to be imported and used however and wherever you wish to use it in your product.
Liveblocks makes it easy to implement online/virtual presence to improve collaboration between team members. However, a live avatar stack isn’t the only presence UI pattern you can build with Liveblocks, you can also build things like live cursors, live selection, and more. Thank you for your time!
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