UpgradingUpgrading to 0.18

$npm install @liveblocks/client@0.18 @liveblocks/react@0.18

With the release of 0.18 we’re bringing some exciting and pretty major improvements to our React hooks, letting you build apps with ease and with more control over the exact behavior.

The new APIs we’re introducing here solve many subtle and not-so-subtle pain points. We heard your feedback, and think we have shipped something awesome that you’ll love.

This guide consists of two sections:

  1. Introduction of the new APIs to get a taste of the new features
  2. Recommended upgrade steps to get the most out of it for your app (jump straight to it)

Let’s dive right in!

Changes in @liveblocks/react

With 0.18, the biggest conceptual shift is that our hooks to consume data from Liveblocks now return normal JavaScript data structures (objects, arrays, maps) that are immutable by default.

Suppose you have initialized your room with:

<RoomProvider  id="my-room"  initialPresence={/* ... */}  initialStorage={{    scientist: new LiveObject({      firstName: "Ada",      lastName: "Lovelace",      pets: new LiveList(["🐶", "🐈"]),    }),  }}>  <App /></RoomProvider>

Accessing nested data

Reading nested data from there is now much easier:

Previously ❌

function Component() {  const scientist = useObject("scientist");  if (scientist == null) {    return null;  }
const pets = scientist.get("pets").toArray(); // ["🐶", "🐈"]}

Now ✅

function Component() {  const pets = useStorage((root) => root.scientist.pets);  // ["🐶", "🐈"]}

As you can see, because we can read data with normal JavaScript data structures, accessing nested data is now straightforward.

Subscribing to updates is automatic now

Rerendering your components when nested data—like our scientist’s pets list—changes was a true head breaker before. This required extra helper components, manual subscriptions, and manual conversion to “normal” JavaScript arrays.

Now, rerendering your component when data changes is automatic, even for deeply nested data.

Previously ❌

function Component() {  const scientist = useObject("scientist");  if (scientist == null) {    return null;  }
return <Pets livePets={scientist.get("pets")} />;}
function Pets({ livePets }) { const room = useRoom(); const [pets, setPets] = useState(livePets.toArray());
useEffect(() => { return room.subscribe(livePets, () => { setPets(livePets.toArray()); }); }, [room, livePets]);}

Now ✅

function Component() {  const pets = useStorage((root) => root.scientist.pets);  // ["🐶", "🐈"]}

There is no typo in this example. This is the actual code.

Multiple subscriptions are just as easy

Previously, if you wanted to derive a computed value from multiple storage values, it took some manual setup to ensure the component would automatically rerender when either of those values changed.

Now, this is fully automatic. Or should we say, automagic?

Previously ❌

function Component() {  const objA = useObject("a");  const objB = useObject("b");
const room = useRoom(); const [sum, setSum] = useState(); // ^^^ We’re trying to compute the result of a.x + b.x in here
useEffect(() => { function onChange() { setSum(objA.get("x") + objB.get("x")); }
const unsubA = room.subscribe(objA, onChange); const unsubB = room.subscribe(objB, onChange);
return () => { unsubA(); unsubB(); }; }, [room, objA, objB]);}

Now ✅

function Component() {  const sum = useStorage((root) => root.a.x + root.b.x);}

This component will rerender automatically any time a.x or b.x changes, but not more often.

Guaranteed referential equality

Previously we returned mutable Live structures for performance reasons because converting live changing data to JavaScript data structures constantly (and recursively) was previously too slow to do on every render. This led to unintuitive behavior when used with React hooks dependencies.

Not anymore! Due to a technique called structural sharing, we’re now able to guarantee for nodes in the Storage tree that as long as their (direct or nested) contents haven’t changed in Storage, their immutable representation will remain to be the same object references on the next render. This means that you can rely on referential equality, as you may have expected in the first place.

Previously ❌

function Component() {  const scientist = useObject("scientist");
useEffect(() => { // Effect never triggered when scientist (or their pets list) changes! :( }, [scientist]);}

Now ✅

function Component() {  const scientist = useStorage((root) => root.scientist);
useEffect(() => { // Effect triggered every time scientist (or their pets list) changes! :) // But not more often than that! }, [scientist]);}

Suspense support

Starting with 0.18, all hooks that read data from Liveblocks come with a Suspense version of the hook which will never return null to indicate the “still loading” state. Instead, they will suspend the rendering of the component tree until Liveblocks has finished loading.

We recommend you to adopt Suspense if you can because it lets you get rid of the ugly null checks, helper components to “eat off” those null cases, and the prop drilling that necessarily comes with all that.

Previously ❌

function Component() {  const camera = useObject("camera");  const items = useList("items");
// 👎 if (camera == null || items == null) { return <div>Still loading...</div>; }
return <MyRealComponent camera={camera} items={items} />;}

Now ✅

Set up a Suspense boundary once:

import { Suspense } from "react";
function Setup() { return ( // Once <Suspense fallback={<Loading />}> <App /> </Suspense> );}

Switch to use the Suspense versions of our hooks instead of the “normal” ones:

export const {  suspense: {    RoomProvider,    useStorage,    /* etc. */  },} = createRoomContext(client);

Then, enjoy no more null checks everywhere in your app:

function Component() {  const camera = useStorage((root) => root.camera);  const items = useStorage((root) => root.items);  // No more null checking! :)}

Recommended upgrade steps

To get the most out of the new hooks, we recommend following the steps below to gradually upgrade your app to make use of the new hooks.

Step 1: Install the latest package

$npm install @liveblocks/client@0.18 @liveblocks/react@0.18

Step 2: Make sure you’re setting initial presence

We now require setting an initial presence value when you connect to a room explicitly. This ensures that every user is guaranteed to always have a known presence value.

Check that you have this in your config file:

<RoomProvider  id="my-room"  initialPresence={{}}  //              ^^^^ No longer optional>  <App /></RoomProvider>

If your app somehow doesn’t use Presence, you can just set an empty object ({}) here.

Step 3: You can remove some uncertainty from user instances

If you have expressions in your code that look like...

user.info?.avatar;//       ^user.presence?.cursor.x;//           ^

You can now remove these optional chainings. The fields info and presence will now always be set on User instances.

Step 4: Adopt Suspense (optional)

Now is a great moment to opt-in to Suspense (see the React docs) with Liveblocks, if you can or want to use it in your app. We recommend it for most apps because it makes working with the new hooks even nicer.

To avoid repeating ourselves, please follow the instruction below.

Now that you have updated your app to Suspense, you should be able to remove all these pesky null checks from your code.

function Component() {  const a = useMap("a");  const b = useList("b");  const c = useObject("c");
if (a == null || b == null || c == null) { return <Loading />; }
/* ... */}

Afterward, please verify that your app still works like normal.

Step 5a: Replace reads with useStorage

We recommend rewriting all usages of useList, useObject and useMap if those are used for reading data only. If used only for reading values from Storage, you could turn these into an equivalent useStorage call, which has fewer gotchas.

For example, change:

// ❌const obj = useObject("a");const list = useObject("b");const map = useMap("c");


// ✅const obj = useStorage((root) => root.a);const list = useStorage((root) => root.b);const map = useStorage((root) => root.c);

Note that the root argument you receive here is the immutable normal JavaScript equivalent of your entire Storage tree, as returned by calling .toImmutable.

So this means that if you have been manually converting the mutable Live structures to normal data structures, you no longer have to do this:

// ❌obj.toObject();list.toArray();
// ✅obj; // Already a normal JS objectlist; // Already a normal JS array

Please note that useList, useObject, or useMap are not deprecated and still work with the same behavior as before. We just no longer recommend their use.

Step 5b: Replace mutations with useMutation

If you are (also) using useList, useObject or useMap to obtain a mutable reference to the Live structure to mutate it, you can rewrite those use cases to use the new useMutation hook instead.

For example:

// ❌const obj = useObject("a");
return ( <input value={obj.get("name")} // ^^^ Live object used for reading onClick={() => { obj.set("name", e.currentTarget.value); // ^^^ Live object used for mutating }} />);

The idiomatic way to deal with Storage is to consume data using simple/normal JS data structures and to mutate data using a callback function that you can create with useMutation, which provides access to the mutable Live structures.

// ✅const name = useStorage((root) => root.a.name);
const setName = useMutation(({ storage }, newName) => { storage.get("a").set("name", newName); // ^^^ Mutation goes here}, []);
return ( <input value={name} // ^^^^ Reading uses simple values onClick={(e) => setName(e.currentTarget.value)} />);

Even though in this contrived example it may look more complicated, in large apps this pattern will vastly simplify your app’s complexity.

Step 6: Get rid of room.subscribe() calls

Historically the only way to get full control over exactly when and how your components would rerender was to use the low-level room.subscribe() API.

Most, if not all, of these use cases can be replaced by an equivalent, yet much simpler call to useStorage with a selector function that does an equivalent thing.

Common use case: subscribing to nested data
If you are using room.subscribe to manually rerender components when nested data changes, you can replace it by “just” selecting the nested fields you’re interested in. See this example.

// ✅ Automatically rerenders if pets changes (but not more often)const nested = useStorage((root) => root.scientist.pets);

Common use case: subscribing to a computed value
If you are using room.subscribe to synchronize a computation based on multiple storage values, you can replace it by “just” doing the computation in See this example.

// ✅ Automatically rerenders if computed value changesconst sum = useStorage((root) => root.a + root.b);

If you have another use case for room.subscribe that you think isn’t possible to express in an equivalent useStorage call, please let us know about it. We’re happy to help!

Step 7: Get rid of manual batch calls

Most, if not all, cases of manually calling useBatch or room.batch should no longer be needed and can be replaced by useMutation, which automatically batches already!

That’s it!

If you run into issues with these new patterns and you need help, please let us know. We’re here to help!