Jake Trent

Naming Related Components in React

This is an example of how I like to name related subcomponents in React.

Related components are those that are used together to perform some greater task. They work together.

A related component might define its relationship as a subcomponent, used as a child of a parent component.

To make one useful, you want the other. They compose together.

A Naming Example

An example of related components might appear in a tab list UI, where the clickable labels in a row across the top, when clicked, switch between UI panels below.

A tab list might be represented by a few pieces, each a component itself:

export default {
  List,
  ListItem,
  Panel
}
  • The List is the container for the tabs
  • The ListItem is an individual tab label
  • The Panel is the wrapper for content that is hidden or shown

There’s nothing revelatory about this naming individually. But this is designed so that the usage seems to make a lot of naming sense.

In a client application, one might use this as:

import Tab from './tab'

<Tab.List>
  <Tab.ListItem id="menu1">Menu Item 1</Tab.ListItem>
  <Tab.ListItem id="menu2">Menu Item 2</Tab.ListItem>
  <Tab.ListItem id="menu3">Menu Item 3</Tab.ListItem>
</Tab.List>
<Tab.Panel labelledBy="menu1"><div>Content stuff 1</div></Tab.Panel>
<Tab.Panel labelledBy="menu2"><div>Content stuff 2</div></Tab.Panel>
<Tab.Panel labelledBy="menu2"><div>Content stuff 3</div></Tab.Panel>

The naming makes this work well at usage time:

  • The import statement can be something with a clear alias of the UI element imported: that is, Tab
  • The composition of components, between <Tab.List />, <Tab.ListItem />, and <Tab.Panel />, clearly associates them all to the Tab experience via the prefix.
  • The . clearly separates the prefix or namespace. This can be a convention for this sort of required composition in a component or set of components. Otherwise, sometimes prefixes that are similar in a module are similar just because components in the same module are related to the same problem domain.
  • Here we can see the value of why we named the individual subcomponents as they are – List, ListItem, and Panel – because they work well with the Tab prefix.

I like this naming strategy. Do you? What other strategies in naming do you use when trying to associate components?