React componentDidMount Not Called in Server Render

You have access to some great component lifecycle hooks in React. componentDidMount is one of the most useful, but it's not going to be available when rendering on the server.

You may have been stumped when you wrote a React component and were trying to get some code to run in the componentDidMount. But try as you might, console.log as you might, that function was just never called. You double-checked your spelling and remained baffled.

Server Difference

Then you remembered you were rendering React on the server. The server has a key difference in comparison the browser. The server environment has no DOM. The browser provides the DOM. Mounting in React is synonmous with DOM insertion.

Even the library API tries to give you a strong indication that things are going to be different on the server. You import differently:

import ReactDOMServer from 'react-dom/server'

You render differently:

// if rendering to match with a React client
// if rendering for static html

Your Only Hope

So things are different. But there's always hope. Components are built on hope. You can add code to your component inside the constructor and componentWillMount. That is all:

class OobiDoobBenooby extends React.Component {
  componentWillMount() {
    console.log('Will be called on the server...')

And it makes sense. You won't be inserting into a DOM. Mount will never happen. You're simply outputting a string of HTML.

Besides the situation of rendering on the server, have there been other times componentDidMount didn't seem to work for you?

And what other interesting differences have you found while server-rendering React versus the browser experience?