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Redux without React — State Management in Vanilla JavaScript

I am one of those developers who likes to do things from scratch and get to know how everything works. Although I am aware of the (unnecessary) work I get myself into, it definitely helps me appreciate and understand what lies behind a specific framework, library, or module.

Recently, I had one of those moments again and started working on a web application using Redux and nothing else but vanilla JavaScript. In this article I want to outline how I structured my app, examine some of my earlier (and ultimately unsuccessful) iterations, before looking at the solutions I settled on and what I learned along the way.

The Setup

You might have heard of the popular React.js and Redux combination to build fast and powerful web applications with the latest front-end technologies.

Made by Facebook, React is a component-based, open source library for building user interfaces. While React is only a view layer (not a full framework such as Angular or Ember), Redux manages the state of your application. It functions as a predictable state container, where the entire state is stored in a single object tree and can only be changed by emitting a so called action. If you’re completely new to the topic, I recommend checking out this illustrative article.

For the rest of this article it’s not required to be an expert on Redux, but it definitely helps to have at least a basic understanding of its concepts.

An Application from Scratch

What makes Redux great is that it forces you to think ahead and get an early picture of your application design. You start to define what should actually be stored, which data can and should change, and which components can access the store. But since Redux is only concerned with state, I found myself a bit confused as to how to structure and connect the rest of my application. React does a good job of guiding you through everything, but without it, it was down to me to figure out what works best.

The application in question is a mobile-first Tetris clone, which has a couple of different views. The actual game logic is done in Redux, while the offline capabilities are provided by localStorage, and custom view handling. The repository can be found on GitHub, though the application is still in active development and I am writing this article as I work on it.

Defining the Application Architecture

I decided to adopt a file structure commonly found in Redux and React projects. It’s a logical structure and is applicable to many different setups. There are many variations on this theme, and most projects do things a little differently, but the overall structure is the same.

src/scripts/

actions/
├── game.js
├── score.js
└── ...
components/
├── router.js
├── pageControls.js
├── canvas.js
└── ...
constants/
├── game.js
├── score.js
└── ...
reducers/
├── game.js
├── score.js
└── ...
store/
├── configureStore.js
├── connect.js
└── index.js
utils/
├── serviceWorker.js
├── localStorage.js
├── dom.js
└── ...
index.js
worker.js

My markup is separated into another directory and is ultimately rendered by a single index.html file. The structure is similar to scripts/, so as to maintain a consistent architecture throughout my code base.

src/markup/

layouts/
└── default.html
partials/
├── back-button.html
└── meta.html
pages/
├── about.html
├── settings.html
└── ...
index.html

Managing and Accessing the Store

To access the store, it needs to be created once and passed down to all instances of an application. Most frameworks work with some sort of dependency injection container, so we as a user of the framework don’t have to come up with our own solution. But how could I make it accessible to all of my components when rolling my own solution?

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