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Matt Perry|1 Nov 18

Pose for React 4.0: Custom components made simple(r)

Today, we release Pose for React 4.0. As per Pose tradition, the major release brings with it no big-splash features or complicated migration, just one simple breaking change that should clarify the API going forward.

What’s the problem?

Pose for React was written in a time before React.forwardRef(). To enable user access to the internal ref property, it took the innerRef naming convention from Styled Components.

This extra API is a small point of confusion. But it also meant that to animate a custom component, Pose needed developers to forward either an innerRef (for SC and similar) or hostRef (proposed but unrealised React standard) to the custom component’s inner DOM element. And when forwardRef was released, we added support for that, too.

This all led to a messy story around animating custom components and the extra ref props flagged errors in stricter linting and typing environments. As CSS-in-JS libraries like SC and upcoming Emotion 10 support forwardRef, it’s time to clean this up in Pose too.

From today:

  1. Posed components will accept ref to grab inner DOM nodes (innerRef works but is deprecated and will throw a warning in development mode).
  2. forwardRef is the single canonical way to animate custom components.

What do I need to do?

Fetching DOM refs

innerRef will continue working until 5.0. But now when you want to grab a posed component’s DOM reference from outside, you should use ref:

const Button = posed.button(config);

class MyComponent extends React.Component {
  setRef = ref => this.ref = ref;

  render() {
    return <Button ref={this.setRef} />;

Animating custom components

Animated custom components are a little different. Currently, your code might look like this:

// CustomComponent.js
export default ({ innerRef }) => <div ref={innerRef} />;

// index.js
import CustomComponent from './CustomComponent';

const PosedCustomComponent = posed(CustomComponent)(config);

Now, CustomComponent must be wrapped in React’s forwardRef function. Typically, you’d call its second argument ref, but to ease migration you can rename it to whichever property you’re already using. For instance:

import { forwardRef } from 'react';

export default forwardRef((props, innerRef) => <div ref={innerRef} />);


Now, it doesn’t matter whether you styled your posed or posed your styled components. This new approach is robust no matter how strict your environment is.

Most importantly, it’s simpler to communicate to users, which typically has the happy side-effect of simpler expression in code. This time, it nets us a saving of ~0.6kb!