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State and Lifecycle

In the previous section, we talked about using components to create reusable chunks of state, and introduced host, function, and stateful components.

Stateful components do everything that function components do, but have the addition of mutable state and lifecycle methods.


State is the term we use to talk about values that are owned by a component itself.

Unlike props, which are passed to a component from above, state is created within a component and can only be updated by that component.

We can set up the initial state of a stateful component inside of a method named init:

function MyComponent:init()
        currentTime = 0

To update state, we use a special method named setState. setState will merge any values we give it into our state. It will overwrite any existing values, and leave any values we don't specify alone.

There's another form of setState we can use. When the new state we want our component to have depends on our current state, like incrementing a value, we use this form:

-- This is another special method, didMount, that we'll talk about in a moment.
function MyComponent:didMount()
        return {
            currentTime = 1 + state.currentTime

In this case, we're passing a function to setState. This function is called and passed the current state, and returns a new state. It can also return nil to abort the state update, which lets Roact make some handy optimizations.

Right now, this version of setState works exactly the same way as the version that accepts an object. In the future, Roact will support optimizations that make this difference more important, like asynchronous rendering.

Lifecycle Methods

Stateful components can provide methods to Roact that are called when certain things happen to a component instance.

Lifecycle methods are a great place to send off network requests, measure UI (with the help of refs), wrap non-Roact components, and produce other side-effects.

The most useful lifecycle methods are generally didMount and didUpdate. Most components that do things that are difficult to express in Roact itself will use these lifecycle methods.

Here's a chart of all of the methods available. You can also check out the Lifecycle Methods section of the API reference for more details.

Incrementing Counter, Part Three

Building on the previous two examples, we can expand the incrementing counter to move the counter state and loop inside Roact, and use setState to trigger a re-render instead of Roact.update.

Generally, this ticking clock demonstrates how many stateful components are structured in Roact.

local ReplicatedStorage = game:GetService("ReplicatedStorage")
local Players = game:GetService("Players")

local Roact = require(ReplicatedStorage.Roact)

local Clock = Roact.Component:extend("Clock")

function Clock:init()
    -- In init, we can use setState to set up our initial component state.
        currentTime = 0

-- This render function is almost completely unchanged from the first example.
function Clock:render()
    -- As a convention, we'll pull currentTime out of state right away.
    local currentTime = self.state.currentTime

    return Roact.createElement("ScreenGui", {}, {
        TimeLabel = Roact.createElement("TextLabel", {
            Size =, 0, 1, 0),
            Text = "Time Elapsed: " .. currentTime

-- Set up our loop in didMount, so that it starts running when our
-- component is created.
function Clock:didMount()
    -- Set a value that we can change later to stop our loop
    self.running = true

    -- We don't want to block the main thread, so we spawn a new one!
        while self.running do
            -- Because we depend on the previous state, we use the function
            -- variant of setState. This will matter more when Roact gets
            -- asynchronous rendering!
                return {
                    currentTime = state.currentTime + 1


-- Stop the loop in willUnmount, so that our loop terminates when the
-- component is destroyed.
function Clock:willUnmount()
    self.running = false

local PlayerGui = Players.LocalPlayer.PlayerGui

-- Create our UI, which now runs on its own!
local handle = Roact.mount(Roact.createElement(Clock), PlayerGui, "Clock UI")

-- Later, we can destroy our UI and disconnect everything correctly.