Simplify React Effects with Logical Clocks


Hooks offer a more flexible and powerful suite of tools than we had a few years ago in React with class components’ lifecycle methods.

Each hook tries to follow the unix philosophy: have small tools that solve one particular task well. For example, useState() solves many needs for a mutable variable that belongs to a component.

However, while React has certainly made the what easier with the declarative model of building a view, getting the when right proves to be a lot harder. Hooks like useEffect() can appear simple but are difficult to compose together and to visualise. By using logical clocks, we can get back towards the declarative model that we all love in React.

What is a logical clock?

A logical clock is a monotonically increasing number. Or in other words, an incremented integer: i++.

We can implement once as a React hook using useReducer():

function useTicker() {
  return useReducer(t => t + 1, 0);

We can wire it up to a button like so:

const [count, advance] = useTicker();

return <>
  <p>You have clicked {count} times</p>
  <button onClick={advance}>Click me!</button>


export function useDebouncedTicker(duration: number): readonly [number, EffectCallback] {
  const [count, advance] = useTicker();

  const callback = useMemo(() => {
    let timeout: null | ReturnType<typeof setTimeout> = null;
    function clear() {
      if (timeout) {
        timeout = null;
    return () => {
      timeout = setTimeout(advance, duration);
      return clear;
  }, [duration, advance]);

  return [count, callback];
export function useDebouncedEffect(effect: EffectCallback, duration: number, deps: DependencyList): void {
  const [count, receive] = useDebouncedTicker(duration);
  useEffect(receive, deps); // When our deps change, notify our debouncer.
  useEffect(effect, [count]); // When our debouncer finishes, run our effect.

export function useDebouncedMemo<T>(factory: () => T, duration: number, deps: DependencyList): T {
  const [tick, scheduleAdvance] = useDebouncedTicker(duration);
  useEffect(scheduleAdvance, deps); // When our deps change, notify our debouncer.
  return useMemo(factory, [tick]); // When our debouncer finishes, invalidate our memo.