Managing Focus

Managing text input focus can be a tricky task within React components. The browser focus/blur API is imperative, so setting or removing focus via declarative means purely through render() tends to feel awkward and incorrect, and it requires challenging attempts at controlling focus state.

With that in mind, at Facebook we often choose to expose focus() methods on components that wrap text inputs. This breaks the declarative paradigm, but it also simplifies the work needed for engineers to successfully manage focus behavior within their apps.

The Editor component follows this pattern, so there is a public focus() method available on the component. This allows you to use a ref within your higher-level component to call focus() directly on the component when needed.

The event listeners within the component will observe focus changes and propagate them through onChange as expected, so state and DOM will remain correctly in sync.

Translating container clicks to focus

Your higher-level component will most likely wrap the Editor component in a container of some kind, perhaps with padding to style it to match your app.

By default, if a user clicks within this container but outside of the rendered Editor while attempting to focus the editor, the editor will have no awareness of the click event. It is therefore recommended that you use a click listener on your container component, and use the focus() method described above to apply focus to your editor.

The plaintext editor example, for instance, uses this pattern.

Last updated on by Noam Elboim