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Reactive variables

State containers integrated into Apollo Client's reactivity model


New in Apollo Client 3, reactive variables are a useful mechanism for representing local state outside of the Apollo Client cache. Because they're separate from the cache, reactive variables can store data of any type and structure, and you can interact with them anywhere in your application without using GraphQL syntax.

Most importantly, modifying a reactive variable triggers an update of every active query that depends on that variable. Additionally, this updates the React state for components that use the useReactiveVar React hook.

A query "depends on" a reactive variable if any of the query's requested fields defines a read function that reads the variable's value.

Creating

Create a reactive variable with the makeVar method, like so:

import { makeVar } from '@apollo/client';

const cartItemsVar = makeVar([]);

This code creates a reactive variable with an empty array as its initial value.

Important: The return value of makeVar is a function that you call to read or modify your reactive variable's value.

Reading

To read the value of your reactive variable, call the function returned by makeVar with zero arguments:

const cartItemsVar = makeVar([]);

// Output: []
console.log(cartItemsVar());

Modifying

To modify the value of your reactive variable, call the function returned by makeVar with one argument (the variable's new value):

const cartItemsVar = makeVar([]);

cartItemsVar([100, 101, 102]);

// Output: [100, 101, 102]
console.log(cartItemsVar());

cartItemsVar([456]);

// Output: [456]
console.log(cartItemsVar());

Reacting

As their name suggests, reactive variables can trigger reactive changes in your application. Whenever you modify the value of a reactive variable, queries that depend on that variable refresh, and your application's UI updates accordingly.

With the useReactiveVar hook, React components can also include reactive variable values in their state directly, without wrapping them in a query.

For more information, see Storing local state in reactive variables.

Example application

This example to-do list application uses reactive variables to track both the current list of to-do items and the filter that determines which items to display. See cache.tsx in particular.

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