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This documentation is a work in progress. Any help is welcome to fill in the gaps!

As with any other complex React project, the way global state is handled across all components has a big impact on the overall architecture. Basic knowledge of Redux is needed to understand this part, but Volto's use of Redux is "typical" and you can find plenty examples in Volto's code base.

To access the global state, a component needs to be connected with connect. A simple example of such component is the src/theme/ContactForm/ContactForm.jsx, which is exported connected as:

export default compose(
    (state, props) => ({
      loading: state.emailNotification.loading,
      loaded: state.emailNotification.loaded,
      error: state.emailNotification.error,
      pathname: props.location.pathname,
    { emailNotification },

If multiple Higher Order Components need to be used, like in the above example, the compose can be used to combine all of them in a final component.

If you're writing Function Components, you can use the useSelector hook. See src/components/theme/OutdatedBrowser/OutdatedBrowser.jsx for an example.

When using the connect function, you can select parts from the global store and either pass them directly as component props, or tweak them combine them, etc.

You can view the content of the global Redux store by using a browser Redux developer extension. The code that is used to populate this store is in the src/reducers folder.

In some parts of Volto you'll see asyncConnect being used, which is needed to enable proper server-side rendering of components. Using it makes sure that the component will be constructed with the proper data already fetched from the backend and available as props.


Beware! The asyncConnect is available only to components that are attached directly to the router or its children. There are some components that decide their "rendering path" at render time, so this prohibits the use of asyncConnect in that component tree. The biggest example of this is src/theme/View/View.jsx which decides on the render component based inspecting the content, so it is not possible to use asyncConnect in any view/layout component!

Notice the emailNotification action being passed to connect in the above example. All action (which trigger global state updates) need to be passed as props by connect. You can't properly trigger an action unless you access it as a prop, for example this.props.emailNotification(). For Function Components you can use the useDispatch hook.

Global state update fetches are typically triggered by components in the mount lifecycle stage. See for example src/components/theme/Search/Search.jsx for a component that needs to interact with the backend to show its content. In the redux flow of information, actions trigger the asynchronous processes and when that content arrives to the global app, it is pushed as props through the connect mechanism. So components only deal indirectly with async information: they trigger getting that information and it will arrive as a property once it is ready.

Backend network fetching#

Backend network fetches are automatically triggered by creating a Redux action with a request key. For a simple example, see src/actions/navigation/navigation.js. In the request key you can set the HTTP method type (using the op field) and the path to the backend. Any non-absolute URLs are use the settings.apiPath prefix, but you can query any other backend server by using a URL that starts with http:// or https://. When writing the reducer counterpart, you'll get the backend response available as action.result.

It's also possible to make multiple backend requests at once, for example to batch create content. In that case, set the action.request to be a list of objects (requests) and consequently, in the reducer, the action.result will be a list of responses corresponding to each request. See the src/reducers/content for an example.

In order to make them more generic and allow more reuse, some actions can accept a subrequest parameter, basically a string that can identify the response and "namespace" it in the global state. See for example the content reducer. Using subrequest is specially important when using the getContent action, as, without it, it would overwrite the global state.content store with possible wrong content for the current context.

Creating a "request action" potentially triggers some additional access. For example, even if we only declare the GET_CONTENT type of action, we can see that GET_CONTENT_SUCCESS, GET_CONTENT_PENDING and GET_CONTENT_FAIL are also used in the content reducer. They are automatically created by the special Api middleware, available in src/middleware/api.js.

Customizing the Redux middleware#

It is possible to tweak Volto's Redux middleware, for example to add new middleware by using the config.settings.storeExtender configuration option. If you have Redux middleware that you want to insert as the first middleware to be used, for example, you could configure your project with:

import logAllMiddleware from './example';

export default applyConfig(config) => {
  const addLogAll = (middlewares) => {
    return [...middlewares, logAllMiddleware];
  config.settings.storeExtenders = [...config.settings.storeExtenders, addlogAll];

  return config;