React best practice: util/propTypes module for common prop types

May 12, 2019

When building React apps, there are certain common types of objects (not specific to your app) that may get passed around as props, eg:

Rather than rewriting the prop type for these types of objects manually each time you use them, a nice pattern is to export these “common prop types” from a helper module

For example, here’s the util/propTypes.js module from the current project I’m working on:

import PropTypes from 'prop-types'

export const cssPropType = PropTypes.oneOfType([
export const classNamePropType = PropTypes.string
export const childrenPropType = PropTypes.node
export const imageSourcePropType = PropTypes.string
export const refPropType = PropTypes.object

So then if I’m defining a Foo component that accepts an optional className prop and a required containerRef prop, I can declare its prop types like:

Foo.propTypes = {
  className: classNamePropType,
  containerRef: refPropType.isRequired

This is DRYer and more declarative than doing it by hand would be:

Foo.propTypes = {
  className: PropTypes.string,
  containerRef: PropTypes.object.isRequired

Prop types with style

This comes in particularly handy for styling-related props, which can often accept multiple different types

For example, this project uses Emotion, so the cssPropType above is useful. But then on a React Native project, you might define stylePropType instead:

export const stylePropType = PropTypes.oneOfType([

Make it easy (on yourself) to be declarative

If the thought of writing the import statement for this existing prop type definition seems like more work than just writing it by hand, check out eslint-plugin-known-imports and let it do the work for you!

Reuse between projects

Since these common prop types aren’t project-specific, you can easily reuse most or all of an existing util/propTypes module when you start a new React project

What about project-specific prop types?

I’d recommend keeping only non-project-specific prop types in util/propTypes, but there certainly can be common project-specific prop types as well (eg common data types that you’re working with)

What do you think are good patterns for reusing project-specific prop types across different modules?

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