Creating custom React Hook - useMediaStream

July 15, 2019

Recently I was playing with MediaStream API. It turned out, it was a great time to play with React Hooks. Let’s create a simple React component which displays a stream from your computer camera. And by the way, this post assumes you have a basic understanding of React Hooks.

import React from "react"

export const Stream = ({ className, stream }) => {
  const setVideoRef = videoElement => {
    if (videoElement) {
      videoElement.srcObject = stream
    }
  }

  return <video className={className} autoPlay={true} ref={setVideoRef} />
}

Nothing really to describe here, it’s just getting video object reference and setting stream as srcObject. Now, we are going to grab video stream using getUserMedia. For this blog post purpose, we are not going to dig deep into constraints creation so we’re just gonna use

{
  video: true
}

which basically means, we just want to grab video stream.

Now it’s time to create VideoFeed component and actually, request some streams.

export const VideoFeed = () => {
  const [stream, setStream] = useState(null)
  // we won't be using setConstraints but keeping this as state is needed
  // to actually be able get another stream, when conststrains change
  const [constraints, setConstraints] = useState({
    video: true,
  })

  // initialize streams
  useEffect(() => {    const getMediaStream = async () => {      try {        const mediaStream = await navigator.mediaDevices.getUserMedia(          constraints        )        console.log("Setting stream", mediaStream)        setStream(mediaStream)      } catch (error) {        console.error(error)      }    }    getMediaStream()  })
  return (
    <div className="video-feed">
      <Stream className="video-feed-stream" stream={stream} />
    </div>
  )
}

Looks nice and clean. Unfortunately, when you try this you’ll notice infinite loop of getting and setting the stream. It’s happening because we forgot to pass the second argument of useEffect hook. As a result, the current flow is the following:

  1. After calling getUserMedia the stream is set as a state which causes rerendering of the component
  2. useEffect is rerun because we haven’t specified any conditions for running it

So let’s specify the conditions.

export const VideoFeed = () => {
  const [stream, setStream] = useState(null)

  // we won't be using setConstraints but keeping this as state is needed
  // to actually be able get another stream, when conststrains change
  const [constraints, setConstraints] = useState({
    video: true,
  })

  // initialize streams
  useEffect(() => {
    const getMediaStream = async () => {
      try {
        const mediaStream = await navigator.mediaDevices.getUserMedia(
          constraints
        )

        console.log("Setting stream", mediaStream)
        setStream(mediaStream)
      } catch (error) {
        console.error(error)
      }
    }

    getMediaStream()
  }, [constraints])
  return (
    <div className="video-feed">
      <Stream className="video-feed-stream" stream={stream} />
    </div>
  )
}

Now it works. Well, kind of. You’ll notice your camera is still on, even after navigating out of the page. Whenever the stream is obtained using getUserMedia it has to be stopped when it’s no longer needed. To fix that, we need to use another effect, which will clean up the stream when the component is unmounted.

export const VideoFeed = () => {
  const [stream, setStream] = useState(null)

  // we won't be using setConstraints but keeping this as state is needed
  // to actually be able get another stream, when conststrains change
  const [constraints, setConstraints] = useState({
    video: true,
  })

  // initialize streams
  useEffect(() => {
    const getMediaStream = async () => {
      try {
        const mediaStream = await navigator.mediaDevices.getUserMedia(
          constraints
        )

        console.log("Setting stream", mediaStream)
        setStream(mediaStream)
      } catch (error) {
        console.error(error)
      }
    }

    getMediaStream()
  }, [constraints])

  // cleanup streams
  useEffect(() => {    return () => {      if (!stream) {        return      }      console.log("Cleaning up stream.", stream)      const tracks = stream.getTracks()      tracks.forEach(track => {        track.stop()      })    }  }, [stream])
  return (
    <div className="video-feed">
      <Stream className="video-feed-stream" stream={stream} />
    </div>
  )
}

The effect, we’ve just added, will be run only when the stream’s changed. At this point, our component starts to be a bit too complex. On the other hand, obtaining a stream and performing a cleanup looks like a perfect piece of code to extract as a custom hook. Custom hooks are just pure JavaScript functions which allow reusing stateful logic. We can just grab every single line related to this and extract a function - useMediaStream.

import { useState, useEffect } from "react"

export const useMediaStream = constraints => {
  const [stream, setStream] = useState(null)

  // initialize streams
  useEffect(() => {
    const getMediaStream = async () => {
      try {
        const mediaStream = await navigator.mediaDevices.getUserMedia(
          constraints
        )

        console.log("Stream fetched", mediaStream)
        setStream(mediaStream)
      } catch (error) {
        console.error(error)
      }
    }

    if (!constraints) {
      console.log("Constraints not provided, the stream will not be fetched.")
      return
    }

    getMediaStream()
  }, [constraints])

  // cleanup streams
  useEffect(() => {
    return () => {
      if (stream) {
        const tracks = stream.getTracks()
        tracks.forEach(track => {
          track.stop()
        })

        return
      }
    }
  }, [stream])

  return stream}

Now, we can use our custom hook to make our component much smaller.

import React, { useState } from "react"

import { Stream } from "./Stream"
import { useMediaStream } from "../../media/useMediaStream"

export const VideoFeed = () => {
  const [constraints, setConstraints] = useState({
    video: true,
  })

  const stream = useMediaStream(constraints)

  return (
    <div className="video-feed">
      <Stream className="video-feed-stream" stream={stream} />
    </div>
  )
}

That’s it, we have a nice reusable hook. If you’re interested in the more in-depth description of creating custom React Hooks check out the following

  1. Building Your Own Hooks
  2. Rules of Hooks
  3. Why Isn’t X a Hook?

Bartosz Jarocki

Bartosz Jarocki

Android, React and some random stuff. This is my miserable attempt to write something from time to time. If you have any questions or just want to say Hi - DM me on Twitter