How does React’s virtual DOM work?

Have you ever wondered how web pages react so quickly to user input? It seems like pages are constantly updating in real-time, but how does this happen? React’s virtual DOM is a revolutionary advancement in web development that allows for faster and more efficient websites.

Developers have long been struggling with the inefficiency of browser refreshes when a user input affects the page. As a result, web pages often load slowly and the performance of the page can suffer. However, with the introduction of React’s virtual DOM, this issue has been greatly reduced. According to the Digital Design Agency, React’s virtual DOM “allows developers to efficiently update the page without the need to render the full DOM tree.” This means that developers are able to keep a single copy of the DOM which can then be changed without reloading the entire page.

Milton Jones is a Web Design professional & experienced React developer. To date, Milton has developed hundreds of React applications. In this article, Milton draws on his years of experience to discuss the inner workings of React’s virtual DOM.

In this article you will learn more about React’s virtual DOM, why it is so important in web development, and how you can take advantage of it in your own web design projects. Milton will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of React’s virtual DOM, as well as provide some tips for optimizing the software for better performance. Finally, he will discuss how to implement this technology and some of the ways it can be used to create more user-friendly websites.

Definition: React’s Virtual DOM is a technology developed by Facebook for React.js. It is a fast and efficient way of handling changes and updates to a web page. The Virtual DOM is a representation of the actual DOM (Document Object Model), and it works behind the scenes.

The Virtual DOM is made up of JavaScript objects that represent the actual DOM elements, such as div, p, and span. The Virtual DOM works by creating a virtual representation of the DOM, which can be quickly manipulated. The Virtual DOM parses the web page, and then applies the changes to the page before the actual DOM is updated with the changes. This ensures a faster response and better page loading speed.

The Virtual DOM also simplifies the management of changes to a page. By tracking the changes made to the actual DOM, React can store the updates and render them without having to update the DOM every time, which makes updates easier and faster for the user. React’s Virtual DOM also allows developers to write efficient and powerful component-based code.

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The Virtual DOM is just one piece of React’s overall architecture, which provides a fast, efficient environment for developing web applications. React utilizes the Virtual DOM to keep the user interface up-to-date with the latest changes, making it easier to keep the web page in sync with server-side data. This makes React an ideal tool for creating websites and applications that need to update quickly and accurately.

The virtual DOM is a concept used in modern web development that helps make webpages more responsive and efficient. It is based on a simplified representation of the DOM, which is the basic HTML element of a webpage. Instead of manipulating the actual DOM, the virtual DOM helps developers target specific elements within a page quickly and easily.
The virtual DOM works by creating an abstraction between the actual HTML elements of the page and the corresponding JavaScript objects. Instead of manipulating each element of the HTML page, the JavaScript objects in the virtual DOM are manipulated. When the user interacts with the page, these JavaScript objects are updated to reflect the changes. These changes are then reflected in the actual HTML elements of the page.


The main advantage of the virtual DOM is its speed. Because the JavaScript objects are much lighter than the actual HTML document, the virtual DOM can make changes to the webpage much faster. This helps to make the webpages much more responsive and efficient.


The main drawback of the virtual DOM is the lack of direct control. By using the virtual DOM, developers have to give up direct control over the HTML elements on the page. Instead, they must rely on the abstraction between the JavaScript objects and the HTML elements. Additionally, because the virtual DOM is a simplified representation of the actual DOM, it can also be difficult to debug webpages.

Finally, while the virtual DOM can allow for a faster webpage, it can also require additional resources. To keep the virtual DOM up to date and running efficiently, extra processing power is needed.

  • Improves page responsiveness and efficiency
  • Abstraction between HTML elements and JavaScript objects
  • Difficult to directly control HTML elements
  • Can be difficult to debug webpages
  • Requires additional processing power

“Everyone should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.” – Steve Jobs

React’s virtual DOM is a core technology used to build user interfaces (UI) in the open-source JavaScript library. It helps reduce the amount of time and resources needed to re-render the DOM when information is updated. The React virtual DOM works by creating a lightweight version of the actual DOM in memory, which is then used to compare changes so that only necessary updates are made when components are modified.

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How the React Virtual DOM Works

The React virtual DOM works in three stages. First, an application’s state is stored in an object, which is used to determine changes when components are modified. The object can then be used to build a virtual DOM, which is a copy of the actual DOM used to contain the latest data. Any modifications to this copy are then compared to the actual DOM, making it possible to determine the changes which need to be applied. Finally, the changes are made to the actual DOM, allowing the application to stay up to date with the latest data.

Benefits of Using the React Virtual DOM

The primary benefit of using the React virtual DOM is improved performance. By creating a lightweight copy, rather than re-rendering the entire DOM each time a change is made, the React virtual DOM significantly reduces the amount of processing power and memory required. Additionally, the React virtual DOM is simple to use as well, integrating seamlessly with the existing React library.

The React virtual DOM is an excellent tool to make web applications more efficient and user friendly, allowing developers to create complex interfaces without compromising performance. By using the virtual DOM, developers can make sure that their applications stay up to date and responsive, allowing users to experience the best possible performance.

“Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.” – Harold Abelson

React’s virtual DOM is a platform- and language-agnostic way of reducing the cost of re-rendering the DOM. It works by creating a lightweight in-memory representation of the actual DOM, and comparing it to the browser’s current representation of the DOM to determine efficient updates. That way, rather than the browser having to re-render the entire DOM every single time an update needs to be made, React can compare the versions to identify the most change-efficient way of bringing the two in sync.

Core Concept

The core concept of React’s Virtual DOM is making a JavaScript tree representation of the actual browser’s DOM, meaning that each node on the tree is a JavaScript object which is associated with a DOM element of the browser, but in lightweight form without dealing with the actual DOM element’s properties and contents. Upon making the tree representation, the component values (states) and the contents of the nodes for the tree are updated whenever a value changes.

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Comparing and Reconciling

The virtual DOM works by calculating the differences between the two versions of the DOM; the existing (in the browser) version and the version stored in memory. After the comparisons are made and differences are identified, React DOM then reconciles the two versions and updates only the necessary components in the actual DOM, cutting costs significantly for both the browser and the developer.

By using the virtual DOM, React’s developers are able to make speedy and efficient changes with minimal impact on performance, making the virtual DOM an essential element in React’s success.


The React virtual DOM is a revolutionary concept for web development. It revolutionizes the way developers think about building and maintaining their websites. By allowing for dynamic updates without re-rendering the entire page, it dramatically reduces development time and decreases resources usage. In essence, React’s virtual DOM allows developers to treat their website like an application; instead of making individual, static updates, users can now immediately take advantage of the entire range of changes.
But this begs the question: what can we do to ensure that we get the most out of React’s virtual DOM? How do we ensure that we are taking full advantage of its power and potential? It’s essential that developers keep up to date with trends and developments in React’s virtual DOM world. Following this blog is an excellent way to stay in the know; with new releases and updates released regularly, you can be sure that you are never far behind. We can only imagine where this technology will take us in the future; one thing’s for sure though, we cannot wait to find out.

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