March 17, 2024
min read

Top 5 React Form Libraries for Developers

Luis Minvielle

React is still one of the most popular web frameworks in the world, and even if promising JavaScript building blocks like Svelte enter the contest occasionally, React gets credit among frontend developers for how easy it is to develop user interfaces with it.

React newcomers usually pick this one over other frameworks because of its established community, numerous open-source solutions, and a trove of libraries that will get shortcuts for almost any UI. These libraries include those that are specifically for handling forms. React can make API calls, which means it can send requests to backend servers that hold data, and the libraries can help you build what the user interacts with before punching in their name, address, and country of residence.

Read our Guide On Frontend Developers →

Are all React libraries made equal?

No, not really. 

React Hook Form is the ideal React library for forms. It’s uncontested.

It sounds like a bold statement, but it’s backed up by hundreds of React developers who chime in online. We understand the temptation of putting together a list showing the pros and cons of the five or six most popular React form libraries. But, fortunately, we are not talking about interstellar rocket science: we are just dealing with forms. It is somehow predictable that one library nails almost entirely the cumbersome task of form development in the React ecosystem. It so happens that there is one, and it’s React Hook Form. Here’s why: 

1. React Hook Form 

With 38.7k stars on GitHub and widespread developer approval, React Hook Form stands out as the most reliable, straightforward, and helpful library in the React ecosystem. It’s simply the best out there.

RHF serves as a headless form library, relying on custom React Hooks instead of elaborate form components. These hooks provide direct access to form, dirty, and validation states, offering transparency into the form's inner workings. That would be its first advantage. The community also highlights it because:

  • RHF is especially beginner-friendly in React, as it simplifies the reuse of validation logic across applications. 
  • For TypeScript enthusiasts, it conveniently includes all the necessary types. 
  • Acknowledged for its speed and clear documentation. 
  • It works seamlessly with schema validation libraries such as Joi.dev, Yup and Zod. Remember, we named the latter one of our top open-source projects.

However, some users find RHF less suitable for extensive forms, and there have been remarks about it being too “verbose.” Whether you prefer controlled or uncontrolled components, RHF accommodates both approaches, though controlled inputs may pose challenges in more complex forms.

In community comparisons, RHF emerges favourably even against the also well-known Formik, emphasising its practicality over other libraries’ flashy marketing. 

We can argue that RHF is the reliable companion in React form development—the low-key speedster of form libraries—emphasising substance over glitz. It's neat, and it gets the job done. Isn't this what we're after? The next question would be: 

Are there any other practical React form libraries? 

The online community is sometimes very tough on their ecosystem, and many programmers would go so far as to say that no other library is worth the trouble. Nonetheless, we will list alternatives since we believe that claiming “Nothing else matters” is a bit of an exaggeration. Even though none of them are as thorough as RHF, you could still find some of these libraries very helpful.

2. Formik 

Let's talk about Formik. With 33.3k stars on GitHub and 1.9 million user downloads on npm, Formik quietly goes about its business and is still one of the preferred libraries in the React community. Unlike React Hook Form, it doesn't stand out for breaking speed records, yet it is known for being intuitive and straightforward. Not so long ago, it introduced its custom hook, “useField,” a remarkably practical tool for easily integrating inputs. Also, it is particularly user-friendly for class-oriented projects.

However, it's worth noting that users point out that Formik has been relatively quiet on the support front. It seems the founding team has turned a deaf ear to the GitHub issues. This could potentially mean trouble if you were commissioned with a “subscribe to my webinar” form from a client and something quirky prevents a CEO from finishing the process. You'd undoubtedly want a library still being cared for.

Read Our Guide On React Development

In any case, at the time of writing, Formik was last updated 5 months ago, compared to the fortnight RHF last got a sheen on. You should measure if five months is too much or just about right.

In any case, remember: The unsung heroes here are the hooks, providing a declarative way to reuse logic without the complexities of classes.

Some disadvantages compared to RHF:

  • Unlike RHF, which has zero dependencies, Formik has 7 dependencies, which translates into a much bigger bundle size.
  • It doesn't pack built-in validation punches like RHF. Yet, it joins forces with Yup, the trusted validation companion.

So, why does Formik get a nod? Formik's strength lies in its community. Developers share insights, and Formik has community support. Formik quietly does its thing in the world of forms—no big entrance, just reliable functionality.

3. RJSF react-jsonschema-form 

RSJF enters the React form stage with an unassuming 13.5k stars on GitHub, adopting a straightforward approach to simplify forms without the need for manual complications. I wanted to say that it can be your friend (if you get along well) or it can become your boss (if it makes you work hard).

However, it's worth noting that RSJF’s bundle size bends towards the heavy side, drawing some special attention in the React community. As an all-in-one solution, RSJF encounters a bit of a challenge in streamlining unnecessary components, resulting in a bulkier solution. 

On a positive note, RSJF has a practical feature for dynamic forms, offering smooth serialisation and deserialisation—an efficient aspect compared to the more elaborate Formik. Yet, a catch is that RSJF isn't the ideal choice for larger forms. It’s better for smaller-scale scenarios.

Despite its limitations, RSJF is a cooperative tool, extending casual support to multiple JavaScript frameworks—unlike RHF, which only works within the React libraries. So, if you're looking for a laid-back approach to form building with a smaller audience, RSJF might discreetly fit the bill.

4. React Final Form 

React Final Form has garnered a respectable 7.3k stars on GitHub, positioning itself as a minimalist library that aims for simplicity. While users recognise its strengths—complete documentation and user-friendly examples—it has the reputation of being poorly maintained, so essential features might be lacking when working on more complex forms. 

Its core strength lies in its approach to validation. By employing a validation function passed as a prop to the <Field> component, React Final Form accommodates custom validation functions. Functioning as a lightweight wrapper around Final Form, it maintains a concise dependency list, requiring only Final Form, resulting in an application-friendly size.

The validation code structure in React Final Form shares similarities with Formik’s, providing a familiar structure for users transitioning between libraries. It’s still one of the most popular form projects, and one of the few cases of software whose downloads did not plunge during the Christmas season.

Source: npm trends

5. TanStack Form 

With a modest 3.2k stars on GitHub, TanStack Form is a relatively new library in its early stages at version 0.13.6. Yet, it seems to have found a niche following among a small, underground group of admirers. It is described as a headless, performant, and type-safe form state management for React and NestJS, Solid, and Vue.js. Notably, TanStack Form stands out by being framework-agnostic, in contrast to more specialised counterparts like RHF, which are primarily tailored for React. This adaptability allows developers to integrate the library into various frameworks, making it a flexible choice for people working in overemployment. Or, for devs who simply love to switch frameworks, why not?

While it might lack some features typically found in more established libraries, it compensates with notable stability and a rich set of features. Its user base simply loves it. One standout aspect are its DevTools.

Validation libraries compared to other kinds of libraries

Except for TanStack Form, every library listed above is a validation library, meaning they all have features for form validation. Some advantages of using these include top security, consistency, and reusability of validation rules throughout the project.

Why is form validation important?

Form validation is a security measure against potential injection attacks. Plus, it stops users from doing strange stuff. People can be unpredictable, and letting them throw whatever they fancy into your form can disrupt your website. Form validation is a shield to user antics. Also, it brings consistency into your form. 

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Top 5 React Form Libraries for Developers

March 17, 2024
min read

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