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React ECS Documentation

react-ecs is a declarative "Entity Component System" for React.

These boids are driven by react-ecs! Try dragging and zooming!

What's that?#

An ECS, or Entity Component System is a design pattern popular in game development. It eschews rich objects for simple Entities that compose data-only Components, or Facets as react-ecs calls them (to avoid confusion with React Components).

Logic is then handled by small update functions called Systems that operate upon the facets related to it.

In the example to the right, a common scenario is illustrated. There are a number of entities, comprised merely as a collection of simple data facets. A Velocity or Position component may hold a simple vector. Whereas a Graphics component might hold the URL of a sprite image.

Two systems, PhysicsSystem and GraphicsSystem are responsible for all the behavior and logic:

  • The PhysicsSystem looks at all the entities with both Velocity and Position facets, using the former to update the latter.
  • The GraphicsSystem looks at all the entities with both Position and Graphics facets, using the former to draw the latter.

The systems ignore the entities that don't have the facets they're interested in.

Composition over Inheritance#

ECS takes "composition over inheritance" to its logical conclusion.

Entities are nothing more than their facets. They don't have their own data and they don't have any code.

There's no need to try to find the best inheritance tree to represent your problem domain.

Just slap some useful facets onto some entities and write some systems to process them. This also means entity capabilities can dynamically change at runtime.

It's a robust, easy to implement pattern that can enable a fun creativity.

Declarative ECS with React#

The idea behind react-ecs is to allow you to describe the parts of your ECS in standard React fashion:

First, define some useful Facets.

class Mass extends Facet<Mass> {}
class Lifetime extends Facet<Lifetime> {
timeleft? = 1;
class Position extends Facet<Position> {
location? = new Vector2(0, 0);
class Velocity extends Facet<Velocity> {
amount? = new Vector2(0, 0);

Let's add a system to remove entities when their Lifetime has expired:

const LifetimeSystem = () => {
// get reference to ECS engine
const engine = useEngine();
// create a query for entities with the Lifetime face
const query = useQuery((e) => e.has(Lifetime));
// create a system that runs every tick
return useSystem((dt: number) => {
// use the query to loop over entities with the Lifetime facet
query.loop([Lifetime], (e, [lifetime]) => {
// subtract the current frame time
lifetime.timeleft -= dt;
// remove entity from engine if it expires
if (lifetime.timeleft <= 0) {

Let's add a couple of other systems for moving entities around:

const PhysicsSystem = () => {
const query = useQuery((e) => e.hasAll(Position, Velocity));
return useSystem((dt) => {
query.loop([Position, Velocity], (e, [pos, vel]) => {
pos.location = pos.location.clone().add(vel.amount);
const GravitySystem = ({ vector }) => {
const query = useQuery((e) => e.hasAll(Mass, Velocity));
return useSystem((dt) => {
query.loop([Velocity], (e, [vel]) => {
vel.amount = vel.amount

Finally, let's write a system to sync an entity's Position facet with its standard DOMView facet:

const DOMViewSystem = () => {
const query = useQuery((e) => e.hasAll(DOMView, Position));
return useSystem((dt) => {
query.loop([DOMView, Position], (e, [view, pos]) => {
// sync DOM element's style with entity's Position = `${pos.location.x}px`; = `${pos.location.y}px`;

Now we can put it all together:

export const DOMParticles = () => {
// create the ECS
const ECS = useECS();
// update the ECS every frame
// some helper functions for randomizing things
const rnd = (s: number) => Math.random() * s - s * 0.5;
const randomVector = (s: number) =>
new Vector2(rnd(s), rnd(s));
return (
<ECS.Provider> {/* context provider for ECS things */}
{/* include all the systems */}
<LifetimeSystem />
<PhysicsSystem />
<GravitySystem vector={new Vector2(0, 10)} />
<DOMViewSystem />
{/* emit entities with a delay using built-in <Emitter /> */}
<Emitter emissionDelay={0.025}>
{() => {
// create random position
const pos = randomVector(50).add(new Vector2(250, 100));
return (
{/* <Entity> contains all its facets */}
<Mass />
<Lifetime timeleft={3} />
<Position location={pos} />
<Velocity amount={randomVector(10)} />
<DOMView> {/* DOMView's child lets us declare how the entity looks */}
position: 'absolute',
left: pos.x,
top: pos.y,
width: 16,
height: 16
src="" />