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Why MobX-State-Tree?

If you've used Ignite Andross (the first Ignite stack), you know we formerly used Redux for state management, as does much of the community. However, we encountered some pain points with Redux so went in search of a different solution to meet our needs and landed on mobx-state-tree (also known as "MST"). We find that it’s a great middle-ground between completely structured (like redux) and completely freestyle (like mobx). It brings more than just state-management to the table as well (such as dependency injection, serialization, and lifecycle events).

Some Highlights of MST

MST is...

  • Intuitive
    • With concepts like props and actions, it feels familiar for React developers
    • Updating your data means calling functions on objects, rather than dispatching actions.
    • Feels similar to relational databases, with concepts like identifiers (primary keys), references (foreign keys), and views (calculated fields)
  • Streamlined
    • No more actionTypes, actionCreators, or reducers
    • You don't have to declare your usage intentions with mapStateToProps; they are inferred
    • Side-effects are built-in; no need for 3rd party libraries like redux-saga, redux-observable, or redux-thunk
    • Immutability is built-in - no need for immutable.js or seamless-immutable
    • types.compose and model.extend allow for easy code-sharing of common patterns
  • More than state management
    • Lifecycle hooks like afterCreate, preProcessSnapshot, and beforeDestroy let you have control over your data at various points in its lifecycle
  • Performant
    • Round-trip store writes are much faster
    • Computed values (views) are only calculated when needed
    • mobx-react-lite makes React "MobX-aware" and only re-renders when absolutely necessary
  • Customizable
    • MST ships with pre-built middlewares, including one which allows for Redux interoperability. These middlewares can also serve as examples to create your own!


We also recognize no state management solution is perfect. MST has some known downfalls:

  • Integration with TypeScript is clunky at times. MST's own typing system is sometimes at odds with what TypeScript wants
  • mobx and mobx-state-tree both seem to have "magic" or "sorcery" that makes issues less straightforward to debug because you don't always have a clear picture of what's happening (but using Reactotron, which has mobx-state-tree support built-in, helps a lot). The MobX docs can also help illuminate some of the magic.
  • The user base is small, so finding help on GitHub or Stack overflow is less convenient (however, the Infinite Red Slack Community, as well as the MobX-State-Tree GitHub Discussions group are both very helpful)
  • Fatal errors are sometimes too-easily triggered and error messages can be verbose and hard to grok
  • The API has a large surface area and the docs tend to be technical and unfriendly, although work is ongoing improving them all the time.

Learning MobX-State-Tree

MobX and MobX-State-Tree can be a lot to learn if you're coming from Redux, so here are a few of our favorite resources to learn the basics: