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Themes in React and ReactNative


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theme provider and UI elements

When developing a large scale app it is a good idea to build our own UI components. The styles should be factored out to be DRY.

UPDATE: Implementation with HOOKS! 🎉

Hooks are available for a while, so use them! See the very easy implementation below:

import React, { createContext } from 'react';
import { Text, TouchableHighlight } from 'react-native';

// create the context
const ThemeContext = createContext(lightTheme);

// custom hook for theme
const useTheme = () => useContext(ThemeContext);

const Button = ({ text }) => {  
  const theme = useTheme();

  return (
      <Text style={{ theme.color }}>{text}</Text>

const App = () => (
  <ThemeContext.Provider value={darkTheme}>
    <Button text="Dummy Text" />


React context is a suitable tool for dependency injection. Similar to props but propagates implicitly. Let’s inject our theme.

<ThemeProvider theme={lightTheme}>
  <Button>Tap me!</Button>


1st param is props, 2nd is context.

contextTypes has to be defined in order to receive properties in context. Otherwise context will be empty.

const Button = ({ text }, { theme }) => (
    <Text style={{ theme.color }}>{text}</Text>
Button.contextTypes = {
  theme: PropTypes.shape({
    color: PropTypes.string


The return value of getChildContext() will be propagated to its children down the component tree as context.

childContextTypes property is needed to defined.

class ThemeProvider extends React.Component {
  getChildContext() {
    return {
      theme: this.props.theme
  render() {
    return this.props.children
}ThemeProvider.childContextTypes = {
  theme: PropTypes.shape({
    color: PropTypes.string

Change Themes

Themes can be changed through props. The example below toggles two themes in the state.

light theme by default
dark theme with smaller border radius, paddings, margins and fonts

Working Example

You can try out a working example both on iOS and Android after setting up development environment.

react-native run-ios
react-native run-android

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