React & CoffeeScript

Multiple people asked what's the story about JSX and CoffeeScript. There is no JSX pre-processor for CoffeeScript and I'm not aware of anyone working on it. (If you are interested in writing one, you probably should look at CoffeeScriptRedux). Fortunately, CoffeeScript is pretty expressive and we can play around the syntax to come up with something that is usable.


Let's see how JSX look like with an example:

<div className="MarkdownEditor">
  <textarea onKeyUp={this.handleKeyUp} ref="textarea">

which desugars to the following

React.DOM.div({className: 'MarkdownEditor'}, [
  React.DOM.h3({}, 'Input'),
  React.DOM.textarea({onKeyUp: this.handleKeyUp, ref: 'textarea'},

We can easily translate it to CoffeeScript:

{div, h3, textarea} = React.DOM
(div {className: 'MarkdownEditor'}, [
  (h3 {}, 'Input'),
  (textarea {onKeyUp: @handleKeyUp, ref: 'textarea'},


The translations rules are really easy. The only gotcha is to write the tags wrapped in parenthesis lisp-style. This is the best way I found not to get caught with indentation issues.

# Empty element
# <div></div>
(div {})
# Text children: You use a string literal
# <div>foo</div>
(div {}, 'foo')
# Interpolation: You ignore the {} and write the expression as is
# <div>{this.state.text}</div>
(div {}, @state.text)
# Multiple children: You use the [] notation
# <div>
#  <br />
#  <br />
# </div>
(div {}, [
  (br {}),
  (br {})
# Attributes: You write them using {} notation
# <div onClick={this.onClick}></div>
(div {onClick: @onClick})


I've re-written all the React front-page examples using CoffeeScript. The translation was really easy.

Hello World




If you liked this article, you might be interested in my Twitter feed as well.
  • Zack Gomez


  • Myron

    Why not to use code like this:

    HelloMessage = React.createClass
    render: ->
    `{'Hello ' +}`

    React.renderComponent ``, mountNode


  • Myron

    (sorry for corrupted formatting)

  • sankalp singha

    Thank you for this!! Really really informative!!

  • sankalp singha

    I have got this code :

    var Comment = React.createClass({
    render: function() {
    return (




    How will this be converted into CS?
    I tried this, but I guess I am wrong somewhere?

    comment = React.createClass
    render : ->
    (div {className : "comment"},[ h2 {className : "commentAuthor"},[]])

  • How about my solution for the HTML part?

  • Vincent Lecrubier

    Great ! I made the TodoMVC example using react + coffee script as explained here.

  • michaelbylzztra

    I like this much better than the suggested syntax in the hacker news article Perhaps only because I've done some Clojure though - it's quite similar. Very clever use of coffeescript.

  • Joakim Ekberg ☁

    Thanks for a great post!

    I've used your trick when hacking React.js in CoffeeScript. However, one thing that annoyed me was the requirement of having an empty object if you didn't want to pass any options to a tag.

    I've just published a post on how to get around that and to write tags without the empty object like this:

    h1, "foobar"
    h2, {className: "foo"}, "bar"

  • Sachel McNellie

    Those {} really add up to a bunch of clutter. Thank you for this wonderful little hack.

  • Joakim Ekberg ☁

    You're welcome!

  • Dylan Piercey

    Thanks for this little helper function. It basically is the reason I am trying react right now (syntax was being a pain). I have condensed it a little further if anyone wants to use.

    DOM = do ->

    object = {}

    for tag in Object.keys(React.DOM)

    object[tag] = do (tag)-> (options...)->

    options.unshift null unless typeof options[0] is 'object'

    React.DOM[tag].apply? @, options


  • Dylan

    This has inspired me to make my own framework similar to react but that works seamlessly with coffeescript. Here is my current syntax. (Currently pre beta). You should let me know what you think.

  • Dylan

    I have been working on a project called French Press and would love more suggestions and feedback to improve it further.

    It's based on the principles of react but with some other benefits and it's designed with coffee-script in mind.

  • domachine

    Just launched a tool to convert html to this kind of coffeescript driven reactjs:

  • When I remove `React.autoBind` from the right-hand side of the function the coffeescript compiles. But yours seem to render fine in JSFiddle with that left in. Why?

  • Max Hoffman

    Thanks Joakim for your tip. After implementing your hack I have to put a comma after each tag. Can I get rid of the comma too?

  • Joakim Ekberg ☁

    I think that you still need it, just because it's CoffeeScript syntax, but if you find a way around it please let me know!

  • Max Hoffman

    Joakim, I don't understand how i can use owned components? Like this

    I have 2 components, main and secondary. But i don't know how i should write component name ( React.renderComponent `` ) using your method react+coffee. Tell me pls.

  • Adam

    Some kind soul has written a coffeescript JSX transpiler:

  • 1j01

    I've made a library that's more flexible, with optional attributes and a CSS selector-like syntax: (It's potentially slower than say writing out the calls manually or using JSX or (basically JSX for CoffeeScript), but I think it's fun to use, and it's just CoffeeScript.


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