SharePoint/SPFx: Returning to Webpart Development Part #4 (with React Hooks)

Recently I was asked to develop a webpart for a modern SharePoint site. My first thoughts, where do I start; I haven’t done any webpart development for years? I would like to share my journey with you over the next few posts and hope my experience will help new and returning developers along the way.

In my previous post I covered:

In this post I will cover:

This article is different to its predecessors in the series, because I have published the SPFx-People-Search webpart solution to my GuiHub repository, I will be focusing on what I have found challenging about writing this webpart with React Hooks, SPFx and Microsoft Graph.

In the previous article I created the Project Folder Structure with stub files ready to add code. So now I can focus on creating the components such as the Service and User Interface. I deliberated on where to start, creating the Service layer or UI. Deciding to start with a service class called MSGraphService.ts and its corresponding interface.

Note: I have added a data JSON file, however I have more work to do before this can be used for testing in the local workbench.

Service Layer

The MSGraphService is based upon the Service Locator pattern which I took inspiration from an old colleague Vardhaman Deshpande who wrote this article. The MSGraphService files are located here:

Having decided on this pattern and how to implement it, the other challenges I had with the Microsoft Graph API included:

Microsoft Graph User Photo

What to do with the data returned by Microsoft Graph User Photo endpoint. With the lack of documentation, the Graph Explorer is great, but it still took a bit of work to figure out what to do with “Blob Strings” …

Microsoft Graph Explorer Me/User Photo

See the getUserPhoto() function located within MSGraphService.ts

User Presence

What the different User Presence options are: User may display…? Again, the Graph Explorer was a great help, it went a long way to making up for the lack of documentation.

Microsoft Graph Explorer Me/User Presence

See the getUserPresence() function located within MSGraphService.ts and the implementation within ResultCard.tsx

Configure the API permissions requests

This time I can praise the documentation by Microsoft: “To consume Microsoft Graph or any other third-party REST API, you need to explicitly declare the permission requirements from an OAuth perspective in the manifest of your solution.” For more information see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/dev/spfx/use-aad-tutorial#configure-the-api-permissions-requests

And my working example of the package-solution.json can be found here: https://github.com/sionjlewis/SPFx-People-Search/blob/main/config/package-solution.json

User Interface

To keep things simple, I kept the PeopleSearchWebPart.ts webparts “main/entry” class, created by the SPFx Yeoman scaffold, pretty much “as is”. Converting this class to React Hook seemed to be more hassle that it was worth.

Using React Hooks with the SPFx framework

So unlike all the React.JS Hook Documentation, I was unable to implement a basic function, but instead I found I needed to write something similar to the following:

export const PeopleSearch: React.FunctionComponent<IPeopleSearchProps> = (props) => { 

Writing the Hooks

Having organised the components into a Project Folder Structure, I started at the top:

  1. Added references and initiated object to PeopleSearchWebPart.ts and passed them on to PeopleSearch.tsx
  2. Updated the IPeopleSearchProps.tsx interface and added each of the “Wrapper” Hooks to the return statement
  3. Focusing on the ResultWrapper, I added the “useState” and “useEffect” Hooks to handle the getFilteredUsersExpanded() data, which I then “mapped” instances of the ResultCard.tsx
  4. Before focusing on details such as User Presence and User Photo, I output the “raw” User data to the user interface from the return statement. I used this technique to confirm that the service layer was connecting to and returning the data as expected

I continued on with this process of working until I “finished” the Results components and then moved onto the Footer and Search components.

You may have noticed that I have not started on the filter components as my strategy is to get something working as quickly as possible, with the following goals:

  • Enables demos and feedback loop to start earlier
  • Test the API(s) to confirm that they work as expected (or documented) and update our strategy if they don’t

Other Stuff

underscore.js vs Lodash

Back in my “JavaScript” days I was a big fan of underscore.js, so I tried it within this project, however I found the library too cumbersome to import and so I ended up replacing it with Lodash which seems to play better with TypeScript.


I am now a self-confessed fan of React Hooks and have really enjoyed the process of building this webpart. As with any new development technique or process, I will find better ways of doing things as I do more, but I like how clean the code looks and reckon the modularity will make the solution so much easier to support.