Building a Range Slider Component in React

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 React JavaScript

Let's make a custom range input component with React.

HTML inputs can have a type of "range", but these native range inputs have some limitations. The most obvious limitation is that these range sliders do not support multiple handles.

Today we are going to build a multi-handled range input in React, and we are going to do it by leveraging the existing functionality of the native range input.

This means that we won’t have to worry about writing our own drag and drop system, and we won’t have to include a 3rd party drag and drop npm package. We can also rely on native browser behaviour for most of the acessibility concerns you would normally have when building a component like this.

Here is what we will learn to build today

Let’s get started!

First we need to think about how we are going to model the state of our range input. Well, a multi-range input is essentially just two range inputs:

  • One input that represents the min value
  • One input that represents the max value
  • The min value must never be higher than the max value
  • And the max value can never be lower than the min value

Sound simple? Well, with that in mind, check out the example below.

This simple example implements the bullet points above, try to move the min value past the max one and you will see that you can’t.

This idea forms the basis of the entire component, and can be implemented quite easily.

const RangeSlider = ({ step, min, max }) => {
const [minValue, setMinValue] = React.useState(min);
const [maxValue, setMaxValue] = React.useState(max);
const handleMinChange = event => {
event.preventDefault();
const value = parseFloat(e.target.value);
// the new min value is the value from the event.
// it should not exceed the current max value!
const newMinVal = Math.min(value, maxValue - step);
setMinValue(newMinVal);
};
const handleMaxChange = event => {
event.preventDefault();
const value = parseFloat(e.target.value);
// the new max value is the value from the event.
// it must not be less than the current min value!
const newMaxVal = Math.max(value, minValue + step);
setMaxValue(newMaxVal);
};
return (
<div>
<input
type="range"
value={minValue}
min={min}
max={max}
step={step}
onChange={handleMinChange}
/>
<input
type="range"
value={maxValue}
min={min}
max={max}
step={step}
onChange={handleMaxChange}
/>
</div>
);
};

Styling the slider

Although it may not seem like it, at this point you are 80% of the way there. All we need to wrap things up is a little bit of CSS magic.

What we want to do is position the 2 sliders over one another, hide the native UI elements with opacity, and then position our own UI elements in the correct position underneath the hidden native elements.

The native elements will have a z-index above our own UI elements, so even though they are invisible, the user will still be able to grab and drag them just like normal.

The tricky bit here is positioning your slider controls correctly, but this can be acheived with a little bit of maths:

const minPos = ((minValue - min) / (max - min)) * 100;
const maxPos = ((maxValue - min) / (max - min)) * 100;

These values give you the position of each range handle as a percentage of the width of the element. This allows you to absolutely position your UI elements based on the current state of the range sliders. The JSX for your custom slider UI might look something like this:

<div class="control-wrapper">
<div class="control" style={{ left: `${minPos}%` }} />
<div class="rail">
<div
class="inner-rail"
style={{ left: `${minPos}%`, right: `${100 - maxPos}%` }}
/>
</div>
<div class="control" style={{ left: `${maxPos}%` }} />
</div>

You will need to add some of your own custom styles to complete the component, but instead of recreating that CSS in this blog post I have created a codepen which demonstrates a completed range slider using this technique.

View the codepen here, or check it out below.

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Hi, I'm Ben.

I'm a Front-End Engineer from the UK. Welcome to my small corner of the internet.

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