Lukas Marx
November 28, 2018
Vue

Vue.js Computed Properties

In this tutorial, you will learn what Vue computed properties are and how to use them.

We will compare them to regular Vue methods and discover when to use computed properties instead.

Ready?

Let's get started!

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Why using Vue methods is not always best

When you have worked with Vue before, you probably have used regular methods to do your computations.

These methods are declared in the "methods" section of your component and behave just like a regular JavaScript function.

methods: {
    formatDate() {
    }
}

So what's the problem?

The problem with Vue methods emerges when they are used in parts of your component, that are executed with every re-render of the component itself.

For example, if you need to format a date to use it inside a template:

<template>
    <p>{{formatDate()}}</p>
</template>

When using methods like this, the method is executed every time the component needs to be rendered. Depending on your component, that can be multiple times per second.

Even if your method is quite fast, that can have a huge performance impact. Not to mention what happens when calling computation heavy methods.

This is where computed properties really shine.

Computed properties are cached

We can avoid all the performance issues mentioned by simply using computed properties.

This is because the result of a computed property is cached, as long the values of the properties used inside of the computed property stay the same.

Using the "formatDate" example, the formatting of the date would happen only once, every time the date changes.

Even if the component is re-rendering like crazy in the meantime, the logic is not executed again but the cached result is used.

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Setting up a Vue project

Now that you know why computed properties are awesome, let's implement a computed "formatedDate" property using the formatDate example we have talked about.

To do this, you can create a new project using the vue-cli.

vue create computed-properties

Of course, you can use your existing vue projects, as well.

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Creating a Vue computed date property

Creating a computed property in Vue is very easy.

In fact, there are not many differences compared to declaring a regular method.

Probably the biggest difference is, that we are declaring our computed property inside of the "computed" instead of the "methods" section of the component.

So instead of declaring a "formatDate" method like this:

src/components/Date.vue
methods: {
    formatDate() {
      console.log("method");
      let options = {
        year: "numeric",
        month: "long",
        day: "numeric"
      };
      return this.date.toLocaleString("en-us", options);
    }
  }

We are defining our computed property called "formatedDate" like so:

src/components/Date.vue
computed: {
    formatedDate() {
      console.log("computed");
      let options = {
        year: "numeric",
        month: "long",
        day: "numeric"
      };
      return this.date.toLocaleString("en-us", options);
    }
  }

Note: Because computed properties are properties and not methods, I would recommend using a naming scheme like used for variables instead of functions. The name of the property is describing the current state ("formatedDate") and is not a call to do something ("formatDate").

Using computed properties

As the name might imply, computed properties are used like properties and not like methods.

The difference here is that we don't need braces.

So instead of calling a method:

src/components/Date.vue
<template>
    <p>Method: {{formatDate()}}</p>
</template>

We are using a property:

src/components/Date.vue
<template>
  <p>Computed: {{ formatedDate }}</p>
</template>

That's all there is to computed properties!

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Comparing the computed property to regular Vue methods

To see the difference in the number of called functions between a computed property and a method, we need to implement both.

Also, we need a way to cause the component to re-render. For that, we add a function that is periodically generating a random number that is used in the template.

Also, we add console.log statements inside of our computed property and our method.

The whole component should now look like this:

src/components/Date.vue
<template>
  <div>
    <p>Computed: {{formatedDate}}</p>
    <p>Method: {{formatDate()}}</p>
    <p>{{random}}</p>
  </div>
</template>

<script>
export default {
  name: "Date",
  props: {
    date: Date
  },
  data() {
    return {
      random: 1
    };
  },
  created() {
    setInterval(() => {
      this.random = Math.random();
    }, 500);
  },
  computed: {
    formatedDate() {
      console.log("computed");
      let options = {
        year: "numeric",
        month: "long",
        day: "numeric"
      };
      return this.date.toLocaleString("en-us", options);
    }
  },
  methods: {
    formatDate() {
      console.log("method");
      let options = {
        year: "numeric",
        month: "long",
        day: "numeric"
      };
      return this.date.toLocaleString("en-us", options);
    }
  }
};
</script>

When showing the component, you will notice that the method is called every time the component re-renders, while the computed property is executed only once.

You can find the full source code at the corresponding GitHub repository.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, you have learned what computed properties are, how to use them and why they could help to avoid performance issues.

I hope you liked this article. If you did, please share it with your friends and colleges. It would mean a lot to me!

Thanks for reading!


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