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Version: 1.x

Custom navigators

A navigator is any React component that has a router on it. Here is a basic one, which uses the router's API to get the active component to render:

class MyNavigator extends React.Component {
static router = MyRouter;
render() {
const { state, dispatch, addListener } = this.props.navigation;
const { routes, index } = state;

// Figure out what to render based on the navigation state and the router:
const Component = MyRouter.getComponentForState(state);

// The state of the active child screen can be found at routes[index]
let childNavigation = { dispatch, addListener, state: routes[index] };
// If we want, we can also tinker with the dispatch function here, to limit
// or augment our children's actions
// addListener is needed to support children Stack and Drawer navigators

// Assuming our children want the convenience of calling .navigate() and so on,
// we should call addNavigationHelpers to augment our navigation prop:
childNavigation = addNavigationHelpers(childNavigation);

return <Component navigation={childNavigation} />;

The navigation prop passed down to a navigator only includes state and dispatch. This is the current state of the navigator, and an event channel to send action requests.

All navigators are controlled components: they always display what is coming in through props.navigation.state, and their only way to change the state is to send actions into props.navigation.dispatch.

Navigators can specify custom behavior to parent navigators by customizing their router. For example, a navigator is able to specify when actions should be blocked by returning null from router.getStateForAction. Or a navigator can specify custom URI handling by overriding router.getActionForPathAndParams to output a relevant navigation action, and handling that action in router.getStateForAction.

The navigation state that is passed into a navigator's props.navigation.state has the following structure:

index: 1, // identifies which route in the routes array is active
routes: [
// Each route needs a name, which routers will use to associate each route
// with a react component
routeName: 'MyRouteName',

// A unique id for this route, used to keep order in the routes array:
key: 'myroute-123',

// Routes can have any additional data. The included routers have `params`

A navigator can dispatch navigation actions, such as 'Go to a URI', 'Go back'.

The dispatcher will return true if the action was successfully handled, otherwise false.

API for building custom navigators

To help developers implement custom navigators, the following utilities are provided with React Navigation:


This utility combines a router and a navigation view together in a standard way:

const MyApp = createNavigator(MyRouter)(MyView);

All this does behind the scenes is:

const MyApp = ({ navigation }) => (
<MyView router={MyRouter} navigation={navigation} />
MyApp.router = MyRouter;


Takes in a bare navigator navigation prop with state and dispatch, and augments it with all the various functions in a screen navigation prop, such as navigation.navigate() and navigation.goBack(). These functions are simply helpers to create the actions and send them into dispatch.


If you want your navigator to be usable as a top-level component, (without a navigation prop being passed in), you can use createNavigationContainer. This utility will make your navigator act like a top-level navigator when the navigation prop is missing. It will manage the app state, and integrate with app-level nav features, like handling incoming and outgoing links, and Android back button behavior.