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Version: v11

Getting Started

This section provides a high level overview of the library setup, core components, and how they fit together. It's a great starting point and you can follow along in your code editor. For a complete, step-by-step guide in terms setting up a React project or instructions on creating specific files, see our React Chat tutorial.

Your First App with Stream Chat React

Before starting, make sure you have installed stream-chat-react (and stream-chat), as directed in the Installation section.

You'll also need to register and create a free tier (for up to 25 MAU) Stream application to access credentials from which you'll be able to generate a token for a user which can access your chat application.

The example below is all the code you'll need to launch a fully functioning chat experience. The Chat and Channel components are React context providers that pass a variety of values to their children, including UI components, stateful data, and action handler functions.

import {
} from 'stream-chat-react';
import 'stream-chat-react/dist/css/v2/index.css';

const apiKey = 'your-api-key';
const userId = 'user-id';
const token = 'authentication-token';

const filters = { members: { $in: [userId] }, type: 'messaging' };
const options = { presence: true, state: true };
const sort = { last_message_at: -1 };

const App = () => {
const client = useCreateChatClient({
tokenOrProvider: token,
userData: { id: userId },

if (!client) return <div>Loading...</div>;

return (
<Chat client={client}>
<ChannelList sort={sort} filters={filters} options={options} />
<ChannelHeader />
<MessageList />
<MessageInput />
<Thread />

Chat Client & Connecting User

To communicate with the Stream Chat API the SDK requires a client with an established connection. The hook mentioned in the code above (useCreateChatClient) handles client instantiation, establishes proper connection and handles cleanups and disconnects for you. If you wish to have more control over how all of the previously mentioned is being handled see Client and User guide.

Creating a Channel

Channels are at the core of Stream Chat. Within a channel you send/receive messages and interact with other users. Once a channel object has been initialized, the Channel component consumes the object and renders your chat app's functionality.

By default, the Stream Chat API provides support for five different channel types of varying use cases. A channel type is required when creating a channel and dictates the available features and permissions. The defaults include:

  • messaging
  • livestream
  • team
  • gaming
  • commerce

You can also create custom channel types and define your own permission sets.

To create an instance of a channel, call the channel method on your client instance. This method takes the following parameters:

  • channel type
  • channel ID (optional, will be auto-generated by the backend if not supplied)
  • channel data
const channel ='messaging', {
image: '',
name: 'Just Chatting',
members: ['dave-matthews', 'trey-anastasio'],
// option to add custom fields

Setting Up the Components

Now that we have a client instance, a connected user, and a channel, it's time to look at the core components involved in building a fully functioning chat application.


The Chat component is a React Context provider that wraps the entire Stream Chat application. It provides the ChatContext to its children, which includes the StreamChat client instance. All other components within the library must be nested as children of Chat to maintain proper functionality.

The client instance can be accessed with our custom context hook:

import { useChatContext } from 'stream-chat-react';

// ...

const { client } = useChatContext();


The Channel component is a React Context provider that wraps all of the logic, functionality, and UI for an individual chat channel. It provides five separate contexts to its children:


The ChannelList component renders a list of channels and provides a preview for each. Though the ChannelList is essential in many chat apps, it isn't a required piece of the library. If a ChannelList component is used, a channel object should not be placed as a prop on the Channel component, as the ChannelList handles channel setting internally.


The Window component handles width changes in the main channel to ensure a seamless user experience when opening and closing a Thread.


The ChannelHeader displays pertinent information regarding the currently active channel, including image and title.


The MessageList component renders a list of messages and consumes the various contexts setup from Channel. This component accepts a wide variety of optional props for customization needs.


The MessageInput component is a React Context provider that wraps all of the logic, functionality, and UI for the message input displayed in a channel. It provides the MessageInputContext to its children.


The Thread component renders a list of replies tied to a single parent message in a channel's main message list. A Thread maintains its own state and renders its own MessageList and MessageInput components.

Emojis (picker & autocomplete)

The SDK is equipped with features designed to facilitate seamless integration, enabling developers to effortlessly incorporate emoji picker and emoji autocomplete (built on top of emoji-mart) functionalities for a comprehensive chat experience.

Make sure to read Dropping support for built-in EmojiPicker and Dropping support for built-in EmojiIndex release guides for more information.


Read more about customization in our Theming and Customizing Components guides.

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