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This guide explains how to work with layers in a CARTO for React application.

Layer types

CARTO for React uses for visualization, so you can use any layer, not only the specific CARTO submodule layer (CartoLayer).

If you use the code generator for adding your layers (see below), it will create a CartoLayer with default rendering and interactivity properties.

Layer sources

If you are working with the CartoLayer, you need to associate it with a data source. The source provides data, type, connection, and, optionally, credentials properties that are used by CARTO for to retrieve the vector tiles.

In order to to link the layer with one or more widgets, the useCartoLayerProps hook adds a callback to process the data used for visualization when it arrives (when using viewport mode). This only works with the CartoLayer and layers compatible with this hook, like the GeoJsonLayer.

Sources are usually created with the code generator. If you use stores as the name for your source, the code generator will create a new file named storesSource.js in the src/data folder with the following content:

import { MAP_TYPES } from '';

const STORES_SOURCE_ID = 'storesSource';

const source = {
  connection: 'bqconn',
  data: 'cartobq.public_account.retail_stores',

export default source;

Creating a layer

You can create layers manually but it is easier to use the code generator:

yarn hygen layer new

When you execute this command, you will need to select the name and source for your layer and you need to decide if you want to attach the layer to a view, so the layer is displayed in the map when the view is selected and is removed when the user switches to another view.

It creates a new file that exports a function with the name of the layer. This function returns a CARTO for layer with default styling properties. The function retrieves the associated source from the store and use the source type, connection, data and credentials properties.

If we introduce Stores as the name in the code generator, a file named StoresLayer.js will be created in the src/components/layers folder with the following content:

import { useSelector } from 'react-redux';
import { CartoLayer } from '';
import { selectSourceById } from '@carto/react-redux';
import { useCartoLayerProps } from '@carto/react-api';
import htmlForFeature from 'utils/htmlForFeature';

export const STORES_LAYER_ID = 'storesLayer';

export default function StoresLayer() {
  const { storesLayer } = useSelector((state) => state.carto.layers);
  const source = useSelector((state) => selectSourceById(state, storesLayer?.source));
  const cartoLayerProps = useCartoLayerProps({ source });

  if (storesLayer && source) {
    return new CartoLayer({
      id: STORES_LAYER_ID,
      getFillColor: [241, 109, 122],
      pointRadiusMinPixels: 2,
      getLineColor: [255, 255, 255],
      lineWidthMinPixels: 1,
      pickable: true,
      onHover: (info) => {
        if (info?.object) {
          info.object = {
            html: htmlForFeature({ feature: info.object }),
            style: {},

The code generator will include the new layer in the getLayers function within the src/components/layers/index.js file. This function is used by the <Map/> component to initialize the layers property.

import StoresLayer from './StoresLayer';

export const getLayers = () => {
  return [

If you decide to attach the layer to an existing view, the following code is added to the view:

  import { STORES_LAYER_ID } from 'components/layers/StoresLayer';
  import storesSource from 'data/sources/storesSource';

  useEffect(() => {
    // Add the source to the store

    // Add the layer to the store
        id: STORES_LAYER_ID,

    // Cleanup
    return () => {
  }, [dispatch]);

The dispatch function is used to dispatch an action to the Redux store. This is how this works:

  1. The view dispatches the new source to the store.

  2. The view dispatches the new layer to the store.

  3. The Map Component is re-rendered since the store has changed.

  4. The Map Component get all the layers in the store and draw them.

This is one of the benefits of reactive programming: we can add the layer from any place in the application just by dispatching the right action.

Styling properties

If you use the code generator, the code will create a CartoLayer with default styling properties. To learn more about customizing the style properties for your layers, please read the Customizing the CartoLayer style guide in the CARTO for documentation.

Spatial Indexes

In addition to traditional geometries defined by pairs of coordinates, the CartoLayer also supports data sources using spatial indexes from discrete global grid systems, like H3 or Quadbins. If your data source contains spatial indexes instead of traditional geometries, you need to add additional properties to the source definition.

You can find more information about these properties in the reference.


The first parameter passed to the layer constructor when using the code generator is ...cartoLayerProps. This is a set of default properties that are used mainly for setting the source properties, and filtering and highlighting features. You can get more details about the useCartoLayerProps hook in the library reference.

If you need to override the uniqueIdProperty, used in vector tile layers to identify features, you need to specify the property name when you call the hook. This is useful for filtering and highlighting when a feature crosses or is present in multiple tiles:

const cartoLayerProps = useCartoLayerProps({ source, uniqueIdProperty: 'mycustomid' });

If you need to override any of the properties configured by the hook, you must include them in the layer constructor after ...cartoLayerProps. For instance, if you want to add your own updateTriggers property, you could add the following code to maintain the current behavior and add your own update trigger for a given accessor (getFillColor, getRadius…):

return new CartoLayer({
  updateTriggers: { // below the cartoLayerProps hook, otherwise it will be overwritten
    ...cartoLayerProps.updateTriggers, // getting existing update triggers
    accessor: data_property // the trigger (accessor will be re-evaluated if data_property changes)

The useCartoLayerProps hook also defines handlers for CartoLayer events like onDataLoad or onViewportLoad. If you need to add additional functionality to these handlers, you can listen to the events but you must call the original handler to ensure the app keeps working as expected:

return new CartoLayer({
  onDataLoad: (data) => {
    ...  // Your code here

Support for other layers

If you want to use a different layer (i.e. ArcLayer, TripsLayer), read this section in the documentation to learn more.


This is the summary:

  • To create a layer you need to:

    1. Define a function that returns a layer.

    2. Export the layer ID as a constant.

  • The layer must be added to the map component layers array.

  • You need to add the source and the layer to the store when the view is initialized.

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