loading...

How to create custom Create React App (CRA) templates

alexandrg profile image Alexander Grischuk ・5 min read

A Create React App (CRA) templates were introduced quite recently and there is not much info present on how to create them. In this article, I'm going to share my experience of developing a custom template and releasing it to the npm.

CRA templates are a way to automate the routine setup. Basic Create React App CLI execution generates an app without any React Router, linter, prettier setup, so you need to add all of this dependencies on your own and configure them, but why waste time when you know from the beginning that you'll be building an app with Redux, for example. Templates could help with that. It's a way to generate an app with all the deps and tools you need. Of course, if such a template is present ;)

CRA basic templates

Currently there are only two official CRA templates present. cra-template and cra-template-typescript

you could generate CRA from a template by simply providing --template flag.

For example:

npx create-react-app my-app --template typescript

# or

yarn create react-app my-app --template typescript

Building your own CRA template

1. Starting a project

To start building CRA template I would start with generating a new project with CRA itself

yarn create react-app your-cra-template-name

Adjust package name in your package.json with cra-template-[your-custom-template-name].

Note, that it should start with the cra-template- prefix. This way CRA knows that this would be an actual template.

2. Remove deps and setting up tools

Remove everything you don't need from the CRA app and add everything you need.

3. Create a template

When your project is ready to become a template you need to do some preparation.

3.1 Create template/ folder

From your project root create template/ folder.

mkdir template/

3.2 Add gitignore file to the template/ folder

Add gitignore into the created template folder template/gitignore. You can copy gitignore from the CRA but don't forget to remove the . in front of the file.

cp .gitignore template/gitignore

Please note: it is important that the gitignore file inside the template folder should be without "." in front!

This way CRA would know that you're creating a template and it will replace this file later. Otherwise, you'll receive build failures.

3.3 Create template.json at your project root

List all of your dependencies and scripts that you need for the new app created from your template to have. For example

{
  "dependencies": {
    "@types/enzyme": "^3.10.4",
    "@types/jest": "^24.9.0",
    "@types/node": "^12.0.0",
    "@types/react": "^16.9.0",
    "@types/react-dom": "^16.9.0",
    "@types/react-redux": "^7.1.5",
    "@types/react-router-dom": "^5.1.3",
    "@typescript-eslint/eslint-plugin": "^2.16.0",
    "@typescript-eslint/parser": "^2.16.0",
    "enzyme": "^3.11.0",
    "enzyme-adapter-react-16": "^1.15.2",
    "eslint": "^6.8.0",
    "eslint-config-airbnb-typescript": "^6.3.1",
    "eslint-config-prettier": "^6.9.0",
    "eslint-plugin-import": "^2.20.0",
    "eslint-plugin-jsx-a11y": "^6.2.3",
    "eslint-plugin-prettier": "^3.1.2",
    "eslint-plugin-react": "^7.17.0",
    "eslint-plugin-react-hooks": "^2.3.0",
    "prettier": "^1.19.1",
    "react-redux": "^7.1.3",
    "react-router-dom": "^5.1.2",
    "react-scripts": "3.3.0",
    "redux": "^4.0.5",
    "redux-devtools-extension": "^2.13.8",
    "typescript": "~3.7.2"
  },
  "scripts": {
    "lint": "eslint --ext .js,.jsx,.ts,.tsx ./",
    "fix": "eslint --ext .js,.jsx,.ts,.tsx  --fix ./"
  }
}

3.4 Copy src/ and public/ folders into your template/ folder

cp -a ./src/. template/src && cp -a ./public/. template/public

3.5 Copy any configuration files that you might want to include with your template

For example

cp .eslintignore .eslintrc .prettierrc tsconfig.json README.md template/

Prepare the template for publishing to the NPM

Prepare your package.json

Add the license, author, description, description, keywords, repository URL, bugs URL. You find a good example in my template package.json

Add main and files properties

It's important to point CRA where to look while building your app from the template. Adding 'main' and files points to proper files.

{
  "main": "template.json",
  "description": "A quick start Create React App template with React Router, Redux, TypeScript, Enzyme and custom ESlint configurations",
  "keywords": [
    "react",
    "create-react-app",
    "cra-template",
    "template",
    "enzyme",
    "eslint",
    "redux",
    "react-redux",
    "react-router",
    "react-router-dom",
    "typescript",
    "prettier"
  ],
  "files": ["template", "template.json"],
  "repository": {
    "type": "git",
    "url": "https://github.com/alexandr-g/cra-template-typescript-redux",
    "directory": "/"
  }
}

I'd suggest using pre-publish script to make it easier for incremental template updates

For your convenience, you can add pre-publish scripts

{
  "clean-files": "rm -rf ./template/public ./template/src && rm -f ./template/.eslintrc",
  "copy-files": "cp -a ./src/. template/src && cp -a ./public/. template/public && cp .eslintrc template/",
  "prepublishOnly": "yarn clean-files && yarn copy-files"
}

Publishing to the NPM

When everything is ready you can publish your package to the NPM.

Create npm account

If you haven't already, navigate to the npm sign up and create an account.

Login to npm via terminal

From your project root login to npm with your credentials

npm login

Publish your package to the npm with public access

npm publish --access public


This is how successful release looks like.

If the name of your package is already taken you'll receive an error on this step - just try another name. When publishing was successful you can start using your template. Happy coding!

A quick start Redux + TypeScript Create React App template

I created an opinionated quick start Create React App (CRA) template with configured Redux, TypeScript, React Router, Enzyme and custom ESlint configuration.

Just install and play with it already. It configures TypeScript with Redux project with tons of useful tools and configurations, like automatic code formatting and ESLint setup for the TypeScript.

Usage

npx create-react-app your-project-name --template typescript-redux

Or

yarn create react-app your-project-name --template typescript-redux

npx command installs the most recent stable version of CRA from npm.

--template parameter points to this template, note that cra-template- prefix is omitted.

Motivation

You know the pain. You start a new project from scratch and need to configure it again and again. It needs routing, ok you setup Router, then you need Redux - ok, oh 😩Redux boilerplate is taking so much time to type. Wait... what if you could have all the tools you want just from the beginning? I want to focus on building amazing projects and not spending hours configuring. That's why I've created this template. It's here for you to use.

Try now!

Redux + TypeScript Create React App template on GitHub

Redux + TypeScript Create React App template on NPM

Originally posted on grischuk.de

Posted on by:

alexandrg profile

Alexander Grischuk

@alexandrg

Frontend Engineer (React, Redux, GraphQL) @signavio. Previously @kontist and @hellofresh

Discussion

markdown guide