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Leonardo Maldonado
Leonardo Maldonado

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A Complete React Boilerplate Tutorial — From Zero to Hero

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When we’re starting learn React, to make our projects we need to make a boilerplate from scratch or use some provided by the community. Almost all the times it’s the create-react-app that we use to create an app with no build configuration. Or we just make our own simple boilerplate from scratch.

From this, it comes to mind: why not make a boilerplate with all dependencies that I always use and leave it ready? The community also thought that way, so now we have several community-created boilerplates. Some are more complex than others, but they always have the same goal of saving the maximum amount of time.

This article will teach you how you can build your own boilerplate from scratch with the main dependencies used in the React community today. We’re gonna use some of the moderns features most common these days and from there you can customize it any way you want.

The boilerplate created by this article will be available here!

Getting started

First of all, we’re going to create a folder to start our boilerplate. You can name it whatever you want, I’m gonna name mine react-bolt.

Open your terminal, and create it like this:

mkdir react-bolt
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Now, go to your created folder, and type the following command:

npm init -y
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npm will create a package.json file for you, and all the dependencies that you installed and your commands will be there.

Now, we’re going to create the basic folder structure for our boilerplate. It’s gonna be like this for now:

react-bolt    
    |--config    
    |--src    
    |--tests
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Webpack

Webpack is the most famous module-bundler for JavaScript applications nowadays. Basically, it bundles all your code and generates one or more bundles. You can learn more about it here.

In this boilerplate we’re going to use it, so install all these dependencies:

npm install --save-dev webpack webpack-cli webpack-dev-server webpack-merge html-webpack-plugin clean-webpack-plugin img-loader url-loader file-loader 
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Now in our config folder, we’re going to create another folder called webpack, then inside that webpack folder create 5 files.

Create a file called paths.js. Inside that file is going to be the target directory for all your output files.

Inside it, put all this code:

import path from 'path';

module.exports = {    
    root: path.resolve(__dirname, '../', '../'),    
    outputPath: path.resolve(__dirname, '../', '../', 'build'),    
    entryPath: path.resolve(__dirname, '../', '../', 'src/index.js'),    
    templatePath: path.resolve(__dirname, '../', '../', 'src/index.html'),    
    imagesFolder: 'images',    
    fontsFolder: 'fonts',    
    cssFolder: 'css',    
    jsFolder: 'js'    
};  
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Now, create another file called rules.js, and put the following code there:

module.exports = [    
    {
        test: /\.js$/,    
        exclude: /node_modules/,    
        use: {    
        loader: 'babel-loader'    
    }    
},    
    {    
        test: /\.eot(\?v=\d+\.\d+\.\d+)?$/,    
        exclude: /node_modules/,    
        loader: 'file-loader'    
    },    
    {    
        test: /\.(woff|woff2)$/,    
        exclude: /node_modules/,    
        loader: 'url-loader?prefix=font/&limit=5000'    
    },    
    {
        test: /\.ttf(\?v=\d+\.\d+\.\d+)?$/,    
        exclude: /node_modules/,    
        loader: 'url-loader?limit=10000&mimetype=application/octet-stream'    
    },    
    {    
        test: /\.(jpe?g|png|gif|svg)$/i,    
        use: ['url-loader?limit=10000', 'img-loader'] 
    }    
];
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After that, we’re going to create 3 more files:

webpack.common.babel.js

import webpack from 'webpack';
import HtmlWebpackPlugin from 'html-webpack-plugin';

import paths from './paths';
import rules from './rules';

module.exports = {
    entry: paths.entryPath,
    module: {
        rules
    },
    resolve: {
        modules: ['src', 'node_modules'],
        extensions: ['*', '.js', '.scss', '.css']
    },
    plugins: [
        new webpack.ProgressPlugin(),
        new HtmlWebpackPlugin({
            template: paths.templatePath,
            minify: {
                collapseInlineTagWhitespace: true,
                collapseWhitespace: true,
                preserveLineBreaks: true,
                minifyURLs: true,
                removeComments: true,
                removeAttributeQuotes: true
            }
        })
    ]
};
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webpack.dev.babel.js

import webpack from 'webpack';

import paths from './paths';
import rules from './rules';

module.exports = {
    mode: 'development',
    output: {
        filename: '[name].js',
        path: paths.outputPath,
        chunkFilename: '[name].js'
    },
    module: {
        rules
    },
    performance: {
        hints: 'warning',
        maxAssetSize: 450000,
        maxEntrypointSize: 8500000,
        assetFilter: assetFilename => {
            return (
                assetFilename.endsWith('.css') || assetFilename.endsWith('.js')
            );
        }
    },
    optimization: {
        splitChunks: {
            chunks: 'all'
        }
    },
    devServer: {
        contentBase: paths.outputPath,
        compress: true,
        hot: true,
        historyApiFallback: true
    },
    plugins: [
        new webpack.HotModuleReplacementPlugin()
    ]
};
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webpack.prod.babel.js

import CleanWebpackPlugin from 'clean-webpack-plugin';

import paths from './paths';
import rules from './rules';

module.exports = {
    mode: 'production',
    output: {
        filename: `${paths.jsFolder}/[name].[hash].js`,
        path: paths.outputPath,
        chunkFilename: '[name].[chunkhash].js'
    },
    module: {
        rules
    },
    plugins: [
        new CleanWebpackPlugin([paths.outputPath.split('/').pop()], {
            root: paths.root
        })
    ],
    devtool: 'source-map'
};
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Basically, in our webpack.common.babel.js file, we’ve set up our entry and output configuration and included as well any plugins that are required. In the webpack.dev.babel.js file, we’ve set the mode to development. And in our webpack.prod.babel.js file, we’ve set the mode to production.

After that, in our root folder, we’re going to create the last webpack file called webpack.config.js and put in the following code:

require('@babel/register');
const webpackMerge = require('webpack-merge');

const common = require('./config/webpack/webpack.common.babel');

const envs = {
    development: 'dev',
    production: 'prod'
};

/* eslint-disable global-require,import/no-dynamic-require */
const env = envs[process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development'];
const envConfig = require(`./config/webpack/webpack.${env}.babel`);
module.exports = webpackMerge(common, envConfig);
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Our webpack config is ready, so now we’re going to work on other parts of the boilerplate with Babel, ESLint, Prettier, etc.

Babel

I think that almost everyone who works with React has probably heard about Babel and how this simple transpiler helps our lives. If you don’t know what it is, Babel it’s basically a transpiler that converts your JavaScript code into plain old ES5 JavaScript that can run in any browser.

We’re going to use a bunch of Babel plugins, so in our root folder, install:

npm install --save-dev @babel/core @babe/cli @babel/node @babel/plugin-proposal-class-properties @babel/plugin-proposal-object-rest-spread @babel/plugin-syntax-dynamic-import @babel/plugin-syntax-import-meta @babel/plugin-transform-async-to-generator @babel/plugin-transform-runtime @babel/preset-env @babel/preset-react @babel/register @babel/runtime babel-eslint babel-jest babel-loader babel-core@7.0.0-bridge.0
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After this, we’re gonna create a file in our root folder called .babelrc and inside that file, we’re going to put the following code:

{    
  presets:        
    [        
        [            
            "@babel/preset-env",                
            {                
                useBuiltIns:  "entry"
            }
        ],
        "@babel/preset-react"
    ],
    plugins:        
    [        
        "@babel/plugin-proposal-object-rest-spread",            
        "@babel/plugin-transform-runtime",            
        "@babel/plugin-transform-async-to-generator",            
        "@babel/plugin-proposal-class-properties"
    ]
}
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Now our project is compiled by Babel, and we can use the next-generation JavaScript syntax without any problems.

ESLint

The most used tool for linting projects nowadays is ESLint. It is really helpful to find certain classes of bugs, such as those related to variable scope, assignment to undeclared variables, and so on.

First, install the following dependencies:

npm install --save-dev eslint eslint-config-airbnb eslint-config-prettier eslint-loader eslint-plugin-babel eslint-plugin-import eslint-plugin-jsx-a11y eslint-plugin-prettier eslint-plugin-react
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Then, in our root folder, create a file called .eslintrc and put the following code there:

{
    "parser": "babel-eslint",
    "extends": ["airbnb", "prettier", "prettier/react"],
    "plugins": ["prettier"],
    "parserOptions": {
        "ecmaVersion": 6,
        "ecmaFeatures": {
            "jsx": true
        }
    },
    "env": {
        "browser": true,
        "node": true,
        "mocha": true,
        "es6": true,
        "jest": true
    },
    "rules": {
        "indent": ["error", 4],
        "space-before-function-paren": "off",
        "react/prefer-stateless-function": "warn",
        "react/jsx-one-expression-per-line": "off",
        "import/no-extraneous-dependencies": [
            "error",
            { "devDependencies": true }
        ],
        "react/jsx-filename-extension": [1, { "extensions": [".js", ".jsx"] }],
        "linebreak-style": "off",
        "global-require": "off",
        "semi": "warn",
        "arrow-body-style": "off",
        "no-multiple-empty-lines": ["warn", { "max": 1 }],
        "no-unused-expressions": [
            "error",
            {
                "allowTaggedTemplates": true
            }
        ],
        "no-underscore-dangle": [
            2,
            { "allow": ["__REDUX_DEVTOOLS_EXTENSION__"] }
        ]
    }
}
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Prettier

Prettier is basically a code formatter. It parses your code and re-prints it with its own rules that take the maximum line length into account, wrapping code when necessary.

You just need to install it:

npm install --save-dev prettier
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And in our root folder, create a file called .prettierrc and put the following code there:

{
    "printWidth": 80,
    "tabWidth": 4,
    "semi": true,
    "singleQuote": true,
    "bracketSpacing": true
}
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React

React is an open-source JavaScript application library to build user interfaces. It was developed by Facebook and has a huge community behind it. If you are reading this article, I assume that you already know about React, but if you want to learn more about it, you can read up here.

We’re going to install the following dependencies:

npm install --save react react-dom cross-env
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And inside our src folder, we’re going to create a simple HTML file index.html and put in the following code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <head>
        <meta charset="UTF-8" />
        <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />
        <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="ie=edge" />
        <title>React Bolt</title>
    </head>

    <body>
        <div id="root"></div>
    </body>
</html>
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After that, we’re going to create a simple React project. Inside our src folder, create a index.js file like this:

import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';

import App from './components/App';

ReactDOM.render(
    <App />,
    document.getElementById('root')
);
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Inside our src folder we’re going to have the following structure:

*src
    |--actions
    |--components
    |--reducers
    |--reducers
    |--store*
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Create a file called App.js inside the components folder, and put in the following code:

import React from 'react';

const App = () => <h1>React Bolt</h1>;

export default App;
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Redux

Redux makes it easy to manage the state of your application. Another way of looking at this is that it helps you manage the data you display and how you respond to user actions. These days a lot of people prefer other options like MobX or just the setState itself, but I’m gonna stick with Redux for this boilerplate.

First, we’re going to install some dependencies:

npm install --save redux react-redux redux-thunk
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Then, we’re going to create our Redux store, and put some state there. In our store folder, create an index.js file and put that following code there:

import { createStore, applyMiddleware, compose } from 'redux';
import thunk from 'redux-thunk';
import logger from 'redux-logger';

import rootReducer from '../reducers';

const middleware = applyMiddleware(thunk, logger);

const reduxDevTools =
    window.__REDUX_DEVTOOLS_EXTENSION__ &&
    window.__REDUX_DEVTOOLS_EXTENSION__();

const store = createStore(
    rootReducer,
    compose(
        middleware,
        reduxDevTools
    )
);

export default store;
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Now, inside our reducers folder create an index.js and put the following code:

import { combineReducers } from 'redux';

const rootReducer = combineReducers({
    state: () => ({})
});

export default rootReducer;
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Last, we’re gonna to our index.js in our src folder, and wrap the code with the <Provider /> and pass our store as props to make it available to our application.

It’s going to be like this:

import React, { Fragment } from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
import { Provider } from 'react-redux';

import store from './store';
import App from './components/App';

ReactDOM.render(  
    <Provider store={store}>
        <App />
    </Provider>,
    document.getElementById('root')
);
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All done. Our Redux store is configured and ready to go.

React Router

React Router is the standard routing library for React. Basically, it keeps your UI in sync with the URL. We’re gonna use it in our boilerplate, so install it:

npm install --save react-router-dom  
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After that, go to our index.js in our src folder and wrap all the code there with the <BrowserRouter>.

Our index.js in our src folder it’s going to end up like this:

import React, { Fragment } from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
import { BrowserRouter } from 'react-router-dom';
import { Provider } from 'react-redux';

import store from './store';
import App from './components/App';

ReactDOM.render(
    <BrowserRouter>       
        <Provider store={store}>
            <App />
        </Provider>
    </BrowserRouter>,
    document.getElementById('root')
); 
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Styled Components

Styled Components makes CSS easy for everyone, as it helps you organize your React project. Its objective is to write more small and reusable components. We’re gonna use it, and if you want to learn more about it, read up here.

First, install it:

npm install --save styled-components  
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Then, in our App.js file inside our components folder, we’re going to create a simple title using Styled Components. Our title is going to be like this:

const Title = styled.h1`
    color: black;
    font-size: 2.5rem;
    font-weight: 700;
`;
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And inside our file, we need to import styled-components, so our file is going to end up like this:

import React from 'react';
import styled from 'styled-components';

const Title = styled.h1`
    color: black;
    font-size: 2.5rem;
    font-weight: 700;
`;

const App = () => <Title>React Bolt</Title>;

export default App;
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Jest & React Testing Library

Jest is an open-source JavaScript testing library from Facebook. It makes it easy to test your application, and gives us a lot of information about what is giving the right output and what’s not. React Testing Library is a very light-weight solution for testing React components. Basically, this library is a replacement for Enzyme.

Every application needs some kind of tests. I’m not gonna write tests in this article but I’m gonna show you how you can configure these tools to start testing your applications.

First, we’re gonna install both:

npm install --save-dev jest jest-dom react-testing-library  
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After that, go to our package.json and put the following after all:

 "jest": {
    "setupFiles": [
        "<rootDir>/config/tests/jest.config"
    ],
    "transform": {
        "^.+\\.js$": "babel-jest"
    }
 }
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Then, go to our config folder, and inside it created another folder called tests and inside that folder, create 2 files.

First, create a file called jest.config.js and put in the following code:

module.exports = {
    automock: false,
    browser: false,
    bail: false,
    collectCoverageFrom: [
        'src/**/*.{js,jsx}',
        '!**/node_modules/**',
        '!**/vendor/**'
    ],
    coverageDirectory: '<rootDir>/coverage',
    globals: {
        __DEV__: true
    },
    moduleFileExtensions: ['js', 'json', 'jsx', 'node'],
    transform: {
        '^.+\\.js?$': 'babel-jest'
    },
    verbose: true,
    setupTestFrameworkScriptFile: './rtl.setup.js'
};  
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Then, create a file called rtl.setup.js and put in the following code:

// See https://github.com/kentcdodds/react-testing-library#global-config
import 'jest-dom/extend-expect';
import 'react-testing-library/cleanup-after-each';
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All done. Our boilerplate is ready to go and you can use it now.

Now go to our file package.json and put in the following code:

"scripts": {
    "start": "cross-env NODE_ENV=development webpack-dev-server --open",
    "build": "cross-env NODE_ENV=production webpack",
    "lint": "eslint ./src/**/**.js",
    "lint:fix": "eslint ./src/**/**.js --fix",
    "test": "jest",
    "test:watch": "npm run test --watch",
    "test:cover": "npm run test --coverage"
}
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Now, if you run the command npm start and go to localhost:8080, we should see our application working fine!

If you want to see my final code, the boilerplate created by this article is available here!

I have some ideas for some features that I’d love to include in the boilerplate, so please feel free to contribute!

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Top comments (2)

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andrerpena profile image
André Pena • Edited on

I think this type of article is interesting to help people know how to set up everything themselves but I would discourage people from doing so in production unless it is absolutely necessary.

Your list of boilerplates is likely to become obsolete. You probably cannot keep up with the pace all these libraries evolve.

People should either go with CRA or Next.js depending on whether they need server rendering.

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kunalvirk profile image
kunalvirk

Hi,

Everything worked perfectly. However, I was trying to add a custom css to index.html but it throws 'Cannot GET /styles.css'

Both styles.css and index.html are on the same path...

Pls help...

Thanks

Classic DEV Post from 2020:

js visualized

🚀⚙️ JavaScript Visualized: the JavaScript Engine

As JavaScript devs, we usually don't have to deal with compilers ourselves. However, it's definitely good to know the basics of the JavaScript engine and see how it handles our human-friendly JS code, and turns it into something machines understand! 🥳

Happy coding!