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Thiago Pacheco
Thiago Pacheco

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FullStack setup (Node.js, React.js and MongoDB)

Whenever I have to create a new project, I prefer to keep my stack with only one language. So I love use javascript for everything, with Node.js, Express.js, React.js and I really like to use NoSQL databases like MongoDB in this case.

So I decided to share my experience of setting up this environment from scratch.

First, let's create a folder and generate our package.json file for this project.

$ mkdir node-react-starter
$ cd node-react-starter
$ npm init -y
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Now, let's install the project dependencies

$ npm install --save express body-parser mongoose
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In this project we use Express.js, a very popular framework for Node.js applications.
body-parser is used to parse incoming request bodies in a middleware before your handlers, available under the req.body property.
Mongoose is a MongoDB object modeling tool designed to work in an asynchronous environment.

Then, install the development dependencies

$ npm install --save-dev nodemon concurrently
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nodemon is a package that runs the node.js application and listen to any file change, updating the entire app.

Concurrently allows us to run multiple npm commands at the same time.

After installing the dependencies, you should get a file like this:

package.json file example

Let's create the project structure

$ mkdir models routes
$ touch index.js
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Open the index.js file and add the following code:

//  index.js

const express = require('express');
const mongoose = require('mongoose');
const bodyParser = require('body-parser');

const app = express();

mongoose.Promise = global.Promise;
mongoose.connect(process.env.MONGODB_URI || `mongodb://localhost:27017/node-react-starter`);

app.use(bodyParser.json());

const PORT = process.env.PORT || 5000;
app.listen(PORT, () => {
  console.log(`app running on port ${PORT}`)
});
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After this, you can add a run script inside your package.json file, under scripts:

"server": "nodemon index.js"
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At this point, you can run your backend and have a successful connection with the mongodb (MongoDB must be up and running). You can run the script you just created like so:

$ npm run server
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Let's initiate our version control to keep track of every change. But first we need to add a .gitignore file in the root of our project with the following content:

node_modules
.idea
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Then, we initiate our version control

$ git init
$ git add .
$ git commit -am "first commit"
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We successfully created our backend structure, now let's jump to the frontend.

Now, let's create a React app with create-react-app.

$ create-react-app client
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Now, in the client directory we have to add our dependencies.
Here we are going to use yarn to add this dependencies.

$ cd client
$ yarn add axios
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axios is a very popular promise based HTTP client for the browser and node.js.

For react-scripts >= 0.2.3

For the current react version (and any other react-scripts > 0.2.3), you can simply add the following line to your package.json file in the client directory and that will allow you to proxy your front-end requests to the back-end app.

"proxy": "http://localhost:5000"
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For react-scripts < 0.2.3

If you are using an older version of react-scripts you might need to add the following configuration to be able to connect the front-end with the back-end:

$ cd client
$ yarn add http-proxy-middleware
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http-proxy-middleware is used to create a proxy from our react app to the backend app while on development.

We can now add the config file to setup the proxy to make requests from our frontend to our backend application.
Remember to add this configuration only if you are using an older react version, being react-scripts < 0.2.3.

In the directory /client/src, add the file setupProxy.js with the following content

// /client/src/setupProxy.js

const proxy = require('http-proxy-middleware')

module.exports = function(app) {
    app.use(proxy('/api/*', { target: 'http://localhost:5000' }))
}

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In the package.json in the root of the project, let's add the following run scripts:

"client": "npm run start --prefix client",
"server": "nodemon index.js",
"dev": "concurrently --kill-others-on-fail \"npm run server\" \"npm run client\"",
"start": "node index.js"
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Now your package.json file should look like this:

{
  "name": "node-react-starter",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "",
  "main": "index.js",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1",
    "client": "npm run start --prefix client",
    "server": "nodemon index.js",
    "dev": "concurrently --kill-others-on-fail \"npm run server\" \"npm run client\"",
    "start": "node index.js"
  },
  "keywords": [],
  "author": "",
  "license": "ISC",
  "dependencies": {
    "body-parser": "^1.19.0",
    "express": "^4.17.1",
    "mongoose": "^5.6.3"
  },
  "devDependencies": {
    "concurrently": "^4.1.1",
    "nodemon": "^1.19.1"
  }
}

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Now you are able to run the project with the following command:

$ npm run dev
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This will run the backend application on port 5000, and the frontend on port 3000.
You should see the react application running on http://localhost:3000

To make our project production ready, we need to add the following lines in our index.js file, right after the app.use(bodyParser.json()) call:

if (process.env.NODE_ENV === 'production') {
  app.use(express.static('client/build'));

  const path = require('path');
  app.get('*', (req,res) => {
      res.sendFile(path.resolve(__dirname, 'client', 'build', 'index.html'))
  })

}
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This will redirect all the requests to our frontend application, unless we specify any route before this code.

Now let's create a simple interaction to see the proxy connection in action

Add the file Product.js inside the directory /models and insert the following code:

// /models/Product.js

const mongoose = require('mongoose');
const {Schema} = mongoose;

const productSchema = new Schema({
    name: String,
    description: String,
})

mongoose.model('products', productSchema);
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Let's create a route for our backend API.

Add the file productRoutes.js inside the directory /routes and insert the following code:

// /routes/productRoutes.js
const mongoose = require('mongoose');
const Product = mongoose.model('products');

module.exports = (app) => {

  app.get(`/api/product`, async (req, res) => {
    let products = await Product.find();
    return res.status(200).send(products);
  });

  app.post(`/api/product`, async (req, res) => {
    let product = await Product.create(req.body);
    return res.status(201).send({
      error: false,
      product
    })
  })

  app.put(`/api/product/:id`, async (req, res) => {
    const {id} = req.params;

    let product = await Product.findByIdAndUpdate(id, req.body);

    return res.status(202).send({
      error: false,
      product
    })

  });

  app.delete(`/api/product/:id`, async (req, res) => {
    const {id} = req.params;

    let product = await Product.findByIdAndDelete(id);

    return res.status(202).send({
      error: false,
      product
    })

  })

}
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We can now import the models and routes files inside our index.js like so:

// /index.js
const express = require('express');
const mongoose = require('mongoose');
const bodyParser = require('body-parser');

// IMPORT MODELS
require('./models/Product');

const app = express();

mongoose.Promise = global.Promise;
mongoose.connect(process.env.MONGODB_URI || `mongodb://localhost:27017/node-react-starter`);

app.use(bodyParser.json());

//IMPORT ROUTES
require('./routes/productRoutes')(app);

if (process.env.NODE_ENV === 'production') {
  app.use(express.static('client/build'));

  const path = require('path');
  app.get('*', (req,res) => {
      res.sendFile(path.resolve(__dirname, 'client', 'build', 'index.html'))
  })

}

const PORT = process.env.PORT || 5000;
app.listen(PORT, () => {
  console.log(`app running on port ${PORT}`)
});
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Now if we run the project we are able to make requests to our simple product api using the url http://localhost:5000/api/product.
Here we can get, insert, update and delete a product.

Back to the react application, lets add a service to make requests to the backend application.
Inside the folder /client/src create a folder called services and add a file productService.js with the following content:

//  /client/src/services/productService.js

import axios from 'axios';

export default {
  getAll: async () => {
    let res = await axios.get(`/api/product`);
    return res.data || [];
  }
}
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Now let's edit the App.js file, adding a simple UI that shows a list of products:

// /client/src/App.js

import React, { useState, useEffect } from "react";

// SERVICES
import productService from './services/productService';

function App() {
  const [products, setproducts] = useState(null);

  useEffect(() => {
    if(!products) {
      getProducts();
    }
  })

  const getProducts = async () => {
    let res = await productService.getAll();
    console.log(res);
    setproducts(res);
  }

  const renderProduct = product => {
    return (
      <li key={product._id} className="list__item product">
        <h3 className="product__name">{product.name}</h3>
        <p className="product__description">{product.description}</p>
      </li>
    );
  };

  return (
    <div className="App">
      <ul className="list">
        {(products && products.length > 0) ? (
          products.map(product => renderProduct(product))
        ) : (
          <p>No products found</p>
        )}
      </ul>
    </div>
  );
}

export default App;

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At this point, you can run the application again using the command npm run dev, and you will see the following screen:

Use a HTTP client like Postman or Insomnia to add some products. Make a POST request to http://localhost:5000/api/product with the following JSON content:

{
  "name": "<product name>",
  "description": "<product description here>"
}
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Now, you will be able to see a list of products rendered on the screen, like so:

I hope you may find this tutorial useful and in the following days I will continue this tutorial showing how to Dockerize this app.

Also check this next post explaining how to deploy this app to heroku.

If you are interested in working with containers, I also made this post that explains How to dockerize this app and deploy to Heroku.

The source code can be found here

Top comments (73)

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oscarzapi profile image
oscarzapi

Hi Thiago, Thank you so much for this great tutorial. I followed the whole tutorial exactly as you mentioned and at the end when inserting the post requests to include some products... the console was showing this message:
GET localhost:3000/api/product 404 (Not Found)
dispatchXhrRequest @ xhr.js:178 ........

and then I changed in productService.js, axios.get("/api/product) for axios.get(http://localhost:5000/api/product) and the whole app worked!

I have the proxy in the package.json included and everything...but not sure if I missed something..do you know why this happens?Thank you in advance!!!

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Another thing, you should not include the localhost in your axios.get function call.
It should be axios.get("/api/product", ...).

The base URL definition is already set at the beginning of the application when we build the server and define a port, in this case 5000.

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hi Oscar,

Are you getting this error in the front-end console or is it in an HTTP client?
If this is in your react app, it seems like something is wrong with the proxy config.

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oscarzapi profile image
oscarzapi

It was showing this error inside Chrome Devtools (where localhost:3000).

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Are you able to insert data through an HTTP client like Insomnia or postman?

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oscarzapi profile image
oscarzapi

I think I found the issue. I had included the sentence "proxy": "localhost:5000" inside the package.json belonging to the server, and not inside the package.json of the client(react app). May be that one the problem Thiago? Because now I´m not getting any errors.

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

That was it, for sure Oscar.

Let me know if you have any other questions! :)

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melonfrappe profile image
melonfrappe

Hi Thiago, This is a best useful and easily guide for beginner like me but I am facing a some problem...

Last year I have done it finished once and it work completely in my macbook but now I do one more on VMware. Everything almost work but it stuck in front-end part.

My app can GET and POST to localhost:5000, data was completely send to database but now it never found "product" from database cause my localhost:3000 always show "No products found" and white blank page...

I think because of client side but I am not sure which code cause this. Could you please adviseme Thiago. Thanks you !

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hi Melonfrappe!

Can you check in your browser's console and network tab what are the errors you get while trying to fetch the data?
It smells like a proxy error maybe.

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mamanidaniel profile image
daniel

Hi Thiago, thanks for this tuto. i was fighting with the proxy, reading the comments section i realize that in your tuto you put the proxy in the server package.json and not in the package.json of the client, maybe you can fix that for the incoming readers. againg thank you for this amazing tutorial

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hi Daniel, you are totally right!
I am sorry I made you struggle with that, I just fixed it!

Thank you for letting me know that.

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yannykyps profile image
yannykyps

Thiago, this is great, thanks. I'm a newbie here and this is exactly what I was looking for as a fullstack setup. I've managed to incorporate this in my first "planner" app. Next step for me is to POST data to the DB through the front-end. Thanks again.

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

I am very happy to know that it helped you!
Let me know if you have any questions.

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ryukikikie profile image
Ryuki Kuga • Edited

Just sharing
If you got these error messages below,
(node:48490) DeprecationWarning: current URL string parser is deprecated, and will be removed in a future version. To use the new parser, pass option { useNewUrlParser: true } to MongoClient.connect.
(node:48490) DeprecationWarning: current Server Discovery and Monitoring engine is deprecated, and will be removed in a future version. To use the new Server Discover and Monitoring engine, pass option { useUnifiedTopology: true } to the MongoClient constructor.

Change the code something like this

mongoose.connect(
process.env.MONGOD_URL || mongodb://localhost:27017/fdaksjfafdsfasa,
{ useNewUrlParser: true, useUnifiedTopology: true },
(err) => {
if (err) console.error(err);
else console.log("Connected to the mongodb");
}
);

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tomrains profile image
tomrains

Hi Thiago! Great article.

I have one question. Once I send a post request for new products, and I look at the app, I just see bullets, but no product names or descriptions. Any idea why that might be?

Thanks!

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hey Tomrains, thank you! :)

If you can see the bullets in your view after creating products, this should probably be a problem in your view.
I recommend you put a console.log(product) inside the renderProduct arrow function, right in the beginning.
Let me know what you got there.

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tomrains profile image
tomrains

Hey Thiago, here's what I see in the console after I added in console.log(product) to the renderProduct arrow function:

thepracticaldev.s3.amazonaws.com/i...

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Humm I see, actually the problem must be when you are creating the products.
What response do you get after making the post request to create a product?

You should get something like this:

{
"error": false,
"product": {
"id": "5dab7eb6fc634a193f1f05f6",
"name": "product 1",
"description": "description",
"
_v": 0
}
}

Thread Thread
 
tomrains profile image
tomrains

Here's what I'm getting:
thepracticaldev.s3.amazonaws.com/i...

So for some reason the response doesn't have the info I put in?

Thread Thread
 
pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Oh I see tomrains, you are sending a post request with a x-www-form-urlencoded, when you should actually be sending a json.
I think in postman you should select the option raw.

Give it a try and let me know if it worked! :)

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tomrains profile image
tomrains

It woooorked! Thanks so much Thiago. I'm having fun building my MERN app now :D

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Greaaaat!! Very glad to help :D

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francisvila profile image
Francis Vila

Hi Thiago,
I have a similar problem to the one reported by @tomrains , but the answer you gave did not allow me to solve it.
(Note: I'm new to Postman)
the response I get for localhost:5000/api/product?name=to... is
{"error":false,"product":{"id":"5ee204bbf1af38409c11d4de","_v":0}}
the response code is 201 Created.
In the Pretty - Raw - Preview section, I can't edit, it's read only
I added a Content-type: raw section in the headers but that didn't change anything.
I tried using curl, with this command: curl --location --request POST "localhost:5000/api/product" --header "Content-Type: raw" -d '{"name":"toto","description":"tata"}'
but the result seems to be the same...

Here's a screenshot of my postman app:
dev-to-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/i/...

Thread Thread
 
pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hi Francis.

In your screenshot, I can see that you are sending query params with the values when you should actually be sending body data in postman.
You can select the body option and you will have a raw option below it.

Follow a screenshot below with an example:
dev-to-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/i/...

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francisvila profile image
Francis Vila

thank you so much, Thiago! That was really quick! It works now. It seems obvious once you know where to look.

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veronikahunyak profile image
Veronika H

When I try to run the app, I get an error like the one below :/ which is annoying as it's a dependency. Anyone know what to do about that?

TypeError: Cannot use 'in' operator to search for 'autoCreate' in true
at NativeConnection.Connection.openUri (/Users/vhu02/Documents/Apprentice_work/node-react-starter/node_modules/mongoose/lib/connection.js:561:22)
at Mongoose.connect (/Users/vhu02/Documents/Apprentice_work/node-react-starter/node_modules/mongoose/lib/index.js:332:15)
at Object. (/Users/vhu02/Documents/Apprentice_work/node-react-starter/index.js:11:10)
at Module._compile (module.js:653:30)
at Object.Module._extensions..js (module.js:664:10)
at Module.load (module.js:566:32)
at tryModuleLoad (module.js:506:12)
at Function.Module._load (module.js:498:3)
at Function.Module.runMain (module.js:694:10)
at startup (bootstrap_node.js:204:16)
at bootstrap_node.js:625:3
[nodemon] app crashed - waiting for file changes before starting...

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rutul24591 profile image
Rutul Amin • Edited

For the proxy issue follow the steps below.

Replace the ' const proxy' in setupProxy.js file with this.

const { createProxyMiddleware } = require('http-proxy-middleware');

module.exports = function(app) {
app.use('/api',
createProxyMiddleware({
target: 'localhost:5000',
changeOrigin: true
})
);
};

it works. You can follow . Please let me know here

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hey Veronika,

Could you share the code that reproduces this error, please?

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veronikahunyak profile image
Veronika H

There is nothing much to share as I just followed these steps haha

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

OMG really? haha

I just download the source code and tested it here. Everything works fine.
Could you try to clone the repo and test it just in case?

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veronikahunyak profile image
Veronika H

yeah so I forked your Github, and the proxy still isn't working. I seem to get a deprecation error

Thread Thread
 
pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

What you could try to do is to add the following line in your client/package.json file:
"proxy": "localhost:5000"

That should solve the problem.

Thread Thread
 
veronikahunyak profile image
Veronika H

I did try that as the other comment addressed it and it didn't seem to work.
the exact error I'm getting is this:

DeprecationWarning: current URL string parser is deprecated, and will be removed in a future version. To use the new parser, pass option { useNewUrlParser: true } to MongoClient.connect.
events.js:183
throw er; // Unhandled 'error' event

Thread Thread
 
rpachecoblazquez profile image
rpacheco-blazquez

Veronika,

Does the error persist once you modify the line:

mongoose.connect(process.env.MONGODB_URI || 'mongodb://localhost:27017/node-react-starter',{ useNewUrlParser: true });

as suggested by the Deprecation Warning?

What is the prompt error if so?

Thread Thread
 
pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

This deprecation warning should not prevent you from running the app, but the rpacheco suggestion should do the trick.

You can also add this config on another line, like so:

mongoose.set("useNewUrlParser", true);

You might also find other deprecation warnings in the future, follow a list below in case you need it.

mongoose.set("useFindAndModify", false);
mongoose.set("useCreateIndex", true);
mongoose.set("useUnifiedTopology", true);

Let me know if that worked for you.

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leosalgueiro profile image
LeoSalgueiro • Edited

Hi! excellent post. i like this configuration and now i'm using it. But i have a problem, i don't know how configure script for debug in vscode. i was trying but with bad results. Could help me with this?

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hi Leo,

You can create a file launch.json inside the folder .vscode with the following code:

{
"version": "0.2.0",
"configurations": [
{
"name": "Launch via npm",
"type": "node",
"request": "launch",
"cwd": "${workspaceFolder}",
"runtimeExecutable": "npm",
"runtimeArgs": ["run-script", "dev"],
"port": 9229
},
]
}

Then you can just hit F5 and your app might run.

Let me know if that works for you! :)

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leosalgueiro profile image
LeoSalgueiro • Edited

Hi thiago, Thanks for response. i was make that how you tell me but pick a error ECONNREFUSED.

reason: Cannot connect to the target: connect ECONNREFUSED 127.0.0.1:9229.

the .vscode is the same that you give me, and the package.json is the same that the tutorial.
server for mongodb is up, but for the error my targe is wrong.

thi is my index.js

dev-to-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/i/...

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hi Leo,

Sorry, You should also have a new debug script in your package.json file. Add the following script to your package.json:

"debug": "nodemon --nolazy --inspect-brk=9229 index.js",

Also, update the launch.json runtimeArgs to use this new script:

"runtimeArgs": ["run-script", "debug"],

Let me know if that works for you

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hofcsabagit profile image
hofcsabaGit

Hi there,

so I found app.delete(/api/product/:id, async (req, res) => {
const {id} = req.params;
let product = await Product.findByIdAndDelete(id);
return res.status(202).send({
error: false,
product
})
})

that I try to call from postman with:
localhost:5000/api/product/:id

With a raw body of JSON of:
{"name": "myName"}

but it sais:
Cannot DELETE /api/product/

Do you guys know what Im missing?

Thanks in advance!
Csaba

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hi Csaba,

By the error, it could be something wrong with the definition of this app.delete method.
Does your backend log any error in the terminal when you test this endpoint?

If everything is correct in your code, the error could be the ID you are passing in the URL.
As this is just a simple tutorial and I wanted it to be short, it does not have validations but, in a final application, it should contain a lot of validations on the data we are trying to execute actions.

My suggestion to you is to check if the ID you are passing to the URL http://localhost:5000/api/product/<YOUR-PRODUCT-ID> is a valid ID.

Let me know if this helped you solve the problem and do not hesitate to ask if you have more questions.

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jonasml profile image
Jonas M. Larsen

This is a great article!

And a big thank you, for also showing the configuration for production/deployment.
I feel that it's often left out, and for a beginner in the web development field, this is key!

Keep up the good work!

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Thank you, Jonas!

Let me know if you need any help :)

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alsmith808 profile image
Alan Smith

Thanks Thiago, nice tutorial. I notice your code doesn't have 'require('dotenv').config()' or the npm package install in the instructions??

Am I missing something, are you using some native way of reading the .env file, thanks!

Alan

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hi Alan, thank you.

I am not using a .env file here, I am only using the process.env variables, assuming that the additional custom variables would be defined on the server.

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alsmith808 profile image
Alan Smith

Thanks Thiago,

I think I see what happened, I'm connecting to a db on Mongo Atlas and copied a line of code from another project!! Thanks for looking, cheers.

Alan

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ernyx profile image
Alg Ore

Great guide, thank you!

Question, any idea why the proxy breaks when using a api url more than two levels deep? "/api/blocks" works whereas "/api/blocks/all" does not. Everything else is the same and api routes work separately.

Tried "/api" and "/api/**" in setupProxy.js to no avail.

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pacheco profile image
Thiago Pacheco

Hi Alg, sorry for the delayed answer and thank you for your comment.

This deep routes should work as the other ones. What I recommend to you is to use the proxy config that react supports now.
You can simply put the following line in your package.json file:
"proxy": "localhost:5000"

This should do the trick.

Let me know if that works for you!

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xporium

hi,
nice article and i almost followed the steps, but in my sample application I just want notification from node express so for that I used socket.io and socket.io-client so in test application if I set proxy in setupProxy like app.use(proxy('/', { target: 'localhost:5000' })) than its not working, but if i added "proxy": "localhost:5000" in package.json than its working.
i want to set proxy in setupProxy file.

Thanks

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Thiago Pacheco

Hi there.

I recommend you to stick with the package.json proxy approach, now that it is supported in the latest version (I don't know exactly since when lol).

I will probably update that in the post as soon as I can.

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Ingo Steinke

Hi all!
First of all, thanks to @pacheco for the tutorial!

One thing I keep wondering, after seeing many full-stack mongoose tutorials, is why do we have to define the same data model and logic twice, one in the backend, and - at least partially - in the front-end?

Probably I am missing something, which I will find out when trying, but I am sure anybody must have bothered to try before, to re-use the back-end data model in the front-end? What happened to the idea of isomorphic apps after all?

I can imagine that either re-using the exact same JavaScript code for BE + FE data models would introduce technical debt, coupling or even unintended downsides concerning front-end business logic, or else it's just not compatible enough and the amount of redundancy does not seem to be critical and will be covered by unit tests + end to end testing, at least if there are tests at all?

Hope somebody will share their thoughts and experience...

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saadaminechouar

Hello guy, thanks a lot for your content, i actually have a a project similar to that one and it helped. So my question is there any Dockerize version of this app available yet ?

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Thiago Pacheco

Hello,

As we are all in this quarentine, I'm working right now on a tutorial for that. I will try to post it today. :)

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Thiago Pacheco

I just made a post about how to dockerize this app and deploy a container to heroku.
dev.to/pacheco/how-to-dockerize-a-...
Check it out! :)

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