🍂 Starter template for React with webpack. Does focus on simplicity! FOR BEGINNERS!
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NOTE: This is super not maintained anymore. If you are interested in getting started with React I recommend using something like Create-react-app

React Starter

Table of Contents

Getting Started

  1. Clone the repo: git clone git@github.com:eanplatter/react-starter.git myNewApp
  2. npm install
  3. npm start
  4. Navigate to http://localhost:8080/

File Information

Webpack (webpack.config.js)

Note: some of the code describing the webpack config file is out of date.

webpack.config.js is where the webpack commands understand what to do. It tells webpack where to find application code, and what to do with it.

Let's take a deeper look at the file:


var HtmlWebpackPlugin = require('html-webpack-plugin');

This is a third party module that allows us to generate our index.html file along with our react bundle file. It's not 100% necessary, but it's pretty handy.

module.exports = {
  entry: './app/App.js',

This is the entry point of the application. Webpack will start there, and then grab any code this file requires.

  output: {
    path: 'dist',
    filename: 'index_bundle.js',

Once it's grabbed the code, it uses this output object to determine where to put the bundle. The path tells it what folder to place the code, and the filename is the name of the bundled file. This means once webpack finishes bundling, it is going to create a file in the dist folder named index_bundle.js. This file is usually pretty big, and unreadable.

  module: {
    loaders: [
        test: /\.js$/,
        loaders: ['babel?stage=0'],
        include: __dirname + '/app'

Loaders tell webpack what kind of code we'll be writing. If we're writing ES6, ES7, React, or whatever crazy stuff. Webpack goes through and converts files with the type of .js loads it through the Babel loader at stage=0 (ES7 stuff), and turns it into regular old ES5.

In this instance we're using the include property to tell the loader to only load .js files from the app/ folder.

var HTMLWebpackPlugin = new HtmlWebpackPlugin({
  template: __dirname + '/app/index.html',
  hash: true,
  filename: 'index.html',
  inject: 'body'

This is where we use the HTMLWebpackPlugin to generate an index.html file. Normally one would just keep an index.html file in the dist directory, but I like to generate it so that everything in the dist is 100% generated code.

var HotReloader = new webpack.HotModuleReplacementPlugin();

We also need to instantiate an instance of webpack's HotModuleReplacementPlugin for live reloading.

We then add both the HotReloader and HTMLWebpackPlugin to the plugins section of the module.

 plugins: [HTMLWebpackPlugin, HotReloader]

NPM scripts (package.json)

package.json is where npm modules are listed as dependencies (duh), but also where the webpack start script lives. Rather than using something like Gulp we're gonna keep things simple and use npm scripts.

The main thing to note is the scripts property; when you run npm start it runs the prestart, which runs webpack. Once webpack has finished building all of the code, it runs webpack-dev-server (serving up the files to port 8080) with the dist directory as the content-base, otherwise webpack-dev-server would just look for the index.html in the root of the project:

  "scripts": {
    "prestart": "webpack",
    "start": "webpack-dev-server --content-base dist/"

Index (app/index.html)

index.html is the application's main HTML file. You can use it for loading in CDNs, etc.

Also, it's where you'll hook React into the mix. Notice in the file we have a div with the id of root:

<div id='root'></div>

This is where we tell our bundle file to render all of it's code.


App.js is the main file of the application. It's where the React code is injected into the index.html.

Let's look at the file:


import React, {Component} from 'react';
import {render} from 'react-dom';

These are ES6 imports and destructurings. Essentially we're getting React and it's Component property from react, and a render property from something called react-dom.

class App extends Component {
  render() {
    return (
          Welcome to the react starter.

This bit is our actual UI. We're using an ES6 class, but we could also do the same thing with React.createClass(). There's plenty of debate on the two, but what's important is that they both have render methods which return something called JSX. JSX is a lot like HTML but with a different flavor.

render(<App />, document.getElementById('root'));

Lastly, this piece is where we use that render property found in the react-dom library. In our case, this is telling Webpack where to put the <App /> component we made (when we said class App extends Component we were creating a react component that could then be used like an HTML element: <App />). We're telling react to render our <App /> inside the element with the ID root.

And that's it!