Companion project for the book, "Easy React"
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This repository maintains the VocabGiant companion project to the forthcoming book, "Easy React: Build Powerful Web Apps Using Modern JavaScript Technologies" (

Being a Git repository, you'll need to possess at least rudimentary Git skills to make the most of these examples. If you're not familiar with Git I suggest having a look Scott Chacon's great book (available for free online), "Pro Git", in addition to Neo's fantastic online "Git Immersion" course.

Learn more about the book at You can download the introduction and first chapter for free!

Installing VocabGiant

VocabGiant takes advantage of many different technologies, including React, Babel, Reflux, MongoDB, Mongoose, Superagent, Gulp, ESLint, and others. It is intended to provide relative newcomers to React and modern JavaScript alike with a sane example of how all of these fascinating technologies work together to create a working application.

To run VocabGiant locally, clone the repository and then install the dependencies:

$ npm install

Next, create a local MongoDB database (named whatever you please), and then create an environment variable named MONGOLAB_URI, assigning the variable your MongoDB connection string. For instance here is what I've added to my .bash_profile:

export MONGOLAB_URI=mongodb://localhost/dev_vocabgiant_com

If you have a look inside server.js you'll see this MONGOLAB_URI environment variable is used to connect to MongoDB. Next import the database seeds into your newly created database:

$ mongo localhost/dev_vocabgiant_com database/seeds/seeds.js

Finally, boot the application:

$ node server

You'll also want to begin watching your application using Gulp so the JS can be recompiled on the fly:

$ gulp watch

Finally, keep in mind parts of this app are currently broken! This is very much a prototype, and I'm furiously adding new features to it while writing the book. I didn't want to wait for perfection to release it, since I figured quite a few interested developers could begin learning at least something from it now.

The TODO List

This is the "I am embarrassed to release this" release. Heck, I haven't even started tagging it yet. Currently you'll find it contains a few example lists, and you can use the sweet swipe feature to review a list, and that's about it. I'm planning on incorporating a ton of cool new features over the next few weeks, including:

  • Quizzes: This feature is the most pressing priority. Users will be quizzed on their list comprehension, and the app will track scores in real-time.
  • User Accounts: Users will be able to create accounts and manage their own vocabulary lists.
  • Administration Interface: An administrator will be able to add lists and do other administrative stuff.
  • Eye Candy and Other Interactive Features: Because we like getting all whizbangy and stuff.


A (slow) Heroku-hosted demo is currently available at Over the next few days I'll migrate it to the URL and ensure it has proper resources to run responsively. Keep in mind parts of this demo are broken. :-) Also, it's optimized for phones, so it looks weird on a desktop.


Found a bug in the book or repository, or have a question? Pull requests and e-mails welcome. Contact the author W. Jason Gilmore at


Licensed under the MIT. See for all the glorious details.