Dylan Armstrong
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React Toolkit

January 02, 2019

This tutorial assumes that the reader has a basic understanding of the command line and node. This will go through creating a toolchain yourself rather than relying on create-react-app. Some portions aren’t explained as they are beyond this simple tutorial.

Necessary Tools


Create a new folder called helloworld. This can be done with Explorer on Windows or the shell on OSX / Linux. For example, I would create it in my src directory where I store all source code.


OSX / Linux:

$ mkdir -pv ~/src/react-tutorials/helloworld
$ cd ~/src/react-tutorials/helloworld

Windows: Create the folders in explorer and then open your Node Command Prompt and navigate to your new source directory.

Inside the folder helloworld, create the following folders:



It would be a fantastic idea to setup git before starting!

$ git init

Create a .gitignore file that excludes node_modules.



The Toolchain

We will now create a basic package.json file. This allows yarn to handle the package dependencies. The scripts section contains programs that we do not have installed yet. The duplicated --mode and --env.NODE_ENV lines are intentional, this ensures that the developer has access to a process.NODE_ENV variable inside the app. This is not used in this tutorial, but it’s nice to have for the future.


  "name": "HelloWorld",
  "private": true,
  "scripts": {
    "build": "webpack --mode=production --env.NODE_ENV=production --config ./webpack.config.js",
    "start": "webpack-dev-server --hot --mode=development --env.NODE_ENV=development --config ./webpack.config.js"
  "version": "1.0.0"

We now need to add babel, this is used to transpile the ES6 / JSX we write into a form compatible with most browsers.

$ yarn add --dev @babel/preset-react @babel/core @babel/cli @babel/preset-env

Now create a file called babel.config.js, this file is used by babel to determine how to transpile your js files.


const plugins = [

const presets = [
      targets: {
        edge: '17',
        firefox: '60',
        chrome: '67',
        safari: '11.1',
      useBuiltIns: 'usage',

module.exports = {

We now have our code transpiling, but we have no way to use it in the browser yet! Let’s install webpack to fix that.

$ yarn add --dev webpack webpack-cli webpack-dev-server babel-loader css-loader style-loader

Notice the webpack.config.js mentioned in the package.json file, we have to create that file.


const path = require('path');
const webpack = require('webpack');

module.exports = (env, argv) => {
  return {
    devServer: {
      contentBase: path.join(__dirname, 'public/'),
      hotOnly: true,
      port: 3000,
      publicPath: 'http://localhost:3000/dist/'
    devtool: 'none',
    entry: './src/index.js',
    module: {
      rules: [
          test: /\.jsx?$/,
          exclude: /node_modules/,
          loader: 'babel-loader'
          test: /\.css$/,
          use: [ 'style-loader', 'css-loader' ]
    output: {
      filename: 'bundle.min.js',
      path: path.join(__dirname, 'dist/'),
      publicPath: '/dist/'
    plugins: [
      new webpack.DefinePlugin({
        'process.env': {
          'NODE_ENV': `'${env.NODE_ENV}'`
    resolve: {
      extensions: [ '.webpack.js', '.web.js', '.js', '.jsx' ]

We will finally install react proper! We are also including react-hot-loader so our development server will automatically reload on any source changes we make.

$ yarn add react react-dom react-hot-loader

The App

We are nearly ready to launch a basic html page, we should now create the index.html file that will be loaded.


<!doctype html>
<html lang='en-us'>
    <title>Hello World!</title>
    <meta charset='utf-8' />
    <meta name='viewport' content='width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, shrink-to-fit=no' />
    <script defer src='../dist/bundle.min.js'></script>
    <div id='root'></div>

We are now ready to create our first react files. We will start with the entry file at src/index.js.


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

import App from './App.js';

  <App />,

Now we create the App.js file that will be loaded by index.js.


import React, { Component } from 'react';
import { hot } from 'react-hot-loader/root';

class App extends Component {
  render() {
    return (
        Hello World!

export default hot(App);

We can now start our development server with:

$ yarn start

Then open Google Chrome and point to localhost:3000.

You should see Hello World! displayed. If you change this to say Jello World! you will see the text on the screen reflect this.

End with adding this all to git and giving a descriptive commit message.

$ git add *
$ git add .gitignore
$ git commit -am 'My cat is named Gracie!'