Install reactjs from scratch

Dev Singh. March 16, 2019 Comments

To install reactjs from scratch follow the below steps.

To install reactjs you have to setup Node.js environment in your system.

After successfully installing NodeJS, we can start installing React upon it using npm. You have to install reactjs from scratch to support server side rendering. 

If you create react app using create-react-app than it is not possible to make your app server side rendering due to its inbuild configuration files.

Installing ReactJS using webpack and babel

Webpack is a module bundler (manages and loads independent modules). It takes dependent modules and compiles them to a single (file) bundle. You can use this bundle while developing apps using command line or, by configuring it using webpack.config file.

Babel is a JavaScript compiler and transpiler. It is used to convert one source code to other. Using this you will be able to use the new ES6 features in your code where, babel converts it into plain old ES5 which can be run on all browsers.

Step 1 - Create the Root Folder

Create a folder with name reactApp on the desktop to install all the required files, using the mkdir command.

C:\Users\callstack\Desktop>mkdir reactApp
C:\Users\callstack\Desktop>cd reactApp

To create any module, it is required to generate the package.json file. Therefore, after Creating the folder, we need to create a package.json file. To do so you need to run the npm init command from the command prompt.

C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>npm init

This command asks information about the module such as packagename, description, author etc. you can skip these using the –y option.

C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>npm init -y
Wrote to C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp\package.json:
   "name": "reactApp",
   "version": "1.0.0",
   "description": "",
   "main": "index.js",
   "scripts": {
      "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
   "keywords": [],
   "author": "",
   "license": "ISC"

Step 2 - install React and react dom
Since our main task is to install ReactJS, install it, and its dom packages, using install react and react-dom commands of npm respectively. You can add the packages we install, to package.json file using the --save option.

C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>npm install react react-dom --save

Step 3 - Install webpack
Since we are using webpack to generate bundler install webpack, webpack-dev-server and webpack-cli.

C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>npm install webpack webpack-dev-server webpack-cli --save-dev

Step 4 - Install babel
Install babel, and its plugins babel-core, babel-loader, babel-preset-env, babel-preset-react and, html-webpack-plugin

C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>npm install babel-core@6 babel-loader@7 babel-preset-env babel-preset-react html-webpack-plugin --save-dev

Step 5 - Create the Files
To complete the installation, we need to create certain files namely, index.html, App.js, index.js, webpack.config.js and, .babelrc. You can create these files manually or, using command prompt.

C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>type nul > index.html
C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>type nul > App.js
C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>type nul > index.js
C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>type nul > webpack.config.js
C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>type nul > .babelrc

Step 6 - Set Compiler, Server and Loaders
Open webpack-config.js file and add the following code. We are setting webpack entry point to be index.js. Output path is the place where bundled app will be served. We are also setting the development server to 8001 port. You can choose any port you want.


const path = require('path');
const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require('html-webpack-plugin');

module.exports = {
   entry: './index.js',
   output: {
      path: path.join(__dirname, '/bundle'),
      filename: 'client.bundle.js'
   devServer: {
      inline: true,
      port: 8080
   module: {
      rules: [
            test: /\.jsx?$/,
            exclude: /node_modules/,
            loader: 'babel-loader',
            query: {
               presets: ['es2015', 'react']
      new HtmlWebpackPlugin({
         template: './index.html'

Open the package.json and delete "test" "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1" inside "scripts" object. We are deleting this line since we will not do any testing in this tutorial. Let's add the start and build commands instead.

"start": "webpack-dev-server --mode development --open --hot",
"build": "webpack --mode production"

Step 7 - index.html
This is just regular HTML. We are setting div id = "app" as a root element for our app and adding client.bundle.js script, which is our bundled app file.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang = "en">
      <meta charset="UTF-8">
      <title>React App</title>
      <div id="app"></div>
      <script src='client.bundle.js'></script>

Step 8 − App.js and index.js
This is the first React component. We will explain React components in depth in a subsequent chapter. This component will render Hello World.


import React, { Component } from 'react';
class App extends Component{
            <h1>Hello World</h1>
export default App;

We need to import this component and render it to our root App element, so we can see it in the browser.


import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
import App from './App.js';

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

Note − Whenever you want to use something, you need to import it first. If you want to make the component usable in other parts of the app, you need to export it after creation and import it in the file where you want to use it.

Step 9 - Running the Server
The setup is complete and we can start the server by running the following command.

C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>npm start

It will show the port we need to open in the browser. In our case, it is http://localhost:8080/. After we open it, we will see the following output.

reactjs running server

Note : To generate build for production run the below command.

C:\Users\callstack\Desktop\reactApp>npm run build

Download source code from github.

For reactjs server side rendering visit the below link.

Server Side Rendering.

  • JavaScript
  • reactJS
  • Javascript Framework
  • install-reactjs