Getting Started with React and Redux

Setting Up the Dev Environment

First thing we need to do is setup our development environment and hook up React. Our end goal will be to get a basic message up on screen. Let's create a new directory and download the packages we need.

mkdir starwars_api
cd starwars_api
npm init -y
npm install --save react react-dom redux react-redux redux-thunk
npm install --save-dev babel-core babel-preset-es2015 babel-preset-react webpack@2.1.0-beta.27 file-loader babel-loader webpack-dev-server@2.1.0-beta.11 react-hot-loader@3.0.0-beta.6

Now let's create our entrance file. Create a file at src/app.js and put the following in it.

import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
import App from './components/App';
import { AppContainer } from 'react-hot-loader';


// Create app
const container = document.querySelector('#app-container');

// Render app
    <App />
  , container

// Hot module reloading
if ( {'./components/App', () => {
        <App />
      , container

We are displaying a central App component. So let's create it! Create a file at src/components/App.js and put the following in it.

import React from 'react';

const App = () =>
  <div className='container'>
    <div className='row'>
      Hello, World!

export default App;

We also need to create our index.html file that we are including in our app.js file. Create a file at src/index.html and put the following in it.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <title>React Star Wars</title>

  <!-- Latest compiled and minified CSS -->
  <link rel="stylesheet" href="" integrity="sha384-BVYiiSIFeK1dGmJRAkycuHAHRg32OmUcww7on3RYdg4Va+PmSTsz/K68vbdEjh4u" crossorigin="anonymous">

  <!-- Optional theme -->
  <link rel="stylesheet" href="" integrity="sha384-rHyoN1iRsVXV4nD0JutlnGaslCJuC7uwjduW9SVrLvRYooPp2bWYgmgJQIXwl/Sp" crossorigin="anonymous">

    h1 {
      font-size: 30px;
      font-weight: 200;

    h2 {
      font-size: 22px;
      margin-top: 5px;

    ul {
      padding-left: 15px;
  <div id="app-container"></div>
  <script src="app.bundle.js"></script>

This is a basic HTML page. We are including Bootstrap and its basic theme for some simple styles. We also are adding some styles in a style tag to help with the sizing of some elements. In the body, we are adding our container element and our main app bundle.

Now that we have all that setup, let's create a webpack config that we can use to build our project. Create a file in the root of your project called webpack.config.js and put the following in it.

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

module.exports = {
  entry: [
  output: {
    path: path.resolve(__dirname, './build'),
    filename: 'app.bundle.js',
  module: {
    loaders: [
        test: /\.html$/,
        loader: 'file-loader?name=[name].[ext]',
        test: /\.jsx?$/,
        exclude: /node_modules/,
        loader: 'babel-loader',
  plugins: [
    new webpack.NamedModulesPlugin(),

Here we are exporting our config object like normal. We point webpack to start at our app.js file and tell everything to output to a build directory. We run all HTML files though the file loader. This essentially just moves the file to our build directory. Also, we run our JS files through the babel loader to make sure they are transpiled to code that most browsers these days understand. Lastly, we are including a plugin that will give us pretty output in the console.

Let's create a .babelrc file to configure babel.

  "presets": [
    ["es2015", { "modules": false }],
  "plugins": [

Last thing. Let's create some npm scripts so that we don't need to remember the commands we need to run our application. Add the following scripts to your package.json file in the scripts section.

"build": "webpack",
"serve": "webpack-dev-server --hot --inline --content-base ./src --open"

The first one runs our webpack build. The second runs the webpack-dev-server with some options to enable hot reloading of our code. This will watch our files and reload everything when we change a file, making our lives so much easier!

If you run npm run serve and then open a browser to localhost:8080, you should see our super sweet message! In the next one, we will start developing the actual application by setting the redux store up with our React app.

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