A Guide to Combining ReactJs App and NodeJs Express Server in One Project

In this tutorial, we’ll guide you through the process of creating a full-stack web application that combines a ReactJs client and a NodeJs Express server within a single project. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have a solid foundation to build feature-rich web applications with seamless communication between the front-end and back-end components.

Before you start, make sure you have the following installed on your machine:

  1. NodeJs and npm (Node Package Manager)
  2. Text editor of your choice (e.g., Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text, or Atom)

Initialize the Project and Set Up the Server:

Create a new directory for your project and navigate into it using the terminal:

mkdir my-fullstack-app
cd my-fullstack-app

Initialize a new Node.js project by running the following command and following the prompts to set up your package.json:

npm init

Create a directory for the server inside your project:

mkdir server
cd server
npm init

Install Express and other required dependencies for the server:

npm install express

Inside the server directory, create a new JavaScript file called server.js, where you’ll set up your Node.js Express server. This will serve as the backbone of your application.

Set Up the React Client:

Create another directory for the React client inside the main project folder:

cd ..  # Go back to the main project directory
mkdir client
cd client

Initialize a new React application in the client directory using Create ReactJs App:

npx create-react-app .

Project Structure:

Here is an project structure for the full-stack web application with a React client and a NodeJs Express server:

  ├── client/
  │    ├── node_modules/
  │    ├── public/
  │    │    ├── index.html
  │    ├── src/
  │    │    ├── components/
  │    │    │    ├── App.js
  │    │    │    ├── YourComponent.js
  │    │    ├── index.js
  │    ├── package.json
  ├── server/
  │    ├── node_modules/
  │    ├── server.js
  │    ├── package.json
  ├── node_modules/
  ├── package.json
  ├── package-lock.json

Configure the Client to Communicate with the Server:

  1. Now that you have both the server and client set up, let’s configure the client to communicate with the server. In your React client code, you can make API calls to your Express server using Axios or the built-in fetch API.
  2. In the client directory, you can install Axios to make HTTP requests to your server:
npm install axios

Define the Server Routes and React Components:

  1. In the server.js file, define your server routes using Express. These routes will handle incoming requests and return data to the React client.
  2. Create React components in the client directory to interact with the server. For example, you can have a component that fetches data from the server and displays it on the client-side.

Run Both Server and Client Concurrently:

The concurrently package is a helpful Node.js tool that allows you to run multiple commands concurrently in the same terminal window. It is particularly useful for managing projects that require running multiple scripts simultaneously, such as running a React client and a Node.js server together during development.

When developing a full-stack web application, you often need to run both the front-end (client) and back-end (server) components at the same time. Instead of opening multiple terminal windows and running each command separately, concurrently simplifies this process by letting you run multiple commands in a single terminal window.

To run both the server and client simultaneously during development, you can use the concurrently package. Install it as a dev dependency in the main project directory:

cd ..  # Go back to the main project directory
npm install --save-dev concurrently

Update the package.json file in the main project directory to add scripts that start both the server and client concurrently:

"scripts": {
  "start": "concurrently \"cd server && node server.js\" \"cd client && npm start\""

Start the Application:

Now, to start your full-stack web application, simply run the following command in the main project directory:

npm start

Congratulations! You’ve successfully built a full-stack web application with a React client and a Node.js Express server in one project. You now have a solid foundation to create more complex web applications that leverage the power of both front-end and back-end technologies. Happy coding!

By Kurukshetran

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