Setup on a Local Machine

Learn to run a react app on a local machine.


The following are requirements for local setup:

Editor and Terminal

I have provided a setup guide to get you started with general web development. For this learning experience, you will need a text editor (e.g., Sublime Text) and a command-line tool (e.g., iTerm) or an IDE (e.g. Visual Studio Code). I recommend Visual Studio Code (also called VS Code) for beginners, as it’s an all-in-one solution that provides an advanced editor with an integrated command-line tool, and because it’s a popular choice among web developers.

Throughout this learning experience I will use the term command-line, which will be used synonymously for the terms command-line tool, terminal, and integrated terminal. The same applies to the terms editor, text editor, and IDE, depending on what you decided to use for your setup.

Optionally, I recommend managing projects in GitHub while we conduct the exercises in this course, and I’ve provided a short guide on how to use these tools. Github has excellent version control, so you can see what changes were made if you make a mistake or just want a more direct way to follow along. It’s also a great way to share your code later with other people.

Node and NPM

Before we can begin, we’ll need to have node and npm installed. Both are used to manage libraries (node packages) you will need along the way. These node packages can be libraries or whole frameworks. We’ll install external node packages via npm (node package manager).

If you have already installed Node and npm, make sure that your installation is the most recent version. If you’re new to npm or need a refresher, this npm crash course I created will get you up to speed.

📜 You can verify node and npm versions in the command line using the node --version command.

Setup a react project

After installing Node and npm, use the command line to type the following command in a dedicated folder for your project. We’ll refer to this project as hacker-stories, but you may choose any name you like:

npx create-react-app hacker-stories

Navigate into your new folder after the setup has finished:

cd hacker-stories

Now we can open the application in an editor or IDE. For Visual Studio Code, you can simply type code . on the command line. The following folder structure, or a variation of it depending on the create-react-app version, should be presented:


After you have learned about the folder and file structure of your React project, let’s go through the available commands to get it started. All your project-specific commands can be found in your package.json under the scripts property. They may look similar to these:

  "scripts": {
    "start": "react-scripts start",
    "build": "react-scripts build",
    "test": "react-scripts test",
    "eject": "react-scripts eject"

These scripts are executed with the npm run <script> command in an IDE-integrated terminal or command line tool. The run can be omitted for the start and test scripts. The commands are as follows:

Runs the application in http://localhost:3000

npm start

Runs the tests

npm test

Builds the application for production

npm run build

📜 Another command from the previous npm scripts called eject shouldn’t be used for this learning experience. It’s a one-way operation. Once you eject, you can’t go back. Essentially this command is only there to make all the build tool and configuration from create-react-app accessible if you are not satisfied with the choices or if you want to change something. Here we will keep all the defaults though.

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