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React component boilerplate

This is a simple boilerplate project for building a react component package for npm. It is suitable for building any type of UI component or library (like for example a dropdown menu or a toggle-switch). The project contains a correctly transpiled folder for the component library (easy to get wrong) as well as a demo page for showcasing it. The demo can easily be uploaded to GitHub Pages. This boilerplate project is meant to be minimal and easy to understand. Linting, testing, prettier etc have been purposefully left out. It does not include a UMD build, as those aren't really used anymore.

If you are new to building React components for npm you should check out this guide.

How it is structured

The source code has two separate parts – the library and the documentation (demo) page. Both are written in ES6 and JSX, and therefore have to be transpiled by Babel but in different ways.

Component library transpilation

The library source code, which is located in src/lib, is transpiled with Babel but is not bundled with Webpack. Bundling is completely unnecessary, since the developer who will in the end use your library for their application will bundle their entire codebase, which includes your library. More importantly, if your library has any dependencies, bundling them together with your code would be a disaster since it could cause duplication and therefore larger final bundle size. The components still have to be transpiled since many developers have Webpack configured to not transpile their node_modules folder. Some may not be using JSX or ES6 at all, and would therefore be unable to transpile your component.

Demo app transpilation

The demo app source code lives inside the src/docs folder. It is transpiled, bundled and minified by Webpack and Babel into the docs folder in the root directory (by running npm run docs:prod). This is a completely normal react app with minimal configuration that imports the component library. It has two purposes: 1. To have a way of inspecting your components while you develop the library, and 2. As a demo to showcase to people who try to figure out what your library does.

The reason that the folder doesn't have a logical name like demo is that GitHub Pages requires it to be called docs for some reason...

Getting started

Follow these steps to get started developing your own react component:

  • git clone https://github.com/yogaboll/react-npm-component-starter.git
  • npm install
  • npm run dev to transpile both the lib and docs folder in watch mode and serve the docs page for you.
  • Go to to see the demo in action. Whenever you change the code in either src/lib or src/docs, the page will automatically update.

Remember to reset the git history:

  • rm -rf .git
  • git init
  • git add .
  • git commit -m "setup project"

When you have completed development and want to publish to npm:

  • Change the "name" field in the package.json file (the npm package will get this name), as well "description", "author" and any other fields that need to change.
  • npm publish
  • Go to npmjs.com/package/[YOUR COMPONENT NAME]/ to confirm that it has been published.

Host demo on GitHub Pages:

  • npm run docs:prod - Make a production bundle of the demo app.
  • Commit your changes to git and push to your GitHub repository.
  • On your GitHub repo page, click the settings tab and scroll down to the GitHub Pages heading. Pick master branch /docs folder in the source dropdown, And BOOM, your demo page is already live on the internet for free.
  • Note: Sometimes it might take about an hour for the page to actually start hosting. Adding /index.html after the url works instantly for whatever reason.

What about CSS?

Inline styles

The easiest option is to use the style attribute. Like this for example:

<button style={{background: "blue", width: 20 }} >test</button>

This is a clean approach since the user of your package doesn't have to separately import a css file. The downside is that you can't use a bunch of css features: pseudo-selectors like :focus and :hover, media-queries and some prefixed css-properties, which can be a deal breaker.

Separate CSS file

Your other option is to create a css file inside the src/lib folder. It will be automatically copied to the generated lib folder. Then you have to ask your users to import it into their app with something like import "../node_modules/[NAME_OF_YOUR_LIBRARY]/lib/styles.css"; or to manually copy it. Your css class names might be global for the developers entire app so make the class names are unique.

Keep in mind that it is a bad idea to import the css directly into your component file. This requires the webpack style-loader to work, so any user of your package that does not use this loader will be screwed.

If you find any bugs or have a feature request, please open an issue on github!

The npm package download data comes from npm's download counts api and package details come from npms.io.