React SPA (Full Server)

A boilerplate for creating a SPA in React, with a full server.



  • Uses express to serve bundled assets.
  • Utilizes glamor for styling.
  • Favicon updates on bundle creation to ensure a stale favicon doesn't get stuck
    in the user's cache.
  • Uses cross-env & cross-conf-env for multi-platform support.
  • Uses concurrently to run multiple processes needed to start the server in
    dev mode, and allows for custom labels for each process to make parsing the
    output for the dev easier.
  • After all's said and done, the whole production app compiles down to a lean
    ~100kb (gzipped).


Start up dev server

yarn start:server:dev

When the server starts in dev mode you can debug server code by visiting
chrome://inspect (if you're using Chrome as your browser). Then go to the
Sources tab and find the file you want to debug.

Build and start up the production package

# builds the deployment package & starts a simple server to verify built code
yarn start:server



  • How to compile ES6 code that's utilizing Webpack aliasing and imports, down to
    CommonJS that the server can utilize. Just compiling over to CommonJS, and not
    a bundle, is useful for debugging and inline manipulation.
  • How to integrate Webpack's aliasing during transpilation.


  • How to set up logging for routes, so you're aware of what routes are actually
    processing the page.
  • How to use nodemon and reload while in dev to get automatic server and
    page reloads when files change.

General JS Stuff

  • How to set up a logger that can log the same colored output on the server
    as it does the client.


  • How to reuse Webpack aliasing for easier file resolution.


  • How to set up SSR and client data/style hydration.
  • How to set up infinite scrolling of items using react-waypoint
    and Redux.
  • How to set up custom view transitions without the use of react-transition-group
    (since it doesn't support that out of the box). By that I mean you can have
    default view transitions for most pages, or custom transitions based on the
    route you're coming from and to, or visa versa.
  • How to set up a per-view theming mechanism.
  • How to set up and utilize breakpoints with components and their styles.
  • How to set up async data loading so components render on the server or show
    a spinner on the client.


  • How to use the DefinePlugin to:
    • Expose (non-sensitive) file-system data on the client with window.WP_GLOBALS.
    • Set up requires/imports so that server specific code is stripped out during
      compilation so you don't get errors on the client, and smaller bundles. All
      from the use of process.env.IS_CLIENT.
  • How to set up aliasing so that imports are clean and don't contain any
    ../../../../../ craziness. Also useful during refactors when folders
    get moved around, you just have to update the paths in and
    you're all set.
  • How to set up bundle filename hashing correctly so that they only change
    when the file contents have changed (allowing the user to keep old bundles
    in cache).

How Does It All Work?

Files of note:

├── /dist
│   ├── /private # ES Webpack bundles (exposed to the users)
│   └── /public # CommonJS compiled server code (nothing in here should be exposed to users)
├── /src
│   ├── /components # Where all the React components live
│   │   ├── /Main # Where are all the React routes are set up
│   │   ├── /Shell # Uses a BrowserRouter or StaticRouter based on the env it's running on
│   │   ├── /ViewHOC # Ensures data is loaded before the view is rendered
│   │   ├── /ViewLoader # Displays the spinner and maintains scroll position
│   │   ├── /views # Where all the views live (think of them like pages)
│   │   └── /ViewTransition # Handles transitioning between pages
│   │
│   ├── /server # All server specific code
│   │   ├── /routes # Separate files for each route handler
│   │   │   ├── catchAll.js # The default route handler
│   │   │   └── index.js # Where you combine all your routes into something the server loads
│   │   │
│   │   ├── /views # Should only be one view, but you can house any others here
│   │   │   └── AppShell.js # The template that scafolds the html, body, scripts, & css
│   │   │
│   │   └── index.js # The heart of the beast
│   │
│   ├── /state # Where the app state lives
│   ├── /static # Static assets that'll just be copied over to public
│   ├── /utils # Individual utility files that export one function and do only one thing well
│   ├── data.js # Where the app gets it's data from (aside from API calls)
│   └── index.js # The Webpack entry point for the app
└── # The configuration for the app
  • Currently there's a catchAll.js route in routes that then renders the
    AppShell which controls the document HTML, CSS, and JS.
  • Each View that's defined in data.js is responsible for loading it's own
    data. It does that by providing a static value, or via a function that
    returns a Promise.
  • ViewHOC will display a spinner if it's data isn't found in cache, otherwise
    it'll pass the data on to the View it was provided.
  • The Main component handles the SPA routing. So if you need to add
    routes that aren't defined in navItems for header or footer
    (within data.js), you need to add them to otherRoutes (within data.js).
  • ‎Everything under src will be compiled in some way. Parts of src will be
    bundled and dumped in dist/public and everything will be transpiled to
    dist/private so that the server code can 1 - be debugged easily (not being
    bundled) and 2 - make use of imports (so no mental hoops of "should I use
    require or import").
  • ‎Not using webpack-dev-middleware because it obfuscates where the final
    output will be until a production bundle is created, and you have to add extra
    Webpack specific code to your server. With the use of the TidyPlugin,
    reload, and webpack-assets-manifest in conjunction with the watch
    option - we get a live-reload representation of what the production server
    will run.

Notes about the dev server:

  • Sometimes running rs while the server is in dev mode, will exit with Cannot read property 'write' of null. This will leave a bunch of zombie node
    processes, just run pkill node to clean those up.
  • Sometimes after killing the server, you'll see a bunch of node processes
    still hanging around in Activity Monitor or Task Manager, but if you wait a
    couple seconds they clean themselves up.