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Get Started With React -  Beginner's Guide

Get Started With React - Beginner's Guide

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Sougata Das
ยทMar 13, 2023ยท

5 min read

If you want to start learning React.js but you are a complete beginner, then you came to the right place. Today I will discuss how to get started with react, and the basic things you need to understand. After reading this blog you will have a clear understanding of how react.js works ๐ŸŽข.

React is an open-source free frontend javascript library for developing UI components. If you see the stats you can find React is currently top used ui library for frontend development. Some of the reasons are:

  • Easy To Grasp: If you are a completely new programmer, it will not be too hard to grasp the knowledge about react and get started with it. Many companies prefer to use React in their frontend stack as if they have any new joiner he/she can easily get started with React and contribute to development.

  • Open Source: React is completely open-sourced, so it is well backed up and it has vast library support. You can easily find over 2 Lakhs React packages in npm.

  • Virtual DOM: React supports virtual dom which makes the user experience better. React renders the DOM (Document Object Model) virtually first as a copy of the actual DOM. So it only makes changes which are necessary through virtual DOM. This makes page loading and updating faster and brings a good experience.

How to install react app and what are the prerequisites?

To install react you should have node js installed on your machine. How to check if your machine has node js installed or not? Just open a command prompt and type node -v if this gives an error you can install node js from here and follow the instruction. We will be using create-react-app for developing and getting started with react. For this, you should have a node version not less than v14.0 and npx version not less than v5.6. Do update those dependencies before creating react application.

But the question is what is create-react-app ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚๏ธ?

Creating a react app is a very time-consuming process. If you want to set up a react app without the help of create-react-app, it takes a lot of time and effort and you need to do lots of configuration to get started. So create-react-app helps us to automate this configuration and working directory setup.
You just have to run npx create-react-app appName and it will automatically create a folder called appName which contains the react code.

Note: appName is a variable name. You can put whatever you want.

After installing react app what's next?

Congratulations ๐Ÿคฉ on successfully installing your first react app!! Now, let's start our application.
go to the appName directory by cd appName and then run npm start to start your application. You if head over to locahost:3000 you can see your react app successfully running.

Now let me explain the directory structure. If you open appName folder would be similar to this

node_modules: it is the place where you install all your dependencies. when you run npm run package-name it installs the package in the node_modules folder. if you expand node_modules you can find all of your packages.

public: Though you will mostly work in the src folder, this public folder contains some static files like index.html. It's the end result of what we compile. You can modify your app name or add fonts styling or add cdn and many more here.

src: Here you will spend most of your time. It contains App.js, index.js and your other component files.

package.json: It is the configuration file of your application. If you want to modify anything you can do it here.

src/App.js: Here you will declare all your components. It's the best practice to create a separate folder for your components and import those in App.js

src/index.js: This is the entry point of your react application.

What's JSX? Do I need to learn it?

In React if you are not using JSX it's pretty hard to build a component. For a simple div itself, you have to use React.createElement. So here JSX comes to help. It's a Javascript extension syntax which helps us to write html and javascript together. So It makes it easier to write code in React.

class Hello extends React.Component {
  render() {
    return <div>Hello {this.props.toWhat}</div>;
  }
}

const root = ReactDOM.createRoot(document.getElementById('root'));
root.render(<Hello toWhat="World" />);
class Hello extends React.Component {
  render() {
    return React.createElement('div', null, `Hello ${this.props.toWhat}`);
  }
}

const root = ReactDOM.createRoot(document.getElementById('root'));
root.render(React.createElement(Hello, {toWhat: 'World'}, null));

Here you can clearly see the difference. JSX makes writing code easier. But don't worry create-react-app internally uses Babel for the JSX to JavaScript conversion so in the end, the later one is the final output.

What's next then ๐Ÿ˜„?

First of all congrats for reaching out this far. You already covered the basics of react now I would recommend going create a react application and playing with it. Don't be afraid to add or modify anything as it's the only way to learn new technologies.

Conclusion ๐Ÿฅณ

In this article, you learnt what is react, how to install and create a react app, learnt about the directory structure and JSX. In the next blog, I will cover more details about React. Till then don't stop learning new things and don't get demotivated. Will see you in the next blog.

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