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by erikras

A starter boilerplate for a universal webapp using express, react, redux, webpack, and react-transfo...

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React Redux Universal Hot Example

build statusDependency StatusdevDependency Statusreact-redux-universal channel on discordDemo on HerokuPayPal donate button


This is a starter boilerplate app I've put together using the following technologies:

I cobbled this together from a wide variety of similar "starter" repositories. As I post this in June 2015, all of these libraries are right at the bleeding edge of web development. They may fall out of fashion as quickly as they have come into it, but I personally believe that this stack is the future of web development and will survive for several years. I'm building my new projects like this, and I recommend that you do, too.


npm install

Running Dev Server

npm run dev

The first time it may take a little while to generate the first


and complain with a few dozen

[webpack-isomorphic-tools] (waiting for the first Webpack build to finish)

printouts, but be patient. Give it 30 seconds.

Using Redux DevTools

Redux Devtools are enabled by default in development.

If you have the Redux DevTools chrome extension installed it will automatically be used on the client-side instead.

If you want to disable the dev tools during development, set






. DevTools are not enabled during production.

Building and Running Production Server

npm run build npm run start


A demonstration of this app can be seen running on heroku, which is a deployment of the heroku branch.



What initially gets run is


, which does little more than enable ES6 and ES7 awesomeness in the server-side node code. It then initiates


. In


we proxy any requests to


to theAPI server, running at


. All the data fetching calls from the client go to


. Aside from serving the favicon and static content from


, the only thing


does is initiate delegate rendering to


. At the bottom of


, we listen to port


and initiate the API server.

Routing and HTML return

The primary section of


generates an HTML page with the contents returned by


. First we instantiate an


, a facade that both server and client code use to talk to the API server. On the server side,


is given the request object so that it can pass along the session cookie to the API server to maintain session state. We pass this API client facade to the


middleware so that the action creators have access to it.

Then we perform server-side data fetching, wait for the data to be loaded, and render the page with the now-fully-loaded



The last interesting bit of the main routing section of


is that we swap in the hashed script and css from the


that the Webpack Dev Server – or the Webpack build process on production – has spit out on its last run. You won't have to deal with


manually because webpack-isomorphic-tools take care of that.

We also spit out the


state into a global


variable in the webpage to be loaded by the client-side



Server-side Data Fetching

The redux-async-connect package exposes an API to return promises that need to be fulfilled before a route is rendered. It exposes a


container, which wraps our render tree on both server and client. More documentation is available on the redux-async-connect page.

Client Side

The client side entry point is reasonably named


. All it does is load the routes, initiate


, rehydrate the redux state from the


passed in from the server, and render the page over top of the server-rendered DOM. This makes React enable all its event listeners without having to re-render the DOM.

Redux Middleware

The middleware, [


](, serves two functions:

  1. To allow the action creators access to the client API facade. Remember this is the same on both the client and the server, and cannot simply be
    ed because it holds the cookie needed to maintain session on server-to-server requests.
  2. To allow some actions to pass a "promise generator", a function that takes the API client and returns a promise. Such actions require three action types, the
    action that initiates the data loading, and a
    action that will be fired depending on the result of the promise. There are other ways to accomplish this, some discussed here, which you may prefer, but to the author of this example, the middleware way feels cleanest.

Redux Modules... What the Duck?



folder contains "modules" to help isolate concerns within a Redux application (aka Ducks, a Redux Style Proposal that I came up with). I encourage you to read theDucks Docs and provide feedback.

API Server

This is where the meat of your server-side application goes. It doesn't have to be implemented in Node or Express at all. This is where you connect to your database and provide authentication and session management. In this example, it's just spitting out some json with the current time stamp.

Getting data and actions into components

To understand how the data and action bindings get into the components – there's only one,


, in this example – I'm going to refer to you to the Redux library. The only innovation I've made is to package the component and its wrapper in the same js file. This is to encapsulate the fact that the component is bound to the


actions and state. The component using


needn't know or care if


uses the


data or not.


Now it's possible to render the image both on client and server. Please refer to issue #39 for more detail discussion, the usage would be like below (super easy):

let logoImage = require('./logo.png');


This project uses local styles using css-loader. The way it works is that you import your stylesheet at the top of the


function in your React Component, and then you use the classnames returned from that import. Like so:

render() { const styles = require('./App.scss'); ...

Then you set the


of your element to match one of the CSS classes in your SCSS file, and you're good to go!


Alternative to Local Styles

If you'd like to use plain inline styles this is possible with a few modifications to your webpack configuration.

1. Configure Isomorphic Tools to Accept CSS



add css to the list of style module extensions

style\_modules: { extensions: ['less','scss','css'],

2. Add a CSS loader to webpack dev config



modify module loaders to include a test and loader for css

module: { loaders: [ { test: /\.css$/, loader: 'style-loader!css-loader'},

3. Add a CSS loader to the webpack prod config

You must use the ExtractTextPlugin in this loader. In


modify module loaders to include a test and loader for css

module: { loaders: [ { test: /\.css$/, loader: ExtractTextPlugin.extract('style-loader', 'css-loader')},

**Now you may simply omit assigning the


stylesheet to a variable and keep it at the top of your



render() { require('./App.css'); require('aModule/dist/style.css'); ...

NOTE In order to use this method with scss or less files one more modification must be made. In both




in the loaders for less and scss files remove

  1. modules
  2. localIdentName...


javascript { test: /\.less$/, loader: 'style!css?modules&importLoaders=2&sourceMap&localIdentName=[local]\_\_\_[hash:base64:5]!autoprefixer?browsers=last 2 version!less?outputStyle=expanded&sourceMap' },


javascript { test: /\.less$/, loader: 'style!css?importLoaders=2&sourceMap!autoprefixer?browsers=last 2 version!less?outputStyle=expanded&sourceMap' },

After this modification to both loaders you will be able to use scss and less files in the same way as css files.

Unit Tests

The project uses Mocha to run your unit tests, it uses Karma as the test runner, it enables the feature that you are able to render your tests to the browser (e.g: Firefox, Chrome etc.), which means you are able to use the Test Utilities from Facebook api like



To run the tests in the project, just simply run

npm test

if you have


installed, it will be automatically launched as a test service for you.

To keep watching your test suites that you are working on, just set

singleRun: false

in the


file. Please be sure set it to


if you are running

npm test

on a continuous integration server (travis-ci, etc).

Deployment on Heroku

To get this project to work on Heroku, you need to:

  1. Remove the

    "PORT": 8080

    line from the




    section of



  2. heroku config:set NODE\_ENV=production
  3. heroku config:set NODE\_PATH=./src
  4. heroku config:set NPM\_CONFIG\_PRODUCTION=false
    • This is to enable webpack to run the build on deploy.

The first deploy might take a while, but after that your


dir should be cached.


This project moves fast and has an active community, so if you have a question that is not answered below please visit our Discord channel or file an issue.


Although this isn't a library, we recently started versioning to make it easier to track breaking changes and emerging best practices.


I am more than happy to accept external contributions to the project in the form of feedback, bug reports and even better - pull requests :)

If you would like to submit a pull request, please make an effort to follow the guide in

Thanks for checking this out.

– Erik Rasmussen, @erikras

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