How to create custom Create React App (CRA) templates

Create React App (CRA) templates were introduced quite recently and there is not much info present on how to create them. In this article, I’m going to share my experience of developing a custom template and releasing it to the NPM.

Photo by Nate Grant on Unsplash

CRA templates are a way to automate the routine setup. Basic Create React App CLI execution generates an app without any React Router, linter, prettier setup, so you need to add all of this dependencies on your own and configure them, but why waste time when you know from the beginning that you’ll be building an app with Redux, for example. Templates could help with that. It’s a way to generate an app with all the deps and tools you need. Of course, if such template exists ;) No worries! You can build your own!

Currently, there are only two official CRA templates present:

cra-template

cra-template-typescript

you could generate CRA from a template by simply providing — template flag.

For example:

npx create-react-app my-app — template typescript# oryarn create react-app my-app — template typescript

To start building CRA template I would start with generating a new project with CRA itself

yarn create react-app your-cra-template-name

Adjust package name in your package.json with cra-template-[your-custom-template-name].

Note, that it should start with the cra-template- prefix. This way CRA knows that this would be an actual template.

Remove everything you don’t need from the CRA app and add everything you need.

When your project is ready to become a _template_ you need to do some preparation.

3.1 Create template/ folder

From your project root create `template/` folder.

mkdir template/

3.2 Add gitignore file to the template/ folder

Add `gitignore` into the created template folder `template/gitignore`. You can copy `gitignore` from the CRA but don’t forget to remove the `.` in front of the file.

cp .gitignore template/gitignore

Please note: it is important that the `gitignore` file inside the template folder should be without ”.” in front!

This way CRA would know that you’re creating a template and it will replace this file later. Otherwise, you’ll receive build failures.

3.3 Create `template.json` at your project root

List all of your `dependencies` and `scripts` that you need for the new app created from your template to have. For example

{
"dependencies": {
"@typescript-eslint/eslint-plugin": "^2.16.0",
"@typescript-eslint/parser": "^2.16.0",
"enzyme": "^3.11.0",
"enzyme-adapter-react-16": "^1.15.2",
"eslint": "^6.8.0",
"eslint-config-airbnb-typescript": "^6.3.1",
"eslint-config-prettier": "^6.9.0",
"eslint-plugin-import": "^2.20.0",
"eslint-plugin-jsx-a11y": "^6.2.3",
"eslint-plugin-prettier": "^3.1.2",
"eslint-plugin-react": "^7.17.0",
"eslint-plugin-react-hooks": "^2.3.0",
"prettier": "^1.19.1",
"react-redux": "^7.1.3",
"react-router-dom": "^5.1.2",
"react-scripts": "3.3.0",
"redux": "^4.0.5",
"redux-devtools-extension": "^2.13.8",
"typescript": "~3.7.2"
},
"scripts": {
"lint": "eslint --ext .js,.jsx,.ts,.tsx ./",
"fix": "eslint --ext .js,.jsx,.ts,.tsx --fix ./"
}
}

3.4 Copy “src/” and “public/” folders into your “template/” folder

cp -a ./src/. template/src && cp -a ./public/. template/public

3.5 Copy any configuration files that you might want to include with your template

For example

cp .eslintignore .eslintrc .prettierrc tsconfig.json README.md template/

Add the license, author, description, description, keywords, repository URL, bugs URL. You find a good example in my template package.json

It’s important to point CRA where to look while building your app from the template. Adding ‘main’ and `files` points to proper files.

{ 
“main”: “template.json”,
“keywords”: [
“react”,
“create-react-app”,
“cra-template”,
“template”,
“prettier”
],
“files”: [“template”, “template.json”]
}

I’d suggest using a pre-publish script to make it easier for incremental template updates

For your convenience, you can add pre-publish scripts

{
"clean-files": "rm -rf ./template/public ./template/src && rm -f ./template/.eslintrc",
"copy-files": "cp -a ./src/. template/src && cp -a ./public/. template/public && cp .eslintrc template/",
"prepublishOnly": "yarn clean-files && yarn copy-files"
}

When everything is ready you can publish your package to the NPM

Create an npm account

If you haven’t already, navigate to the npm sign up and create an account.

Log in to npm via terminal

From your project root login to npm with your credentials

npm login

Publish your package to the npm with public access

npm publish --access public
This is how successful deployment looks like

If the name of your package is already taken you’ll receive an error on this step — just try another name or scoped packages. When publishing was successful you can start using your template. Happy coding!

I created an opinionated quick start Create React App (CRA) template with configured Redux, TypeScript, React Router, Enzyme, and custom ESlint configuration.

A quick start Redux + TypeScript Create React App template

Just install and play with it already. It configures TypeScript with Redux project with tons of useful tools and configurations, like automatic code formatting and ESLint setup for the TypeScript.

Usage

npx create-react-app your-project-name --template typescript-redux# oryarn create react-app your-project-name --template typescript-redux

`npx` command installs the most recent stable version of CRA from npm.

--template parameter points to this template, note that `cra-template-` prefix is omitted.

Motivation

You know the pain. You start a new project from scratch and need to configure it again and again. It needs routing, ok you setup Router, then you need Redux — ok, oh 😩 Redux boilerplate is taking so much time to type. Wait… what if you could have all the tools you want just from the beginning? I want to focus on building amazing projects and not spending hours configuring them. That’s why I’ve created this template. It’s here for you to use.

Try it now!

Redux + TypeScript Create React App template on GitHub

Redux + TypeScript Create React App template on NPM

Hopefully, you found something useful in this article for you ;) Thanks!

Software Engineer living and working in Berlin. #react #redux #graphql #nodejs Blog: https://grischuk.de/ GitHub: https://github.com/alexandr-g