Setting Up React, Webpack 4 & Babel 7 from scratch — 2021

Setting Up React, Webpack 4 & Babel 7 from scratch — 2021


5 min read

React is the most popular javascript framework which is used by millions of developers around the globe. Creating a React app from Scratch is quite painful as it requires a lot of configuration.

We all know that create-react-app gives a nice boilerplate to begin a journey with react, but you might have the requirement to create a custom configuration all from scratch, then this article is for you.

We will learn how to configure the React with Webpack 4 and Babel 7 from scratch in 10 simple steps.


Step 1

  • Create a project folder and cd into it
mkdir react_webpack_babel && cd react_webpack_babel

Step 2

  • Create a package.json file into the root of our project folder “react_webpack_babel”:
yarn init
  • If you want to skip all the question asked during the creation of package.json with the above command, run:
yarn init -y

Step 3

  • Create an src folder, index.js, and index.html file:
mkdir -p src
touch src/index.html src/index.js

*Here, index.html and index.js files will serve as the entry point in our react application. *

Step 4

  • Let's install React.js and React DOM:
yarn add react react-dom react-scripts

Step 5

*In this step, we will install Babel & Webpack: *

  • babel-core: babel transpile ES6 code to ES5

  • **babel-loader: ** This is a webpack helper which allows to transpile Javascript files with babel and webpack. It uses babel under the hood

  • babel/preset-env: It determines which features needs to be transformed to run within different browsers or runtime versions. This is also known as browser polyfills

  • babel/preset-react: It is used to transform all your React JSX into functions.

 yarn add -D  @babel/core babel-loader @babel/preset-env @babel/preset-react
  • Install webpack and webpack-cli
yarn add -D webpack webpack-cli
  • Now, create a webpack.config.js file inside our project folder and insert the below code into it
touch webpack.config.js
module.exports = {
  module: {
    rules: [
        test: /\.(js|jsx)$/,
        exclude: /node_modules/,
        use: {
          loader: "babel-loader"

**Step 6 **

*Install webpack-dev-server *

  • webpack-dev-server: Webpack has its own server called webpack-dev-server(WDS) which removes the pain of manually refreshing the browser once the changes have been saved.
yarn add -D webpack-dev-server
  • Now add below lines inside the package.json file
"scripts": {
    "start": "webpack serve --config webpack.config.js --progress --profile --watch --content-base src/",
    "build": "webpack --mode production"
  • --watch: Even after the build run, webpack will continue to watch for changes in any of the resolved files.

  • --profile: Capture a "profile" of the application, including statistics and hints, which can then be dissected using the Analyze tool.

  • --progress: Prints compilation progress during the build

  • --content-base: This will tell the server where to serve content from.

Step 7

  • Insert below code into your index.js files
import React from "react";
import ReactDOM from "react-dom";

const App = () => {
  return <div>Setting Up React,Webpack 4 & Babel 7!</div>;

ReactDOM.render(<App />, document.querySelector("#root"));
  • Insert below code into your index.html files
<!DOCTYPE html>
        <meta charset="utf-8">
        <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">
        <title>React Webpack</title>
        <meta name="description" content="">
        <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
        <section id="root"></section>

**Step 8 **

  • Install another webpack helper, css-loader and style-loader to make CSS work in our application. We will be importing CSS files into our components.
yarn add -D css-loader style-loader

Check index.html file for the same!

Step 9

  • Create a .babelrc file inside the root of your project folder and insert below lines to it.

.babelrc: As we know that, we are using babel-loader, it will look for a .babelrc file while the project is initialized

touch .babelrc
  • Insert the below code to .babelrc file
{     "presets": ["@babel/preset-env", "@babel/preset-react"] }
  • Install HTML web pack plugin and HTML loader for displaying our page

htmlWebPackPlugin: This generates the HTML dynamically, with a script tag including our bundled js file.

yarn add -D html-webpack-plugin html-loader
  • Here is how our webpack.config.js file will look like:
const HtmlWebPackPlugin = require("html-webpack-plugin");
module.exports = {
  module: {
    rules: [
        test: /\.(js|jsx)$/,
        exclude: /node_modules/,
        use: {
          loader: "babel-loader"
        test: /\.html$/,
        use: [
            loader: "html-loader"
  plugins: [
    new HtmlWebPackPlugin({
      template: "./src/index.html",
      filename: "./index.html"
  • Here is how our package.json looks like :
  "name": "react-webpack4-babel7-boilertplate",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "main": "index.js",
  "license": "MIT",
  "scripts": {
    "start": "webpack-dev-server --open --hot --mode development",
    "build": "webpack --mode production"
  "dependencies": {
    "react": "^17.0.1",
    "react-dom": "^17.0.1",
    "react-scripts": "^4.0.0"
  "devDependencies": {
    "@babel/core": "^7.12.3",
    "@babel/preset-env": "^7.12.1",
    "@babel/preset-react": "^7.12.1",
    "babel-loader": "^8.1.0",
    "css-loader": "^5.0.0",
    "html-loader": "^1.3.2",
    "html-webpack-plugin": "^4.5.0",
    "style-loader": "^2.0.0",
    "webpack": "^5.3.0",
    "webpack-cli": "^4.1.0",
    "webpack-dev-server": "^3.11.0"

Step 10

  • Now Run,
yarn run start
  • You will see that the code is compiled successfully. Let's run the app in our browser

Screenshot 2020-10-28 at 6.37.25 PM.png

  • To make the build, run
yarn run build

This will then create /dist/ folder

Screenshot 2020-10-28 at 6.39.42 PM.png


In this article, we learned how can we leverage webpack, babel to create a custom react project.

I have created the repository on Github, please feel free to fork the code and try to run all the commands which I have mentioned above.

**GitHub Repo: ** React17-Webpack4-Babel7-2021

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