Configuration and scripts for Create React App.
Last updated 6 months ago by joernb .
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react-scripts-with-ssr Build Status

This is a fork of react-scripts, which adds support for server-side rendering (SSR).

react-scripts is a part of Create React App, which can be used with a customized version of react-scripts.

Getting Started

Install create-react-app:

npm i -g create-react-app

Generate a new project (add --typescript for TypeScript support):

npx create-react-app my-app --scripts-version react-scripts-with-ssr
cd my-app

Start a local webpack dev server with integrated server-side rendering:

npm start

Build a production version and test server-side rendering locally:

npm run build
npm run serve

How it works

SSR entry point

The script will generate an additional entry point for server-side rendering in src/index.ssr.js (or src/index.ssr.tsx). It exports an express-style request handler, that looks like this:

export default (request, response) => {
  // ...

Webpack will compile this entry point as a separate library build/ssr.js. In production, that library may be imported by an executable node script, which sets up an express server and plugs in the request handler. Such a script is provided as an example at react-scripts-with-ssr/scripts/serve.js, which you may start with npm run serve to test your production builds. That script however is not part of the compilation. It is up to you to integrate the request handler into your server-side runtime environment.

During development, the request handler will be integrated into the local webpack dev server. Start it with npm start and open http://localhost:3000 to see the server-side rendered output.

If src/index.ssr.js exports a function called devServerHandler, it will be invoked and its return value will be used as a request handler during development instead. This gives your entry point the possibility to make environment-specific adjustments. For example, all assets are compiled in-memory during development and should not be served from the real file system.

Relative Urls, PUBLIC_URL and BASE_HREF

create-react-app provides a variable called PUBLIC_URL, which is accessible via process.env.PUBLIC_URL in JavaScript or by using the placeholder %PUBLIC_URL% in HTML to reference assets. This variable is determined at compile time and must be specified before compilation, which makes your compiled web app dependant on the specified location.

For projects with server-side rendering however, there is another way to deal with this. Instead of hardcoding the public url, HTML assets can be referenced with a relative url and the server-side renderer can read a specified base url at runtime and render it into a base tag. react-scripts-with-ssr supports using PUBLIC_URL but also allows the BASE_HREF approach:

  • Define a BASE_HREF environment variable in your server runtime environment containing your base url (e.g.
  • Add <base href="%BASE_HREF%/" /> to your index.html template. Notice the trailing slash.
  • Replace %BASE_HREF% with the value of process.env.BASE_HREF in your server-side request handler.
  • Make all asset references in HTML relative. Do not use %PUBLIC_URL% in URLs or server-relative URLs (e.g. /some/url).
  • Make the build scripts emit relative paths by providing PUBLIC_URL as environment variable with the value . during compile time or setting the homepage field in package.json to ..
  • If you need access to BASE_HREF in JavaScript, read it from document.getElementsByTagName("base")[0].href;.

Environment variables

create-react-app embeds environment variables prefixed with REACT_APP in the build during compile time and provides them with a simulated process.env object using Webpack's DefinePlugin.

While embedding is necessary on the client-side, the ssr request handler runs in a Node.js context with real environment variables. react-scripts-with-ssr allows accessing external environment variables in the ssr request handler during runtime. However, all variables contained in the client-side build are also embedded into the ssr request handler as default values if they are not provided by the runtime environment.

If you want to make your server's runtime environment variables available on the client-side, you can do this with a clientEnv variable:

  • Add a variable assignment script <script>clientEnv=%CLIENT_ENV%</script> to the head section in public/index.html.
  • Replace the placeholder in the ssr request handler with .replace(/%CLIENT_ENV%/g, JSON.stringify({ FOO: process.env.FOO })).
  • Access the value on the client-side with clientEnv.FOO.
  • For TypeScript: Declare the global variable declare const clientEnv: NodeJS.ProcessEnv;.

You might also use this mechanism to transfer preloaded state to the client.


Merge react-scripts updates

Clone create-react-app and create a subtree branch for react-scripts:

git clone create-react-app
cd create-react-app
git checkout react-scripts@2.1.3
git subtree split -P packages/react-scripts -b react-scripts-v2.1.3

Merge the subtree branch into this project:

git remote add upstream ../create-react-app
git merge upstream react-scripts-v2.1.3


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