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Migrating a Create-React-App project into an Nx Workspace

Create-React-App (CRA) is the most widely used tool for creating, building and testing a React app. This guide will show you how move an app generated with CRA into an Nx workspace. Once the migration process is complete, you'll be able to take advantage of all of Nx's features without needing to completely recreate your build process.

In this article, you’ll learn how to:

  • Create an Nx workspace for a React application
  • Migrate a React application into your Nx workspace
  • Convert CRA scripts for use in Nx
  • Create a library and use it in your application

For this example, you’ll be migrating the default CRA typescript template app into an Nx workspace. This is the code that is generated when you run yarn create react-app webapp --template typescript.

There is also a repo that shows the finished result of this guide and for each step a diff will be provided to see the exact code changes that occur for that step.

1. Create your workspace

To start migrating your app, create an Nx workspace:

npx create-nx-workspace acme --appName=webapp --preset=react --style=css --nx-cloud

Note: Replace acme with your organization's npm scope. This will be used when importing workspace projects. You can also replace webapp with a different name -- you can have more than one app in an Nx workspace.

View the code changes

2. Add npm packages to your workspace to support CRA

We'll need to add a few dependencies to the Nx workspace that are needed to allow CRA to function.

yarn add --dev react-scripts @testing-library/jest-dom eslint-config-react-app react-app-rewired

Note: The react-app-rewired package allows us to customize the webpack config without ejecting.

View the code changes

3. Replace code generated by Nx with the CRA app

The source code for each app in an Nx workspace should be contained within the folder of a generated app. The create-nx-workspace command from step 1 created an app folder at apps/webapp that we can use to contain the CRA app. Delete the existing contents and copy over the CRA app code.

rm -rf apps/webapp/* apps/webapp/{.babelrc,.browserslistrc}
cp -r /path/to/cra-app/{README.md,package.json,tsconfig.json,src,public} apps/webapp

Replace /path/to/cra-app with the actual path to your CRA app on your machine.

View the code changes

4. Add CRA commands to workspace.json

Run the following terminal commands to set up the CRA commands in workspace.json. cwd specifies the directory the command should be executed from and outputs lets Nx know which files are modified when the command is executed.

nx g @nrwl/workspace:run-commands serve \
--project webapp \
--command "node ../../node_modules/.bin/react-app-rewired start" \
--cwd "apps/webapp"

nx g @nrwl/workspace:run-commands build \
--project webapp \
--command "node ../../node_modules/.bin/react-app-rewired build" \
--cwd "apps/webapp" \
--outputs "dist/apps/webapp"

nx g @nrwl/workspace:run-commands lint \
--project webapp \
--command "node ../../node_modules/.bin/eslint src/**/*.tsx src/**/*.ts" \
--cwd "apps/webapp"

nx g @nrwl/workspace:run-commands test \
--project webapp \
--command "node ../../node_modules/.bin/react-app-rewired test --watchAll=false" \
--cwd "apps/webapp"

View the code changes

5. Customize webpack

The react-app-wired script allows you to customize the webpack config of CRA by creating apps/webapp/config-overrides.js. Inline comments explain what each section is doing:

const path = require('path');
const TsConfigPathsPlugin = require('tsconfig-paths-webpack-plugin');
const ModuleScopePlugin = require('react-dev-utils/ModuleScopePlugin');

module.exports = {
  webpack: (config) => {
    // Remove guard against importing modules outside of `src`.
    // Needed for workspace projects.
    config.resolve.plugins = config.resolve.plugins.filter(
      (plugin) => !(plugin instanceof ModuleScopePlugin)
    );

    // Add support for importing workspace projects.
    config.resolve.plugins.push(
      new TsConfigPathsPlugin({
        configFile: path.resolve(__dirname, 'tsconfig.json'),
        extensions: ['.ts', '.tsx', '.js', '.jsx'],
        mainFields: ['module', 'main'],
      })
    );

    // Replace include option for babel loader with exclude
    // so babel will handle workspace projects as well.
    config.module.rules.forEach((r) => {
      if (r.oneOf) {
        const babelLoader = r.oneOf.find(
          (rr) => rr.loader.indexOf('babel-loader') !== -1
        );
        babelLoader.exclude = /node_modules/;
        delete babelLoader.include;
      }
    });

    return config;
  },
  paths: (paths) => {
    // Rewrite dist folder to where Nx expects it to be.
    paths.appBuild = path.resolve(__dirname, '../../dist/apps/webapp');
    return paths;
  },
  jest: (config) => {
    config.resolver = '@nrwl/jest/plugins/resolver';
    return config;
  },
};

View the code changes

6. Extend the app's tsconfig.json from the base

Modify apps/webapp/tsconfig.json to extend the root tsconfig.json. This is primarily to pickup the typescript aliases from the root tsconfig file.

{
  "extends": "../../tsconfig.base.json",
  ...
}

View the code changes

7. Add tsconfig files for jest and eslint

It's helpful to have separate tsconfig.json files for testing and linting. In this instance, the actual typescript settings are identical to the base config, so these tsconfig files will extend the base without modifying any values.

echo '{ "extends": "./tsconfig.json" }' > apps/webapp/tsconfig.base.json
echo '{ "extends": "./tsconfig.json" }' > apps/webapp/tsconfig.spec.json

View the code changes

8. Skip CRA preflight check since Nx manages the monorepo.

CRA checks to make sure there are no incompatible dependencies before any scripts run, but the @nrwl/react plugin serves the same purpose and requires slightly different versions in order to function correctly in an Nx workspace. Setting this environment variable disables CRA's check.

echo "SKIP_PREFLIGHT_CHECK=true" > .env

View the code changes

9. Add all node_modules to .gitignore

An apps/webapp/node_modules folder will be generated to hold some cache values when a build is run. This cache shouldn't be committed to git, so we tell git to ignore any node_modules folder.

echo "node_modules" >> .gitignore

View the code changes

10. Try the commands

The following commands are now available for you to try.

nx serve webapp
nx build webapp
nx lint webapp
nx test webapp

The serve command will automatically update when code changes, but needs to be restarted if you add a whole new library to your workspace.

build, lint, and test are set up to automatically cache their results. Subsequent runs of nx build webapp (without changing any code) should only take a couple seconds.

(No code changes for this step.)

11. Create a library

Nx makes it very easy to create isolated collections of reusable code in libraries. Running this script will create a library named ui-button.

nx generate lib ui-button

View the code changes

12. Use the library

The new library can be used in your app like by adding this code to App.tsx:

//...
import { UiButton } from '@acme/ui-button';
//...
<UiButton onClick={learnMore}>Learn React</UiButton>;
//...

The @acme/ui-button path alias is defined in the root tsconfig.json file.

View the code changes

Summary

  • Create-React-App projects can be migrated into an Nx workspace using existing build and serve processes
  • react-app-wired allows you to continue using CRA and modify the webpack configuration
  • Caching is automatically enabled as part of the migration