After part one, we already have a ReactJS app that is living inside Django. In this part two, we will focus on setting up Django to display a ReactJS app using webpack.

If you have followed from part one, use the same project. If not, to get a starter project from part two, you can checkout the part2 branch from here.

Step 1: Install django-wepack-loader

In order to do this, we need to use django-webpack-loader. (Ensure that the virtualenv is running) Do this:

(react_django)$ pip install django-webpack-loader

django-webpack-loader would allow Django to use the generated bundle that is output by webpack-bundle-tracker.

Step 2: Update settings.py

Add webpack-loader to INSTALLED_APPS:

INSTALLED_APPS = [
	...
	'webpack_loader',
]

Include the following in settings.py:

WEBPACK_LOADER = {
    'DEFAULT': {
        'BUNDLE_DIR_NAME': 'bundles/',
        'STATS_FILE': os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'webpack-stats.json'),
    }
}

PROJECT_ROOT = os.path.dirname(os.path.abspath(__file__))
STATIC_ROOT = os.path.join(PROJECT_ROOT, 'staticfiles')
STATIC_URL = '/static/'
STATICFILES_DIRS = (
    os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'assets/static'),
)

From the above, we tell Django we would like to use webpack_loader in the INSTALLED_APPS and setup the required config in WEPACK_LOADER.

Adding the STATICFILES_DIRS to point to assets/static is to ensure that when python manage.py collectstatic is run, it would fetch staticfiles from that given directory.

Step 3: Start the real coding

With all the above setup, we can finally start the real coding. You can skip this step and go to Step 4 if you are adding it to a existing project.

$ python manage.py startapp helloworld

Update settings.py to include helloworld.

INSTALLED_APPS = [
	...
	'webpack_loader',
	'helloworld',
]

Create folder directory and a index.html in the newly created helloword app. index.html should be in: ./helloworld/templates/helloworld/index.html

In views.py do this

def index(request):
    return render(request, 'helloworld/index.html')

Then update react_django/urls.py to

from django.conf.urls import url, include
from django.contrib import admin

urlpatterns = [
    url(r'^admin/', admin.site.urls),
    url(r'', include('helloworld.urls')),
]

Also create a urls.py in helloworld. It should look this like inside helloworld/urls.py.

from django.conf.urls import url
from helloworld import views

urlpatterns = [
    url(r'^$', views.index, name='index'),
]

The above are just getting the browser to display index.html page when localhost:8000 is visited. You should be quite familiar with this already.

Step 4: Display ReactJS in Django

Inside index.html or inside any .html file if you are adding to a existing project, add the following line:

{% raw %}

  1. {% load render_bundle from webpack_loader %} at the top
  2. {% render_bundle 'main' %} inside a <div id=“app”> tag

So if a new index.html, it should do like this:

{% load render_bundle from webpack_loader %}
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">
    <title>Hello World!</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <div id="app"></div>
    {% render_bundle 'main' %}
  </body>
</html>

{% endraw %}

The <div id="app"> could be any other given id. We just need to ensure that it matches the one we set later in index.js.

Step 5: Start coding in React

Inside index.js, do this:

var React = require('react')
var ReactDOM = require('react-dom')

const App = () => <h1>Hello world</h1>;

ReactDOM.render(<App/>, document.getElementById('app'))

The above are written using EcmaScript6 syntax. Most ReactJS tutorial online are using this modern javascript syntax as well. We need to tell babel that we are writing in react so that they will apply the correct loader.

In root directory, create a .babelrc and add the following line:

{ "presets": ["react"], }

Step 6: See React in action!

Now with all this completed, in order to view the ReactJS component in Django, we need to do the following:

$ npm run build
$ python manage.py collectstatic
$ python manage.py runserver

Visiting localhost:8000, we should see this:

You could see that Hello world is being displayed by a file main-[hashes].js. This show that ReactJS is now working on our Django powered site!

Summary

What we have did so far is creating a simple ReactJS that live together with our Django project. The linking between Django and ReactJS is make possible by webpack.

However, it seems too troublesome to run three commands just to quickly reload a server and view UI changes. This isn’t the kind ReactJS that we have heard of. In Part Three, we will setup react-hot-loader to work in our project and also explain how to use it in production.