Getting started with React: an introductory guide for frontend developers
React frontend frameworks web development user interfaces virtual DOM JSX component structure state management developer tools Nodejs

José Matos

03 May 2023

Getting started with React: an introductory guide for frontend developers

    Getting started with React: an introductory guide for frontend developers

    Frontend frameworks are an essential tool for developers, as they make it easier to build robust, high-performance web applications. When it comes to popular frontend frameworks, React, Angular, and Vue are among the most popular options. Each of these frameworks comes equipped with their own set of features, strengths, and weaknesses. In this article, we will take a closer look at these popular frontend frameworks and provide an overview of React, along with a step-by-step guide to help you get started with this popular framework.

    What are frontend frameworks?

    Frontend frameworks are collections of pre-built modules and tools that help speed up web development. They provide a foundation for building interactive web applications. In the past, web developers had to build UI components and other functionality from scratch. However, frontend frameworks make it easier for developers to create complex web applications, by providing a set of modular and reusable building blocks.

    React: An introduction

    React, developed by Facebook, has quickly become one of the most popular frontend frameworks. It was first released in 2013 and since then, it has been used by many companies, including Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit. React can be used for building both simple and complex user interfaces, and it has a vast community of developers, making it easy to find solutions and help when needed.

    React is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces. It enables developers to create reusable UI components, which makes it easier to manage complex user interfaces. React uses a virtual DOM, which is an in-memory representation of the actual DOM. This means that updates can be made more efficiently, as React only needs to update the parts of the DOM that have changed, rather than the entire UI.

    React features

    React comes with a wide range of features, along with numerous third-party packages and libraries, making it easy to customize. Some of the standout features of React include:

    • JSX: A syntax extension for rendering user interfaces in JavaScript. It allows developers to write HTML-like syntax directly in their JavaScript code.
    • Virtual DOM: As mentioned earlier, React's virtual DOM speeds up the process of updating the actual DOM, by only updating what has changed.
    • Component structure: React's component structure provides an organized and intuitive way to manage complex UI elements.
    • State management: React's state management makes it easy to manage and update data within an application.
    • Developer Tools: React comes equipped with a set of developer tools, including the React Developer Tools browser extension, which makes it easier to debug and analyze React apps.

    How to get started with React

    Now that we've taken a look at React's features, it's time to get started. To begin using React, you will need to have Node.js installed.

    Step 1: Create a new project

    npx create-react-app my-app
    cd my-app
    npm start

    The above commands will create a new React application, called 'my-app', and start the development server on port 3000. You can access the app by visiting http://localhost:3000 in your web browser.

    Step 2: Add a component

    React applications are built using components. A component is a self-contained, reusable piece of code that can be used to build UI elements. To create a new component, create a new file called MyComponent.js in the src directory with the following code:

    import React from 'react';
    function MyComponent() {
      return (
          <h1>Hello, world!</h1>
          <p>This is my first React component.</p>
    export default MyComponent;

    The above code defines a new component called MyComponent, which displays a heading along with some text. The component is then exported for use in other parts of our application.

    Step 3: Render the component

    The next step is to render the component in our application. To do this, open the App.js file in your src directory and replace the contents with the following code:

    import React from 'react';
    import './App.css';
    import MyComponent from './MyComponent';
    function App() {
      return (
        <div className="App">
          <MyComponent />
    export default App;

    The above code imports our new MyComponent component and renders it within our App component. When you save the file, you should see our new component appear on the screen.


    React is a powerful frontend framework that is widely used by developers around the world. Its component-based structure and virtual DOM make it a popular choice for building complex and dynamic user interfaces. In this article, we've provided an introduction to React, along with a step-by-step guide to help you get started with building your own React application. Happy coding!

    © 2023 Designed & Developed by José Matos.