1. Setting up the React Application

  2. Layerfile

  3. Setting up the Layerfile

  4. Adding the Layerfile

  5. Video Tutorial

  6. Project Source Code

Setting up the React Application

(You can skip this section if you already have a React app running.)

To build your React application, ensure you have node, npm, and npx installed. You can verify with the following commands:

  • node --version

  • npm --version

  • npx --version

If installed correctly these will both give you a number as an output.

After installed, go to a folder and run the following command npx create-react-app [app_name] (where [app_name] is the name of your application). This will create a new React app in the folder ‘[app_name]‘.

Once your app is finished installing, go into your directory with the command cd [app_name], and run the command npm start. This will open the React application on your computer at http://localhost:3000. You can now go in and change the title of the page or make another change to your React application to see the changes in effect.

Summary of Steps:

  1. node --version

  2. npm --version

  3. npx --version

  4. npx create-react-app [app_name]

  5. cd [app_name]

  6. npm start


Listed below is an example Layerfile for webapp.io which you can use to setup a basic React application. We’ll breakdown this Layerfile in the section below for a set of detailed explanation on what each one of the instructions do.

# Set the image
FROM vm/ubuntu:18.04


RUN curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_14.x | sudo -E bash -
RUN sudo apt-get install -y nodejs
RUN sudo npm install [email protected] -g

ENV NODE_OPTIONS=--max-old-space-size=8192

COPY . .

RUN npm install


EXPOSE WEBSITE http://localhost:3000

Setting up the Layerfile

If you haven’t already, please sign up to webapp.io, and install webapp.io onto your repository.

First let’s breakdown each instruction in our Layerfile.

1: Set the Image

FROM vm/ubuntu:18.04

The FROM instruction tells webapp.io what base to use to run tests from. There can only be one FROM line, and in this case we’re using the ubuntu:18.04 virtual machine image.

If you’re familiar with AWS Ec2 Instances, this is similar to creating a virtual machine from the ubuntu 18.04 image.

2: Set the Memory


The MEMORY instruction allows you to specify how much memory your environment uses. In this case we use MEMORY 2G to ensure that at least 2GB of memory are available.

3. Install NodeJS and NPM

RUN curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_14.x | sudo -E bash -

RUN sudo apt-get install -y nodejs

RUN sudo npm install [email protected] -g

The RUN instruction will run the given script, and fails the Layerfile if the script fails. In this case, we’re using the RUN command to install the dependencies we need to build and run the React application.

In this case we’re using the RUN instruction to download Node JS and npm.

4. Set Node Space Size

ENV NODE_OPTIONS=--max-old-space-size=8192

The ENV instruction persistently sets environment variables in the Layerfile. In this case, the NODE_OPTIONS gets set to a specific size so that it can be consumed later in the React start process.

5. Get Repository Files

COPY . .

The COPY instruction moves files from your repository to the virtual machine. The Layerfile will pick up on the files in the repository that you are making the commit for, and will copy those files into the virtual machine so you can run you project.

6. Install Dependencies

RUN npm install

Similar to the RUN commands above, this will execute the given script npm install, which will install the dependencies for the React app.

7. Start the React app


The RUN BACKGROUND instruction is the RUN instruction with the BACKGROUND flag. This tells webapp.io to continue to the next step in the Layerfile instead of waiting for the given script to run. The reason why we do this is that npm start will essentially block the terminal while the React app is running. We want to continue to the next step so that’s why we use RUN BACKGROUND here.

8. Expose React App on the Virtual Machine

EXPOSE WEBSITE http://localhost:3000

TheEXPOSE WEBSITE instruction creates a link to view the virtual machine at a specific port. We use EXPOSE WEBSITE to expose the virtual machine on port 3000 which is where the React application runs after running npm start. We use EXPOSE WEBSITE here so we can get a link to our React app to share with stakeholders involved in our projects.

Adding the Layerfile

The last step in this process is to add the Layerfile to your repository. Simply create a file called Layerfile (no file extension) in the root of your React application. If you haven’t already, install webapp.io onto your repository containing your React app. Once done, simply create a commit and push your React app to the repository with the new Layerfile. Webapp.io will pick up on the Layerfile and build your React application according to the steps in your Layerfile.

Video Tutorial

Check out our React video tutorial for a step-by-step breakdown on how to set up webapp.io with preview environments for a React application:

View Project Source Code.