Creating your first React Native project

After introducing React Native and seeing all the required prerequisites for creating a mobile application with React Native, let's now see how to create our first project from scratch.

Open a new terminal and run the following code to invoke the React Native CLI using the npx command:

$ npx react-native init firstapp

Note: Before continuing, you should, by now, have started your Android emulator or connected a real device to your machine.

Next, start the Metro Bundler using the following commands:

$ cd firstapp
$ react-native start

Note: Metro is a JavaScript bundler for React Native which is fast, scalable and integrated that compiles your React Native code (ES6+) to JavaScript (ES5) using Babel.

You need to leave Metro running. So open a new terminal and run the following commands to compile and launch your application in the Android emulator:

$ cd firstapp 
$ react-native run-android   

The run-android command will compile and install the app in Android.

Note: If you are under a macOS and you want to install the app in an iOS emulator or real device, you need to use the react-native run-ios command instead.

You need to wait for your app to be built. You’ll finally get the BUILD SUCCESSFUL message in your terminal and your app should be opened in the emulator or a real device if attached.

This is a screenshot:

React Native App in the Android Emulator

This is a screenshot of our app running inside an Android emulator:

React Native App on Android

As, we previously mentioned, if you have Android SDK Platform Tools v29, you may get adb: error: cannot bind listener: Operation not permitted. In this case, you need to downgrade to v28. Refer the previous Testing on Android and Ubuntu 19.04 section.

Opening your project in Visual Studio Code

After running your app inside the Android emulator. Run the following command to open the project in Visual Studio Code from your project’s folder:

$ code .

React Native Project in VS Code

The anatomy of a React Native project

In the left panel, we can see the structure of our project. It includes the typical folders and configuration files for a Node.js project such as the package.json and package-lock.json files and the node_modules folder. We have also other configuration files such as:

  • babel.config.js: The configuration file for Babel (A compiler and transpiler for JavaScript)
  • metro.config.js: The configuration file for Metro, a JavaScript bundler for React Native,
  • app.json: configures parts of our app that don’t belong in code. See this article.
  • watchman.config: The configuration file for Watchman, a file watch service,
  • .flowconfig: The configuration file for Flow, a static type checker for JavaScript,
  • .eslintrc.js: The configuration file for ESLint, a JavaScript and JSX linter (a tool for code quality),
  • .buckconfig: The configuration file for Buck, a build system created by Facebook,
  • .gitignore and .gitattributes: ignores all files in version control that should be unique to each development machine

We have the following folders:

  • android: The folder for the Android project,
  • ios: The folder for the iOS project,
  • __tests__: The folder for tests.

We have the following JavaScript files:

  • App.js: The main component in our React Native app,
  • index.js: The main file of our application where the components are registered.

Wrap-up

In this part, we have created our first React Native project using the React Native CLI via the npx command. We have also deployed our mobile application to our Android emulator. Finally, we have opened our project with Visual Studio Code and explained the basic anatomy of a React Native project.

Note: We also publish our tutorials on Medium and DEV.to. If you prefer reading in these platforms, you can follow us there to get our newest articles.

You can reach the author via Twitter:

About the author

Ahmed Bouchefra
is a web developer with 5+ years of experience and technical author with an engineering degree on software development. You can hire him with a click on the link above or contact him via his LinkedIn account. He authored technical content for the industry-leading websites such as SitePoint, Smashing, DigitalOcean, RealPython, freeCodeCamp, JScrambler, Pusher, and Auth0. He also co-authored various books about modern web development that you can find from Amazon or Leanpub


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