How to Build a Login/Register App with the MERN Stack (Part 4): Setting Up Frontend Routes

In the previous part of this tutorial, How to Build a Login/Register App with the MERN Stack (Part 3): Creating API Endpoints, we created our API endpoints using Express. In this part we will create our app’s Frontend Routes using React.

Setting Up Working Directory

I typically like to use create-react-app to create React apps. After installing it globally using npm or yarn, you can create React apps with it simply by running create-react-app <Project_Name>.  So, let’s create a React app in the root directory of our project. Run create-react-app client.

Now, let’s install the packages we will use in our React app. Run npm install react-icons react-router-dom sweetalert-react. We will also need babel-loader as a dev dependency. So, run npm install babel-loader --save-dev to install it.

Alright, now, let’s clean up some extra files. Delete the following files from your client directory.

public/favicon.ico
public/logo192.png
public/logo512.png
public/manifest.json
src/App.css
src/App.test.js
src/logo.svg
src/setupTests.js

NOTE: Do not forget to remove the lines that were using/calling these files from public/index.htmlandsrc/App.js.

Creating Routes with React Router

First, create a components folder in src folder. Then, create a folder called App inside components and move App.js to there. Make sure to update the import line in index.js. Now, inside index.js, let’s wrap our App component with a Router component as follows.

App component wrapped in a Router component - login/register app with the MERN stack

Next, we need to create components for the pages, so that we can tell React Router to use them when corresponding routes are matched. Create a pages folder in src and add Home, Login, Register and Error404 folders in there. Afterwards, create <PAGE_NAME>.js and <PAGE_NAME>.css files in each of the pages’ folders. Then, create a simple component in each of the .js files so that we can see the Router working. For example, here is pages/Home/Home.js.

Simple Home component - How to build a login/register app with the MERN stack

Last but not least, we need to actually define the routes in App.js.

Routes - How to build a login/register app with the MERN stack

The Switch component is used to return only one matching route. We use the Route component to define a route. The component prop defines the component to return when the URL matches the path prop. We also use the exact prop to indicate that we want to return a component only when the URL exactly matches path. To expand on this, consider the URL '/login', when React Router tries to return a component for that route, it finds that both '/' and '/login' are matched to that route, so it returns both of them. And the route on line 15 is basically telling React Router to use that Error404 component for any URL not matching the ones mentioned above.

Creating Components

Before we continue on with creating the pages components, we first need to create Form and InputField components to use them in pages components.

First, create Form and InputField folders in src/components and create <Component_Name>.js and <Component_Name>.css files in each of these folders.

InputField Component

Let’s start with InputField. Here is InputField.js.

InputField JSX - How to build a login/register app with the MERN stack

And this is InputField.css.

InputField CSS - How to build a login/register app with the MERN stack

And here is a demonstration of the markup.

InputField Component Markup - How to build a login/register app with the MERN stack

Form Component

Here is Form.js.

Form JSX - How to build a login/register app with the MERN stack

As you can see, it returns a form element with the children passed to it and a button. I did so to be able to use it in both Login and Register pages as both of them have different InputFields.

And this is Form.css:

Form CSS

Creating Register Page

Although we haven’t created the NavBar component yet, we are ready to create the Register and Login pages.

First, let’s create a simple class component and import things we are going to use.

Register Component JSX

For the sake of proper styling, we will use a couple of lifecycle methods to center the register form and give a sweet gradient background to the body.

Styling Register component with lifecycle methods

The point here is that if we were to put these styles in Register.css, and because of the way React Router works, they would be used on all pages. So, we apply them when the component is mounted and revert their effect when the component is being unmounted.

And here is the markup of the Register page. These lines are placed inside the .register div.

Register component complete markup

First we have a div containing the avatar at the top of the form. Then we have the form represented in a Form component. And inside of it we have four InputField components for usernameemailpassword and confirm password. At the end we have a Link component to the login page, to provide the user a way to go to the login page.

Finally, we need to define a state to keep track of the values of input fields. We also need to define handleFormSubmit and handleInputChange functions to control the form and inputs.

Register component state, handleFormSubmit and handleInputChange

In handleFormSubmit, we will just console.log('FORM SUBMITTED') for now, and will come back to it when we create the Users context. In handleInputChange, we use the name property of event.target as a key and its value as a value to update the state.

NOTE: I am using arrow functions because they do not have their own this, which means if you call this.setState() from an arrow function in a class component, it will look for the setState() function in the component, not inside the function itself. You could overcome the this problem in another way using bind().

And to finish up, here is Register.css.

Register - CSS

We also need to add following lines to index.css.

Index.js - CSS

NOTE: Do not forget to add 'root' class to the div with the id 'root' in public/index.html.

Creating Login Page

The Login page component is very similar to the Register one, with some slight noncore differences. You can have a look at Login.js and Login.css on the GitHub repository.

Creating Error404 Page

Error404 page component JSX

This page’s component is super simple. We have some text and a Link to / that we will style to make it look like a button. And here is Error404.css.

Error404 page CSS

Conclusion

First, we created a new React app using create-react-app, and cleaned up extra files. Then, we defined our app routes using React Router. Afterwards, we created some components to use when creating the pages. Finally, we created components for some pages. In the next part, we will create a Users Context to connect Frontend to Backend. We will also complete working on the components we couldn’t create because they need the Users Context.

NOTE: You can find all parts of this tutorial here and code here.

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