How to create an electron-forge project with React, Typescript and HMR

As a react developer, I've always been used to magic CLIs that scaffold projects with everything included, such as Next.js or create-react-app. I don't think I ever setup react from scratch, but there is no electron-forge template for that, so I had to dig in...

What we want

A buildable electron project that includes :

  • react
  • typescript
  • hot module reloading on the react part

Getting started with the webpack-typescript template

electron-forge provides us a convenient webpack-typescript that generates a boilerplate configured with typescript and webpack support (who would have guessed ?). Create the project using the following command : yarn create electron-app my-new-app --template=typescript-webpack

Once the project has been created, enter it and run the project to ensure it works: cd my-new-app yarn start

CleanShot 2020-06-14 at 18.29.40@2x.png The default app should open and display "Hello World"

Adding react

Now that our app opens properly, we need to add react dependencies. In the terminal, run: yarn add react react-dom @types/react @types/react-dom

That done, replace the content of the body by the div that will contain the react app in src/index.html :

@@ -6,7 +6,6 @@

-    <h1>💖 Hello World!</h1>
-    <p>Welcome to your Electron application.</p>
+    <div id="root"></div>

Create a file in src called App.tsx and paste the following code into it :

import * as React from 'react';

const App = () => <div>Hi from react !</div>;

export default App;

To make sure typescript understands jsx, add "jsx": "react" in your tsconfig.json file like so:

@@ -12,7 +12,8 @@
     "resolveJsonModule": true,
     "paths": {
       "*": ["node_modules/*"]
-    }
+    },
+    "jsx": "react"
   "include": [

Now we need to update the renderer to bind react to the div we created earlier. First, rename it from src/renderer.ts to src/renderer.tsx then replace the content by the following:

import './index.css';
import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
import App from './App';

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

Now update the js entryPoint in package.json with the correct name:

@@ -52,7 +52,7 @@
               "entryPoints": [
                   "html": "./src/index.html",
-                  "js": "./src/renderer.ts",
+                  "js": "./src/renderer.tsx",
                   "name": "main_window"

You can now run yarn start. The application should open and the react app should appear !

CleanShot 2020-06-14 at 19.10.10@2x.png

However, if you try to change some code in the App.tsx, the changes won't appear on your App. We need to manually install a module to hot reload changes.

Adding hot-reload

We're almost there ! Run yarn add react-hot-loader, then head over srx/App.tsx and add the following lines:

@@ -1,5 +1,6 @@
+import { hot } from 'react-hot-loader';
 import * as React from 'react';

 const App = () => <div>Hi from react!</div>;

-export default App;
\ No newline at end of file
+export default hot(module)(App);
\ No newline at end of file

Now, we need to configure babel to use the react-hot-loader package that will enable hot reloading by creating a .babelrc file at the root of the repository and putting only one line into it :

{ "plugins": ["react-hot-loader/babel"] }

Finally, run yarn start, change the message, hit save and it should work !

CleanShot 2020-06-14 at 19.30.39.gif

Hope it helps !