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Single-Page React Applications With the React-Router and React-Transition-Group Modules


This tutorial will walk you through using the react-router and react-transition-group modules to create multi-page React applications with page transition animations.

Preparing the React App

Installing the create-react-app Package

If you've ever had the chance to try React, you've probably heard about the create-react-app package, which makes it super easy to start with a React development environment.

In this tutorial, we will use this package to initiate our React app.

So, first of all, make sure you have Node.js installed on your computer. It will also install npm for you.

In your terminal, run npm install -g create-react-app. This will globally install create-react-app on your computer.

Once it is done, you can verify whether it is there by typing create-react-app -V.

Creating the React Project

Now it's time to build our React project. Just run create-react-app multi-page-app. You can, of course, replace multi-page-app with anything you want.

Now, create-react-app will create a folder named multi-page-app. Just type cd multi-page-app to change directory, and now run npm start to initialize a local server.

That's all. You have a React app running on your local server.

Now it's time to clean the default files and prepare our application.

In your src folder, delete everything but App.js and index.js. Then open index.js and replace the content with the code below.

I basically deleted the registerServiceWorker related lines and also the import './index.css'; line.

Also, replace your App.js file with the code below.

Now we will install the required modules.

In your terminal, type the following commands to install the react-router and react-transition-group modules respectively.

npm install react-router-dom --save

npm install react-transition-group@1.x --save

After installing the packages, you can check the package.json file inside your main project directory to verify that the modules are included under dependencies.

Router Components

There are basically two different router options: HashRouter and BrowserRouter.

As the name implies, HashRouter uses hashes to keep track of your links, and it is suitable for static servers. On the other hand, if you have a dynamic server, it is a better option to use BrowserRouter, considering the fact that your URLs will be prettier.

Once you decide which one you should use, just go ahead and add the component to your index.js file.

import { HashRouter } from 'react-router-dom'

The next thing is to wrap our <App> component with the router component.

So your final index.js file should look like this:

If you're using a dynamic server and prefer to use BrowserRouter, the only difference would be importing the BrowserRouter and using it to wrap the <App> component.

By wrapping our <App> component, we are serving the history object to our application, and thus other react-router components can communicate with each other.

Inside <App/> Component

Inside our <App> component, we will have two components named <Menu> and <Content>. As the names imply, they will hold the navigation menu and displayed content respectively.

Create a folder named "components" in your src directory, and then create the Menu.js and Content.js files.


Let's fill in our Menu.js component.

It will be a stateless functional component since we don't need states and life-cycle hooks.

Here we have a <ul> tag with <li> tags, which will be our links.

Now add the following line to your Menu component.

import { Link } from 'react-router-dom'

And then wrap the content of the <li> tags with the <Link> component.

The <Link> component is essentially a react-router component acting like an <a> tag, but it does not reload your page with a new target link.

Also, if you style your a tag in CSS, you will notice that the <Link> component gets the same styling.

Note that there is a more advanced version of the <Link> component, which is <NavLink>. This offers you extra features so that you can style the active links.

Now we need to define where each link will navigate. For this purpose, the <Link> component has a to prop.


Inside our <Content> component, we will define the Routes to match the Links.

We need the Switch and Route components from react-router-dom. So, first of all, import them.

import { Switch, Route } from 'react-router-dom'

Second of all, import the components that we want to route to. These are the HomeWorks and About components for our example. Assuming you have already created those components inside the components folder, we also need to import them.

import Home from './Home'

import Works from './Works'

import About from './About'

Those components can be anything. I just defined them as stateless functional components with minimum content. An example template is below. You can use this for all three components, but just don't forget to change the names accordingly.


We use the <Switch> component to group our <Route> components. Switch looks for all the Routes and then returns the first matching one.


Routes are components calling your target component if it matches the path prop.

The final version of our Content.js file looks like this:

Notice that the extra exact prop is required for the Home component, which is the main directory. Using exact forces the Route to match the exact pathname. If it's not used, other pathnames starting with / would also be matched by the Home component, and for each link, it would only display the Home component.

Now when you click the menu links, your app should be switching the content.

Animating the Route Transitions

So far, we have a working router system. Now we will animate the route transitions. In order to achieve this, we will use the react-transition-group module.

We will be animating the mounting state of each component. When you route different components with the Route component inside Switch, you are essentially mounting and unmounting different components accordingly.

We will use react-transition-group in each component we want to animate. So you can have a different mounting animation for each component. I will only use one animation for all of them.

As an example, let's use the <Home> component.

First, we need to import CSSTransitionGroup.

import { CSSTransitionGroup } from 'react-transition-group'

Then you need to wrap your content with it.

Since we are dealing with the mounting state of the component, we enable transitionAppear and set a timeout for it. We also disable transitionEnter and transitionLeave, since these are only valid once the component is mounted. If you are planning to animate any children of the component, you have to use them.

Lastly, add the specific transitionName so that we can refer to it inside the CSS file.

We also imported a CSS file, where we define the CSS transitions.

If you refresh the page, you should see the fade-in effect of the Home component.

If you apply the same procedure to all the other routed components, you will see their individual animations when you change the content with your Menu.


In this tutorial, we covered the react-router-dom and react-transition-group modules. However, there's more to both modules than we covered in this tutorial. Here is a working demo of what was covered.

So, to learn more features, always go through the documentation of the modules you are using.

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