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How to Master React: The Prerequisites to Learn React

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Rakesh Purohit

ReactJS Developer Advocate
August 29, 2023

Rakesh Purohit

August 29, 2023

Hello, fellow developers! If you're here, it's likely you've heard the buzz around ReactJS and are considering diving into this powerful JavaScript library. Maybe you're looking to level up your front-end development skills, or perhaps you're intrigued by the efficiency and flexibility that ReactJS brings to the table. Either way, you're in the right place.

ReactJS has been making waves in the web development world since its introduction by Facebook in 2013. It's been adopted by tech giants like Airbnb, Netflix, and Instagram, and its popularity continues to grow. But before you can start building dynamic user interfaces with React, there are some prerequisites to learning React that you'll need to get under your belt.

In this post, we'll explore these prerequisites in detail, ensuring you have a solid foundation to start your journey with ReactJS. We'll cover everything from the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, to more specific React concepts like JSX, components, and state management.

But before we dive in, let's take a moment to appreciate the beauty of ReactJS. It's not just a JavaScript library; it's a tool that empowers us to create interactive, reusable UI components with ease. It's a testament to the evolution of web development, and learning React effectively can open up new avenues in your career as a software engineer.

So, buckle up and get ready for an exciting journey into the world of ReactJS!

What is ReactJS? A Brief Overview

Before we dive into the prerequisites to learn React, let's take a moment to understand what ReactJS is and why it's become such a game-changer in the world of web development.

ReactJS, often simply referred to as React, is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces, primarily for single-page applications. It's known for its efficiency, flexibility, and its component-based architecture. This means you can build complex UIs from small, isolated, and reusable pieces of code called components.

ReactJS also introduces a virtual DOM that optimizes rendering and improves app performance. Unlike the traditional full page refresh model of web development, React allows developers to build applications that can update and render efficiently in response to data changes.

Here's a simple example of a React component:

In this code snippet, Welcome is a React function component that accepts an object of properties (props) and returns a React element. We call this function component with <Welcome name="Developer" /> and the browser renders "Hello, Developer".

React's ability to break down complex UIs into simpler components makes it a powerful tool for developers. It enables us to write code that is more manageable, scalable, and reusable. But to harness the power of ReactJS, you need a good understanding of some core web development concepts and technologies. Let's explore those next.

Prerequisites to Learn React: Setting the Stage

So, you're ready to dive into the world of ReactJS. But before you do, it's crucial to have a basic understanding of certain technologies and concepts. These form the foundation upon which ReactJS is built. Let's explore these prerequisites to learn React.


HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are the building blocks of any web page. HTML provides the structure, and CSS gives it style.

HTML is used to create elements on a web page, such as headings, paragraphs, links, images, and so on. Semantic HTML tags like <header>, <footer>, <article>, and <section> help provide meaning to the web content and improve accessibility.

CSS, on the other hand, is used to style these HTML elements. You should be comfortable with CSS properties, selectors, box model, and layout techniques like Flexbox or Grid.


ReactJS is a JavaScript library, so a solid understanding of JavaScript is a must. You should be comfortable with JavaScript syntax, data types, loops, conditionals, functions, and objects.

Moreover, you should also be familiar with ES6 features like arrow functions, classes, template literals, destructuring, default parameters, and modules. These features are widely used in React code.

Command Line Interface

While not mandatory, being comfortable with the Command Line Interface (CLI) can make your React development process smoother. You'll often find yourself using the CLI to create new React apps, install packages, start your local development server, and more.

Node Package Manager

Node Package Manager (NPM) is a package manager for JavaScript, and it's a key tool in a React developer's toolkit. It allows you to install and manage smaller software packages (like React) that you can use in your projects.

These are the key prerequisites to learn React. Having a good grasp of these will make your React learning journey smoother and more enjoyable. In the next sections, we'll dive deeper into these prerequisites and explore how they relate to React.

HTML and CSS: The Building Blocks of Web Development

Web development begins with HTML and CSS. They are the fundamental technologies for building web pages: HTML for structure, and CSS for visual layout.


HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is not a programming language, but a markup language used to structure content on the web. A basic understanding of HTML involves knowing how to use tags to create elements like headings, paragraphs, links, lists, and images.

For instance, here's a simple HTML code snippet:

In the context of React, understanding HTML is crucial because React uses JSX (we'll get to that later), which is a syntax extension that allows you to write HTML-like code in your JavaScript.


CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used to style the HTML elements and create a visually engaging user interface. A basic understanding of CSS involves knowing how to select HTML elements and apply styles to them, understanding the box model, and being able to create layouts using techniques like Flexbox or Grid.

Here's a simple CSS code snippet:

In this snippet, we're setting the background color of the body to light blue and styling the h1 element to have white text that is centered.

In React, CSS can be applied in various ways, including inline styles and CSS modules, but the fundamental principles remain the same.

Mastering HTML and CSS is a crucial step in your journey to learn React. They provide the building blocks for creating web pages and form the foundation of your user interfaces. In the next section, we'll dive into JavaScript, the programming language that powers React.

JavaScript: The Programming Language Behind React

Once you've got HTML and CSS down, the next step in your journey to learn React is getting comfortable with JavaScript. JavaScript is the programming language that makes web pages interactive, and it's also the language that React is built with.

Basic JavaScript

A basic understanding of JavaScript involves knowing how to declare variables, understanding data types (like strings, numbers, arrays, and objects), and being able to write and use functions. You should also be comfortable with control flow — that is, using loops and conditionals to control what code gets executed.

Here's a simple JavaScript function:

In this snippet, we've defined a function greet that takes one parameter, name, and returns a greeting string. We then call this function with the argument 'Developer' and log the result to the console.

Modern JavaScript Syntax

To work with React effectively, you'll also need to understand modern JavaScript syntax and features, often referred to as ES6 (ECMAScript 6) and beyond. This includes:

  • Arrow functions: These provide a more concise syntax for writing function expressions. They are also lexically bound, meaning their this value is determined by their surrounding scope.
  • Classes: JavaScript classes are a template for creating objects. They encapsulate data with code to manipulate that data. React uses ES6 classes to create components (before the introduction of Hooks).
  • Modules: ES6 introduced a module system to JavaScript, allowing you to split your code into reusable pieces, which can export or import from other modules.
  • Destructuring: This feature allows you to unpack values from arrays or properties from objects quickly and straightforwardly.

Here's an example of some of these features in action:

Understanding JavaScript is crucial for learning React, as React is simply a JavaScript library. The better your JavaScript skills, the easier you'll find it to learn and master React. In the next section, we'll look at the Command Line Interface, another important tool in a developer's toolkit.

The Command Line Interface: Your Tool for Navigating the Development Environment

The Command Line Interface (CLI), also known as the terminal, is a text-based interface used to interact with your computer's operating system. While it might seem daunting at first, especially if you're used to graphical interfaces, the CLI is a powerful tool that can speed up your development process and give you more control over your system.

As a React developer, you'll often find yourself using the CLI to perform tasks like creating a new React application, starting and stopping your development server, installing packages from the Node Package Manager (NPM), and more.

Here's an example of how you might use the CLI to create a new React application using the create-react-app command:

In this example, we're using the npx command to run create-react-app, which sets up a new React application in a directory called my-app. We then change into the my-app directory using the cd (change directory) command. Finally, we start our development server with npm start.

While not a hard requirement, being comfortable with the CLI will make your journey to learn React smoother. It's a fundamental skill for modern web development, and it's worth taking the time to learn. In the next section, we'll explore the Node Package Manager (NPM), a key tool for managing your project's dependencies.

Node Package Manager (NPM): Managing Your Project Dependencies

Node Package Manager, or NPM, is another essential tool in your React toolkit. It's the default package manager for the JavaScript runtime environment Node.js. With NPM, you can install and manage package dependencies for your project.

When you're working on a React project, you'll be using NPM to install various packages. These could be anything from React itself to utility libraries like Lodash or Axios, or even development tools like Babel and ESLint.

Here's an example of how you might use NPM to install React in your project:

In this example, we're using the npm install command to install the react and react-dom packages. These are the two main packages you need to start building a React application.

NPM also provides a package.json file in the root of your project. This file keeps track of all your project's dependencies and their specific versions. It's an essential part of any JavaScript project, and it's something you'll be working with a lot when you're learning React.

Understanding how to use NPM to manage your project's dependencies is a key part of the React learning process. It's another piece of the puzzle that will help you become a proficient React developer. In the next section, we'll start diving into the specifics of React, starting with React components.

React Components: The Heart of ReactJS

Now that we've covered the foundational technologies, let's dive into the specifics of React. At the heart of every React application are components. Understanding them is a crucial part of learning React.

A React component is a reusable piece of the user interface. It's like a function that takes in props (short for properties) and returns a React element, which describes what should appear on the screen. Components can be as simple as a button or as complex as an entire page.

There are two types of components in React: function components and class components. Function components are simpler and easier to understand, and with the introduction of Hooks in React 16.8, they can do everything that class components can do and more.

Here's an example of a simple function component:

In this example, Welcome is a function component that accepts an object of properties (props) and returns a React element. We can then use this component in our application like this: <Welcome name="Developer" />, and the browser will render "Hello, Developer".

Components are the building blocks of any React application. They let you split the UI into independent, reusable pieces, and think about each piece in isolation. Understanding how to create and use components is a key step in your journey to learn React. In the next section, we'll explore JSX, a syntax extension for JavaScript that makes writing React components feel like writing HTML.

JSX: HTML-like Syntax in Your JavaScript Code

JSX, or JavaScript XML, is a syntax extension for JavaScript. It's not required to use React, but it's recommended because it makes writing React components more intuitive by allowing you to write HTML-like syntax in your JavaScript code.

In other words, it provides a way to structure component rendering using syntax familiar to many developers. It's similar to a template language, but it has the full power of JavaScript.

Here's an example of JSX in a React component:

In this example, the <h1>Hello, {}</h1> part is JSX. It looks like HTML, but it's actually JavaScript. The {} part is a JavaScript expression enclosed in curly braces, which JSX allows you to do.

JSX might seem strange at first, but it's a powerful tool that makes writing React more intuitive. It also catches errors and prevents injections, making your code safer.

Understanding JSX is a key part of learning React. It's what allows you to write React components that feel like HTML, making them more intuitive to write and understand. In the next section, we'll explore state and props, two core concepts in React.

State and Props: Core Concepts of React

State and props are two fundamental concepts in React. They allow you to create dynamic and interactive components.


Props, short for properties, are variables passed to a component from its parent. They are used to pass data down the component tree. Props are read-only, meaning a component should never modify the props passed to it.

Here's an example of passing props to a component:

In this example, we're passing a name prop to the Welcome component, which it then uses in its render output.


While props allow you to pass data down the component tree, state is used to store data that a component's event handlers may change over time. State is private and fully controlled by the component.

Here's an example of a component with state:

In this example, we're using the useState Hook to create a state variable count and a function to update it, setCount. When you click the button, it calls setCount with a new value, causing the component to re-render with the updated state.

Understanding props and state is crucial for learning React. They are the mechanisms that allow you to create interactive components and build dynamic user interfaces. In the next section, we'll look at the React Router, a library that allows you to add navigation to your React app.

React Router: Navigating Through Your React Application

As you start building more complex React applications, you'll likely need a way to navigate between different parts of the app. That's where React Router comes in.

React Router is a third-party library that enables navigation among views in your single-page app. It maintains the standard browser navigation behavior you're used to but doesn't cause a page refresh as you navigate through your application.

Here's a simple example of how you might use React Router:

In this example, we're setting up two routes: one for the home page ("/") and one for the about page ("/about"). When you click the links in the navigation, the corresponding component (either Home or About) is rendered, but the page doesn't refresh.

Understanding how to use React Router is a key part of learning React. It allows you to add navigation to your app and create more complex, multi-view applications. In the next section, we'll explore React Hooks, a feature that allows you to use state and other React features in function components.

React Hooks: Simplifying State Management and Side Effects

React Hooks, introduced in React 16.8, are functions that let you use state and other React features in function components, without writing a class. Before Hooks, these features were only available in class components. But Hooks allow you to write your components as functions and still have access to features like state and lifecycle methods.

There are several built-in Hooks in React, such as useState, useEffect, and useContext, among others. You can also create your own custom Hooks to encapsulate and reuse stateful behavior between different components.

Here's an example of using the useState and useEffect Hooks in a function component:

In this example, we're using the useState Hook to create a state variable count and a function to update it, setCount. We're also using the useEffect Hook to update the document title whenever count changes.

Understanding Hooks is a crucial part of learning React. They allow you to write cleaner, more readable code and reuse stateful logic between components. In the next section, we'll explore lifecycle methods, a concept that allows you to run code at specific points in a component's life cycle.

Lifecycle Methods: Understanding the Component Lifecycle in React

In a React application, each component goes through a series of "lifecycle" stages as it mounts, updates, and eventually unmounts from the DOM. React provides lifecycle methods that you can use to run code at specific points in this lifecycle.

Before the introduction of Hooks, these lifecycle methods were only available in class components. They include methods like componentDidMount, componentDidUpdate, and componentWillUnmount.

Here's an example of a class component with lifecycle methods:

In this example, we're logging a message to the console when the component mounts, updates, and unmounts.

With the introduction of Hooks, you can achieve the same functionality in function components using the useEffect Hook.

Understanding the component lifecycle and lifecycle methods is a key part of learning React. It allows you to control what happens when components mount, update, and unmount, giving you more control over your application's behavior. In the next section, we'll look at unidirectional data flow, a key concept in React.

Unidirectional Data Flow: A Key Concept in React

One of the key concepts in React is unidirectional data flow, also known as "one-way data binding". This means that data in a React application flows downwards from parent components to child components through props.

In other words, a child component can never send props back to the parent component. This helps to ensure that the data throughout a component tree is stable and predictable, making your application easier to understand and reason about.

Here's an example of unidirectional data flow in a React component:

In this example, the ParentComponent is passing its state variable name down to the ChildComponent as a prop. The ChildComponent can use this prop in its render output, but it can't change the name value in ParentComponent.

Understanding unidirectional data flow is crucial for learning React. It's a key part of how React manages state and props, and it helps to ensure that your data is predictable and easy to manage. In the next section, we'll look at building mobile apps with React Native, a popular framework for building native mobile apps using React.

Building Mobile Apps with React Native

While ReactJS is primarily used for building web applications, its principles and syntax can also be applied to mobile app development through React Native. React Native is a popular framework for building native mobile apps using JavaScript and React.

React Native allows you to build mobile applications that are indistinguishable from apps built using Objective-C, Java, or Swift. But instead of using these languages, you can write your app in JavaScript and React. It uses the same design as React, letting you compose a rich mobile UI from declarative components.

Here's an example of a simple React Native component:

In this example, we're creating a simple "Hello, world!" app with React Native. The View and Text components are built-in React Native components that map directly to the platform's native UI building blocks.

Learning React Native is a natural next step after learning React. It allows you to apply your React skills to a whole new domain, and it's a great way to build mobile apps in a fast, efficient, and powerful way. In the next section, we'll introduce WiseGPT, a tool that can help you write React code more efficiently.

WiseGPT: A Game-Changer for React Developers

As you embark on your journey to learn React, you'll find that there are many tools and resources out there designed to make your life as a developer easier. One such tool that I've found particularly helpful is WiseGPT.

WiseGPT is a generative AI for React developers that writes code in your style, without a context limit. It also provides API integration by accepting Postman collections and supports extending the UI in the VSCode itself.

Imagine having a tool that can generate accurate React code, tailored to your personal coding style, and integrated right into your development environment. It's like having a pair programming partner who's always ready to help, day or night.

Here's an example of how you might use WiseGPT to generate a function component:

In this example, WiseGPT has generated a simple function component that takes a name prop and renders a greeting message.

WiseGPT can be a game-changer in your React learning journey, helping you write code more efficiently and learn best practices along the way. It's like having a mentor and a helper rolled into one, right in your code editor. In the next section, we'll discuss some strategies and resources for learning React effectively.

Learning React: Resources and Strategies for Effective Learning

Learning React, like learning any new technology, can be both exciting and challenging. But with the right resources and strategies, you can make your learning journey smoother and more enjoyable.

Here are some tips and resources to help you learn React effectively:

  1. Start with the Official React Documentation: The official React documentation is a great place to start. It's comprehensive, well-written, and includes examples and interactive exercises.
  2. Code Along with Tutorials: There are many great React tutorials online. Coding along with these tutorials can help you get hands-on experience and reinforce your learning.
  3. Build Projects: The best way to learn is by doing. Try to build simple projects as you learn new concepts. This will help you understand how different parts of React work together.
  4. Join the Community: The React community is vibrant and welcoming. Joining communities like the Reactiflux Discord server or the r/reactjs subreddit can provide you with support and feedback.
  5. Stay Curious: React is a powerful library with many features. Don't be afraid to dive deep and explore all that React has to offer.

Remember, learning React is a journey. Don't rush it. Take your time to understand the core concepts and build a solid foundation. Happy learning!

In the next section, we'll wrap up and reflect on the exciting journey that awaits you as you dive into learning React.

Conclusion: Embarking on Your React Learning Journey

And there you have it! We've covered the prerequisites to learn React, dived into the core concepts of React, and even touched on some advanced topics. But remember, this is just the beginning. Learning React is a journey, and there's always more to explore and understand.

React is a powerful tool in the hands of a web developer. It allows you to build complex, interactive user interfaces with ease and efficiency. Whether you're building a small personal project or a large-scale web application, React has the tools and concepts to help you succeed.

But most importantly, learning React is an investment in yourself. As a software engineer, every new concept you learn, every problem you solve, and every project you build contributes to your growth and development. And who knows? Maybe one day, you'll be the one writing a blog post to help others learn React.

So, are you ready to embark on your React learning journey? I hope this guide has been helpful and has equipped you with the knowledge and confidence to take that first step. Remember, the React community is here to support you, and tools like WiseGPT are here to help you along the way.

Happy coding, and enjoy your React learning journey!

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