Migrating from React-on-rails to Webpacker

10 May 2017

Having just migrated from ReactOnRails to Webpacker for handling the frontend code in my Rails app, I thought I’d share the steps I took. I switched because I was tired of having react on rails in both the Gemfile and client code, maintaining the same version in both and because Webpacker was supported by Rails in 5.1.

Migration steps

  1. Install Webpacker gem and run rails webpacker:install and rails webpacker:install:react.
  2. Run webpack to verify it works
  3. Merge packages and configurations from client/package.json to package.json and yarn install.
  4. Move client into app/javascripts via cp -R client/app app/javascript.
  5. Create corresponding entry files in app/javascript/packs.
  6. Rendering React components is now a little bit trickier without the helpers from ReactOnRails, but below is how I did it.
  # in your template do something like this
  <%= react_component('cloud', { files: some_files }) %>
  # application_helper.rb
  def react_component(pack, props)
    content = javascript_pack_tag(pack.downcase)
    content << content_tag(:div, nil, { id: 'container', data: props })
  // app/javascript/packs/cloud.js
  import Component from '../cloud/cloud';
  import ComponentRenderer from '../component-renderer';

  // component-renderer.js
  import React from 'react';
  import { render } from 'react-dom';

  export default function ComponentRenderer(Component) {
    document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', () => {
      const container = $('#container');
      const myProps = container.data();
      render(<Component {...myProps} />, container.get(0));


Run RAILS_ENV=test webpack to build assets before running specs that need them, I used this neat solution.


Overall the switch took a few days, but I think it’s worth it as I now have a neat setup with webpack-dev-server and stylesheets in webpack, something I didn’t get when first setting up ReactOnRails about a year ago. But the biggest win here is moving away from the magic of ReactOnRails to something where I’ve gained a much better understanding of all the moving parts, and I’m not better positioned to deal with any issues going forward. That being said, I’d like to thank the creators and maintainers of ReactOnRails for making it easy to get started using React with Rails.

If you discover any quirks please share them in the comments below.