Deploying a React App to Heroku

Part #2 Written To Assist My Team Push Our Group Project Frontend

This post was written back in the days where Heroku provided free hosting; do not expect any example projects or links to Heroku to work.

This guide is step #2, written to assist my group in getting our team's full stack app deployed. This post will focus on the React frontend; to get a Node backend deployed to Heroku first, please follow part 1, and to tie it all together check out part 3 .

Issues causing deployment failures

  • Just like with the backend, having our files inside a subfolder was causing issues. There may have been some other work around but once I again I moved the files to the floor of the project folder, so that the package.json was next to the .git repo. I attempted to use the same command as before and it didn't work, so ended up using the following separate commands to move all visible files and all hidden dot files respectively:
    # extract regular files and folders from inner folder
    mv gigboard/gigboard-client/* gigboard/
    # extract hidden files (those starting with dots) from the inner folder
    mv gigboard/gigboard-client/.* gigboard/
  • Also like the backend issues, we needed to replace the hard-coded API address with one that could work both in development on our local machines and in production after being deployed to Heroku. Using process.env is a great way to do this, as it allows your code to determine the current environment. Heroku automatically will set process.env.NODE_ENV set to the string "production" in the deployed production app. To setup the alternate local development URL, you once again create a .env file, add the following line, and save:

    # inside your local .env file, which is gitignored

    Then in app.js or wherever we will be making API calls using fetch or axios, we can set this API_URL dynamically based on where the code is running.

    let API_URL;
    if (process.env.NODE_ENV === 'development') {
    API_URL = 'http://localhost:5000';
    } else if (process.env.NODE_ENV === 'production') {
    API_URL = 'https://{{{YOUR-BACKEND}}}';

    I used port 5000 because that seemed to be where heroku local web was serving the backend; if you'll be using nodemon you'll want to use whatever you've coded into your local backend development server. I found this 5000 vs 3001 issue because I was getting a net::ERR_CONNECTION_REFUSED error in the dev tools.

  • I needed to delete the yarn lock file; not sure why that was there but Heroku didn't like having it and a package lock file at the same time.

  • I spent a lot of time researching getting two distinct .git repos to both push to a single Heroku app. I couldn't remember if we were wanting this for sure, and the link he provided didn't work as it was using heroku create which attempts to create a new app. I ended up giving up on trying for a single deployed app, and decided for sake of finally sleeping to just deploy this front end to a 2nd, separate Heroku app. The following process is almost the same as my first post on deploying backend .

To deploy the React frontend to a 2nd Heroku app

first in browser

  • visit and login if needed
  • click dropdown "new" and then "create new app"
  • choose an available name that no one else on heroku has used; i used "gig-board" and then click "create app"
  • click "deploy" option in the nav bar
  • click "settings" in the nav bar, scroll down to the "Buildpacks" section and click the button on the right "Add buildpack"
  • a modal will pop up, and you'll want to paste into the input and click "save changes"

Screen Shot 2021-03-15 at 11.54.13 PM.png

then in your command line

  • navigate to your frontend folder, and make sure you're on your main branch.
  • git pull
  • npm i to make sure all your node modules are installed
  • make sure you can run the React app locally by running npm start and watching localhost:5000 in your browser.
  • heroku login back in your command line, press any button, log in with the browser that pops up, then close that browser window
  • you can also do a local test run with heroku local web if you'd like; make sure you kill anything running on port 5000 first.

  • heroku git:remote -a YOUR-FRONTED-HEROKU-APP-NAME and replace YOUR-FRONTED-HEROKU-APP-NAME with whatever the exact name of this new, front-end Heroku app is that you just made. For instance, mine is was deployed to so I will use gig-board.

  • git add .
  • git commit -am "make it work for frontend too, please"
  • git push heroku main
  • cross your toes and your eyes and wait until you hopefully see remote: Verifying deploy... done. This took significantly longer than the backend to deploy for me.
  • type heroku open and view your majestic nav bar.