React Storybook

How to set it up and develop your components isolated from your app

Recently React Storybook came out. It’s a tool to isolate your React Components to develop and design them outside of your app. In this post I’ll be going over how to get it set up.

Why use it?

What intrigued me about Storybook is the fact you can work on defining and designing your React components in an environment where you don’t have to worry about the app itself. In fact, by having them isolated you can make sure they work correctly by themselves and don’t rely on the rest of your application.

As a nice side effect, you end up with some sort of “Styleguide” for your components so new members on the team can get familiar with the components without having to sift through the code.



Setting the scene

Make sure you run with NPM3 following this post as otherwise you might end up with storybook being unable to find its dependencies.

Let’s start from scratch by creating a new directory and typing:

$ npm init

This way we end up with a package.json that Storybook relies on. In my case it looks like this:

{
  "name": "storybook-test",
  "version": "1.0.0", 
  "description": 
  "Testing out Storybook!", 
  "main": "index.js", 
  "scripts": { }, 
  "author": "", 
  "license": "ISC"
}

Now let’s install React:

$ npm install --save react

Next, let’s create a component we want to use in Storybook. Create a folder components and add a file card.js in it containing the following code:

import React from 'react';

class Card extends React.Component {

  render() {

    let styles = {
      card: {
        border: '1px solid #FF4422',
        borderRadius: 4,
        backgroundColor: '#FF9988',
      },
      title: {
        color: 'white',
        margin: 0,
        padding: 10,
        fontFamily: 'Helvetica Neue',
      }
    };

    return (
      <div style={styles.card}>
        <h1 style={styles.title}>{this.props.title}</h1>
      </div>
    );

  }
}

module.exports = Card;

Configuring Storybook

Now that we got a base to work with, let’s install Storybook and set it up.

First, install Storybook

$ npm install --save @kadira/storybook

Storybook depends on a folder .storybook which contains the configuration, so let’s create that folder and inside add a config.js:

import { configure } from '@kadira/storybook';

function loadStories() { require('../components/stories/'); }

configure(loadStories, module);

From the above you can probably guess the next step, we need to create a folder stories inside the components folder which will hold our stories. You are free to use any folder you want though.

In stories, add a file card.js with this code:

import React from 'react'; import Card from '../card'; // This is our component import { storiesOf, action } from '@kadira/storybook';

storiesOf('Card', module) .add('with a text', () => (

<card title="A little card">
  ))
  ```</card>

At the top we import our Card component. Storybook provides a chainable method `storiesOf` after which you can describe all your possible 'states'. In the above example we only have one, but we'll add more in a second.

Now, in `.storybook/config.js` we declared our stories can be loaded from `components/stories`, so in order to be able to do that we need to create an `index.js` file which will import all the stories we want to show up in storybook, so create it and add the following inside:

``` javascript
import './card';

Alternatively you can specify the story files from the storybook config file, but this feels a bit more logical.

Running storybook

We’re almost there! In order to run Storybook we need to add a script to our package.json. Alter the file so it has the storybook script in there:

... "scripts": { "storybook": "start-storybook -p 9001" }, ...

Now we can go to the command line and run

$ npm run storybook

and if all goes well we can navigate to our very own Storybook and see our component!

To illustrate how storybook works, let’s add another story for our card:

import React from 'react'; import Card from '../card'; // This is our component import { storiesOf, action } from '@kadira/storybook';

storiesOf('Card', module) .add('with a text', () => (

<card title="A little card">
  ))
  .add('with a specific background', () =&gt; (
    <card title="A little card" background="{" '#550011'="" }="">
  ))
  ```</card></card>

We specified a story that states we can have a button with a specific background. Let's modify the render method of our component to make that possible:

``` javascript
... render() {

let styles = { card: { border: '1px solid #FF4422', borderRadius: 4, backgroundColor: '#FF9988', }, title: { color: 'white', margin: 0, padding: 10, fontFamily: 'Helvetica Neue', } };

if(this.props.background) { styles.card.background = this.props.background; }

return (

<div style="{styles.card}">
  <h1 style="{styles.title}">{this.props.title}</h1>
</div>

 ); } ...

Refresh your storybook, and you should see the second story show up and when you click it the button is slightly darker (unless you felt adventurous and made your own modifications of course!)

Conclusion

I think Storybook is a perfect way to define the possible ‘states’ of your component and offers a nice isolated environment where a developer and designer can go over all the components to make sure they look the way they should, without having to interact with the actual app to force all different states to check them.

I put the example code of this post up on Github so if you were somehow stuck you can check that out:

https://github.com/Hyra/react-storybook-demo

If you have any questions or comments, use Disqus below or find me on Twitter.

Happy coding!



Questions or comments?

As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on Twitter.