Integrating React with Drupal: Tips and Best Practices

28 Sep 2023

Most likely, you have no idea what React is and how to integrate it into your Drupal site. No problem, we'll get over this step by step! Integrating React and Drupal can help you create an interactive and engaging user experience as a developer. 
Today, Drupal web development team, and you explore all the tips and tricks for combining those two powerful tools. We'll help your project to win users' hearts and to provide an unforgettable web experience!

What are React and Drupal?

We’ll begin by understanding what React and Drupal are. React is a powerful JavaScript library for creating visually stunning user interfaces. It turns dull web pages into enchanting places where users will want to return repeatedly!
Drupal is a great content management wizard that helps organize and publish content. This wizard handles your articles, images, and other data, keeping everything convenient and tidy.
Now imagine all the possibilities these two powerful tools combined can provide! You can turn any ordinary and grey web page into a true Internet wonder for everyone to tell!

Top 3 Approaches to Integrate React with Drupal

Top 3 Approaches to Integrate React with Drupal

Our first approach is the one in which React and Drupal are independent entities. This allows your React to use Drupal as a kind of "voice" to fetch information and update content. 
Decoupled architecture separates React and Drupal, with Drupal acting as a headless CMS. The main pros of this approach are high flexibility, scalability, and potential for creating complex web applications with interactive user interfaces. However, this comes at the cost of introducing challenges related to SEO and content preview capabilities, as these aspects are bound to tight integration of front-end and back-end systems.

Second Approach: Progressively Decoupled Architecture

How about a gradual approach? If you answer yes, then progressive decoupling is what you’re looking for! This approach balances between complete decoupling of the front-end and back-end while keeping some level of integration. It allows for a gradual transition from traditional Drupal-rendered content to React’s interactive elements. Such an approach works well for projects requiring enhanced user interactivity without completely overhauling the existing CMS infrastructure.

Third Approach: Fully Integrated Approach

You asked for both tools, and we are sure you’ll find ways to balance them. Full integration helps maintain the standard Drupal templating and add React elements when needed. This approach allows you to keep all the advantages of Drupal with a spicy touch of React! A fully integrated system might best fit simple projects with minimal interactivity and basic content presentation needs.

How to integrate React into your Drupal site

Step 1: Prepare
Ensure you have Drupal version 8 - 10 up and running and a basic knowledge of React.

Step 2: Create a New Module
Create a new module in your Drupal site to place your React components.

Step 3: Install Necessary Dependencies
In your module folder, run npm init to create the “package.json” file. Next, install required dependencies such as react, react-dom, and other React packages:

npm install react react-dom

Step 4: Create React Components
Create a “components” folder to place your React components in your module. Next, create a “HelloReaders.js” file with the following component:

mport React from 'react';
const HelloReaders = () => {
  return (    

Hello, Readers!

); }; export default HelloReaders;

Step 5: Add React to your Drupal
To make Drupal aware of your React components, add the following code to the “your_module.module” file:

use Drupal\Core\Asset\LibraryDiscoveryInterface;
use Drupal\Core\Routing\RouteMatchInterface;

 * Implements hook_preprocess_HOOK() for block templates.
function your_module_preprocess_block(&$variables) {
  if ($variables['plugin_id'] === 'your_block_id') {
    $variables['#attached']['library'][] = 'your_module/react_app';
 * Implements hook_page_attachments_alter().
function your_module_page_attachments_alter(array &$attachments) {
  $route_name = \Drupal::routeMatch()->getRouteName();
  if ($route_name === 'your_route_name') {
    $attachments['#attached']['library'][] = 'your_module/react_app';

Important! Make sure to replace 'your_block_id' with your block’s identifier and 'your_route_name' with the name of your React component’s route on which it’ll appear.

Step 6: Create a Library
Put the following code in your module's “libraries.yml” file:
version: VERSION
    /path/to/your/react/components.js: {}
    - core/jquery
    - core/drupal
Replace '/path/to/your/react/components.js' with the correct path to your file with React components.

Step 7: Display React Components
Your components are now ready and you can display them on your Drupal site. To do so, here’s the code you need to add to the block or page chosen in Step 5:




{{ attach_library('your_module/react_app') }}

<div id="react-app"></div>


Step 8: Initialize React
Add the following code to the “components.js” specified in Step 6:

import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';
import HelloReaders from './components/HelloReaders;

const reactAppContainer = document.getElementById('react-app');

if (reactAppContainer) {<br />
  ReactDOM.render(<HelloReaders />, reactAppContainer);<br />

Step 9: Refresh Your Site
"Hello, Readers!" should appear now on your selected page or block. Congratulations, you have successfully integrated React into your Drupal site!

Of course, this is just a basic step-by-step guide, and you can expand it by adding more React components, making requests to Drupal API, and using additional features offered by React.

5 Reasons To Use React with Drupal

1. Fascinating user experience
React allows you to create layered and interactive interfaces your clients will appreciate accurately. For example, you can create a dynamic block with transitions, animations, and various effects.
2. Component architecture
React breaks down a site into smaller self-contained components, making developing and maintaining your project easier. For example, after creating a "button" component, you can use it in different parts of your site without repeating the code.
3. Easy to test
React's code is pretty well-structured, making testing components relatively easy.
4. Wide possibilities
React and Drupal have a large developer community and a lot of third-party libraries. This allows you to implement any function without writing code from scratch. There are ready-made libraries on the Internet for creating charts, sliders, animations, and other interface elements. All that's left for you is to use them in your project!
5. Decoupling from the back-end
What does it mean? Using Drupal's React integration, it is possible to separate the front-end from the back-end, allowing them to work independently. This allows for faster development and scaling of your website or web application.

React app embedded in Drupal: Checklist of Tips and Best Practices

React, and Drupal site’s cooperation improves the user experience, making the site more dynamic and interactive. To seamlessly integrate React into Drupal, we present a сhecklist of tips and best practices.

  • Choose one of the three approaches we talked about before
    Read again to understand which approach will suit you more, depending on the requirements and complexity of your project.
  • Create a new custom module in Drupal
    This will allow you to manage React components and assets separately.
  • Use a version control system
    You can use Git for Drupal and React applications. This will help maintain code integrity and facilitate collaboration between developers.
  • Use npm or yarn to manage dependencies
    Make sure you track the version for consistency.
  • Use frontend build tools
    You can use Webpack or Parcel to bundle and optimize the resources of your React app for production.
  • Avoid conflicts with existing Drupal features or libraries
    Name your React components cautiously, avoiding any name conflicts with existing Drupal libraries.
  • React’s and Drupal’s Routing
    If you use React Router for client-side routing, ensure it won’t conflict with Drupal's routing. To do this, properly handle server-side rendering.
  • Optimize Your React App
    When possible, reduce the HTTP requests and use lazy loading of components.
  • Use CSS-in-JS or CSS
    CSS-in-JS or scoped CSS libraries allow you to avoid style conflicts with Drupal's CSS. For better encapsulation, use CSS modules.
  • Use the Drupal API to get data from the backend
    This will ensure proper authentication and security of data.
  • Set up CORS settings in Drupal
    The correct settings will help your React app interact with Drupal's RESTful API.
  • Make sure your React components are accessible and follow the WCAG guidelines.
    To make a website accessible to all users, React components must comply with the latest WCAG guidelines.
  • Write unit and integration tests for React components
    You can use testing libraries like Jest and Enzyme for this.
  • Set up continuous integration (CI)
    Set up a continuous integration and delivery pipeline to automate testing and deployment. This will ensure your code’s stability and efficiency.
  • Document the entire integration process
    During development, document the integration process, architecture, and any custom APIs or configurations used, preferably step-by-step. In the future, it will ease the maintenance of both the project and its new features.
  • Take care of security measures
    In the process of developing your project, stick to the best possible security practices, like cross-site scripting protection and cross-site request forgery, to safely work with your data.
  • Update your React app and Drupal modules regularly
    This will allow you to use new and updated features of said modules.

By following this checklist, you can successfully embed your React app in Drupal. This will provide a seamless user experience by utilizing both technologies' strengths. Every project is unique and has different tasks, so feel free to change and modify this checklist according to your needs.

To sum up

React-Drupal integration can be a challenging and complex task. If it's difficult for you to get React working with Drupal, don't worry! Difficulties are normal during the software development process. Before giving up, try finding some more information about the problem you’ve encountered and the tools you use. Doing so may help you save your money and resources, instead, you’ll need to invest your patience and effort.
We hope our blog helped you and also answered all your questions! If you have any more questions, we’ll gladly answer them with all due professionalism! You can also contact us for more pieces of advice on integrating React into your Drupal site.