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Hot Module Replacement - React

The Hot Module Replacement functionality is not intended for use in production. You should only use it in your development configuration/environment, please see the building for production guide for more information.

As explained in detail on the concept page, Hot Module Replacement (HMR) exchanges, adds, or removes modules while an application is running, without a page reload. HMR is particularly useful in applications using a single state tree since components are "dumb" and will reflect the latest application state, even after their source is changed and they are replaced.

The approach described below specifically uses Babel and React, but HMR can be done in a variety of other ways, using other tools.

If you'd like to see examples of other approaches please request them, or better yet open up a PR with an addition.

Project Config

This guide will be demonstrating HMR using Babel on a React app, and CSS Modules.

First, install the following dev dependencies:

npm install --save-dev webpack webpack-dev-server
npm install --save-dev babel-core babel-loader babel-preset-es2015 babel-preset-react
npm install --save-dev style-loader css-loader

In addition you'll need to install React, ReactDOM and react-hot-loader (make sure to use the next release of this package)

npm install --save react react-dom react-hot-loader@next

Babel Config

Create a .babelrc with the following options:


  "presets": [
    ["es2015", {"modules": false}],
    // webpack understands the native import syntax, and uses it for tree shaking

    // Transpile React components to JavaScript
  "plugins": [
    // Enables React code to work with HMR.

We need to use ES2015 modules to make HMR work properly. To do this, set the module option to false in our es2015 preset. We can do something similar using babel-preset-env:

["env", {"modules": false}]

Setting Babel's module plugin to false helps fix many issues (see Migrating from v1 to v2 and webpack-tree-shaking).

Note: Node.js doesn't support ES2015 modules yet and using ES2015 modules in your webpack 2 configuration file will cause an issue.

To work around this you will need two .babelrc files to transpile the configuration and app code separately:

  1. in the project root directory with "presets": ["es2015"]
  2. in the source directory for app code

webpack configuration

For this example, we will use a single webpack config file, with the following assumptions:

  • all app source code lives inside the <root>/src folder
  • the entry point to the app is at /src/index.js
Please review the webpack-dev-server options and the concept pages to familiarize yourself with the concepts below


const { resolve } = require('path');
const webpack = require('webpack');

module.exports = {
  context: resolve(__dirname, 'src'),

  entry: [
    // activate HMR for React

    // bundle the client for webpack-dev-server
    // and connect to the provided endpoint

    // bundle the client for hot reloading
    // only- means to only hot reload for successful updates

    // the entry point of our app
  output: {
    filename: 'bundle.js',
    // the output bundle

    path: resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),

    publicPath: '/'
    // necessary for HMR to know where to load the hot update chunks

  devtool: 'inline-source-map',

  devServer: {
    hot: true,
    // enable HMR on the server

    contentBase: resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),
    // match the output path

    publicPath: '/'
    // match the output `publicPath`

  module: {
    rules: [
        test: /\.jsx?$/,
        use: [ 'babel-loader', ],
        exclude: /node_modules/
        test: /\.css$/,
        use: [ 'style-loader', 'css-loader?modules', ],

  plugins: [
    new webpack.HotModuleReplacementPlugin(),
    // enable HMR globally

    new webpack.NamedModulesPlugin(),
    // prints more readable module names in the browser console on HMR updates
If you are using the options key for your babel configuration, make sure you turn babel's modules feature off as mentioned in the config section.

App code

Let's set up our React app:


import React from 'react';
import ReactDOM from 'react-dom';

import { AppContainer } from 'react-hot-loader';
// AppContainer is a necessary wrapper component for HMR

import App from './components/App';

const render = (Component) => {


// Hot Module Replacement API
if ( {'./components/App', () => {


import React from 'react';
import styles from './App.css';

const App = () => (
  <div className={}>
    <h2>Hello, </h2>

export default App;


.app {
  text-size-adjust: none;
  font-family: helvetica, arial, sans-serif;
  line-height: 200%;
  padding: 6px 20px 30px;

Important to note:

  1. Setting set devServer: { hot: true } causes webpack will expose the API to our code

  2. We use the hook to enable HMR for specific resources (App.js in this example). The most important property here is, which specifies how to handle changes to specific dependencies.

  3. Whenever src/components/App.js or its dependencies are changed will fire the render method. The render method will even fire when App.css is changed because it is included in App.js.


<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <title>Example Index</title>
  <div id="root"></div>
  <script src="bundle.js"></script>

We need to put the index.html file in our dist folder because webpack-dev-server will not run without it.

Putting it all together

Finally, lets add a start task to package.json, that calls the webpack-dev-server binary.


  "scripts" : {
    "start" : "webpack-dev-server"

When we run npm start, it will launch the webpack dev server, causing our code to be transpiled by Babel, and bundled. Open a browser to http://localhost:8080, and check the JS console for logs similar to:

dev-server.js:49[HMR] Waiting for update signal from WDS…
only-dev-server.js:74[HMR] Waiting for update signal from WDS…
client?c7c8:24 [WDS] Hot Module Replacement enabled.

When you edit and save your App.js file, you should see something like the following in the console, and the App should update with changes.

[WDS] App updated. Recompiling…
client?c7c8:91 [WDS] App hot update…
dev-server.js:45 [HMR] Checking for updates on the server…
log-apply-result.js:20 [HMR] Updated modules:
log-apply-result.js:22 [HMR]  - ./components/App.js
dev-server.js:27 [HMR] App is up to date.

Note that HMR specifies the paths of the updated modules because we're using NamedModulesPlugin.