webpack-dev-server is a wonderful tool when developing due to live reloading features when working on react projects. However, a complication arises when the user begins to add data serving apis.

By default, webpack-dev-server only serves the front-end related files when started, which leaves no room for the user to squash in data serving code initialization during startup. For example, I want to fetch some data from the server. One option would be to setup a data serving api server in a different domain, but this option causes CORS which adds frustration and it isn’t neat. If I want to have the data serving api to have the same domain as the front-end serving domain, AND do not surrender using webpack-dev-server, the following solution will solve the dilemma.

Solution

webpack-dev-server has proxy configuration where it allows proxying certain subdomain paths to some other domain. For example, I have setup a data serving api on localhost:3000 where the data can be fetched when GETing http://localhost:3000/api. The webpack-dev-server is running on port 8080, so my dev react project is live on http://localhost:8080. Somewhere in my react code, I want to fetch data by sending GET request to localhost:3000/api but this will raise CORS error.

But what if webpack-dev-server can forward requests to http://localhost:8080/api to http://localhost:3000/api? This is what proxy configuration does.

For this example’s purpose, adding following configuration in webpack.config.js will do.

    devServer: {

    // use port 8080
    // other options...

        proxy: {
            '/api': 'http://localhost:3000'
        }

    }

restart the webpack-dev-server and any requests to localhost:8080/api will be automatically forwarded to localhost:3000/api.

More specific options are available for proxy options, such as path modification before forwarding. Checkout the docs.

This way, the browser does not need to raise CORS error and the user can separate front-end serving and backend data serving in different node processes. This will allow the user to enjoy the webpack-dev-server’s live reloading feature and modify data serving server when required.


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