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ReactJS | Http Client Programming

ReactJS | Http Client Programming

Hello folks! welcome back to a new section of our tutorial on ReactJS. In this section of our tutorial on ReactJS, we will be studying about ReactJS Http Client Programming.

React Http client programming enables the application to connect and fetch data from the http server via JavaScript. It reduces the data transfer between the client and server as it fetches only the required data instead of fetching the whole design and afterward improves the network speed. It improve the user experience and becomes an essential feature of every modern web application.

Nowadays, a lot of server side applications exposes its functionality through REST API (functionality over HTTP protocol) and then allows any client application to make use of the functionality.

React doesn't provide http programming api but it supports browser's built-in fetch() api, as well as third party client library like axios to perform client side programming. Let us study how to perform Http programming in React application in this post. Developers ought to have a basic understanding in Http programming to understand this tutorial.

Expense Rest Api Server

The prerequisite to do Http programming is the primary knowledge of http protocol and the REST API technique. Http programming involves two parts, server and client. React give support to make client side application. Express a popular web framework provides support to create server side application.

Let's first create an Expense Rest Api server using express framework and then access it from our ExpenseManager application using browser's built-in fetch api.

Open a command prompt and create a new folder, express-rest-api.

cd /go/to/workspace 
mkdir apiserver 
cd apiserver

Initialize a new node application using the below command.

npm init

The npm init will prompt and ask us to enter basic project detail. Let's input apiserver for the project name and server.js for the entry point. Leave other configuration with default option.

This utility will walk you through creating a package.json file.
It only covers the most common items, and tries to guess sensible defaults.

See `npm help json` for definitive documentation on these fields and exactly what they do.

Use `npm install <pkg>` afterwards to install a package and
save it as a dependency in the package.json file.

Press ^C at any time to quit.
package name: (apiserver)
version: (1.0.0)
description: Rest api for Expense Application
entry point: (index.js) server.js
test command:
git repository:
license: (ISC)
About to write to \path\to\workspace\expense-rest-api\package.json:
   "name": "expense-rest-api",
   "version": "1.0.0",
   "description": "Rest api for Expense Application",
   "main": "server.js",
   "scripts": {
      "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
   "author": "",
   "license": "ISC"
Is this OK? (yes) yes

Next, install express, nedb and cors modules using the below command.

npm install express nedb cors


  • express is used for creating server side application.
  • nedb is a database used for storing the expense data.
  • cors is a middleware for express framework to configure the client access details.

Let us create a file, data.csv and populate it with initial expense data for the purpose of testing. The file structure is that it contains one expense entry per line.

Grape Juice,30,2020-10-12,Food
Java Programming book,242,2020-10-15,Academic
Mango Juice,35,2020-10-16,Food
Exam Fees,1245,2020-11-04,Academic

Next, create a file, expensedb.js and include code to load the initial expense data to the data store. The code checks the data store for initial data and load only if the data isn't available in the store.

var store = require("nedb")
var fs = require('fs');
var expenses = new store({ filename: "expense.db", autoload: true })
expenses.find({}, function (err, docs) {
   if (docs.length == 0) {
function loadExpenses() {
   readCsv("data.csv", function (data) {

      data.forEach(function (rec, idx) {
         item = {}
         item.name = rec[0];
         item.amount = parseFloat(rec[1]);
         item.spend_date = new Date(rec[2]);
         item.category = rec[3];

         expenses.insert(item, function (err, doc) {
            console.log('Inserted', doc.item_name, 'with ID', doc._id);
function readCsv(file, callback) {
   fs.readFile(file, 'utf-8', function (err, data) {
      if (err) throw err;
      var lines = data.split('\r\n');
      var result = lines.map(function (line) {
         return line.split(',');
module.exports = expenses

Next, create a file, server.js and include the actual code to list, add, update and delete the expense entries.

var express = require("express")
var cors = require('cors')
var expenseStore = require("./expensedb.js")
var app = express()
var bodyParser = require("body-parser");
app.use(bodyParser.urlencoded({ extended: false }));
var HTTP_PORT = 8000
app.listen(HTTP_PORT, () => {
   console.log("Server running on port %PORT%".replace("%PORT%", HTTP_PORT))
app.get("/", (req, res, next) => {
   res.json({ "message": "Ok" })
app.get("/api/expenses", (req, res, next) => {
   expenseStore.find({}, function (err, docs) {
app.get("/api/expense/:id", (req, res, next) => {
   var id = req.params.id;
   expenseStore.find({ _id: id }, function (err, docs) {
app.post("/api/expense/", (req, res, next) => {
   var errors = []
   if (!req.body.item) {
      errors.push("No item specified");
   var data = {
      name: req.body.name,
      amount: req.body.amount,
      category: req.body.category,
      spend_date: req.body.spend_date,
   expenseStore.insert(data, function (err, docs) {
      return res.json(docs);
app.put("/api/expense/:id", (req, res, next) => {
   var id = req.params.id;
   var errors = []
   if (!req.body.item) {
      errors.push("No item specified");
   var data = {
      _id: id,
      name: req.body.name,
      amount: req.body.amount,
      category: req.body.category,
      spend_date: req.body.spend_date,
   expenseStore.update( { _id: id }, data, function (err, docs) {
      return res.json(data);
app.delete("/api/expense/:id", (req, res, next) => {
   var id = req.params.id;
   expenseStore.remove({ _id: id }, function (err, numDeleted) {
      res.json({ "message": "deleted" })
app.use(function (req, res) {

Now, it is time to run the application.

npm run start

Next, open the web browser and then enter http://localhost:8000/ in the address bar.

   "message": "Ok" 

It confirms that our application is working fine.

Change the url (uniform resource locator) to http://localhost:8000/api/expense and press enter. The web browser will show the initial expense entries in JSON format.

      "name": "Pizza",
      "amount": 80,
      "spend_date": "2020-10-10T00:00:00.000Z",
      "category": "Food",
      "_id": "5H8rK8lLGJPVZ3gD"

Let's use our newly created expense server in our Expense manager application through fetch() api in the section below.

The fetch() api

Let's create a new application to showcase client side programming in React.

First, create a new react application, react-http-app using Create React App or Rollup bundler by following the instructions given in Creating a React application tutorial.

Next, open the application in your favorite editor.

Next, create an src folder beneath the root directory of the application.

Next, create a components folder under src folder.

Next, create a file, ExpenseEntryItemList.css under src/component folder and include the generic table styles.

html {
   font-family: sans-serif;
table {
   border-collapse: collapse;
   border: 2px solid rgb(200,200,200);
   letter-spacing: 1px;
   font-size: 0.8rem;
td, th {
   border: 1px solid rgb(190,190,190);
   padding: 10px 20px;
th {
   background-color: rgb(235,235,235);
td, th {
   text-align: left;
tr:nth-child(even) td {
   background-color: rgb(250,250,250);
tr:nth-child(odd) td {
   background-color: rgb(245,245,245);
caption {
   padding: 10px;
tr.highlight td { 
    background-color: #a6a8bd;

Next, create a file, ExpenseEntryItemList.js under src/component folder and then start editing.

Next, import React library.

import React from 'react';

Next, create a class, ExpenseEntryItemList and call constructor with props.

class ExpenseEntryItemList extends React.Component {
   constructor(props) {

Next, initialize the state with an empty list in the constructor.

this.state = {
   isLoaded: false,
   items: []

Next, create a method, steItems to format the items received from remote server and then set it into the state of the component.

setItems(remoteItems) {
   var items = [];
   remoteItems.forEach((item) => {
      let newItem = {
         id: item._id,
         name: item.name,
         amount: item.amount,
         spendDate: item.spend_date,
         category: item.category
      isLoaded: true,
      items: items

Next, add a method, fetchRemoteItems to fetch the items from the server.

fetchRemoteItems() {
      .then(res => res.json())
         (result) => {
         (error) => {
               isLoaded: false,


  • fetch api is used to fetch the item from the remote server.
  • setItems is used to format and store the items in the state.

Next, add a method, deleteRemoteItem to delete the item from the remote server.

deleteRemoteItem(id) {
   fetch('http://localhost:8000/api/expense/' + id, { method: 'DELETE' })
      .then(res => res.json())
         () => {


  • fetch api is used to delete and fetch the item from the remote server.
  • setItems is once again used to format and store the items in the state.

Next, call the componentDidMount life cycle api to load items into the component during the mounting phase.

componentDidMount() { 

Next, write an event handler to remove the item from the list.

handleDelete = (id, e) => { 


Next, write the render method.

render() {
   let lists = [];
   if (this.state.isLoaded) {
      lists = this.state.items.map((item) =>
         <tr key={item.id} onMouseEnter={this.handleMouseEnter} onMouseLeave={this.handleMouseLeave}>
            <td>{new Date(item.spendDate).toDateString()}</td>
            <td><a href="#" onClick={(e) => this.handleDelete(item.id, e)}>Remove</a></td>
   return (
         <table onMouseOver={this.handleMouseOver}>

Finally, export the component.

export default ExpenseEntryItemList;

Next, create a file, index.js under src folder and use ExpenseEntryItemList component.

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

         <ExpenseEntryItemList />

Finally, create a public folder under the root folder and create index.html file.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
      <meta charset="utf-8">
      <title>React App</title>
      <div id="root"></div>
      <script type="text/JavaScript" src="./index.js"></script>

Next, open a new terminal window and start our server application.

cd /go/to/server/application 
npm start

Next, serve the client application using npm command.

npm start

Next, open the web browser and then enter http://localhost:3000 in the address bar and press enter.


Try to remove the item by clicking on the remove link.


Alright guys! This is where we are going to be rounding up for this tutorial. In our next tutorial, we are going to be studying about ReactJS Form Programming.

Feel free to ask your questions where necessary and we will attend to them as soon as possible. If this tutorial was helpful to you, you can use the share button to share this tutorial.

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Thanks for reading and bye for now.

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