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How to Deploy a React App to Vercel – A Step-by-Step Guide

Deploying and hosting web applications used to be a complicated and tedious process. Developers had to configure servers, manage infrastructure, and manually upload updated assets every time a change was made. This quickly became a burden, taking time away from building applications. Thankfully, the emergence of modern cloud platforms like Vercel has completely changed the game from its traditional approach.

Now you can deploy web applications with minimal configuration and have them hosted instantly on a global content delivery network (CDN). Updates can be deployed automatically from a git repository, removing the need for any manual work.

Have you ever considered deploying your projects to a live URL, without the headaches of traditional hosting providers? In this article, I will walk through how to use Vercel to deploy your React application. We will also look at setting up a Vercel account, connecting your project repository, configuring optimal builds, and deploying your React app instantly.

You will see firsthand how easy Vercel makes it to go from local development to worldwide deployment in minutes

Deploy React to Vercel

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Overview of Vercel

Vercel builds a frontend-as-a-service product that makes it easy for engineers to deploy and run the user-facing parts of their applications. They are one of the leading platforms in this space.

It was built from the ground up to optimize the experience of developing and deploying modern web projects. Vercel provides an incredibly fast and smooth workflow for launching sites. Beyond just the front end, Vercel has been adding cloud-like features like storage and databases.

Whether you are new to deployment or a seasoned pro, Vercel is sure to impress with its speed, reliability, and simplicity.

Why Use Vercel?

In the following sections of this article, I will highlight some of the benefits you get with deploying your application to Vercel:

Continuous Integration and Delivery

One of Vercel’s biggest benefits is its continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) workflow.

Whenever you push code changes to your connected Git repository, Vercel will automatically build, test, and deploy your updates. This enables you to ship features faster with less manual work. In this article, you will get to see this in action.

Fast and Reliable Infrastructure

Vercel utilizes a global content delivery network (CDN) and edge network to make your apps load incredibly fast no matter where your users are located. All traffic is served over HTTP/2 and apps are protected by SSL certificates.

Effortless Scaling

You don’t have to worry about traffic spikes or scale when using Vercel. It handles all the infrastructure and optimization behind the scenes. Your apps are served from locations close to users so they always load quickly.

Simplified Deployments

Deploying on Vercel is straightforward whether using the CLI or web dashboard. The process takes just a few minutes and Vercel auto-detects settings for frameworks like React. You can go from pushing code to seeing your live application in no time.

Real-Time Collaboration

Vercel has built-in support for Pull Request previews. Team members can see how changes look live before they are merged thus making collaboration seamless.

Serverless Functions

Vercel allows you to easily develop serverless functions that extend the functionality of your apps without managing servers. This unlocks new possibilities.

Do you prefer to learn via YouTube tutorials? Then check out this complete guide on Deploying ReactJS Projects on Vercel for Production: A Step-by-Step Guide

Prerequisites

  • a Vercel account to deploy to (I will show you how to create one in this article)

  • Knowledge of React, understanding how React components work and React-JSX syntax are required for you to follow along with this article.

  • NPM is installed on your machine.

  • Have an account with any Git provider (GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket) to push code

  • Basic understanding of how to use the terminal

Getting Started

In this guide, we will deploy a React application. Start by cloning this repository on GitHub. This is what our application looks like when you run the application:

Vercel React

Since we already have this repository pushed to GitHub, we will proceed with its deployment to Vercel.

Setting Up a Vercel Account

There are a few ways in which you can Create a Vercel account. You can either create one with your email or use a GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket account.

To get started creating your Vercel account, head over to https://vercel.com/signup and follow the steps:

  • Choose a Plan Type, in my case, I chose Hobby

  • Next, input your name

  • Then, connect your Git account. I am using my GitHub account in this case

Create a Vercel account

For this project, I used GitHub as the Git provider, but the overall process should be very similar if you use a different provider like GitLab or Bitbucket. The onboarding flow with Vercel is straightforward and user-friendly. Regardless of which provider you choose, you will need to authorize Vercel and grant permissions so it can access your repositories. The steps we cover will apply across providers, just follow along using whichever Git service you prefer.

After Authorization

Once you authorize Vercel, you will be taken to the welcome screen where you can import an existing repository or create a new project from a template. We don’t want to use a template, so click on “Import Git Repository” and select “Add GitHub Org or Account” if using GitHub or the other option for different providers. This will allow you to connect your Git provider account so you can import the repository containing the project you want to deploy.

Add GitHub account

This will open a popup asking you to install Vercel, with “All repositories” selected by default. You can keep this to grant access to all reports, or specify individual ones if preferred – you can adjust these permissions later. When ready, click “Install” to connect your Git provider account and allow Vercel to access your repositories. For your projects, you may want to limit access to specific repos rather than granting access to all. But the choice can be changed anytime as you add new projects.

After installing Vercel, you should see the YellowGirlfriend-React repository. Just click on the β€œImport” button.

Now you will be asked about project details. You can leave everything as it is and just click on the Deploy button.

Once the deployment finishes, you will see a confirmation message indicating it was successful. Two buttons will be presented – one to visit your live, deployed website, and another to view the project dashboard on Vercel. This allows you to easily access and preview your newly deployed app as well as view details and analytics for it within your Vercel account.

In the next section, I will walk you through using the Vercel CLI tool to manage your deployments to Vercel

Deploying with Vercel CLI

Next, you will want to install the Vercel CLI. We’ll only cover the basic commands needed to deploy a React project here, but you can refer to the Vercel docs for more details on using the CLI.

To install it globally on your machine, run this command in your terminal:

npm i -g vercel

or

yarn global add vercel

or

pnpm i -g vercel

Once it finishes installing, you can confirm it was successful by running this command to output the current version:

vercel --version

You should see something like this displayed on your terminal:

$ vercel --version
Vercel CLI 33.5.0
33.5.0

Deploying Code

Now that the Vercel CLI is installed, we can deploy our code. Since this is the first time using it, you will need to log in to Vercel through the CLI. Run vercel in your terminal to begin the login process:

vercel

$ vercel
Vercel CLI 33.5.0
> > No existing credentials found. Please log in:
? Log in to Vercel
● Continue with GitHub
β—‹ Continue with GitLab
β—‹ Continue with Bitbucket
β—‹ Continue with Email
β—‹ Continue with SAML Single Sign-On
  ─────────────────────────────────
β—‹ Cancel

Use your direction buttons to either move up or down and tap the enter button to select your preferred option.

This will redirect you to a browser tab where it will either show whether it’s successful or failed.

N.B., ensure you log in with the account you used to create a Vercel account earlier.

After logging in, go back to your terminal to proceed with deploying your project. The CLI will prompt you to confirm this is the project you want to deploy. Answer “Y” to continue.

? Set up and deploy β€œpath to your project”? [Y/n] y

The next question would be to confirm which account to deploy your app:

? Which scope do you want to deploy to? Your Vercel Account

N.B., this would provide a default option; just hit Enter to continue.

Moving on, you will be asked if you want to link this to the existing project. Just type N:

? Link to existing project?[y/N] n

The next step is to name your project:

? What’s your project’s name? project-name

You will now be prompted to specify the path. This will make use of the default option ./ since we are already in the project directory:

? In which directory is your code located? ./

Deploys the Vercel project found at the provided path, when it’s a Vercel Project root.

Cool Feature: Automatic Framework Detection

Finally, one awesome feature the CLI has is its automatic framework detection, which allows it to detect the framework you are using and offer default project settings accordingly. This includes Build Command, Output Directory, and Development Command.

This feature automatically detects if your project was created with the Create React App and configures the optimal build settings for it. If you’re using something else, it will prompt you to enter the build settings manually.

Auto-detected Project Settings (Create React App):
- Build Command: `npm run build` or `react-scripts build`
- Output Directory: build
- Development Command: react-scripts start

The last prompt will ask if you want to override the auto-detected settings. Since we want Vercel to use the defaults for a Create React App project, simply type “n” to proceed with the recommended settings.

Great news! πŸš€ – your project has now been deployed successfully! The CLI will display a summary confirming it was deployed and showing the live URL for your app along with other details.

After a successful deployment, Vercel will automatically copy the live production URL to your clipboard. You can now paste this link into your browser to view the deployed app. Alternatively, you can ctrl + click the URL printed in the terminal to open it directly. This makes it easy to quickly access your app after deploying.

Comparing Deployment Methods

The Vercel CLI and dashboard accomplish the same end goal of deploying your app, just through different interfaces. The ideal method comes down to personal preference.

The CLI performs the entire process in the terminal, avoiding the context switch of leaving your IDE. Whereas the dashboard provides a visual GUI for managing deployments.

Both have their merits. The CLI is quick and simple without leaving your coding environment. The dashboard gives more visibility into your projects and accounts.

Overall, the CLI may be preferable for frequent deployments as it saves clicks and stays in your workflow. However, the dashboard can be useful for managing many projects. Choose whichever feels more efficient for your needs – there’s no right or wrong answer!

The hosted application can be found here: https://yellow-girlfriend-react.vercel.app/

Tabular Comparison of the Methods for Deploying a React App to Vercel

Deploying with Vercel CLIDeploying from Vercel Dashboard
Sign UpCreate a Vercel account and install CLICreate a Vercel account and connect to GitHub
ConfigureLink CLI to GitHub repo and answer promptsImport the repo from GitHub and configure
DeploySingle CLI command to deployClick the deploy button in the dashboard
Pros– Fully CLI based
– Stays in terminal
– Fast and simple
– Visual interface
– Guided process
Cons– Requires CLI comfort
– Leaves IDE
– More steps
– Leaves IDE

The main differences are that the CLI deployment is done fully in the terminal and stays in your development environment, while the dashboard provides a more guided visual process but requires leaving your IDE.

The CLI is great for those comfortable working in the terminal, while the dashboard may be better for those wanting a more visual workflow. Both achieve the same result of deploying your React app quickly and easily on Vercel.

FAQs

Does Vercel work With React?

Yes, Vercel is a great platform for deploying React applications. It has built-in support for Create React App and NextJS projects.

What is Vercel Used For?

Vercel is used for hosting and deploying static front-end websites and web services built with frameworks like React, Vue, Angular, etc. It provides features like automatic deployment, serverless functions, and global CDN.

Can I Deploy React Apps on Vercel?

Yes, Vercel has excellent support for deploying React apps with zero configuration. It auto-detects Create React App projects and sets up optimal build settings.

How Can I Deploy a React App?

There are two main ways to deploy a React app on Vercel – using the [https://vercel.com/docs/cli](Vercel CLI) or deploying manually through the [https://vercel.com/dashboard](Vercel dashboard). The CLI provides a simple terminal-based workflow while the dashboard gives a more visual guided process.

Is deploying with Vercel Free?

Yes, Vercel offers a generous free tier that allows deploying static sites and client-side rendered apps for free with no time limits. Paid plans add features like custom domains, serverless functions, and more.

How Do I deploy a Project to Vercel?

You can deploy a project to Vercel either through the Vercel CLI or the Vercel dashboard. The CLI requires linking your Git repository and answering prompts, while the dashboard allows importing the repo and configuring the deploy settings visually.

Does Vercel Automatically Deploy?

Yes, one of Vercel’s best features is that it automatically deploys your app whenever you push changes to your connected Git repository. This enables fast and continuous delivery of changes.

What You Have Learned

After reading this article, you now know how to easily deploy a React application to Vercel. You learned about the benefits of using Vercel for hosting React apps, including automatic deployments, global CDN, and simple setup.

You saw how to get started by creating a Vercel account, connecting your GitHub repository, and configuring your React project for deployment. Two main methods were covered – using the Vercel CLI and deploying through the Vercel dashboard.

You should now feel confident about taking your React projects and deploying them for the world to see. Vercel makes the process incredibly straightforward. You can deploy apps in just minutes with minimal configuration. Whenever you push code changes, Vercel will rebuild and redeploy your site instantly. You now have the skills to ship your React apps globally with speed and ease using this modern deployment platform.

We at Purecode AI have simplified the process of building web applications by leveraging the power of AI to quickly and effortlessly generate top-quality components for your CSS, Tailwind CSS, Material UI, and React applications. Check out our repository of over 10, 000 components ready to be integrated and x20 development your speed πŸš€

Check out this video below for more information on Deploying React Applications to Vercel:

Further Readings

Did you enjoy reading this great piece? Then be sure to check to check other great articles from our blog:

Happy Coding πŸ’»

Emmanuel Uchenna

Emmanuel Uchenna

Emmanuel is an experienced and enthusiastic software developer and technical writer with 4+ proven years of professional experience. He focuses on full-stack web development. He is fluent in React, TypeScript, VueJS, and NodeJS and familiar with industry-standard technologies such as version control, headless CMS, and JAMstack. He is passionate about knowledge sharing.