This assignment demonstrates how to use your fork of my isit-code package. We will also create an Express and React based project that calls some methods in your fork of isit-code.

Be sure lamp is installed.

Note on Names

To save keystrokes when typing, and cut down on noise when reading, I’ll use some simple shortcuts. Unless I explicitly state otherwise, when I write isit-code, I’m referencing your isit-code-lastname project.

  • isit-code => isit-code-lastname

Create Projects

Use CreateExpressProject to populate a folder in your repository called Week04-UseIsitCode:

  • CreateExpressProject Week04-UseIsitCode

Use NPM to install your isit-code project and save a reference to it in your package.json file.

Methods to call

In index.js use require to load your NPM package. The call might look something like this:

const isitCode = require('isit-code-lastname');

Most of the time, however, you want to load a particule module from the library. Suppose you want the elf-utils module. Load it like this:

const elfUtils = require('isit-code-lastname').elfUtils;

Now call two methods from your isit-code package.

  • elfUtils.getHomeDir
  • elfUtils.getFirstWord

Create two routes in index.js, one for calling each method. The routes should have these names:

  • /home-directory
  • /first-word

For instance:

router.get('/home-directory', function(req, res, next) { 'use strict';

I’ll leave it up to you to implement the method. the call to elfUtils.homeDir is very simple. Also, you can see an example of how to call it in isit-code/spec/test-elf-utils-files.js.

NOTE: This is one of the times when a set of unit tests can be used not just for running tests, but for documenting a library. In particular, the primary documentation for isit-code is in the spec directory of the isit-code package. Though it would be good to have better document, it is often the case the unit tests included with a package can help you understand a package.


Create a file called CallIsitCode in a directory in the root of your project called source. The file should contain ES6 and React code.


  • The most widely used convention for React components, as far as I can see, is to put only one component in a file and to name the file with PascalCase. See the airbnb guidelines.
  • The component and the file it is in should have the same name.
  • Be sure to name the method button click methods appropriately. No more on onClick methods named bar. I’ll let you choose the appropriate name, but it should be descriptive.

Create two buttons in your React component:

  • Get Home Dir
  • Get First Word

A click on the first button should call the appropriate method on the server. Click the second button – and well – you know what it should do. Use fetch from whatwg-fetch to make the calls from the client to the server.


You are going to need to create a webpack.config.js file. I would suggest you copy the one from the webpack section of the ReactBasics assignment.

You will want to put the entry to CallIsitCode. The output might look something like this:

output: {path: __dirname, filename: './public/javascripts/bundle.js'},

Load ES6

You should know the steps to load the ES6 code by now. But if you need a hint, consider this:

  • In index.pug, you are going to need a div with a unique ID as in ReactBasics and WebCraftsReact.
  • At the end of the same file, you are going to need to load the bundle.
    • script(src=”javascripts/bundle.js”)

The key pieces you need at the end of index.pug are:

  • A DIV named home or something similar.
    • This is where your React code will be inserted.
  • A script statement to load bundle.js

We put the script statement at the end of index.html because it uses the home DIV. That DIV must already be loaded or the React code won’t find a place to insert itself.

Getting User Input

Suppose you define an input control with JSX:

<input type="text" onChange={this.firstWordChange} placeholder='Enter multi-word sentence.' />

How do we get text from the input? Declare state for the input:

constructor() {
    this.state = {
        homeDirectory: 'Unknown',
        firstWord: 'Unknown',
        userInput: 'Unknown'   << TRACK USER INPUT
    this.homeDirectory = this.homeDirectory.bind(this);
    this.firstWordChange = this.firstWordChange.bind(this);
    this.firstWord = this.firstWord.bind(this);

Define the firstWordChange method. It gets called over and over as the user types in the input. It also continually updates the this.state.userInput:

firstWordChange(event) {
    console.log('firstWord:', event.target.value);
    this.setState({userInput: event.target.value})

Passing Parameters with fetch

Now that we have the user input in this.state.userInput, how do we pass it to the server. Like this:

Our goal is to pass a URL to the server describing the sentence from which we want the first word:


First we need to define a method to URL encode the parameters:

getQuery() {
        const params = {sentence: this.state.userInput};
        const encodeUri = encodeURIComponent;
        let query = Object.keys(params)
            .map(key => encodeUri(key) + '=' + encodeUri(params[key]))
        return query;

The join statement turns the array produced by map into a string joined on ampersands.

Then we need to use it when we call fetch:

firstWord() {
    const that = this;
    const query = '/first-word?' + this.getQuery();
        .then(function(response) {
            return response.json();
        .then(function(json) {
            console.log('parsed json', json);
            that.setState({ firstWord: json.firstWord });
        .catch(function(ex) {
            console.log('parsing failed', ex);

Handle code on Server

And here is the code for getting the query when it is passed to the server:

router.get('/first-word', function(request, response, next) { 'use strict';
    try {
      // Now call elfUtils with the sentence passed in the query.
      // Use Response.send to return the result.
      // Here is one way to handle an error if it occurs:
    } catch(e) {

Turn it in

Place your work in a branch called Week04. When turning in the assignment, include the following information:

  • Branch:
  • Directory:

To get full credit, the second button must retrieve a string from the user via a TextBox. The call should retrieve the first word the user enters.

Also, consider adding the URL of your repos:

  • MainRepo: git@github.com:my-name/my-repo.git
  • IsitSite Repo: git@github.com:my-name/my-repo.git
  • IsitCode Repo: git@github.com:my-name/my-repo.git

Cannot read property of undefined

We often get errors like this:

  • parsing failed TypeError: Cannot read property ‘setState’ of undefined

We know that we are calling setState of this or that. So why is this undefined? There could be many reasons, by a likely culprit is that you forgot to bind a method:

this.someMethod = this.someMethod.bind(this);

Finding Code

Read the References section in ElvenLinks