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May 29, 2022

What is Hygen and how could it help speed up your project?

Written By

Alex Harvey


How to


Read time

4 minute

When we’re working on a project for a client, the speed at which we work is crucial as to adhere to the principles of agile development, get features out to customers quickly and increase team confidence and satisfaction.
There are many tools that help us set up a project quickly when first getting started - Create React App, Gatsby starters, etc. - but is there a tool that we can use that will speed up the process of creating new React components? More specifically, is there a way we can generate component files, test files, Storybook files and index files all via one command? The answer is yes and the solution is a tool called hygen.

What is hygen?

As detailed on the project’s Github, hygen is the simple, fast, and scalable code generator that lives in your project. Hygen allows us to create JavaScript files from templates. The cool thing about hygen is it’s completely customisable, so no matter the style guide/linting rules/code standards you follow, you can make it work for you.

Atomic Design & Storybook

Before we get started, it’s worth mentioning that we are using atomic design to structure our component library and Storybook to build and view our components in different states.
Atomic design is a methodology used for building design systems using an explicit order and component hierarchy. It’s implemented by breaking components down into their smallest elements, then combining these elements to make complex structures. Components are placed in one of five categories:
  • Atoms
  • Molecules
  • Organisms
  • Templates
  • Pages
Atomic design is great because it encourages reusability, allows components to be developed in isolation, gives us a more modular file structure and makes our layout easier to understand. Read more about it here.
Storybook is a tool that provides us with a sandbox environment for building components and pages in isolation.

Getting Started

Let’s look at how we add hygen to a project. We’ll start by creating a new Typescript project using create-react-app:
npx create-react-app my-app --template typescript
Next, we’ll add and initialise Storybook in Typescript:
cd my-app npx -p @storybook/cli sb init --story-format=csf-ts
Now let’s install hygen as well as a few other dependencies:
yarn add hygen @storybook/react react-test-renderer @types/react-test-renderer -D
Our next step is to add some files. First we need to add the folders _templates, component and with-prompt:
mkdir -p _templates/component/with-prompt
We now want to create a couple of files inside the with-prompt folder. The first is core_index.ejs.t, which is going to add to our top level index.ts file inside the components folder:
--- inject: true append: true to: src/components/index.ts --- export * from './<%=name%>';
What’s going on here? This is an EJS template. The first part of the file is frontmatter. The inject: true is telling hygen to inject into an already existing file. The append: true is telling hygen to add this to the end of the file. And the to: src/components/index.ts is telling hygen what file to inject into.
The second part of this file is simply the content we want to inject into the file. Notice we have used <%=name%> to name the component, which is standard EJS syntax telling hygen that the name of the component is going to be passed in when we run the command (which we’ll see later).
Now let’s add a core.ejs.t inside the with-prompt folder, which will be the template of the component we create:
--- to: src/components/<%=name%>/<%=name%>.tsx --- import React, { FC } from 'react'; interface Props {} export const <%=name%>: FC<Props> = (props) => <div {...props} />;
Here we are creating a new component in its own directory within the components folder. The actual template is a little more extensive than before, but it follows exactly the same principles as we’ve previously seen.
In a similar fashion, we can create template files for the index of each component, as well as test files and Storybook files.
--- to: src/components/<%=name%>/index.ts --- export * from './<%=name%>';
--- to: src/components/<%=name%>/<%=name%>.stories.tsx --- import React, { ComponentProps } from 'react'; import { Story } from '@storybook/react/types-6-0'; import { <%=name%> } from './<%=name%>'; const Template: Story<ComponentProps<typeof <%=name%>>> = (args) => ( <<%=name%> {...args} /> ); export const Basic = Template.bind({}); Basic.args = {}; export default { component: <%=name%>, title: '<%=name%>', };
--- to: src/components/<%=name%>/<%=name%>.test.tsx --- import React from 'react'; import { render } from '@testing-library/react'; import renderer from 'react-test-renderer'; import { <%=name%> } from './<%=name%>'; describe('<%=name%>', () => { it('should render', () => { render(<<%=name%> />); }); it('should match a snapshot', () => { const tree = renderer.create(<<%=name%> />).toJSON(); expect(tree).toMatchSnapshot(); }); });
The last file we need to add inside the with-prompt folder is the prompt.js file. This is where we will get the name of the component from the user by prompting them to type it in:
module.exports = [ { type: 'input', name: 'name', message: "What's the name of your component?" }, ];
Let’s add a couple of lines to our package.json inside the "scripts" object so that we can generate our components with Hygen and also so we can easily start Storybook:
"component": "HYGEN_TMPLS=scripts/_templates yarn hygen component with-prompt", "storybook": "start-storybook -p 6006", "build-storybook": "build-storybook"
Now create a folder called components inside the src directory and add a file called index.ts:
mkdir src/components touch src/components/index.ts
We’re now ready to create a component. Input the following command into your terminal:
yarn component
You’ll be prompted to enter the name of your component. Call your component Test by typing that into the terminal and hitting enter, and you’ll see that hygen creates files for each of the templates we created above, as well as appending the export to the end of the index.ts file in the components folder:
Pretty sweet, right? We can actually skip the prompt altogether by typing in the name of the component at the end of the command, i.e.
yarn component Test
You can modify and extend these templates to fit whatever suits your needs. Here at Contic, we use hygen to enforce an atomic design structure in our code. Hopefully this has some use for you in your future projects. Happy coding!


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