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Build a React App with User Authentication in 15 Minutes

This article originally appeared on the OKTA blog. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.

React has quickly become one of the most favored front-end web frameworks, and is second only to plain old HTML5, according to JAXenter. So it’s no surprise that developers are learning it, and employers are asking for it.

In this tutorial, you’ll start with a very simple React app with a couple of pages and some routing built in, and add authentication using Okta’s Sign-In Widget. The Sign-In Widget is an embeddable Javascript widget that allows developers to use Okta’s secure, scalable architecture with a minimum of effort from within React applications. Let’s get started!

Get the Simple React Seed Project

Start by cloning the simple React seed project.

git clone okta-react-widget-sample
cd okta-react-widget-sample

Add the Okta Sign-In Widget

Install the Okta Sign-In Widget using npm.

npm install @okta/okta-signin-widget@2.3.0 --save

This will add the Okta Sign-In Widget code to your node_modules folder. We’ll be using version 2.3.0 of the Sign-In Widget.

Okta in node_modules

Then add the styles for the widget in your index.html file from the Okta CDN. Add these lines inside the <head> tag:


    <!-- Theme file: Customize or replace this file if you want to override our default styles -->

The LoginPage Component

First, create a folder called auth in the ./src/components folder, then create a file called LoginPage.js where the LoginPage component will go.

Start with the most basic of components:

import React from 'react';

export default class LoginPage extends React.Component{
      <div>Login Page</div>

This little component doesn't do much but at least you now have a handle to add the LoginPage to your routing. So in your ./src/app.js file, you'll import the component at the top:

import LoginPage from './components/auth/LoginPage';

and then add the route inside the main route (the one with the path of "/")

<Route path="/login" component={LoginPage}/>

Add the OpenID Connect Application in Okta

In order to use Okta as your OpenID Connect provider for authentication, you’ll need to set up an application in the Okta developer console.

If you don't have an Okta developer account, go create one! Once you're logged in, click on Applications in the top navbar, then click Add Application. Select SPA as the platform and click Next. Change the redirect URI to http://localhost:3000, and click Done. The application will be created with the following settings:

OIDC Application Settings

Now that you have an application created in Okta, you can set up the widget to talk to your new app!

Add the Widget to Your Component

import React from 'react';
import OktaSignIn from '@okta/okta-signin-widget';

export default class LoginPage extends React.Component{
    this.widget = new OktaSignIn({
      baseUrl: 'https://{oktaOrgUrl}',
      clientId: '{clientId}',
      redirectUri: 'http://localhost:3000',
      authParams: {
        responseType: 'id_token'

      <div>Login Page</div>

Copy the Client ID generated from your application's settings page and paste it over {clientId}. Make sure you also replace {oktaOrgUrl} with your Okta organization URL, which you can find by going back to the main Dashboard page in the developer console. Usually it will look like:

Thus far you've imported the OktaSignIn function from the Okta Sign-In Widget npm module you installed earlier. Next, in the constructor of the component, you initialized an instance of OktaSignIn with the configuration for the application. This way, the application code will be able to talk to Okta and Okta will recognize that this is the app you just created.

Show The Login Widget

Next, you’ll create the code to actually render the Sign-In Widget to the page! You'll need to change your render method to create an HTML element you can render the widget into. Make sure to get a reference to the element that will be rendered. Then, add a componentDidMount function to make sure you don't try to render the widget before the HTML element is on the page.

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