Hey there, so you’ve decided to take a look at React Native? Well, last week I ran a workshop inside Artsy on React Native and Relay.

The video takes you from react-native init to having the initial structure of a View Controller based on Relay with a real working API request. The video is about 45 minutes, with inline questions.

If you wanted to just run through the notes, you could probably get it working in about 10 minutes.

Jump to YouTube for the video, or click more for a smaller inline preview, as well as all of the speakers notes to copy & paste from. There is also a full copy of the end-result at orta/Relay-Artist-Example.

Beautiful right?

Below are the notes so you can follow along


  • Install Yarn
  • Install React Native - https://facebook.github.io/react-native/docs/getting-started.html
  • Create a new project via react-native init ArtistExample

Verifying your install

  • cd ArtistExample
  • Run yarn run jest to verify specs

Starting out

  • Run yarn start - this loads the packager.

The packager is the part of React Native which compiles your JavaScript. This JavaScript creates a virtual DOM, which React Native uses to create an equivilent view heirarchy.

  • Run react-native run-ios to launch the project in a sim.

Tada - it’s your 1st RN app

That’s it. Let’s look at some real code. Browse the source code.


We’re using Relay, this will take a bit of setup. Here is @alloy setting up Relay in Emission

Add relay and babel-relay-plugin - we use a fork

yarn add react-relay@https://github.com/alloy/relay/releases/download/v0.9.3/react-relay-0.9.3.tgz
yarn add babel-relay-plugin@https://github.com/alloy/relay/releases/download/v0.9.3/babel-relay-plugin-0.9.3.tgz

Then the schema into a data folder:

mkdir data
curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/artsy/emission/master/data/schema.graphql > data/schema.graphql
curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/artsy/emission/master/data/schema.js > data/schema.js
curl https://raw.githubusercontent.com/artsy/emission/master/data/schema.json > data/schema.json

Then hook up the plugin:

  • Add "plugins": ["./data/schema"], to .babelrc.

First edit

  • Turn on Live Reloading and HMR with cmd + d
  • Turn BG white. Awesome.

Magic, it does it in real-time.

Making components

  • Make lib, lib/artists and lib/artists/artist.js
  • Move ArtistExample Component from index.ios.js to lib/artists/artist.js
  • Change the class to Artist, and edit the title to reflect a different component
  • Go back and nuke most of the index.ios.js make it just refer to Artist`
import Artist from "./lib/artist/artist"

export default class ArtistExample extends Component {
  render() {
    return (
      <Artist />

Relay Setup

Explain there are three useful bits parts of Relay:

  • Routes
  • RootContainer
  • Relay.Container

We will talk about them as we go on, but first we need to tell Relay where Metaphysics is. So we need to set up a network layer:

import Relay from 'react-relay'

const metaphysicsURL = 'https://metaphysics-staging.artsy.net'

  new Relay.DefaultNetworkLayer(metaphysicsURL, {
    headers: {
      'X-XAPP-Token': "[go to staging.artsy.net and do `sd.ARTSY_XAPP_TOKEN` in console]",

Next we need to create a Relay Route, this doesnt directly represent a URL representation, but it often can/does. E.g. in our case this will represent /artist/:artistID.

  • create lib/artist/route.js add
import Relay from 'react-relay'

export default  class ArtistRoute extends Relay.Route {
  static queries = {
    artist: (component, params) => Relay.QL`
      query {
        artist(id: $artistID) {
          ${component.getFragment('artist', params)}

  static paramDefinitions = {
    artistID: { required: true },

  static routeName = 'ArtistRoute';
  • Hook this up inside index.ios.js, add an import, and create instance of Route:
import ArtistRoute from "./lib/artist/route"

const glennRoute = new ArtistRoute({
  artistID: "glenn-brown"

Then change the components render function:

export default class ArtistExample extends Component {
    render = () => <Relay.RootContainer Component={Artist} route={glennRoute} />

See error, that means it’s trying to access a Relay Component, and we have a React component. Let’s make it a Relay Component:

  • Remove the export default from the Artist class in lib/artist/artist.js

  • Add Relay fragment at the bottom

export default Relay.createContainer(Artist, {
  fragments: {
    artist: () => Relay.QL`
      fragment on Artist {
class Artist extends Component {
  render() {
    const title = `Hello, I am ${this.props.artist.name}`
    return (
      <View style={styles.container}>
        <Text style={styles.welcome}>{title}</Text>

Prove the Relay concept by adding years to GraphQL and add this to the render function:

class Artist extends Component {
  render() {
    const title = `Hey ${this.props.artist.name}`
    return (
      <View style={styles.container}>
        <Text style={styles.welcome}>{title}</Text>
        <Text style={styles.welcome}>{this.props.artist.years}</Text>

Tada! You’ve made a working relay component. Just start making more of these now, and you have an app!

Looking Stylish!

OK, we now have the minimum we need - we got API data coming in as props. Now we want to make it look pretty.

  • Add mkdir assets, and mkdir assets/fonts
curl -L https://github.com/artsy/Artsy-OSSUIFonts/raw/master/Pod/Assets/EBGaramond12-Italic.ttf > assets/EBGaramond12-Italic.ttf
curl -L https://github.com/artsy/Artsy-OSSUIFonts/raw/master/Pod/Assets/EBGaramond12-Regular.ttf > assets/EBGaramond12-Regular.ttf
curl -L https://github.com/artsy/Artsy-OSSUIFonts/raw/master/Pod/Assets/texgyreadventor-bold.ttf > assets/texgyreadventor-bold.ttf
  • edit package.json
 "rnpm": {
    "assets": ["./assets"]
  • run react-native link, restart iOS app, by killing it.
  • run react-native run-ios

  • Add custom styles to the two bits of info on screen:
<Text style={styles.title}>{this.props.artist.name.toUpperCase()}</Text>
<Text style={styles.subtitle}>{this.props.artist.years}</Text>
const styles = StyleSheet.create({
  container: {
    flex: 1,
    marginTop: 20,
    alignItems: 'center',
    backgroundColor: 'white',
  title: {
    fontSize: 20,
    textAlign: 'center',
    margin: 10,
    fontFamily: "TeXGyreAdventor-Regular"
  subtitle: {
    textAlign: 'center',
    color: '#333333',
    fontFamily: 'EBGaramond12-Regular',
    marginBottom: 5,

And that is our styles. Covering all of the major use cases of React Native for us.

Categories: javascript, objectivec, reactnative, relay, swift