Moving from Vue to React 2023
Migrating from Vue to React or vice-versa has its pros and cons―React is 5 times more downloaded than Vue and has 7 times more job offers, but Vue is more performant and easier to write in with less boilerplate. Fortunately, it’s 2023, and it’s never been easier to switch front-end frameworks.
In this article, we list down a few steps and considerations to take into account while migrating to ensure feature parity without disruption.
Why Change Frontend Frameworks
Whether you want to switch from Vue to React or React to Vue, changing frontend frameworks can be a valuable business decision to leverage the strengths of the ecosystem.
Both React and Vue offer plenty of tools and libraries, providing businesses with a wide range of resources to be more productive. If you find a better package in one framework that has no equivalent in the other, the days of development saved can justify the switching costs.
Developers are particular when it comes to tech stacks. Understanding the pros & cons of each will not only give you access to better talent. A boring framework is more likely to repel, whereas a shiny new framework will break the monotony and help develop new skills.
Whether you want to switch to React, Vue, or any other front-end framework, you can follow the same steps.
Steps to Migrate to React
1. Analyze the existing codebase
First, you need an inventory to help all stakeholders understand what it is that needs to migrate.
- Review your package.json - Reviewing the package.json file is essential to identify the libraries and technology stack currently in use.
- List down all the features - Documenting the features as user stories provides a clear understanding of what it does to guide the migration roadmap.
- Clarify issues and edge cases - If your codebase already presents existing issues or bugs, you’ll need to address these edge cases during migration.
Once you know exactly what the codebase entails, you can start planning the migration.
2. Plan the migration process
Before going in blindly, you want to consider a few things:
- Compatibility issues - Some dependencies and features might not have an alternative in the other front-end framework. It's important to analyze those switching costs ahead of time.
- Resource constraints vs feature parity - Balancing the migration with ongoing development and business operations may pose time constraints that need careful planning. Achieving feature parity between the original system and the migrated application is crucial but you also don't want to stay stuck in development hell or run out of time and launch a mediocre copy that barely works.
- Learning curve for developers - Transitioning from one framework Vue to React requires developers to learn new best practices. This learning curve could impact initial productivity or require additional training.
- Minimize disruption - The migration shouldn't impact the end-user.
To address these challenges, your migration roadmap should include the following elements:
- Dependency map - Conducting a detailed assessment of the existing system and its dependencies to identify potential challenges in advance.
- Scope - Providing sufficient resources, such as time and developer support, for a successful migration. If feature parity doesn't need to be achieved―if you're a pre product/market fit startup for example―limit the scope to get an MVP out.
- Pre-migration changes - It can be beneficial to refactor your existing codebase to make it easier to work with and reduce disruption instead of migrating right away.
The idea isn’t to have a rigid plan but to pay attention to potential roadblocks and how to decrease risks to stay on time and on budget without impacting leads and customers.
A clean architecture supports clear thinking. Refactoring your codebase will make it easier to migrate.
- Document your codebase - If you haven't one already, comprehensive documentation is important for the migration process. Document the codebase, including the purpose of different components, dependencies, and interactions. This documentation will serve as a valuable reference for developers.
- Clean the codebase - Conduct a thorough code review and refactor the codebase to remove any redundant, deprecated, or unnecessary code. Cleaning up the codebase will make it more manageable.
- Migrate to Astro.js (optional) - Consider migrating to Astro.js as an intermediate step. Astro.js is a meta-framework that allows you to integrate components from both Vue and React, making it easier to gradually integrate React components into the codebase while maintaining existing Vue.js components.
If we take the example of moving from Vue to React, the first step would be to keep your components small and easy to understand. This could include removing logic from the components and putting them in helper functions in external JS files.
Once the codebase is more modular and documented, you could encapsulate the whole Vue application in Astro.js before migrating each component separately to React:
--- import MyReactComponent from '../components/MyReactComponent.jsx'; import MyVueComponent from '../components/MyVueComponent.vue'; --- <div> <MyReactComponent /> <MyVueComponent /> </div>
4. Code rewrite
To eliminate risks of disruption during the migration, you might want to create a new Git repository to house your React.js project. This way, you can easily switch to the new tech stack or roll back to a working version.
Use ChatGPT or Copilot for code translation. AI models are great at converting the existing Vue codebase into React syntax efficiently. You can even specify your preferred coding standards from naming conventions to more technical requirements like using hooks instead of classes. The tool may get some parts wrong, but you'll still save weeks of work not coding everything from scratch.
5. Testing the new code
You can measure feature parity with good test coverage.
- Unit and functional tests - Unit and functional tests cover everything from back-end API calls to data manipulation to catch errors and ensure each function operates as expected.
- Component-based testing with Storybook - Use Storybook to test your components in isolation with mock data.
- End-to-end testing with Puppeteer - Headless browser automation helps validate the application's features in different resolutions.
If your tests are ready before you even rewrite the code, you'll be able to track your migration progress in real time.
6. Deploy the new code
Lastly, it’s time to release the new tech stack:
- Leverage serverless for staging - Use serverless platforms like Cloudflare Pages, Netlify, or Vercel for live testing during staging. These services offer free hosting solutions allowing for quick feedback and verification in a real-world environment.
- Gradual rollout with multiple environments - Opt for a gradual rollout strategy by creating two production environments―one for the existing codebase and the other for the new one to limit risks. Consider limiting the deployment by geography as well.
- Train Developers - Train developers on the changes introduced by the migration with workshops, documentation, and collaborative learning.
If anything goes wrong, you can always roll back to a working repository in a single command!
Switching front-end framework isn't something you should do every year, but it's not an impossible task. Make sure to plan carefully, and automate the process as much as possible to prevent human errors.
Don't hesitate to hire JAMStack Consulting to migrate your code. We are fluent in both Vue and React so we know exactly how to translate functional requirements from one to the other.