The command-line tool for creating and publishing rich articles written with JavaScript and React Native


The command-line tool for creating and publishing rich articles written with JavaScript and React Native

Quick Start

Download Exponent onto your phone at http://exp.host/

Install the latest iojs if you don't have it yet. We recommend using nvm

curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/creationix/nvm/v0.25.3/install.sh | bash
nvm install iojs
nvm alias default iojs
# (now open a new terminal window)

Now install exp and use it to create your first article.

npm install -g exp
mkdir myfirstarticle
cd myfirstarticle
exp init
# Hit enter a bunch of times to use the default for each question
exp start

If you give your phone number here, a link will be texted to your phone. If you follow it, you should see a green background and a photo of a duckling and some text.

Try editing some of the code in index.js and then hitting the reload button in Exponent. If everything is working, you should see your changes!

Getting Started (in a little more detail)

If you don't already have the Exponent app, get it from http://exp.host/. Tap the Download button, and then choose the Install option when you see the modal dialog popping up that tells you that dl.dropboxusercontent.com wants to install "Exponent Beta".

This will start the app downloading on your home screen, but you'll otherwise get no confirmation that it is working. Tap your home button to get to your home screen and look for the Exponent Beta app; the logo is a bold, white caret (^) on a dark blue background.

Currently, exp has only been extensively tested on a Mac. If you are running Windows, you can track progress on making it work on Windows here. If you are using Linux or similar, it will probably work but file a GitHub issue if you have any problems.

Even if you already have some version of node or iojs installed, we recommend using nvm to manage your node binaries. It will let you switch between different versions easily, upgrade to the latest versions of node/iojs easily, will make it so you don't need to use sudo to globally install modules, and will usually be able to set up your $PATH environment variable correctly so you can run the scripts of globally installed modules easily.

You can install nvm here: https://github.com/creationix/nvm

Or just type this into your terminal:

curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/creationix/nvm/v0.25.3/install.sh | bash

Once nvm is installed, you should install the latest version of iojs and make the default. You can do this by pasting the following snippet into to your terminal.

nvm install iojs
nvm alias default iojs
# (Open a new terminal window)

When you open the new terminal window, typing node -v should show you a version number that matches the latest version of node/iojs.

Once you have the latest version of iojs/node in place, install exp globally.

npm install -g exp

You can verify that the installation worked by typing `exp

Creating Your First Article

Projects in Exponent are called articles. Let's create your first one!

Go to your home directory by typing cd and then type

exp init myarticle

This will create a new directory called myarticle and fill it with a package.json describing your article and its dependencies, etc., and an index.js which contains code for a basic sample article.

Viewing Your Article on Your Phone

Now that you've done the basic setup, it's time to view your article on your phone!

Type the command

exp start

into your terminal.

This will start serving your article in a way that should be accessible by the Exponent app on your phone.

What happens when you run exp start is that exp spawns the React Native packager as a daemon process managed by pm2. This will keep running until you run exp stop or restart your computer. It also starts an ngrok server that will tunnel the packager's output to the Internet-at-large so that Exponent onyour phone can access it, even if it isn't using your LAN wifi.

The command exp url has many options and is useful.


exp url --lan

This will give you a LAN URL that doesn't go through ngrok, which can be a lot snappier, especially if you have slow Internet or are far away from ngrok's proxies.

Viewing Your Article in the Simulator (Experimental)

If you have Xcode and the iOS Simulator on your phone, then you can view your Exponent projects in the simulator. This is sometimes nice because switching windows is easier than switching over to looking at your phone sometimes.

Run the command

exp start-simulator

You'll be presented with a choice of simulators. For now, the only one that works is the iPhone 6 simulator, so choose that.

The Exponent app will start up in your simulator if everything is working right.

Back at your terminal, run the command

exp open

This will open URL for your project in the Exponent app in the simulator. You need to have started it up with exp start-simulator but once you've done that, you can do exp open on different articles multiple times.

There are still some kinks with this functionlaity so it should be considered beta.

You can also use Exponent with an existing React Native project.

First, make sure your application key is 'main'.

For now, your application key (which is set by the line in your JavaScript that looks like this:

AppRegistry.registerComponent('main', () => ExampleApp);

) needs to specify 'main' as the key. You may have to make a slight modification to your code for this. We are planning to make it so you can configure the application key but for now, you have to use 'main'.

Now, there are two ways you can serve your application in a way that Exponent clients can reach it: using exp or by using ngrok with your existing infrastructure.

Just go into the root directory of where your react code is, and run exp start. You'll get a URL that you can send to yourself or others the way that you normally do.

First, install ngrok. You can download it from the ngrok website or use brew to install it if you have homebrew (brew install ngrok).

Run npm start the way you normally would with your React Native project.

Now the packager is running on port 8081, but it is (probably) only accessible within your LAN, so we need to tunnel out to the larger Internet, and that's what ngrok is for.


ngrok 8081

This will show you a URL on your screen that you can use to access port 8081 on your local machine through http or https. The URL will look something like https://c978db3.ngrok.com.

On your phone, type in that URL to the Exponent address bar, replacing "http://" or "https://" with "exp://".

Unfortunately, Exponent won't work with custom native modules. The app on your phone is only built with certain modules included, and if your own React Native app uses custom native modules you wrote, those won't be available inside Exponent.

If you have specific native modules that would be really useful to you, let us know (you can chat with us in our Slack, @mention us on Twitter, e-mail us, or file a GitHub issue.)

We want to add in native modules to address all the common desires people have for native functionality (camera access, GPS, etc., etc.), so help us figure out what should be in Exponent!

The easiest way to get help is to sign into our Slack, and ask in the #help channel.

If you download the Exponent app, it will ask for your e-mail at signup and a Slack invite will be sent to you automatically.

If you have trouble getting into the Slack or just want a different way to contact us, you can e-mail exponent.team@gmail.com.

The GitHub organization is exponentjs.

And on Twitter, you can reach us at @exponentjs and @JI and @ccheever.