Deploy a React App as a Github User Page with Yarn

May 30, 2018 0 Comments

Deploy a React App as a Github User Page with Yarn



tldr; see Solution

I've been working on redoing my portfolio site, it's still a WIP - that being said here it is so far. I need to polish my portfolio section functionality in mobile view and some other tasks, and I need to refactor the code yet. I'd say it's about 90% done.

It needed a huge change from what it originally was to better reflect my skills since last year. I'm thinking a new redesign every year or so is a good time to keep reiterating and updating a portfolio. I went from using Foundation and jQuery to React, Flexbox, and p5js!

Speaking of React, before I began my portfolio, I wanted to make sure I could easily publish my project as a Github User Page! You know the one's where you can access a site as: as opposed to a Project Page: I always get the naming of those confused and forget them. Thankfully you can deploy as a user page or project page with the gh-pages package!

I got to the point of needing to test my site on mobile and had to do some digging around to find out how to deploy a create-react-app project as a User Page. If you're looking to deploy a Project Page with via create-react-app, check this documentation out here - there are a few subtle differences between deploying as a user page and project page that aren't completely covered for a project page.

I made the mistake of going through the above steps, not realizing there would be differences. I deployed my project!! My project was not showing up on, and my master branch had all of the build code. I wanted to push changes to my master branch, but of course, I'm not going to pull in the build code with 5k changes, and I can't push changes without pulling. Whoa, and now I have a random gh-pages branch? And my master is just showing up as all HTML (that big long red bar). WTF! Noooooo! Where is my JavaScripts??! 😭


The Solution

This tutorial assumes you have a working project and created your repo as username/, are using create-react-app, and yarn

While in the current directory of your project:

$ yarn add gh-pages

In your package.json file, add

"homepage": "", 

  • I added this right above "dependencies"

Still in your package.json file, add the following INSIDE of "scripts":

"predeploy": "yarn run build", 
"deploy": "gh-pages -b master -d build",

Next, let's create a new branch...since master will contain our build files pretty soon and minifiy, bundle and get weird, we need a new branch that will serve as our source code - so we can make changes and we don't lose our beautiful human-able readable code.

While in the master branch, let's create our source branch... you can name it whatever you want.

$ git checkout -b source

$ git push origin source

Yay! Our source branch is a direct copy of our master. Now, on Github we need to update our Default branch, master, to our source branch...and that's also why we pushed it (so Github knows it exists).

Navigate to your repo on Github, and select "Settings".
On the left-side panel, click on "Branches".

Next, you're able to select your source branch and update it under the Default branch heading.


Now while you're in your source branch via your terminal, run:

$ yarn deploy

AND! That's it! Your master branch will contain the build code. Give it a couple of minutes and visit your site at

Making Changes

Let's say you want to make changes, your source branch acts like your master. So branch away using source, and merge your branches into source as needed. Other than what's mentioned below, you don't need to do anything else with master now.

Let's say I make some "testing" changes in source. I push it as usual to github:

$ git push origin source

Switch to master in the terminal, git merge source or whatever branch you want, switch to your source branch and and run:

$ yarn deploy

There you go! Those changes are published and deployed.

A Quick SideNote

I ended up deleting my gh-pages branch and retried the deploy, and it works just fine! I no longer have the big red bar of HTML as my Default branch is source and my changes work! All is good with the world now!

If a gh-pages branch is created via Github after you deploy, go ahead and delete it! According to Github, "User pages must be built from the master branch." If you navigate to your repo under Settings, and scroll down to the "Github Pages" section, you will see a grayed out option there under Source!

Update and Edit 5/30

I was working on my project and realized a MAJOR issue! More than likely MOST of us will use the user page as a portfolio page and link to our project pages via Github.

If you are using React Router, the Service Worker will cache your project pages & they won't direct correctly (all of my project pages appeared as a blank page a part of my portfolio only with its menu)...this will happen whether or not you click on the links to your project pages in your app or copy and paste it in your browser. Even if you do not use a project page in your user page, it will still be affected!

To fix this, you have to delete the service worker file and any references to it in your index.js file... & remember to clear your browser cache (a hard refresh doesn't suffice).

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