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Rendering Static Files to the Browser with Express JS

Series 2/5 of Building an Email Application using Node JS Express JS with Gmail and Nodemailer.

Rendering Static Files to the Browser with Express JS

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This is the 2/5 series of the Building an Email Application using Node JS Express JS with Gmail and Nodemailer. You can check out the first series Here where we set up our project environment.

Let's get started already 👇.

Yes, we cannot just access our HTML file directly from our browser, express must handle that for us and to this point, we can only access our application port 3000 on our terminal, let's see how we can display our HTML files on our browser using Express JS.

Now that we have our server up and running with nodemon listening to our file changes, let design our application interface.

  1. Create a new folder and name it public

  2. Inside the public folder create the following files

  • index.html

  • index.css

  • success.html

  • success.css


Copy the code below 👇 into the stated files respectively


  • index.html


<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8" />
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />
    <!-- Css styles -->
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="./index.css" />
    <!-- Fontawesome icon library -->
    <link
      rel="stylesheet"
      href="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/font-awesome/4.7.0/css/font-awesome.min.css"
    />
    <title>e-Mail Sender Application</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <form style="max-width: 500px; margin: auto">
      <h2>e-Mail Sender Application</h2>
      <div class="input-wrapper">
        <i class="fa fa-user icon"></i>

        <input
          class="input-field"
          type="text"
          placeholder="To: i.e unclebigbay@gmail.com"
          name="email"
          autocomplete="off"
          required
        />
      </div>
      <div class="input-wrapper">
        <i class="fa fa-envelope icon"></i>

        <input
          class="input-field"
          type="text"
          placeholder="Subject"
          name="subject"
          required
        />
      </div>

      <div class="input-wrapper">
        <textarea
          id="message"
          name="message"
          placeholder="Message body.."
          style="height: 200px; width: 100%"
          required
        ></textarea>
      </div>

      <div class="attachment-wrapper">
        <label for="attachment">Attachment</label>
        <input id="attachment" name="attachment" type="file" required/>
      </div>

      <button type="submit" class="send-btn">Send Mail</button>
    </form>
  </body>
</html>

  • index.css


@import url("https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Poppins:ital,wght@0,300;0,400;0,500;0,600;0,700;0,800;0,900;1,300;1,400;1,500;1,600;1,700;1,800;1,900&display=swap");

* {
  box-sizing: border-box;
  font-family: "Poppins";
}

h2 {
  font-size: 2rem;
}

.input-wrapper {
  display: -ms-flexbox; /* IE10 */
  display: flex;
  width: 100%;
  margin-bottom: 15px;
  font-family: "Poppins";
}

.icon {
  padding: 10px;
  background: #333333;
  color: white;
  min-width: 50px;
  text-align: center;
  font-family: "Poppins";
}

.input-field {
  width: 100%;
  padding: 10px;
  outline: none;
  font-family: "Poppins";
  border: 2px solid #333333;
}

.input-field:focus {
  box-shadow: 0 0 10px #333333;
  border: 2px solid #333333;
}

.input-wrapper textarea {
  padding: 1rem;
  border: 2px solid #333333;
}

.input-wrapper textarea:focus {
  outline: none;
  box-shadow: 0 0 10px #333333;
  border: 2px solid #333333;
}

.attachment-wrapper {
  margin: 15px 0;
}

.attachment-wrapper label {
  font-weight: 600;
}

.send-btn {
  background-color: #333333;
  color: white;
  padding: 15px 20px;
  border: none;
  cursor: pointer;
  width: 100%;
  opacity: 0.9;
  font-size: 16px;
}

.send-btn:hover {
  opacity: 1;
}

  • success.html


<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8" />
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />
    <!-- Css file -->
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="./success.css" />
    <!-- Fontawesome icon library -->
    <link
      rel="stylesheet"
      href="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/font-awesome/4.7.0/css/font-awesome.min.css"
    />
    <title>Mail Sent</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <i class="fa fa-paper-plane icon"></i>

    <h1>Message Delivered!!!</h1>
    <a href="./index.html">New message</a>
  </body>
</html>

  • success.css

@import url("https://fonts.googleapis.com/css2?family=Poppins:ital,wght@0,300;0,400;0,500;0,600;0,700;0,800;0,900;1,300;1,400;1,500;1,600;1,700;1,800;1,900&display=swap");

body {
  font-family: "Poppins";
  display: flex;
  flex-direction: column;
  justify-content: center;
  align-items: center;
  height: 70vh;
  color: #333333;
}

a {
  color: blue;
}

a:hover {
  opacity: 0.8;
}

body .icon {
  font-size: 3rem;
}

Update the index.js with the following code

....
// After PORT = 3000;

// Express should add our path
app.use(express.static("public"));


// Render the index.html when the user visit our project port
app.get("/", (req, res) => {
  res.sendFile("/index.html");
});

...

Explanation

1. app.use(express.static("public"));
  • We are using the express js method called use to chain a middleware called static, which allows us to serve static files like html, css, js, image, and more.

The public folder is defined inside the static middleware as our project root directory.

2. app.get
  • app.get() is a function that tells the server what to do when a get request at the given route is called.
3. ("/", (req, res)
  • The forward slash signifies the root directory of our route, just like www.hashnode.com

  • The req argument stands for request from that particular route, while the res represents response, which is a means to send back a response to the route caller.

4. res.sendFile("/index.html");
  • Remember the res above 👆 us used to send back a response? the res has a method to send back a file to the route been called, and that is what we are doing here, we are returning the index.html file when the root route of the project is been hit.

Project UI Routing on a Browser with Express JS

Routing refers to how our application's endpoints (URLs) respond to the client (browser) request through the req parameter, this is unique for a particular endpoint (URL).

www.hashnode.com will respond with the landing page while a request to www.hashnode.com/onboard will respond with a login page 😉.

Since we have our route and static files setup, it's time to visit our project port in our browser 💃

You can either copy-paste this route 👉 localhost:3000 to your browser address bar and hit enter or click this link localhost:3000.

If all goes well, you should have this 👇 displayed on your browser.

frame_generic_light (3).png

You can as well visit the success page using this link localhost:3000/success.html

Our success page should look something like below 👇.

frame_generic_light (4).png


If you made it this far let's take a break, and celebrate 😍

fb7596eafc1adf186d0e6ed139b458d8.gif

Let's drink up 👇

giphy (4).gif


In the next article, we will be connecting our user interface with our Node JS Server.

Next 👇

Let me know in the comment section if you have any difficulties.

 
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