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How to run backend and frontend in the same terminal window?

June 18, 2019

I have recently stumbled upon a cool library that allows you to run frontend and backend in the same terminal window. This way, you need just one command to start your development environment.

I am talking about concurrently. Everyone of us knows that one of the hardest things in software development is starting to work. concurrently eliminates some of that friction in an easy way.

How to put it all together?

First, create a new folder in your project directory. In this example I will just use C:\Project\ because it is easier to type.

Navigate to the project folder and create the frontend like this:

npx create-react-app frontend

Create a new folder called backend in the project directory. At this point you should have backend and frontend directories in your project directory.

Navigate to backend and run:

npm init

Fill in the date that the init program needs and install express:

npm install express --save

Let’s install also nodemon:

npm install nodemon --save-dev

Then create a new file server.js in the backend directory. Open the file in your text editor and paste in the following code:

const express = require("express")
const app = express()
app.listen(3000, () => {
  console.log("Server running on port 3000")

At this point we have both, our frontend and backend, ready to go. The next thing we need to do is to modify the package.json file in the backend folder.

You can paste in my version:

  "name": "project",
  "version": "0.0.1",
  "description": "",
  "main": "server.js",
  "scripts": {
    "watch": "nodemon server.js",
    "client": "npm start --prefix ../frontend",
    "dev": "concurrently \"npm run watch\" \"npm run client\""
  "author": "author",
  "license": "MIT",
  "devDependencies": {
    "concurrently": "^4.1.0",
    "nodemon": "^1.19.1"
  "dependencies": {
    "express": "^4.17.0"

Take a look at the script tag. I have created three commands. watch for the backend, client for the frontend, and dev for the development environment, that runs both of the commands at the same time, concurrently. :)

Note that in the client script a prefix is needed, because the root folder of the frontend is not the same than that of the backend.

This neat little trick has really improved my quality of life as a developer. If you already didn’t know this I hope that you find this post useful. Cheers!