How to get started making simple front end apps

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I'm new to making apps for Shopify, I've been playing around with the node.js / React app one.

How does one typically approach a frontend problem? does it need to have a whole app attached for it?

For example, we're looking to create an app for our shop that gets the shipping data from our shipping rates and displays it in the local currency. as right now we're just manually converting the shipping price by hand and putting it in a big iso_code based switch. and this is totally innaccurate + time-consuming.

I originally thought making a Shopify app was just about making a bunch of API calls but it seems there's way more to it. and I can't seem to find the right resources to get started understanding how to access all the different aspects. 

Could I get pointed in the right direction by someone?


Kind Regards,
Ian Hogers