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Binyamin Green
Binyamin Green

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Six Uses for Webpack

I've always tried to avoid Webpack. I would tell myself it was either too complicated or unnecessary. After all, it's not the only tool of its kind on the market. Recently, however, I've come to terms with Webpack. Once you know how to use it comfortably, it can be a very effective tool.

Webpack's main usage is bundling JavaScript. In node.js, require or import is used to include can external resource in your JavaScript file. Browsers don't understand require, so you must either include the resource in the head of your html or make an http request to a url. If you bundle your in-browser code though, webpack will combine your file with all of the files that you imported through require. Bundling can also take care of features which may not be compatible with all browsers, such as es6 notation. This requires the babel plugin.

Another use-case is minifying CSS and/or JavaScript. Minification is simply stripping all white-space from a file. It's a very effective way of decreasing file size, thus speeding up load time. Minifying JS requires no plugins, however minifying css does. There are also plugins which increase the browser-compatibility of your css, such as autoprefixer.

You can preprocess scss. There are other ways such as gulp, node-sass and even a VS Code extension, but once you're using webpack this is a pretty useful feature. This requires a [webpack loader].

You can compile jsx for ReactJS. This is can be easier to set up in some situations, especially in a complex environment such as an electron app. There's a good tutorial on compiling jsx with webpack here. Note that this requires a plugin as well.

You can compile typescript with it. Admittedly, you can compile typescript within VS Code, however it's useful, because you can do two things with one command such as compile scss and typescript. This requires a plugin.

You can run a development server with your static files. There are extensions to do that, but it can prove useful when running multiple tasks or complicated setups. This requires an extra package.

Did I miss anything that eases your workflow? Let me know in the comments.

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