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Cover image for Setup a ES6 javascript project using webpack, babel and eslint
Brijesh Bittu
Brijesh Bittu

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at bitwiser.in

Setup a ES6 javascript project using webpack, babel and eslint

Table of contents -

  1. Setup
  2. Styling
  3. Linting

Whenever someone learns a new programming language, there is a 99% chance that their first program is going to be a Hello World program. In this proverbial program, they are supposed to print Hello World on their screen/console. Depending on the language, it can range from 1 line program to multiline just for printing this Hello World.

In Javascript, in olden times (4-5 years back), one would simply create an HTML file with this content and open it up in their browsers to see Hello World printed in their browser windows (and also in the browser console).

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>Hello World</title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <p>Hello World</p>
    <script>
      console.log('Hello World');
    </script>
  </body>
</script>

But as javascript ecosystem has matured, this process has gotten a little complicated (for the better). In this tutorial, you will get to know how to set up this type of project.

Assumptions

  • You know Javascript (preferrably some es6 too).
  • You have nodejs and npm installed on your system (Tutorial).

The full code is available at https://github.com/brijeshb42/hello-world-tutorial.

Part 1

Open your terminal app or Command Prompt and cd to a directory where you would like to create this project. Let's assume the project folder is called hello-world in some directory on your disk. Now type these commands -

  1. cd hello-world
  2. npm init --y

This will create a package.json file in hello-world directory. package.json is file in your project which is used by nodejs and npm to keep track of installed packages and your project's metadata. Your package.json might look something like this -

{
  "name": "hello-world",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "",
  "main": "index.js",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
  },
  "keywords": [],
  "author": "",
  "license": "ISC"
}

Now add webpack and dev-server -

npm install webpack@3.11.1 webpack-dev-server --save-dev

at the time of writing this, the version of webpack installed was 3.11.1.

Edit: the version has been added as pointed out by Patrick Cole in the comments because, since this tutorial has been published, webpack version 4 has been released which has a slightly different configuration and might break this tutorial's setup.

Create a src directory inside your project folder and then create index.js file inside it.

  1. mkdir src
  2. echo "console.log('Hello world');" > src/index.js

This is our hello world program that will print Hello world in the browser console when run.

At this point, you can start with writing a webpack config file to bundle your files for browser to load.

Create a webpack.config.js file in your project folder with the following content. This file is used by webpack to read your configuration and build project accordingly.

const path = require('path');

module.exports = {
  entry: {
    bundle: './src/index.js'
  },
  output: {
    path: path.resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),
    filename: 'bundle.js'
   }
};

Now, you can run this command for webpack to load the entry file and create a bundled js file in dist directory in the root of your project directory.

./node_modules/.bin/webpack

This is the build command that will bundle up all the dependencies and create a bundle.js file as specified in the output option of webpack config file. After running this command, you can see a bundle.js file in dist. You can not load this js file yet as you first have to have an html file. Browser will load that file which in turn will load the js file.
You can manually create an index.html file in dist with this content.

<script src="./bundle.js"></script>

This is the minimum amount of html required to load and run our bundled js. Now you can double click this html file which will open it in a browser. You can open the browser console using CMD/CTRL + SHIFT + I to see the output. Let's look at a better way through which you don't have to write the html file.

npm install html-webpack-plugin --save-dev

This is a webpack plugin that automatically generates the index.html file in dist with proper references to all the generated javascript files. To use this plugin, update your webpack.config.js with this -

  const path = require('path');
+ const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require('html-webpack-plugin');

 module.exports = {
   entry: {
    bundle: './src/index.js'
  },
   output: {
     path: path.resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),
      filename: 'bundle.js'
-   }
+  },
+  plugins: [
+    new HtmlWebpackPlugin()
+  ]
 };

After this, you can run the build command again -

./node_modules/.bin/webpack

This will now create and extra index.html file in dist directory with proper script tags to include bundle.js. This can now be opened in browser directly and it'll work like before, except that you didn't have to create it yourself.

To make the build command shorter, lets create an alias inside package.json so that you only have to type npm run build to bundle your files. Update your package.json -

 {
   "name": "hello-world",
   "version": "1.0.0",
    "description": "",
   "main": "index.js",
   "scripts": {
     "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
   },
   "keywords": [],
   "author": "",
   "license": "ISC",
   "devDependencies": {
     "html-webpack-plugin": "^2.30.1",
     "webpack": "^3.11.0",
     "webpack-dev-server": "^2.11.1"
-  }
+  },
+  "scripts": {
+    "build": "webpack"
+  }
 }

Till now, webpack bundles the files and exits. This is good when you just want to bundle and deploy to your local or remote server. But during development, this can get frustrating really quickly. To overcome this frustration, you'll use webpack-dev-server which constantly watches your files for changes and refreshes the page in browser instantly. It also starts a development server inside dist so the html file is loaded from a server instead of a file system (just in case you are using ajax in your js which does not work when opened from filesystem). Install it using -

npm install webpack-dev-server

This starts the development server with dist as the base directory. The default url is http://localhost:8080. Opening this url in your browser will load the index.html file and log Hello World in the console. Now if you update your console log from Hello World to Hi World inside src/index.js, webpack-dev-server will automatically reload the browser and you will be able to see the new output.

./node_modules/.bin/webpack-dev-server --content-base dist

Lets add this also as an alias in package.json -

 {
   "name": "hello-world",
   "version": "1.0.0",
   "description": "",
   "main": "index.js",
   "scripts": {
     "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
   },
   "keywords": [],
   "author": "",
   "license": "ISC",
   "devDependencies": {
     "html-webpack-plugin": "^2.30.1",
     "webpack": "^3.11.0",
     "webpack-dev-server": "^2.11.1"
   },
   "scripts": {
     "build": "webpack",
+    "dev": "webpack-dev-server --content-base dist"
   }
 }

Now running npm run dev will start webpack-dev-server with auto reload on changes.

At this point, you cannot use es6 syntax in your js code yet. Let's add that support. This will be done by using babel. To add babel support in the build process, let us first install it. The babel-loader will require babel-core to be installed. And to support es6/7/8/* syntax, you'll add babel-preset-env. Run this in your terminal in the project folder -

npm install babel-core babel-loader babel-preset-env --save-dev

First create a .babelrc file in project directory so that babel can load its configuration. Add this to the file -

{
  "presets": [[
    "env", {
      "targets": {
        "browsers": ["Chrome >= 55"]
      }
    }
  ]]
}

This configuration is used deliberately so that you can see the bundled js file in dist directory and discern how your es6 code has been transpiled. As browsers started supporting more and more es6 features, babel, instead of transpiling all of the code blindly, now smartly identifies which features are supported natively and does not transpile those parts. This reduces the overall bundle size.

The simplest configuration to be used instead of the above (if you don't care about browser version) would have been -

{
  "presets": ["env"]
}

Now let's instruct webpack to use babel to transpile the js files first.

  const path = require('path');
+ const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require('html-webpack-plugin');

 module.exports = {
   entry: `{
    bundle: './src/index.js'
  },
   output: {
     path: path.resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),
      filename: 'bundle.js'
    },
   plugins: [
     new HtmlWebpackPlugin()
-  ]
+  ],
+  module: {
+    rules: [{
+      test: /\.js$/,
+     exclude: /node_modules/,
+     use: 'babel-loader'
+   }]
+ }
 };

Create a new file src/message.js and add this -

export default "Hello World";

Now modify src/index.js to use the simplest es6 feature of importing -

import message from './message';

console.log(message);

In above code, es6 module syntax is used. Now running npm run dev will create an updated bundle (though the output is same) which you can test in your browser console.

This sums up the first part of the tutorial where you have setup the simplest (seriously simplest) javascript project using webpack for bundling with babel integration for transpiling es6 to es5.


Part 2

Now, let's move on to second part of the tutorial where we'll setup webpack to import css files. Through this, you can directly include styles in your javascript files.

First, let's modify src/index.js to show some text on the page instead of just logging to console.

 import message from './message';

-console.log(message);
+const paragraph = document.createElement('p');
+paragraph.innerHTML = message;
+
+document.body.prepend(paragraph);

This creates a p tag with the imported message as the html and adds it to the page.

Now, let's style this p tag using css. This requires css-loader and style-loader. Install it using -

npm install css-loader style-loader --save-dev

To support css file importing, let's update our webpack.config.js with a new rule which tests if an imported file has css extension and parses it using style-loader and css-loader -

  const path = require('path');
  const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require('html-webpack-plugin');

  module.exports = {
   entry: {
     bundle: './src/index.js '
   },
   output: {
     path: path.resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),
      filename: 'bundle.js'
    },
   plugins: [
     new HtmlWebpackPlugin()
   ],
   module: {
     rules: [{ 
        test: /\.js$/,
        exclude: /node_modules/,
       use: 'babel-loader'
+    }, {
+      test: /\.css$/,
+      exclude: /node_modules/,
+      use: [
+        {loader: 'style-loader'},
+        {loader: 'css-loader'}
+       ]
+     }]
   }
 };

Now create a css file src/index.css and style the p tag -

p {
   color: red;
} 

Import this css file in src/index.css -

 import message from './message';
+import './index.css';

 const paragraph = document.createElement('p');
 paragraph.innerHTML = message;

 document.body.prepend(paragraph);

Now, restart dev server using npm run dev. You'll be able to see that the page now show Hello World in red color. If you change the color from to red to blue in index.css, the page will reload and new style will be visible. To see the new style without the actual page reload, modify the dev server command in package.json -

 {
  "name": "hello-world",
  "version": "1.0.0", 
  "description": "",
  "main": "index.js",
  "scripts": {
    "build": "webpack",
-    "dev": "webpack-dev-server --content-base dist"
+    "dev": "webpack-dev-server --content-base dist --hot"
  },
  "keywords": [],
  "author": "" ,
  "license": "ISC",
  "devDependencies": {
    "babel-core": "^6.26.0",
    "babel-loader": "^7.1.2",
    "babel-preset-env": "^1.6.1",
    "css-loader": "^0.28.9",
    "html-webpack-plugin": "^2.30.1",
    "style-loader": "^0.20.2",
    "webpack": "^3.11.0",
    "webpack-de v-server": "^2.11.1"
  }
 }

This enables hot module replacement in webpack which shows the new changes in your code (in css or js or any file as long as webpack knows how to load it) without full reload of the page. Restart the server with npm run dev and try to change the color of p in css. You'll notice that the color changes in page without actually reloading the page.

If you try to run the build command, npm run build, in the dist directory, you'll notice that there aren't any css files built. That is because webpack adds the styles in javascript bundles as strings and applies these styles in the page by creating style tags. This is fine when you are developing. But during deployment process, it is always a good practice to include your css files in the head tag so that the page look is not compromised while the javascript is loading. To fix this, we'll use extract-text-webpack-plugin which extracts all the imported css to its own file during the build process. Before this, let's first setup webpack to understand development and production mode.

  const path = require('path');
  const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require('html-webpack-plugin');

+ const env = process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development';
+ const isDev = env === 'development';
+ const isProd = env === 'production';

  module.exports = {
    entry: {
      bundle: './src/index.js'
    },
    output: {
      path: path.resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),
      filename: 'bundle.js'
    },
    plugins: [
      new HtmlWebpackPlugin()
    ],
    module: {
      rules: [{
        test: /\.js$/,
        exclude: /node_modules/,
       use: 'babel-loader'
      }, {
        test: /\.css$/,
        exclude: /node_modules/,
        use: [
          {loader: 'style-loader'},
          {loader: 'css-loader'}
        ]
      }]
    }
  };

And modify package.json to run build command in production mode and dev server in development mode.

 { 
   "name": "hello-world",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "",
  "main": "index.js",
  "scripts": {
-    "build": "webpack",
-    "dev": "webpack-dev-server --content-base dist --hot"
+    "build": "NODE_ENV=production webpack",
+    "dev": "NODE_ENV=development webpack-dev-server --content-base dist --hot"
  },
  "keywords": [],
  "author": "",
  "license": "ISC",
  "devDependencies": {
    "babel-core": "^6.26.0",
    "babel-loader": "^7.1.2",
    "babel-preset-env": "^1.6.1",
    "css-loader": "^0.28.9",
    "extract-text-webpack-plugin": "^3.0.2",
    "html-webpack-plugin": "^2.30.1",
    "style-loader": "^0.20.2",
    "webpack": "^3.11.0",
    "webpack-dev-server": "^2.11.1"
  }
 }

Now install extract-text-webpack-plugin using -

npm install extract-text-webpack-plugin --save-dev

And update webpack.config.js -

 const path = require('path');
 const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require('html-webpack-plugin');
+const ExtractTextPlugin = require('extract-text-webpack-plugin');

 const env = process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development';
 const isDev = env === 'development';
 const isProd = env === 'production';

+const extractCss = new ExtractTextPlugin({
+  filename: 'index.css',
+  disable: isDev
+});

 module.exports = {
   entry: {
     bundle: './src/index.js'
   },
    output: {
     path: path.resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),
    filename: 'bundle.js'
   },
   plugins: [
-    new HtmlWebpackPlugin()
+    new HtmlWebpackPlugin(),
+    extractCss
   ],
   module: {
     rules: [{
       test: /\.js$/,
       exclude: /node_modules/,
       use: 'babel-loader'
     }, {
       test: /\.css$/,
       exclude: /node_modules/,
-      use: [
-         {loader: 'style-loader'},
-         {loader: 'css-loader'}
-      ]
+      use: extractCss.extract({
+        use:[
+          {loader: 'css-loader'}
+        ],
+        fallback: 'style-loader'
+     })
     }]
   }
 };

This disables extractCss in developement mode in which case, style tag is used to apply css. In production mode, extractCss plugin extracts all the css from js bundles into their own files which is named according to the value of filename used while declaring extractCss.

Now running npm run build will create 3 files in dist - bundle.js, index.css and index.html.

Update - Adding scss support

Let's add scss parsing support to the webpack config file. For this you'll need sass-loader which in turn needs node-sass. Install these using -

npm install node-sass sass-loader --save-dev

Now, update webpack.config.js so that webpack knows how to process imported scss files -

 const path = require('path');
 const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require('html-webpack-plugin');
 const ExtractTextPlugin = require('extract-text-webpack-plugin');

 const env = process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development';
 const isDev = env === 'development';
 const isProd = env === 'production';

-const extractCss = new ExtractTextPlugin({
+const extractScss = new ExtractTextPlugin({
   filename: 'index.css',
   disable: isDev
 });

 module.exports = {
   entry: {
     bundle: './src/index.js'
   },
   output: {
     path: path.resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),
     filename: 'bundle.js'
   },
   plugins: [
     new HtmlWebpackPlugin(),
-    extractCss
+    extractScss
   ],
   module: {
     rules: [{
       test: /\.js$/,
       exclude: /node_modules/,
       use: 'babel-loader'
     }, {
-      test: /\.css$/,
+      test: /(\.css|\.scss)$/,
       exclude: /node_modules/,
-      use: extractCss.extract({
+      use: extractScss.extract({
         use:[
-          {loader: 'css-loader'}
+          {loader: 'css-loader'},
+          {loader: 'sass-loader'}
         ],
         fallback: 'style-loader'
       })
     }]
   }
 };

Now to test this out, rename index.css to index.scss and update its content with basic scss nesting -

body {
  p {
    color: red;
  }
}

Update the import in index.js -

 import message from './message';
-import './index.css';
+import './index.scss';

 const paragraph = document.createElement('p');
 paragraph.innerHTML = message;

 document.body.prepend(paragraph);

Test this by running npm run dev and open the url in browser.

This part concludes the usage of importing css and scss files in js.


Part 3

As the codebase of a project increases in size, it can become difficult to maintain a strict coding guideline if not taken care of at early stage. Also, as more people start contributing to a single project, they may bring their own style of coding which can result in code in various files looking different and it becomes painful for new developers to decide which style to follow. This problem is taken care of by using linters. They help in following a single strict guideline for writing code. Linters in javascript show many helpful messages like unused variables, missing semicolon (this may not be a problem in some projects), codes exceeding maximum permitted length, etc. Let's update our project to use eslint to throw error when a particular guideline is not followed. For this, we need eslint and eslint-loader. Install them using -

npm install eslint eslint-loader --save-dev

Now update webpack.config.js to inform webpack to use eslint-loader before passing it through babel-loader -

const path = require('path');
const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require('html-webpack-plugin');
const ExtractTextPlugin = require('extract-text-webpack-plugin');

const env = process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development';
const isDev = env === 'development';
const isProd = env === 'production';

const extractScss = new ExtractTextPlugin({
  filename: 'index.css',
  disable: isDev
});

 module.exports = {
   entry: {
     bundle: './src/index.js'
   },
   output: {
     path: path.resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),
     filename: 'bundle.js'
   },
   plugins: [
     new HtmlWebpackPlugin(),
     extractScss
   ],
   module: {
     rules: [{
+      enforce: 'pre',
+      test: /\.js$/,
+      exclude: /node_modules/,
+      use: 'eslint-loader'
+    }, {
       test: /\.js$/,
       exclude: /node_modules/,
       use: 'babel-loader'
     }, {
       test: /(\.css|\.scss)$/,
       exclude: /node_modules/,
       use: extractScss.extract({
         use:[
           {loader: 'css-loader'},
           {loader: 'sass-loader'}
         ],
         fallback: 'style-loader'
       })
     }]
   }
 };

Create a new file .eslintrc at the top level of your project (alongside package.json). In this file, you can define your own custom rules and the parser for eslint to follow.

{
  "parserOptions": {
    "ecmaVersion": 6,
    "sourceType": "module"
  },
  "extends": "eslint:recommended"
}

ecmaVersion allows eslint to recognise ES6 features, sourceType: module allows the usage of import and export keywords. By default, there are no rules set for eslint. So "extends": "eslint:recommended" tells eslint to use default recommended rules.

At this point, you can run npm run dev. In the console, you'll see that there are 2 same type of errors -

4:19  error  'document' is not defined  no-undef
7:1   error  'document' is not defined  no-undef

This tells that the variable document has not been defined (no-undef) anywhere but is still being used. This can be fixed in 2 ways. To fix this, you'll need to use the globals key in .eslintrc. Update your .eslintrc -

 {
   "parserOptions": {
     "ecmaVersion": 6,
     "sourceType": "module"
   },
-  "extends": "eslint:recommended"
+  "extends": "eslint:recommended",
+. "globals": {
      "document": true
    }
 }

This tells eslint that the variable document is global and will be provided by the JS environment (in this case, browser). Now you can run npm run dev without any error. You can also add a linting command to package.json to see lint error independently of webpack. Update package.json -

{
  "name": "hello-world",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "",
  "main": "index.js",
  "scripts": {
    "build": "NODE_ENV=production webpack",
-   "dev": "NODE_ENV=development webpack-dev-server --content-base dist --hot"
+   "dev": "NODE_ENV=development webpack-dev-server --content-base dist --hot",
+   "lint": "eslint ./src --ext .js"
  },
  "keywords": [],
  "author": "",
  "license": "ISC",
  "devDependencies": {
    "babel-core": "^6.26.0",
    "babel-loader": "^7.1.2",
    "babel-preset-env": "^1.6.1",
    "css-loader": "^0.28.9",
    "eslint": "^4.18.1",
    "eslint-loader": "^2.0.0",
    "extract-text-webpack-plugin": "^3.0.2",
    "html-webpack-plugin": "^2.30.1",
    "node-sass": "^4.7.2",
    "sass-loader": "^6.0.6",
    "style-loader": "^0.20.2",
    "webpack": "^3.11.0",
    "webpack-dev-server": "^2.11.1"
  }
}

Now you can run npm run lint in your console and check for any linting errors regardless of whether you are bundling the project or not. This can also be used in git pre-commit hooks to not allow commits if eslint throws any error. eslint ./src --ext .js tells eslint to check for errors in all files in src dirctory with js extension. You can also add an optional --fix option to this command which automatically tries to fix errors so that you don't have to.

You can also add your own rules in .eslintrc file as per your requirements. The eslint:recommended option does not allow you to use console.log in your code (recommended way is to use a logging module). You can add a rule to tell eslint to show a warning in console.log statements instead of an error. Update .eslintrc file -

 {
   "parserOptions": {
     "ecmaVersion": 6,
     "sourceType": "module"
   },
   "extends": "eslint:recommended",
   "globals": {
-    "document": true
+    "document": true,
+    "console": true
-  }
+  },
+  "rules": {
+    "no-console": 1
+  }
 }

"no-console": 1 tells eslint to show a warning instead of an error. Other values are 0 (turn off eslint for this rule) and 2 (throw an error if this rule is violated). There are some standard javascript style guides that a lot of companies use (instead of the default eslint:recommended). One of them is airbnb's javascript style guide which adds a lot of well accepted linting rules. You can use this instead of the current one. Let's add that to our configuration. It requires the installation of an extra eslint-plugin-import dependency. Install eslint-config-airbnb-base and it's dependencies using -

npx install-peerdeps --dev eslint-config-airbnb-base

Now update .eslintrc -

 {
-  "parserOptions": {
-   "ecmaVersion": 6,
-   "sourceType": "module"
-  },
-  "extends": "eslint:recommended",
+  "extends": "airbnb-base",
   "globals": {
     "document": true,
     "console": true
   },
   "rules": {
     "no-console": 1
   }
 }

airbnb-base has parserOptions internally. So it has been removed. Now, when you run npm run dev, you'll get an error-

...hello-world/src/message.js
1:16  error  Strings must use singlequote  quotes

That's because airbnb-base has a rule to use single quotes for strings instead of double quotes. Running npm run lint with --fix option will automatically change " to ' in src/message.js.

This concludes the usage of eslint to enforce code quality in your code.

Part 4 will update this project to start developing ReactJS apps.

This post was originally published on bitwiser.in

Top comments (2)

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patrickcole profile image
Patrick Cole

I really enjoyed this deep dive into webpack, es6 and all the various loaders and plugins available.

A couple of items, for anyone reading this, as of March 2018. The current extract-text-webpack-plugin is not currently compatible with webpack version 4.0. The extract-text-webpack-plugin@next will work, but is still in development. The following link got me through some headaches:
Extract-text-webpack-plugin Issue 701 on Github. I would mention that if you want to go through this tutorial without the same issues, you should specify webpack^3.11.0 in your npm install command.

Finally, I believe there is a small formatting issue that tripped me up when I was using the extractCss plugin. It's in the final code snippet before Update - Adding scss support in the article. The change of actually configuring the extractCss plugin is not formatted in green and I missed doing so before running the build command. A small nitpick, but it definitely sidetracked me for a few minutes.

Thanks for providing a great overview of how to use all these great modules for development!

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Brijesh Bittu Author

Thanks for pointing the mistakes. I have updated the snippets.

In defense of the modern web

I expect I'll annoy everyone with this post: the anti-JavaScript crusaders, justly aghast at how much of the stuff we slather onto modern websites; the people arguing the web is a broken platform for interactive applications anyway and we should start over;

React users; the old guard with their artisanal JS and hand authored HTML; and Tom MacWright, someone I've admired from afar since I first became aware of his work on Mapbox many years ago. But I guess that's the price of having opinions.