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One Build System - Multiple Vue Apps - Shared Components

Hamish Clulee
Passionate about complex UI's, sharpening pencils, VueJs and all things Javascript.
・4 min read

How to achieve this and how to maintain developer experience while doing so.

Last updated September 12, 2020

Written with specific references to VueCli v3, but I think a good portion of whats contained within should be applicable across most FE codebases.

The What And The Why

While working on WelcomeQr I was in a position where it made sense to create a seperate app for serving published content at a user's subdomain. So, I started by making a new app scafolled using VueCli located at the root on my current mono repo for the project. Prior to the subdoms app, the repo contained a frontend application and an ExpressJs server for endpoints, database and serving static content (static could possibly have been done faster at the Nginx level, but that's another story, and I'm happy with the current set up). So now I have two seperate Frontend apps, two build systems, two lint configs and I haven't even started writing code yet. Pretty early on in writing the new app I start using components from the main app, at this stage by just copying them into the new directory.

So, that is also the why. I wanted to manage all my frontend code using one build and lint setup (I'm using typescript so linting etc is a little more complex, and therefore makes using one config all the more important.)

Things I Tried On The Road To Completion

I generally start things in a naive manner and that's by no means a negative. I find when I'm attempting something that is new to me making a branch and trying to go directly from A to B has been useful and effective. Sometimes it works first time, other times not so much, this was the latter.

First thing I tried to do was simply make a shared folder at the root of repo and move all the shared code into it, then change the paths in both apps that referenced anything shared. Guess the problem? No linting or typechecking, also my sass variables and the interpolation into each .vue file went to custard at this point.

Ok, so no problems, I'll move the tsconfig file into the root of the project, but then of course I'll need to install some tooling, also my server is running it's own seperate typescript tooling, and that would now be upstream from the new tsconfig. It's quickly becoming obvious that this isn't going to be a quick fix. Time for lunch.

The next thing I tried doing was using two distinct vue.config.[app-name].js files, and the Vue env variable: VUE_CLI_SERVICE_CONFIG_PATH. I found a couple of references to it from the author of this post, who found it buried in the Vue source code, it's not documented, but I looked at the source and it seemed legit - famous last words right?

I did actually think that this would be a winner for a while, but got backed into a corner by realtive paths and needing to have two very different index.html files for each app, I could be wrong here but the results I was getting seemed like a bug in VueCli, of course, because what I'm doing isn't in the docs, it's probably not defined as a bug? Right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The code below is the first attempt at splitting the vue.config.js files, taken from the package.json scripts section.

  "scripts": {

    "serve:main": "env VUE_CLI_SERVICE_CONFIG_PATH=\"$PWD/vue.config.main.js\" vue-cli-service serve main-app/src/main.ts --dest main-app/dist",
    "build:main": "env VUE_CLI_SERVICE_CONFIG_PATH=\"$PWD/vue.config.main.js\" vue-cli-service build --dest main-app/dist main-app/src/main.ts",

    "serve:subdoms": "env VUE_CLI_SERVICE_CONFIG_PATH=\"$PWD/vue.config.subdoms.js\" vue-cli-service serve subdoms-app/src/main.ts",
    "build:subdoms": "env VUE_CLI_SERVICE_CONFIG_PATH=\"$PWD/vue.config.subdoms.js\" vue-cli-service build --dest subdoms-app/dist subdoms-app/src/main.ts"

  },

And the vue.config.main-app.js file.

const path = require('path')

module.exports = {
    chainWebpack: config => {

        // I've ommited stuff that isn't super relevant

        config.resolve.alias.set('@I', path.resolve(__dirname, '../interfaces'))
        config.resolve.alias.set('@shared', path.resolve(__dirname, './shared'))

    }
}

It does work but it produced some strange results, and I think I found a better solution which stayed closer to the documented way of doing things.

The Solution

Apologies for the pre-amble, here is the lamb sauce.

vue.config.js

const path = require('path')

const isMainApp = process.env.APP_TYPE === 'main-app'
const appDir = isMainApp ? 'main-app' : 'subdoms-app'

module.exports = {
    outputDir: path.resolve(__dirname, `${appDir}/dist`),
    chainWebpack: config => {

        // I've ommited all the non-relevant config stuff

        config.resolve.alias.set('@I', path.resolve(__dirname, '../interfaces'))
        config.resolve.alias.set('@shared', path.resolve(__dirname, './shared'))

        config.plugin("html").tap(args => {
            args[0].template = path.resolve(__dirname, `${appDir}/index.html`)
            return args
        })

    },
    devServer: {
        port: isMainApp ? 8080 : 7070
    },
}

package.json

{
  "name": "example config",
  "version": "0.1.0",
  "scripts": {

    "serve:main": "env APP_TYPE=\"main-app\" vue-cli-service serve main-app/src/main.ts",
    "build:main": "env APP_TYPE=\"main-app\" vue-cli-service build main-app/src/main.ts",

    "serve:subdoms": "env APP_TYPE=\"subdoms-app\" vue-cli-service serve subdoms-app/src/main.ts",
    "build:subdoms": "env APP_TYPE=\"subdoms-app\" vue-cli-service build subdoms-app/src/main.ts"

  },
  "dependencies": {
      // deps...
  }
}

folder structure

/
    .git
    .gitignore
    rundev.sh
    deploy.sh
    /front
        /main-app
            /dist
            /src
            index.html
        /subdoms-app
            /dist
            /src
            index.html
        /public
            /images
                logo.png
                ...
            /icons
                check.svg
                ...
        /shared
            /components
                component.vue
                ...
            /api
                auth.ts
                api.ts
            /utils
                seo.ts
        jsconfig.ts
        eslint.js
        package.json
        vue.config.js
    /server
        ...
    /scripts
        bleh.sh
        ....

The Result

One build system, one tsconfig and linting set up, shared code and as many apps as you want all of them able to be run concurrently, and they have their own sass build, pretty neat right? I think this could be used to some awesome effect in larger codebases.

The Drawbacks

One package.json, although this won't affect bundle size, because webpack on bundles whats imported, it could be argued that it will become noisy over time. It's an acceptable issue for me.

Hope you enjoyed reading and found some of this useful.

Discussion (2)

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david_mark profile image
David Mark
  "scripts": {

    "serve:main": "env APP_TYPE=\"main-app\" vue-cli-service serve main-app/src/main.ts",
    "build:main": "env APP_TYPE=\"main-app\" vue-cli-service build main-app/src/main.ts",

    "serve:subdoms": "env APP_TYPE=\"subdoms-app\" vue-cli-service serve subdoms-app/src/main.ts",
    "build:subdoms": "env APP_TYPE=\"subdoms-app\" vue-cli-service build subdoms-app/src/main.ts"

  },
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

env doesn't work on windows command prompt but can use this npm package to get around it:

npmjs.com/package/cross-env

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ninjasoards profile image
David Y Soards

I'm working on a very similar problem atm, and this looks highly interesting.

My main concern though is, if the 2 Vue apps need separate version #s, is that possible since they share a single package.json file?