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    Install webpack and create a default bundle

    Andy Van SlaarsAndy Van Slaars

    In this lesson, we'll add some initial files to our project, install webpack and webpack-cli, and setup an npm script to create a JavaScript bundle using webpack. We'll inspect the resulting bundle to understand what webpack does by default. We’ll also add a .gitignore file to avoid committing node_modules and files that result from a build process.



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    Instructor: 00:00 I'm going to add a new directory to this project, and I'm going to call it src. This is where the source for our project is going to live. Inside of source, I'm going to create a new file, and I'm going to call that index.js. For now, our index.js is just going to do a console.log of, "Hello, world!"

    00:19 Now that we have some code to bundle, let's go back to our terminal and install webpack. I'll bring the terminal up here, and I'm going to npm install, and I'm going to use the --save dev flag to save this as a development dependency. I'm going to install webpack and webpack-cli.

    00:46 With that done, I'm going to show the files. We'll see that a couple of things have happened. Package.json has been modified. We now have this new packagelog.json file, and we have this node_modules directory that's been added.

    00:59 If we look at package.json and we scroll down, we'll see that now we have this dev dependencies area where it has a webpack and a webpack-cli entry. The actual code for this lives in node_modules.

    01:12 I'm going to expand node_modules, and we'll see that we have all these dependencies that have been added, but at the very top, we this .bin directory. If we expand .bin, we'll see that there's an entry in here for webpack and there's another one for webpack-cli.

    01:27 The files in this .bin directory are executable. I can go into the terminal and I can type node_modules.bin/webpack, and I can execute that webpack item from the .bin directory. I'll expand the terminal so it's a little easier to see the output, and we'll run that.

    01:46 We can see that by running this with no configuration at all, webpack has managed to find our source index file and create an output file from it. Let's take a look at that.

    01:58 By default, webpack is going to create this dist directory, and that's where its output's going to go. If I open this main.js, we'll see this minified file, and if we scroll far enough, we'll actually find our source code. Everything here is obviously minified. It's very difficult to read.

    02:17 We look down here, that warning that we got and when we've ran webpack, it's telling us that there's a mode option and that it falls back to production mode. Again, with no configuration, webpack will do a default production build.

    02:31 Let's test to see if this code works. We're not doing anything in here that's browser-specific. We could actually just run this through Node and we'll see what happens.

    02:40 I'm going to clear out the terminal and I'm going to run Node, and then I'm going to point into that dist/main.js file. When we run it, we'll see that we get our, "Hello, world!" output. This is creating perfectly valid JavaScript that can be executed.

    02:56 We know webpack will spit out our code. We know that that code can be executed. We don't have to worry too much about being able to read it right now. I'm going to go into package.json. We don't really want to have to type the paths to node_modules.bin/webpack every time we want to build our code.

    03:13 We're going to go into the npm scripts section of package.json. I'm going to add a script we'll call build. The command for that is simply going to be webpack. When you create an npm script, by default, npm can resolve these commands to that .bin directory under node_modules.

    03:34 We can save this change to package.json, and then down in the terminal, instead of typing the path node_modules/bin/webpack, we can just type npm run build, and we end up with the same result.

    03:50 The real power of webpack comes from the ability to use modules in our source code. I'm going to come over here to source, and I'm going to add a new file. I'm going to call this greet.js. Inside greet.js, I'm going to create consent. I'm going to call it greeting. I'm going to set that to equal, "Hello, world!" Then I'm going to do an export default greeting.

    04:17 I've created a very simple module that just exports a string. I'll save that, and then back in index.js, at the top of the file, I'm going to do an import greeting from, and I'm going to use the relative path to greet.js, and I can leave the file extension off there.

    04:36 Now I can come down to my console.log, and I'm going to replace this with greeting. I'll save that, and now back in the terminal, I'm going to type npm run build. This is going to run webpack, but as we know, it's going to run by default in production mode, making the output bundle minified, which is good for production, but it's really hard for readability.

    05:02 For now, I'm going to pass a flag into webpack. To pass a flag through an npm script, we're going to give it two hyphens, space, and then we can pass our flag that goes into webpack. The flag here is going to be mode, and we'll give it a space, and then we're going to give it the value of development. This is going to run webpack in development mode.

    05:24 We can run that, and we'll see that this time, it processed both our index.js and our greet.js file, but we still have one file as our output. Let's go into dist and open min. Now we'll see that the code is much longer, because it hasn't been minified.

    05:41 It's obvious that the output here is far more code than what we run. We have a single module that exports a string, and another module that imports that and then console.logs that string.

    05:54 Most of this code that we're seeing here is webpack's runtime. If we look at the top, we'll see that there's a function that accepts an argument called modules. If we scroll all the way down to the bottom, we'll see here that that first parenthesis is closed. This webpack runtime is wrapped in an IIFE or an immediately-invoked function expression.

    06:19 The second section here is the argument that gets passed into webpack. We'll see that this is an object key that's essentially the path to our module. The value of that is another function that actually contains our source code. Don't be alarmed by the eval here. This is something that happens in development mode but not in production mode.

    06:45 We'll see that if we scroll down, we have a second key for our index module. This is at a super high level, how webpack takes our code and then passes in the individual modules into its runtime. We don't have to worry too much about most of this code.

    07:03 You can dig into this if you want, but just understand that when we write a couple of lines of code, and we end up with 113 lines for our 4 or 5 lines, that it's because there's this webpack runtime that'll handle our bundles for us.

    07:22 The good news is we really don't have to read this code, and we certainly don't want to write it, because it's going to be generated by webpack. Most of this time, we're not going to have to look at that. We can look at the console output and get all the information we need about what webpack is doing, but we don't have to worry too much about the code behind the scenes.

    07:38 Back in the terminal, I'm going to run a git status. We'll see that's showing our package.json has been modified. We also have untracked files. The packagelog file is new. We have some new files under source, because we added that greet module, and then we have dist and node_modules.

    07:55 Dist is generated by webpack, and node_modules is an artifact from our npm install. I don't want either one of these in source control. We're going to add a new file to our directory right in the root. We're going to call this .gitignore. This is going to tell git which files or which paths to ignore.

    08:17 I'll get that terminal out of the way, and gitignore is just going to take plaintext paths. We'll do node_modules and dist. We'll save that. If I go back into the terminal and I run git status again, we'll see that gitignore is now in our tracked file, but we're not showing dist or node_modules as file that'll be committed to git. This is exactly what we want.

    08:41 From here, I want to take everything that's been changed and everything that's untracked and add it to the stage so that we can commit the files. To do that, I'm going to do a git add. If I run git status one more time, we'll see that all those files are ready to be committed.

    08:58 We can commit them with git commit -m, and we'll say that we install webpack. If I do a git status one more time, see that everything is good, but our branch is ahead by one commit. We can git push to push this up to GitHub.