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Monitor and analyze the app

Even when you configure webpack to make the app as small as possible, it’s still important to keep track of it and know what it includes. Otherwise, you can install a dependency that will make the app twice as large – and won’t even notice it!

This section describes tools that help you to understand your bundle.

Keep track of the bundle size

To monitor your app size, use webpack-dashboard during development and bundlesize on CI.

webpack-dashboard

webpack-dashboard enhances webpack output with sizes of dependencies, progress and other details. Here’s how it looks:

A screenshot of the webpack-dashboard output

This dashboard helps to track large dependencies – if you add one, you’ll immediately see it in the Modules section!

To enable it, install the webpack-dashboard package:

npm install webpack-dashboard --save-dev

And add the plugin into the plugins section of the config:

// webpack.config.js
const DashboardPlugin = require('webpack-dashboard/plugin');

module.exports = {
  plugins: [
    new DashboardPlugin(),
  ],
};

or using compiler.apply() if you’re using an Express-based dev server:

compiler.apply(new DashboardPlugin());

Feel free to play with the dashboard to find the probable places for improvement! For example, scroll through the Modules section to find what libraries are too large and could be replaced with smaller alternatives.

bundlesize

bundlesize verifies that webpack assets don’t exceed the specified sizes. Integrate it with a CI to get notified when the app becomes too large:

A screenshot the CI section of a pull request on GitHub. Among
the CI tools, there’s the Bundlesize output

To configure it:

Find out the maximum sizes

  1. Optimize the app to make it as small as possible. Run the production build.
  2. Add the bundlesize section into package.json with the following content:
    // package.json
    {
      "bundlesize": [
        {
          "path": "./dist/*"
        }
      ]
    }
    
  3. Execute bundlesize with npx:
    npx bundlesize
    
    This will print the gzipped size of each file:
    PASS  ./dist/icon256.6168aaac8461862eab7a.png: 10.89KB
    PASS  ./dist/icon512.c3e073a4100bd0c28a86.png: 13.1KB
    PASS  ./dist/main.0c8b617dfc40c2827ae3.js: 16.28KB
    PASS  ./dist/vendor.ff9f7ea865884e6a84c8.js: 31.49KB
    
  4. Add 10-20% to each size, and you’ll get the maximum sizes. This 10-20% margin would let you develop the app as usual while warning you when its size grows too much.

Enable bundlesize

  1. Install the bundlesize package as a development dependency:
  2. npm install bundlesize --save-dev
    
  3. In the bundlesize section in the package.json, specify the concrete maximum sizes. For some files (e.g., images), you might want to specify the maximum size per file type, not per each file:
    // package.json
    {
      "bundlesize": [
        {
          "path": "./dist/*.png",
          "maxSize": "16 kB",
        },
        {
          "path": "./dist/main.*.js",
          "maxSize": "20 kB",
        },
        {
          "path": "./dist/vendor.*.js",
          "maxSize": "35 kB",
        }
      ]
    }
    
  4. Add an npm script to run the check:
    // package.json
    {
      "scripts": {
        "check-size": "bundlesize"
      }
    }
    
  5. Configure the CI to execute npm run check-size on each push. (And integrate bundlesize with GitHub if you’re developing the project on it.)

That’s it! Now, if you run npm run check-size or push the code, you’ll see if the output files are small enough:

A screenshot of the bundlesize output. All build
results are marked with “Pass”

Or, in case of failures:

A screenshot of the bundlesize output. Some build
results are marked with “Fail”

Further reading

Analyze why the bundle is so large

You might want to dig deeper into the bundle to see what modules take space in it. Meet webpack-bundle-analyzer:

(Screen recording from github.com/webpack-contrib/webpack-bundle-analyzer)

webpack-bundle-analyzer scans the bundle and builds a visualization of what’s inside it. Use this visualization to find large or unnecessary dependencies.

To use the analyzer, install the webpack-bundle-analyzer package:

npm install webpack-bundle-analyzer --save-dev

add a plugin to the webpack config:

// webpack.config.js
const BundleAnalyzerPlugin = require('webpack-bundle-analyzer').BundleAnalyzerPlugin;

module.exports = {
  plugins: [
    new BundleAnalyzerPlugin(),
  ],
};

and run the production build. The plugin will open the stats page in a browser.

By default, the stats page shows the size of parsed files (i.e., of files as they appear in the bundle). You’ll likely want to compare gzip sizes since that’s closer to what real users experience; use the sidebar on the left to switch the sizes.

Here’s what to look for in the report:

  • Large dependencies. Why are they so large? Are there smaller alternatives (e.g., Preact instead of React)? Do you use all the code it includes (e.g., Moment.js includes a lot of locales that are often not used and could be dropped)?

  • Duplicated dependencies. Do you see the same library repeating in multiple files? (Use, e.g., the optimization.splitChunks.chunks option – in webpack 4 – or the CommonsChunkPlugin – in webpack 3 – to move it into a common file.) Or does the bundle have multiple versions of the same library?

  • Similar dependencies. Are there similar libraries that do approximately the same job? (E.g. moment and date-fns, or lodash and lodash-es.) Try sticking with a single tool.

Also, check out Sean Larkin’s great analysis of webpack bundles.

Summing up

  • Use webpack-dashboard and bundlesize to stay tuned of how large your app is

  • Dig into what builds up the size with webpack-bundle-analyzer

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