Performance and usage comparison of Webpack 4, Parcel and Rollup bundlers.
All bundlers were used for a big enough open-source SoundCloud app implemented in React. The app was slightly tweaked so that it could work similarly with all the bundlers.
This comparison doesn't pretend to be objective and was done for personal purpose only. I didn't try to setup the most optimized output results for each bundler. I used minimal setup for the comparison. If you feel that you can improve results please send PRs.
|Name||MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)|
|Processor||2,2 GHz Intel Core i7|
|Memory||16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB|
|OS||macOS Mojave v10.14|
|Webpack||697 kB||191 kB|
|Webpack (advanced)||697 kB||191 kB|
|Parcel||687 kB||180 kB|
|Rollup||461 kB||138 kB|
Here are the results for development build times. For Parcel there are two values for start since it has built-in cache. All the values is an average over 10 runs.
|Webpack||4776 ms||923 ms|
|Webpack (advanced)||3745 ms||195 ms|
|Parcel||8409 ms (2459 ms)||585 ms|
|Rollup||11570 ms||3790 ms|
Here are the results for production build times. For Parcel and Webpack there are two values since both have cache. Webpack has cache for Terser Plugin. All the values is an average over 10 runs.
|Webpack||15991 ms (3555 ms)|
|Webpack (advanced)||16089 ms (3617 ms)|
|Parcel||12098 ms (1301 ms)|
@babel/core @babel/register @babel/preset-react @babel/preset-env node-sass
Webpack is probably the most solid option for app development. Especially when v4 is out. It cuts a good chunk of boilerplate from config comparing to v3.
Webpack doesn't require much dependencies. You'll mostly need plugins and loaders installed additionally. Last time Webpack documentation was improved a lot, so it's easy to achieve what you need.
While the configuration part is confusing at first, it's actually becomes a lot easier when you are familiar with the main concepts.
There are plugins for literally everything you need. It's much more flexible than Parcel and it's less complicated to setup than Rollup.
webpack webpack-cli webpack-dev-server babel-loader style-loader css-loader sass-loader
Advanced configuration also requires
This is probably the easiest one to setup. Only one dependency was required to bundle the app. And zero config for both development and production.
It also has a nice cache feature built-in. So for the subsequent runs it bundles faster than for the cold run. Though sometimes it's buggy and you need to clear cache in order to get proper build result.
While it sounds very cool, in reality Parcel may be very limiting in some usage scenarios. For example, there is no control over hierarchy of output files. When you need to accomplish something specific, there may be no way to do so. It also seems to be less reliable than the others since it's quite new comparing to the others.
It was really painful to setup Rollup for this particular app. It required tons of plugins to be installed in order to achieve the same result as the other bundlers. I didn't figure out how to bundle Soundcloud's libraries properly with Rollup, so I had to move them out of the bundling pipeline.
Overall it's just too complicated. It requires a very careful setup. It may be a good thing for experienced developers though, since it's a very minimalistic tool, it doesn't bloat your bundle without a reason.
There is a rule of thumb that Rollup should be used for libraries. I would agree, but it has a potential to become a good choice for apps too, if it would have sane defaults as Webpack has. It also should be more clear how to deal with CommonJS modules, because for the first-time users it's very confusing.
rollup rollup-plugin-babel rollup-plugin-commonjs rollup-plugin-json rollup-plugin-livereload rollup-plugin-node-resolve rollup-plugin-progress rollup-plugin-re rollup-plugin-replace rollup-plugin-scss rollup-plugin-serve rollup-plugin-uglify rollup-plugin-visualizer
- Use Webpack 4 by default. It's flexible and user-friendly enough for app development. There is a learning curve, but once you get it, it's not very complicated to use. The documentation became a lot better last time and the community is very big. After getting familiar with core concepts you can get a much smoother and snappier work flow than with other bundlers.
- Use Parcel for simple scenarios. It's easy to setup and very fast. It's also a good option for beginners. Don't use it if you wish to do customizations and tweaks for your builds, in the long term it may cause problems. The documentation may lack some of the important details and it's a pain to fix little quirks. It's also still immature, so expect to face with bugs.
- Use Rollup for library development and if bundle size is something very critical for you. The developer's experience is not the best here and you need to understand the tradeoffs for a small bundle size and minimalistic philosophy behind it. It's a solid tool though. The documentation would be better if it could provide more real-life examples of usage for common scenarios.