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library and externals

Cory House edited this page · 9 revisions

You developed a library and want to distribute it in compiled/bundled versions (in addition to the modularized version). You want to allow the user to use it in a <script>-tag or with a amd loader (i. e. require.js). Or you depend on various precompilations and want to take the pain for the user and distribute it as simple compiled commonjs module.

configuration options

webpack has three configuration options that are relevant for these use cases: output.library, output.libraryTarget and externals.

output.libraryTarget allows you to specify the kind to the output. I.e. CommonJs, AMD, for usage in a script tag or as UMD module.

output.library allows you to optionally specify a name of your library.

externals allows you to specify dependencies for your library that are not resolved by webpack, but become dependencies of the output. This means they are imported from the environment during runtime.


compile library for usage in a <script>-tag

  • depends on "jquery", but jquery should not be included in the bundle.
  • library should be available at Foo in the global context.
var jQuery = require("jquery");
var math = require("math-library");

function Foo() {}

// ...

module.exports = Foo;

Recommended configuration (only relevant stuff):

    output: {
        // export itself to a global var
        libraryTarget: "var",
        // name of the global var: "Foo"
        library: "Foo"
    externals: {
        // require("jquery") is external and available
        //  on the global var jQuery
        "jquery": "jQuery"

Resulting bundle:

var Foo = (/* ... webpack bootstrap ... */
    0: function(...) {
        var jQuery = require(1);
        /* ... */
    1: function(...) {
        module.exports = jQuery;
    /* ... */

Applications and externals

You can use the externals options for applications too, when you want to import an existing API into the bundle. I.e. you want to use jquery from CDN (separate <script> tag) and still want to require("jquery") in your bundle. Just specify it as external: { externals: { jquery: "jQuery" } }.

Resolving and externals

Externals processing happens before resolving the request, which means you need to specify the unresolved request. Loaders are not applied to externals. You can (need to) externalize a request with loader: require("bundle!jquery") { externals: { "bundle!jquery": "bundledJQuery" } }

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