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Build Performance

This guide contains some useful tips for improving build/compilation performance.


General

The following best practices should help, whether you're running build scripts in development or production.

Stay Up to Date

Use the latest webpack version. We are always making performance improvements. The latest stable version of webpack is:

latest webpack version

Staying up-to-date with Node.js can also help with performance. On top of this, keeping your package manager (e.g. npm or yarn) up-to-date can also help. Newer versions create more efficient module trees and increase resolving speed.

Loaders

Apply loaders to the minimal number of modules necessary. Instead of:

module.exports = {
  //...
  module: {
    rules: [
      {
        test: /\.js$/,
        loader: 'babel-loader'
      }
    ]
  }
};

Use the include field to only apply the loader modules that actually need to be transformed by it:

module.exports = {
  //...
  module: {
    rules: [
      {
        test: /\.js$/,
        include: path.resolve(__dirname, 'src'),
        loader: 'babel-loader'
      }
    ]
  }
};

Bootstrap

Each additional loader/plugin has a bootup time. Try to use as few tools as possible.

Resolving

The following steps can increase resolving speed:

  • Minimize the number of items in resolve.modules, resolve.extensions, resolve.mainFiles, resolve.descriptionFiles, as they increase the number of filesystem calls.
  • Set resolve.symlinks: false if you don't use symlinks (e.g. npm link or yarn link).
  • Set resolve.cacheWithContext: false if you use custom resolving plugins, that are not context specific.

Dlls

Use the DllPlugin to move code that is changed less often into a separate compilation. This will improve the application's compilation speed, although it does increase complexity of the build process.

Smaller = Faster

Decrease the total size of the compilation to increase build performance. Try to keep chunks small.

  • Use fewer/smaller libraries.
  • Use the CommonsChunkPlugin in Multi-Page Applications.
  • Use the CommonsChunkPlugin in async mode in Multi-Page Applications.
  • Remove unused code.
  • Only compile the part of the code you are currently developing on.

Worker Pool

The thread-loader can be used to offload expensive loaders to a worker pool.

Don't use too many workers, as there is a boot overhead for the Node.js runtime and the loader. Minimize the module transfers between worker and main process. IPC is expensive.

Persistent cache

Enable persistent caching with the cache-loader. Clear cache directory on "postinstall" in package.json.

Custom plugins/loaders

Profile them to not introduce a performance problem here.


Development

The following steps are especially useful in development.

Incremental Builds

Use webpack's watch mode. Don't use other tools to watch your files and invoke webpack. The built-in watch mode will keep track of timestamps and passes this information to the compilation for cache invalidation.

In some setups, watching falls back to polling mode. With many watched files, this can cause a lot of CPU load. In these cases, you can increase the polling interval with watchOptions.poll.

Compile in Memory

The following utilities improve performance by compiling and serving assets in memory rather than writing to disk:

  • webpack-dev-server
  • webpack-hot-middleware
  • webpack-dev-middleware

stats.toJson speed

webpack 4 outputs a large amount of data with its stats.toJson() by default. Avoid retrieving portions of the stats object unless necessary in the incremental step. webpack-dev-server after v3.1.3 contained a substantial performance fix to minimize the amount of data retrieved from the stats object per incremental build step.

Devtool

Be aware of the performance differences of the different devtool settings.

  • "eval" has the best performance, but doesn't assist you for transpiled code.
  • The cheap-source-map variants are more performant, if you can live with the slightly worse mapping quality.
  • Use a eval-source-map variant for incremental builds.

=> In most cases, cheap-module-eval-source-map is the best option.

Avoid Production Specific Tooling

Certain utilities, plugins, and loaders only make sense when building for production. For example, it usually doesn't make sense to minify and mangle your code with the UglifyJsPlugin while in development. These tools should typically be excluded in development:

  • UglifyJsPlugin
  • ExtractTextPlugin
  • [hash]/[chunkhash]
  • AggressiveSplittingPlugin
  • AggressiveMergingPlugin
  • ModuleConcatenationPlugin

Minimal Entry Chunk

webpack only emits updated chunks to the filesystem. For some configuration options, (HMR, [name]/[chunkhash] in output.chunkFilename, [hash]) the entry chunk is invalidated in addition to the changed chunks.

Make sure the entry chunk is cheap to emit by keeping it small. The following code block extracts a chunk containing only the runtime with all other chunks as children:

new CommonsChunkPlugin({
  name: 'manifest',
  minChunks: Infinity
});

Avoid Extra Optimization Steps

webpack does extra algorithmic work to optimize the output for size and load performance. These optimizations are performant for smaller codebases, but can be costly in larger ones:

module.exports = {
  // ...
  optimization: {
    removeAvailableModules: false,
    removeEmptyChunks: false,
    splitChunks: false,
  }
};

Output Without Path Info

webpack has the ability to generate path info in the output bundle. However, this puts garbage collection pressure on projects that bundle thousands of modules. Turn this off in the options.output.pathinfo setting:

module.exports = {
  // ...
  output: {
    pathinfo: false
  }
};

Node.js Version

There has been a performance regression in the latest stable versions of Node.js and its ES2015 Map and Set implementations. A fix has been merged into master, but a release has yet to be made. In the meantime, to get the most out of incremental build speeds, try to stick with version 8.9.x (the problem exists between 8.9.10 - 9.11.1). webpack has moved to using those ES2015 data structures liberally, and it will improve the initial build times as well.

TypeScript Loader

Recently, ts-loader has started to consume the internal TypeScript watch mode APIs which dramatically decreases the number of modules to be rebuilt on each iteration. This experimentalWatchApi shares the same logic as the normal TypeScript watch mode itself and is quite stable for development use. Turn on transpileOnly, as well, for even faster incremental builds.

module.exports = {
  // ...
  test: /\.tsx?$/,
  use: [
    {
      loader: 'ts-loader',
      options: {
        transpileOnly: true,
        experimentalWatchApi: true,
      },
    },
  ],
};

Note: the ts-loader documentation suggests the use of cache-loader, but this actually slows the incremental builds down with disk writes.

To gain typechecking again, use the ForkTsCheckerWebpackPlugin.

There is a full example on the ts-loader github repository.


Production

The following steps are especially useful in production.

Don't sacrifice the quality of your application for small performance gains! Keep in mind that optimization quality is, in most cases, more important than build performance.

Multiple Compilations

When using multiple compilations, the following tools can help:

  • parallel-webpack: It allows for compilation in a worker pool.
  • cache-loader: The cache can be shared between multiple compilations.

Source Maps

Source maps are really expensive. Do you really need them?


Specific Tooling Issues

The following tools have certain problems that can degrade build performance:

Babel

  • Minimize the number of preset/plugins

TypeScript

  • Use the fork-ts-checker-webpack-plugin for typechecking in a separate process.
  • Configure loaders to skip typechecking.
  • Use the ts-loader in happyPackMode: true / transpileOnly: true.

Sass

  • node-sass has a bug which blocks threads from the Node.js thread pool. When using it with the thread-loader set workerParallelJobs: 2.

Contributors