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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 or not you are in development or building for 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:

{
  test: /\.js$/,
  loader: "babel-loader"
}

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

{
  test: /\.js$/,
  include: path.resolve(__dirname, "src"),
  loader: "babel-loader"
}

Bootstrap

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

Resolving

The following steps can increase the speed of resolving:

  • 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 complexitity of the build process.

Smaller = Faster

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

  • Use less/smaller libraries.
  • Use the CommonsChunksPlugin in Multi-Page Applications.
  • Use the CommonsChunksPlugin in async mode in Multi-Page Applications.
  • Remove unused code.
  • Only compile the part of the code you are currenly 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 intruduce 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

Devtool

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

  • "eval" has the best performance, but doesn't assist you for transpilied 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 eval-cheap-module-source-map is the best option.

Avoid Production Specific Tooling

Certain utilities, plugins and loader 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
})

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 to do 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 type checking 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 threadpool. When using it with the thread-loader set workerParallelJobs: 2.

Contributors