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Parcel vs Webpack: What are the differences?

Parcel and Webpack are both popular bundling tools used in web development. Here are some key differences between the two.

  1. Configuration: Webpack requires a configuration file (webpack.config.js) to define its behavior, whereas Parcel does not require any configuration by default. Parcel automatically detects and bundles the required assets without the need for explicit configuration, making it easier and quicker to set up.

  2. Zero Configuration: As mentioned earlier, Parcel does not require any configuration by default, making it a good choice for beginners or for simple projects where ease of use is a priority. On the other hand, Webpack offers more customization options through its configuration file, allowing developers to fine-tune the bundling process to suit specific project requirements.

  3. Asset Types: Webpack is more versatile when it comes to handling different types of assets. It provides loaders for various file types, like JavaScript, CSS, images, and fonts, enabling developers to process and optimize these assets. Parcel, on the other hand, supports a wide range of asset types out-of-the-box without the need for additional configuration or loaders.

  4. Hot Module Replacement (HMR): HMR is a feature that allows developers to update the modules in the browser without refreshing the entire page. While both Parcel and Webpack support HMR, Webpack provides more fine-grained control and customization options over how the updates are handled. Webpack allows developers to define custom HMR behavior through Hot Module Replacement API, whereas Parcel handles HMR automatically without requiring any additional configuration.

  5. Performance: Parcel is often praised for its fast bundling speed, especially for small to medium-sized projects. It achieves this by utilizing caching and parallelizing the bundling process. Webpack, on the other hand, offers more advanced optimization techniques like tree-shaking and code-splitting, which are beneficial for larger and more complex projects, but may impact build times.

  6. Community and Ecosystem: Webpack has been around for a longer time and has a larger and more mature ecosystem. It has a wide range of plugins and loaders available, allowing developers to extend its functionality according to their needs. The community support and documentation for Webpack are also extensive. Parcel, while gaining popularity, has a smaller ecosystem compared to Webpack, which means fewer choices when it comes to extending or customizing the build pipeline.

In summary, Parcel offers zero-configuration setup and faster bundling speed, making it great for simple projects or beginners, while Webpack provides more advanced customization options, better support for different asset types, and a larger community ecosystem, making it suitable for more complex projects.

Decisions about Parcel and Webpack
Rob Murphy

The developer experience Webpack gave us was not delighting anyone. It works and is stable and consistent. It is also slow and frustrating. We decided to check out Vite as an alternative when moving to Vue 3 and have been amazed. It is very early in development and there are plenty of rough edges, but it has been a breath of fresh air not waiting for anything to update. It is so fast we have found ourselves using devtools in browser less because changing styles is just as fast in code. We felt confident using the tool because although it is early in its development, the production build is still provided by Rollup which is a mature tool. We also felt optimistic that as good as it is right now, it will only continue to get better, as it is being worked on very actively. So far we are really happy with the choice.

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Aleksandr Filatov
Contract Software Engineer - Microsoft · | 4 upvotes · 282.1K views
Why migrated?

I could define the next points why we have to migrate:

  • Decrease build time of our application. (It was the main cause).
  • Also jspm install takes much more time than npm install.
  • Many config files for SystemJS and JSPM. For Webpack you can use just one main config file, and you can use some separate config files for specific builds using inheritance and merge them.
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We mostly use rollup to publish package onto NPM. For most all other use cases, we use the Meteor build tool (probably 99% of the time) for publishing packages. If you're using Node on FHIR you probably won't need to know rollup, unless you are somehow working on helping us publish front end user interface components using FHIR. That being said, we have been migrating away from Atmosphere package manager towards NPM. As we continue to migrate away, we may publish other NPM packages using rollup.

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Pros of Parcel
Pros of Webpack
  • 10
    Zero configuration
  • 8
    Built-in dev server with livereload
  • 309
    Most powerful bundler
  • 182
    Built-in dev server with livereload
  • 142
    Can handle all types of assets
  • 87
    Easy configuration
  • 22
  • 4
    Overengineered, Underdeveloped
  • 2
    Makes it easy to bundle static assets
  • 2
  • 1
  • 1
    Better support in Browser Dev-Tools

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Cons of Parcel
Cons of Webpack
  • 3
    Lack of documentation
  • 15
    Hard to configure
  • 5
    No clear direction
  • 2
    Spaghetti-Code out of the box
  • 2
    SystemJS integration is quite lackluster
  • 2
    Loader architecture is quite a mess (unreliable/buggy)
  • 2
    Fire and Forget mentality of Core-Developers

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What is Parcel?

Parcel is a web application bundler, differentiated by its developer experience. It offers blazing fast performance utilizing multicore processing, and requires zero configuration.

What is Webpack?

A bundler for javascript and friends. Packs many modules into a few bundled assets. Code Splitting allows to load parts for the application on demand. Through "loaders" modules can be CommonJs, AMD, ES6 modules, CSS, Images, JSON, Coffeescript, LESS, ... and your custom stuff.

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What companies use Parcel?
What companies use Webpack?
See which teams inside your own company are using Parcel or Webpack.
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What tools integrate with Parcel?
What tools integrate with Webpack?

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What are some alternatives to Parcel and Webpack?
It is a module bundler for JavaScript which compiles small pieces of code into something larger and more complex, such as a library or application. It uses the new standardized format for code modules included in the ES6 revision of JavaScript, instead of previous idiosyncratic solutions such as CommonJS and AMD.
JavaScript is most known as the scripting language for Web pages, but used in many non-browser environments as well such as node.js or Apache CouchDB. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic,and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles.
Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency.
GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. Over three million people use GitHub to build amazing things together.
Python is a general purpose programming language created by Guido Van Rossum. Python is most praised for its elegant syntax and readable code, if you are just beginning your programming career python suits you best.
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