Webpack and Babel


Is a module bundler, it takes modules with dependencies and emits static assets representing those modules. It works with more than just JavaScript but for JavaScript it uses CommonJs. It is a reactions against the amount of effort and bolierplate that is needed with tools like Gulp and Grunt. It also supports transformation such as Babel where before bundling it will run the module through another process such as babel.


Allows you to take advantage of the latest JavaScript language features ( ES2015 ) and then make that code ES5 compatible. This lets you use the lates language features and ( mainly ) not have to worry about browser compatability. It uses a mix of transpiling ( converting ) and pollyfilling ( adding the missing language features ).

Bootstrapping a project

To bootstrap a project that is going to use Webpack and Babel there are the following steps:

  1. Install webpack
  2. Initialise the project
  3. Install the dependencies
  4. Configure Webpack

Install webpack

Install using npm as a global dependency.

npm i webpack -g

Initialise the project

  • create the root folder
  • create the project folder structure under the root
  + src
     + app.js // entry point for the application
  + index.html


console.log( 'app loaded' );


<!DOCTYPE html>

        <meta charset="UTF-8">

        <script src='app.js' ></script>

  • initialise the project using npm, in the root folder:
  npm init -y

Install the dependencies

in the root folder

npm i babel-polyfill babel-runtime --save
npm i webpack-dev-server babel-core babel-loader babel-preset-es2015 babel-plugin-transform-runtime --save-dev
  • babel-core is the babel npm package
  • babel-loader is the babel module loader for Webpack
  • babel-preset-es2015 is a babel preset for all es2015 plugins.
  • babel-plugin-transform-runtime Babel bakes a number of smaller helpers directly into your compiled code. This is OK for single files, but when bundling with Webpack, repeated code will result in a heavier file size. It is possible to replace these helpers with calls to the babel-runtime package by adding the transform-runtime plugin.

Configure Webpack

Create the webpack configuration file webpack.config.js in the root folder.

var path = require('path');

module.exports = {
  entry: [
    'babel-polyfill', // use babel polyfil to set up an es6 environment
  output: {
      publicPath: '/', 
      filename: 'app.js'
  module: {
    loaders: [
        test: /\.js$/,  // files that should be loaded
        include: path.join(__dirname, 'src'),  // path to load files from
        loader: 'babel-loader',
        query: {
          plugins: [ 'transform-runtime'],
          presets: [ 'es2015' ],  


To run the development webserver use the following command from the root folder:

webpack-dev-server --inline 

The development server will listen on http://localhost:8080 and the command invokes the server with hotloading so if any changes are made to the javascipt the site is reloaded to relect them.


  • https://medium.com/@dabit3/beginner-s-guide-to-webpack-b1f1a3638460
  • http://jamesknelson.com/using-es6-in-the-browser-with-babel-6-and-webpack/
  • https://medium.com/@jcse/clearing-up-the-babel-6-ecosystem-c7678a314bf3#.jjvg4m5ly
  • https://babeljs.io/