A Detailed Study into Gulp and Webpack: When and Why?
As technologies are advancing by the day, it is us, the programmers, who have to deal with new tech stacks and programming methodologies in order to stay relevant in the industry. Long gone are the days when you'd only put up some HTML tags, create a server, and upload the source code to the web for a regular website. Websites are becoming somewhat obsolete for the last five or ten years, and web applications are on the rise since. Web apps are just applications that utilize the web and targets web related problems to gain traction. Even such apps have seen different variations like SPA(Single Page Application), PWA(Progressive Web Application), Distributed Systems, Microsystems, and others. As web apps are much more complicated than traditional websites and need many types of assets, both dynamic and static, developing a web app is nothing like the earlier website development process. Today, we can be overwhelmed pretty fast by the different types of tasks we need to do for developing a web application. Automating many of such processes can help developers reduce excess time behind tedious build processes and let them focus more on the application code itself. This, added with opensource build utilities and tools, can increase the productivity of your developers and can promote a much progressive development environment. Gulp and Webpack are nothing more than build systems or utilities designed for taking care of automated processes or managing much-needed tasks so you can focus much more on the coding aspect of your app. Although somewhat different in their scopes, both Gulp and Webpack are usually used for the same set of tasks and can be interchanged. In today's guide, we'll discuss these two tools in detail and outline their recommended use cases and both their advantages and disadvantages compared to the other. Read through this guide to learn how can you leverage these toolkits to speed up your development.
Gulp: Introduction and Overview
Webpack: Introduction and Overview
Gulp: Working Principle and Approach
The API of Gulp consists of 4 essential functions. These are gulp.src, gulp.dest, gulp.task, and gulp.watch. First, as a developer, you assign a new task to Gulp. The task takes an asynchronous JS function as a parameter and performs pattern searches in a list of specified files. It then pipes the files via different mechanisms as per your requirement and minifies the file finally. The Unix-based piping process of Gulp is very user-friendly and intuitive. What it does is take a set of input files, pipe them through a series of transformations, then return the output files. It even gives you the ability to perform these pining and minification processes via NPM libraries. So, you will often get by just utilizing third party piping and transformation plugins. The next crucial working principle of Gulp is that it takes an array of task dependencies. It provides you with the ability to create a series of small tasks with a single responsibility, like converting a LESS file to CSS. You may then create a sort of master task which will just trigger all the other tasks via this array of task dependencies. Lastly, the gulp.watch file watches a glob file pattern for potential changes. When a change is detected, a new series of tasks are performed. A common use of this function is to trigger live reloads directly in the browser. It is an essential feature needed in the development phase of your application.
Webpack: Working Principle and Approach
When to Use Gulp?
Gulp was designed to save repetition and increasing the developer's productivity. It aims at automating all those everyday tasks that we need to do again and again. If you're building a simple application that does not require too much of a bundle but merely some task runners, stick with Gulp. Although Gulp does not provide many of the advanced capabilities of Webpack, it is fairly easy to learn and can be implemented pretty easily into your workflow. Gulp is best suited to projects where you need to run different tests and merge files, compile SASS, LESS files into static assets such as CSS, minify the source codes, and create a basic JS bundle. In projects where you want a much greater clarity and control of current processes, and more control over the workflow, Gulp will be your best bet. A large ecosystem of opensource NPM plugins will help you accomplish many particular tasks with Gulp without even writing your own instructions. Gulp has a much faster performance compared to Webpack due to its less complex nature and elegant incorporation of the stream and in-memory operations. Gulp is far more easy to understand than Webpack if you're new to these technologies. So, if you're a beginner into JS app development and processing, then stick with Gulp for now.
When to Side with Webpack?
When to Use Gulp and Webpack Together?