5 Different Tools to Bundle Node.js Apps

Muly Gottlieb
Muly Gottlieb
Jun 13, 2023
5 Different Tools to Bundle Node.js Apps5 Different Tools to Bundle Node.js Apps

Node.js was the most used web development technology among professional developers in 2022. It offers some fantastic features to build scalable, high-performance applications quickly. However, as Node.js applications grow in complexity and size, it becomes challenging to handle dependencies and optimize resource delivery while maintaining performance. So this is where bundling comes into play.

Bundling combines multiple files or modules and their dependencies into a single file or a set of files. This process allows developers to efficiently manage dependencies and simplify the deployments while improving the overall performance of their applications.

This article will explore 5 tools and techniques to help you bundle your Node.js application effectively.

1. Webpack: Powerful Bundling and Optimization

Webpack Homepage

Webpack is a widely used tool for efficiently bundling and optimizing Node.js applications. In addition to JavaScript, you can use Webpack to bundle CSS, images, and more. Webpack has more than 27 million weekly NPM downloads.

Advantages of Webpack

  • It provides a dependency graph to manage dependencies.
  • It supports code splitting, allowing you to split bundles into smaller chunks and load them on demand.
  • It supports a wide range of loaders and plugins.
  • Hot module replacement.
  • Large community support.

Disadvantages of Webpack

  • Steep learning curve.
  • It can be hard to configure if you are new to Webpack.
  • It can increase build times.

How to use Webpack with Node.js

Step 1 - Install Webpack

npm install webpack webpack-cli --save-dev

Step 2 - Create Webpack Configuration

Create a new file named webpack.config.js in your root directory. It will contain all the configurations related to Webpack.

 // webpack.config.js
const path = require('path');

module.exports = {
  target: 'node', 
  entry: './src/index.js', 
  output: {
    filename: 'bundle.js',
    path: path.resolve(__dirname, 'dist'),
  // Additional configuration goes here

The code snippet depicted above shows a sample Web pack configuration. The target is set to node since we use this for a Node.js application. Using the entry attribute allows you to point to the entry file of the application, and using the output attribute can define the bundle name and the output directory.

If you are using loaders, you can add them under additional configurations under the module attribute below:

module: {
    rules: [
        test: /\.js$/,
        exclude: /node_modules/,
        use: 'babel-loader',

Step 3 - Update package.json With Webpack

Update the build command in the package.json file to run the Webpack configuration.

"scripts": {
  "build": "webpack --config webpack.config.js" 

Finally, execute the npm run build command to build the bundle.

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2. Parcel: Zero-Configuration Bundling

Parcel Homepage

Parcel is another popular bundler you can use to bundle Node.js applications. Unlike Webpack, you do not need to write additional configurations with Parcel since it is a zero-configuration bundler. It is capable of automatically detecting and bundling project dependencies.

Advantages of Parcel

  • It does not require additional configuration.
  • It offers real-time updates and hot module replacement.
  • Easy to import and bundle different types of assets, like CSS, images, and fonts.
  • It supports code splitting.
  • It uses caching and parallel processing to optimize performance.

Disadvantages of Parcel

  • Customization options are limited.
  • It has a smaller ecosystem compared to Webpack.

How to Use Parcel With Node.js

Step 1 - Install Parcel

npm install parcel-bundler --save-dev

Step 2 - Add Scripts to package.json

Update the build command in the package.json file.

"scripts": {
  "build": "parcel build src/index.js --out-dir dist"

In the above example, the entry file (src/index.js) and the output directory (dist) are defined in the build command. However Parcel doesn't require this type of declaration and is able to automatically detect the entry file.

Finally, execute the npm run build command to build the bundle.

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3. Browserify: Simple and Seamless JavaScript Bundling

Browserify Homepage

Browserify is a widely used JavaScript bundler with over 2 million NPM weekly downloads. In addition to Node.js support, allowing developers to use require() statements in the browser is one of its highlighted features.

Advantages of Browserify

  • Allows writing code using Node.js module syntax (require()).
  • Simple configuration. -Strong community and a wide range of plugins. -Compatible with most browsers.

Disadvantages of Browserify

  • Do not offer advanced optimizations like tree-shaking or dead code elimination.
  • Does not provide built-in support for dynamic code splitting.

How to Use Browserify With Node.js

Step 1 - Install Browserify

npm install browserify --save-dev

Step 2 - Add Browserify Scripts to package.json

Like Parcel, you do not need a separate configuration file for Browserify. You can directly use the bundle create command in the package.json file.

"scripts": {
  "build": "browserify src/index.js -o dist/bundle.js"

Here, src/index.js is the entry point of the Node.js application, and dist/bundle.js is the output file of the bundled code. You can use many flag options to customize the build command.

Finally, execute the npm run build command to build the bundle.

4. Brunch: Simple and Fast JavaScript Bundler

Brunch Homepage

Brunch is a lightweight JavaScript bundler focusing on simplicity and speed. Although it is less popular than Webpack or Browsify, it has an effortless learning curve with fantastic features to help developers focus on feature implementation rather than configuration. Brunch has more than 6.8K GitHub stars.

Advantages of Brunch

  • Easy to set up and configure.
  • Incremental build process.
  • It supports various languages and pre-processors such as JavaScript, TypeScript, ES6, and CoffeeScript.
  • Support, including external libraries through npm.
  • Source map support.

Disadvantages of Brunch

  • Limited customization options.
  • Fewer plugins and loaders are available.
  • Less suitable for complex projects.

How to Use Brunch With Node.js

Step 1 - Install Brunch

npm install brunch

Step 2 - Create a Brunch Configuration File

Create a new file named brunch-config.js in your root directory to define the build configuration.

module.exports = {
  files: {
    javascripts: {
      entryPoints: {
        'app.js': 'src/js/app.js', 
    stylesheets: {
      joinTo: 'app.css', 
  // Additional configurations go here

In this configuration, entryPoints attribute defines the entry point of your Node.js application, and the stylesheets attribute denotes the output file for bundled CSS.

If you want to use plugins, you can add a new section to the configuration named plugins like below:

module.exports = {
  files: {

  plugins: { 
    babel: {presets: ['latest', 'react']}, 
    postcss: {processors: [require('autoprefixer')]} 

Step 3 - Add Brunch Scripts to package.json

Finally, update the build command in package.json file with brunch build and execute npm run build command to build the bundle.

"scripts": {
  "build": "brunch build"

5. Rollup: Efficient Module Bundling

Rollup Homepage

Rollup is another popular JavaScript module bundler focusing on high performance. It excels at tree-shaking and uses ES module syntax to generate more performant bundles than traditional module bundlers. In addition to JavaScript, Rollup supports bundling CSS and JSON as well. Rollup has more than 12 million weekly NPM downloads.

Advantages of Rollup

  • Support tree-shaking to eliminate dead codes.
  • Supports code splitting.
  • Supports ES6 module syntax.
  • Can generate bundles in formats like CommonJS, AMD, UMD, and ES modules.

Disadvantages of Rollup

  • Configuration can be complex.
  • Smaller community and plugin ecosystem

How to use Rollup with Node.js

Step 1 - Install Rollup

npm install rollup --save-dev

Step 2 - Create a Rollup Configuration File

Create a new file named rollup.config.js in your root directory to define the build configuration.

// rollup.config.js
export default {
  input: 'src/index.js',
  output: {
    file: 'dist/bundle.js',
    format: 'cjs',
  plugins: [ 
      extensions: ['.js'], 
      babelHelpers: 'bundled', 
      exclude: 'node_modules/**', 

In this configuration:

  • input attribute defines the entry point of your Node.js application.
  • output attribute defines the output location and format of the bundle. Here, the output type is CommonJS.
  • plugins array contains plugins like Babel.

Step 3 - Add Rollup Scripts to package.json

Finally, update the build command in the package.json file with rollup build and execute the npm run build command to build the bundle.

"scripts": {
  "build": "rollup build"

How Does Amplication Fit In?

Not every Node.js application requires bundling. Many backend applications don't require the optimizations bundling provides because they run on the server and don't need to run in the browser. Additionally, established tools provide great setup and guidance for building your tools.

Take a look at Amplication, for example. Amplication is the best tool for developers to build scalable, secure, and reliable backend services based on TypeScript and Node.js to speed up your development process.

Amplication builds your services with technologies like NestJS, Prisma, PostgreSQL, MySQL, MongoDB, Passport, Jest, and Docker with all the configurations, optimizations, and build scripts ready for you from the getgo. You can automatically create database connections, authentication and authorization features, unit tests, and ORMs for your Node.js service.

You can find the getting started guide here.

Wrapping up

Node.js is a robust runtime environment that enables developers to build scalable, high-performance server-side applications. Bundling is essential to Node.js applications since they can get complex with many dependencies over time.

This article discussed five different bundling tools with distinct features you can use to bundle Node.js applications based on your requirements. For example, if your application is large and needs more customization, select Webpack or Rollup. You can use a bundler like Parcel or Brunch if you do not need custom configurations.

I hope these suggestions will help you to build more performant Node.js applications.