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Parcel vs Webpack vs gulp: What are the differences?


In web development, various tools like Parcel, Webpack, and Gulp are used for bundling and optimizing assets in projects. While all three tools serve similar purposes, there are key differences between them that make each one unique and suitable for different scenarios.

Key Differences between Parcel, Webpack, and Gulp:

  1. Parcel: Parcel is a "zero-configuration" bundler, which means it requires minimal setup and provides out-of-the-box support for many common web technologies. It automatically detects and resolves dependencies, making it extremely easy to use for beginners. Parcel also has built-in support for hot module reloading, optimizing images, and more. Unlike other tools, Parcel doesn't rely on a configuration file and takes a more "convention-over-configuration" approach.

  2. Webpack: Webpack is a powerful bundler that allows for more fine-grained control and customization. It is highly configurable and provides extensive support for code splitting, tree shaking, and module bundling. Webpack also includes a wide range of plugins and loaders that can be added to enhance its functionality. While Webpack requires more setup and configuration compared to Parcel, it offers a higher level of flexibility and performance optimizations for complex projects.

  3. Gulp: Gulp is a task runner that automates repetitive tasks in the development workflow. Unlike Parcel and Webpack, Gulp is not specifically designed for bundling, but rather for performing various tasks like minification, live reloading, and CSS preprocessing. Gulp uses a streaming build system that allows developers to define tasks using JavaScript code. It focuses on code simplicity and ease of use, making it a popular choice for simpler projects or when complete control over tasks is desired.

  4. Parcel vs. Webpack - Configuration: Parcel follows a zero-configuration approach, while Webpack requires a configuration file to specify the entry point, output path, and other settings. This makes Parcel quicker to set up and more beginner-friendly, but limits the fine-grained control and customization options compared to Webpack.

  5. Parcel vs. Gulp - Asset Optimization: Parcel automatically optimizes assets like images and CSS without requiring explicit configuration. In contrast, Gulp requires the use of specific plugins to handle asset optimization tasks. This makes Parcel a more seamless and straightforward option for asset optimization, especially for beginners.

  6. Webpack vs. Gulp - Code Splitting: Webpack has extensive support for code splitting, allowing developers to split their code into smaller chunks and load it on demand. Gulp, on the other hand, does not have built-in code splitting capabilities. While it is possible to achieve code splitting with Gulp using additional plugins or manual configurations, it requires more effort compared to Webpack.

In Summary: Parcel offers zero-configuration simplicity and automation, while Webpack provides more customization and flexibility. Gulp focuses on task automation and simplicity, making it ideal for smaller projects. Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice depends on the specific requirements and complexity of the project.

Decisions about gulp, Parcel, and Webpack

Very simple to use and a great way to optimize repetitive tasks, like optimize PNG images, convert to WebP, create sprite images with CSS.

I didn't choose Grunt because of the fact it uses files and Gulp uses memory, making it faster for my use case since I need to work with 3000+ small images. And the fact Gulp has 32k+ stars on GitHub.

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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 路 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 gulp
Pros of Parcel
Pros of Webpack
  • 451
    Build speed
  • 277
  • 244
  • 210
    Open source
  • 175
    Node streams
  • 107
  • 83
    Lots of plugins
  • 66
    Works great with browserify
  • 45
    Easy to Learn
  • 17
  • 4
    build workflow
  • 3
    Simple & flexible
  • 3
    Great community
  • 2
    Stylus intergration
  • 2
    Clean Code
  • 2
    jade intergration
  • 0
    Well documented
  • 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 gulp
Cons of Parcel
Cons of Webpack
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    • 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 gulp?

    Build system automating tasks: minification and copying of all JavaScript files, static images. More capable of watching files to automatically rerun the task when a file changes.

    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 gulp?
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    What tools integrate with gulp?
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    Blog Posts

    What are some alternatives to gulp, Parcel, and Webpack?
    The less work you have to do when performing repetitive tasks like minification, compilation, unit testing, linting, etc, the easier your job becomes. After you've configured it, a task runner can do most of that mundane work for you鈥攁nd your team鈥攚ith basically zero effort.
    npm is the command-line interface to the npm ecosystem. It is battle-tested, surprisingly flexible, and used by hundreds of thousands of JavaScript developers every day.
    Yarn caches every package it downloads so it never needs to again. It also parallelizes operations to maximize resource utilization so install times are faster than ever.
    Process Less, Sass, Stylus, Jade, Haml, Slim, CoffeeScript, Javascript, and Compass files automatically each time you save. Easily set options for each language.
    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.
    See all alternatives