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Webpack vs gulp: What are the differences?


In this article, we will explore the key differences between Webpack and Gulp.

  1. Build and Bundling Process: Webpack is primarily used for bundling JavaScript modules and managing dependencies. It analyzes the dependencies and creates a dependency graph, allowing it to bundle all the required modules into a single file. On the other hand, Gulp is a task runner that automates the development workflow by piping the input through multiple plugins to perform tasks like minifying, concatenating, and transpiling files.

  2. Configuration Approach: Webpack requires a configuration file (webpack.config.js) to specify its behavior, such as entry points, output paths, loaders, and plugins. This configuration file provides more fine-grained control over the bundling process. Gulp, on the other hand, uses a declarative approach with a gulpfile.js. Developers define tasks using JavaScript functions, and Gulp executes these tasks in a sequential manner.

  3. Code Splitting: Webpack supports code splitting, which allows splitting the codebase into multiple chunks. This enables lazy loading, where specific parts of the application are loaded on-demand, reducing the initial load time. Gulp does not natively support code splitting and is primarily focused on performing tasks rather than managing the application's code structure.

  4. Development Server and Hot Module Replacement: Webpack provides built-in developmental server and hot module replacement (HMR) support. This allows the developer to see the changes instantly without refreshing the browser. Gulp, on the other hand, does not provide a built-in development server or HMR functionality. Developers need to use additional tools or plugins to achieve similar functionality.

  5. Extensibility and Plugin Ecosystem: Webpack has a vast plugin ecosystem, providing support for tasks beyond just bundling and code transpilation. The plugins can optimize assets, compress images, extract CSS, and more. Gulp, being a task runner, has a wide range of plugins available to automate various development tasks. However, the plugin ecosystem of Gulp is less focused on JavaScript bundling and module management compared to Webpack.

  6. Learning Curve and Community Support: Webpack has a steeper learning curve due to its extensive configuration options and advanced features. However, it also has a large and active community, providing vast resources, tutorials, and support. Gulp has a simpler learning curve, as it heavily relies on basic JavaScript knowledge. It also has a significant community, but the resources might be more focused on general task automation rather than specific use cases related to JavaScript modules.

In summary, Webpack is primarily focused on bundling and managing JavaScript modules, provides code splitting, has a complex but powerful configuration approach, and offers built-in development server and HMR. Gulp, on the other hand, is a more general-purpose task runner, focused on automating development workflows, and has a simpler configuration approach.

Decisions about gulp 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 · 286.1K 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 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
  • 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 Webpack
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 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 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?
    What companies use Webpack?
    See which teams inside your own company are using gulp or Webpack.
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    What tools integrate with gulp?
    What tools integrate with Webpack?

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    What are some alternatives to gulp 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—and your team—with 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.
    Parcel is a web application bundler, differentiated by its developer experience. It offers blazing fast performance utilizing multicore processing, and requires zero configuration.
    See all alternatives