How I switched an Aurelia application to webpack

Posted on 2016-04-24 in Aurelia Last modified on: 2016-08-01

Note: I wrote this post when aurelia-webpack wast still in pre 1.0.0 release. As niieani pointed out in the comments part of it may be outdated and you way want to use aurelia-webpack with easy-webpack instead. The general ideas are still valid though.

First thing first: why would I want to use webpack with Aurelia instead of the default JSPM?

  • I was tired of JSPM which I find buggy
  • No need for gulp anymore
  • All deps are in the package.json file and node_modules folder
  • webpack can build all kind of files (JS, TS, CSS, JSON, …) and perform optimization on them
  • Awesome dev server with hot reload.

If you are interested in the subject, you can read this article from Dwayne Charrington which gives more details on why you may want to use webpack.

Here are the steps I followed. I did them nearly a month back but haven't found the time to write this article before today, so it is based on my small notes and memories. I apologize if this article is not as precise as it could be. If you have a specific question or run into trouble, please leave a comment. Anyway, the thing to remember is that the migration went well and webpack works very well with Aurelia.

  1. Update index.html. Copy/Pasting the index.html from the skeleton with little adaptation should do the trick. You will also need a file for use in production. Again, the skeleton has what you need.
  2. Update dependencies in package.json. Adapt the one from the skeleton. You may need to add dependencies beside webpack specific ones (specified in the skeleton) to get your app working. For instance, aurelia-logging-console was not explicitly in my package.json (not even under the jspm key). You can also get rid of the jspm key. In my case, Aurelia will give you a nice debug message if you are lacking a required dependency.
  3. Update configuration of Karma. See karma.conf in the skeleton. For your tests to work, you are very likely to need to bootstrap your tests by adding to each file (you can also put that in a setup.js file and import it in your test files):
import { initialize } from 'aurelia-pal-browser';

  1. Update main.js (create it if you don't have one). See the skeleton for inspiration. Important note: if you want you style files to be loaded with webpack, they must be imported in a JS file. main.js can be a good place to place these import.
  2. Copy webpack.config.js and and adapt them if need be.
  3. Remove JSPM files: rm -rf jspm_packages config.js
  4. Remove unneeded node modules (eg jspm) rm -rf node_modules
  5. Remove gulp related files: rm -rf gulpfile.js build
  6. Install new dependencies: npm install
  7. Take care of submodules Not needed with aurelia-webpack 1.0.0: if you see an error like this:
.*$:106 Uncaught (in promise) Error: Cannot find module './aurelia-i18n/t'.
.*$:106 Uncaught (in promise) Error: Cannot find module './aurelia-i18n/nf'.
.*$:106 Uncaught (in promise) Error: Cannot find module './aurelia-i18n/df'.
Uncaught (in promise) Error: Cannot find module './aurelia-i18n/rt'.

You need to enable sub-modules for this modules, with something like this:

new AureliaWebpackPlugin({
    includeSubModules: [
        { moduleId: "aurelia-i18n" }

See the documentation of the webpack plugin for more information on that.

Normally you are ready to launch ./node_modules/.bin/webpack-dev-server --config webpack.config.js --hot --inline --progress --devtool eval and start developing with Aurelia and webpack.