The code used in the development is quite different from the code used in production. That’s because in production we expect packages to run fast, automate tasks, manage dependencies, and much more. That’s where we need build tools to turn a development code into production code.
If you are a front-end developer, you will be working with package managers, task runners, modular loaders, and a few more things. So, you need tools to take care of the whole process and everything streamlined.
You don’t need to search, experiment, and then find the best tools for this purpose. As a web development company in New York, we have used so many of them. Below, you can find the 5 best build tools for front-end development.
Top 5 Build Tools for Front-End Development
NPM stands for Node Package Maid. It’s the default package manager of Node.js. NPM is automatically installed on your computer when you install Node.js. To access it, you have to use the command-line interface. NPM allows you to install any Node.js package on a single command.
To find the existing Node.js packages, dig into the npm registry that you can access via the search bar on top of the homepage. Just type the name of the package you want to access and you will be directed to the page.
NPM is a cross-platform software that you can install on Windows, Linux, macOS, and SmarOS. If you get stuck at any stage, you can use its extensive documentation and approach the community for an easy solution.
Browserify is another Node.js module loader. You can bundle your front-end dependencies using this tool and treat them as a single JS file in the user’s browser.
Unlike other tools that load modules on the server-side with the help of Node.js’ require() function, Browserify brings this method to the client side. This is why it offers higher performance compared to other tools.
Further, it lets you split up bundles if you want to, exclude, ignore, and transform functionalities. And when you have such thorough documentation available to take help from, you will never have any ambiguity regarding its use.
Next on this list is Yarn, a front-end package manager you can use if you don’t want to use npm for any reason. It’s also a Node.js package, so it’s automatically installed when you install Node.js on your system.
Just follow the installation guide to take care of your installation dependency. However, keep in mind that npm is a time-taking tool when it comes to building packages.
That’s where Yarn beats npm. If you are a heavy user or someone who has to deal with bulk dependencies, Yarn is a better tool. It helps in creating builds at a great speed by caching every package. This way, the developer doesn’t have to down dependencies multiple times.
Yarn is also cross-platform, it runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS. Also, it’s compatible with all Node.js packages and provides extra security by using checksums to verify the integrity of packages.
Grunt is another amazing tool you can use to automate repetitive tasks like testing, linting, minification, etc. Basically, it’s a task runner, not a package runner.
You can’t use a task runner to manage dependencies, but perform the same task during each build process. It’s a Node.js package that you can install with npm or any of its other package managers.
The custom dependencies that it needs to perform tasks are in the package.json file. For that, you must define them in the Gruntfile that runs during the build process and takes care of the tasks.
Grunt is also cross-platform, has hundreds of front-end related tools, and offers the luxury of asynchronous tasks when needed.
Webpack is another open-source JS module bundler. Though it was developed for JS, it can also transform HTML, CSS, and images. The tool takes modules with dependencies and creates static assets.
Based on the dependencies, Webpack creates a dependency graph. This way, developers can use a modular approach while creating a web application.
A developer can use this from the command line or configure it through a configuration file. You can define rules in the same file for any project.
Here too, you will need Node.js to use Webpack.
If you are a front-end developer, you will have to use build tools at some point to complete your development tasks. We have listed the five best tools for this purpose, but it all comes down to your preferences now. Try these tools, explore more, and settle with the one that meets your preferences. No tool is 100% perfect, each has its own pros and cons. So, choose wisely.