Building a library with Parcel

Installation

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Before we get started, you'll need to install Node and Yarn or npm, and create a directory for your project. Then, install Parcel using Yarn:

yarn add --dev parcel

Or when using npm run:

npm install --save-dev parcel

Project setup

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Now that Parcel is installed, let’s setup a package.json file for our library. We'll use the source field to reference our source files, and create a main target as the output file of our build. This will be consumed by other tools that use our library (e.g. bundlers or Node.js).

package.json:
{
"name": "my-library",
"version": "1.0.0",
"source": "src/index.js",
"main": "dist/main.js",
"devDependencies": {
"parcel": "latest"
}
}

The above example uses src/index.js as the source code for our library, so let's create that file next. In this example, we're using a JavaScript file, but we could also reference a TypeScript file or any other language that compiles to JavaScript here.

src/index.js:
export function add(a, b) {
return a + b;
}

Now, our library exports a single function called add, which adds its two parameters together and returns the result. Since this is written in ES module syntax using the export keyword, Parcel will compile our code to a CommonJS module as expected by default in the main field.

To build our library, run parcel build within the project directory. Parcel will build your source code and output a JavaScript file in dist/main.js as referenced by the main field.

Package scripts

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So far, we’ve been running the parcel CLI directly, but it can be useful to create some scripts in your package.json file to make this easier. We'll also setup a watch script which will watch your source files for changes and rebuild automatically so you don't need to run the build script manually in development as you make changes.

package.json:
{
"name": "my-library",
"version": "1.0.0",
"source": "src/index.js",
"main": "dist/main.js",
"scripts": {
"watch": "parcel watch",
"build": "parcel build"
},
"devDependencies": {
"parcel": "latest"
}
}

Now you can run yarn build to build your project for release and yarn watch in development.

CommonJS and ES modules

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Parcel accepts both CommonJS and ES modules as input, and can output one or more of these formats depending on what's declared in your package.json. To add an ES module target, add the module field to your package.json.

package.json:
{
"name": "my-library",
"version": "1.0.0",
"source": "src/index.js",
"main": "dist/main.js",
"module": "dist/module.js",
"devDependencies": {
"parcel": "latest"
}
}

Now Parcel will output dist/main.js as a CommonJS module, and dist/module.js as an ES module. Tools that consume your library will choose whichever of these they support.

You can also use the file extension to indicate what type of module to output. The .mjs extension will produce an ES module, and the .cjs extension will produce an ES module. This overrides the default behavior of the main field. The "type": "module" field can also be set in package.json to treat the main field as an ES module as well. See the Node.js docs for more details.

TypeScript

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Parcel also supports building libraries written in TypeScript. The source field can point to your entry .ts or .tsx file, and Parcel will output JavaScript into your targets automatically. You can also use the types field in package.json to point to a .d.ts file, and Parcel will generate a typings file alongside the compiled JavaScript. This lets editors like VSCode provide autocomplete for users of your library.

package.json:
{
"name": "my-library",
"version": "1.0.0",
"source": "src/index.ts",
"main": "dist/main.js",
"module": "dist/module.js",
"types": "dist/types.d.ts",
"devDependencies": {
"parcel": "latest"
}
}

Now Parcel will output a dist/types.d.ts file containing type definitions for our library in addition to the compiled code.

Next steps

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Now that you’ve set up your project, you're ready to learn about some more advanced features of Parcel. Check out the documentation about Targets, and see the Recipes and Languages sections for more in-depth guides using popular web frameworks and tools.