Web Extension

Web Extensions are a set of APIs for building browser extensions that work across many browsers. Parcel supports building Web Extensions using @parcel/config-webextension.

Getting started


First, install @parcel/config-webextension into your project:

yarn add @parcel/config-webextension --dev

Next, you'll need a manifest.json file, which will be the entry point of your extension. See this guide for details on how to set it up.

To build your extension, run Parcel using your manifest.json as an entry, and @parcel/config-webextension as the config:

parcel build manifest.json --config @parcel/config-webextension

You can also create a .parcelrc file in your project extending @parcel/config-webextension. This way you don't need to pass the --config option to the Parcel CLI every time.

"extends": "@parcel/config-webextension"



For the best experience, you'll also want to enable a few options:

To do this, create two targets in your package.json: one for development with inline source maps enabled, and one for production without. Then, create some scripts to start the development server and build for production.

"targets": {
"webext-dev": {
"sourceMap": {
"inline": true,
"inlineSources": true
"webext-prod": {}
"scripts": {
"start": "parcel src/manifest.json --host localhost --target webext-dev --config @parcel/config-webextension",
"build": "parcel build src/manifest.json --target webext-prod --config @parcel/config-webextension"

Running yarn start or npm start will start the development server. HMR and source maps will work for background scripts, content scripts, the popup page, and the options page. To add the extension to your browser, research how to load an extension unpacked (for example, in Chrome, click "Load Unpacked").

Running yarn run build or npm run build will give you the final web extension package, ready to be published. After zipping the output directory, you should be able to upload your file to your platform of choice, such as the Chrome Web Store.

Special Considerations


Unexpected messages


In development mode, your background scripts will receive a message event with the content { __parcel_hmr_reload__: true } whenever the page is reloaded. Parcel will use this automatically to refresh the extension when necessary, so you'll want to ensure any messages your background scripts receive do not have the __parcel_hmr_reload__ property before handling them.



One unfortunate consequence of using web extensions is that importing style files from content scripts will not work properly. This may be revisited in the future, but for now you'll need to include whatever stylesheets you use in the css property in manifest.json.

Asset URLs


Asset URLs will not have the extension prefix added, so trying to use assets such as images by importing them with the url: pipeline in content scripts will fail. However, when add the assets you need to the web_accessible_resources key (which is necessary anyway to use them in content scripts), the filepaths will remain the same as during build time. With that in mind, you can just do:

// If you have a file images/example.png and you've either added that image
// or a glob that matches that image to web_accessible_resources:
const assetURL = browser.runtime.getURL("images/example.png");
// Now this image loads
document.getElementById("myImage").href = assetURL;

Note that if you're only supporting Chrome, you should use chrome.runtime.getURL.