Setting up Webpack and Babel for your WordPress theme

In this blog, I will explain to you how to set up Webpack for your project. If you want to learn the basics of Webpack and why do we use it, you can watch the video below and then come back.

You may already know that Webpack bundles all of your modules and dependencies into one file which you can then include in your project for many reasons explained in the above video.
So once we install webpack, we need to tell webpack which are the modules/files it needs to bundle and the path where it needs to output a single bundled file.
So let’s begin 🙂


What do you need to get started with Webpack?
Well, all you need is node js to be installed on your system. And node js comes preinstalled with npm

Create package.json file and install webpack

cd projectname
npm init --yes // creates package.json

Then update your package.json with following details

  "name": "aquila",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "Aquila theme packages",
  "main": "main.js",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
  "keywords": [ "wordpress", "themes" ],
  "author": "Imran Sayed",
  "license": "MIT",
  "private": true,
  "browserslist": [

Now lets install webpack, webpack cli , babel and some other loaders and plugins as dev dependencies

npm i webpack webpack-cli @babel/core @babel/preset-env @babel/preset-react babel-loader clean-webpack-plugin css-loader file-loader mini-css-extract-plugin optimize-css-assets-webpack-plugin cssnano style-loader uglifyjs-webpack-plugin cross-env -D

Create a directory so that we have the following structure your-theme/assets/src/js .
Then create files main.js and single.js inside of src/js directory. Also add an img directory( inside src ) and add an image cat.jpg inside of that

Now add the below script to your package.json

  "scripts": {
	"prod": "cross-env NODE_ENV=production webpack --mode production --progress",
	"dev": "cross-env NODE_ENV=development webpack --watch --mode development --progress",
	"clean": "rm -rf build/*"

The Webpack Config file

You can create a config file called webpack.config.js that stores the configuration for your webpack like the path for your entry point and output file, loaders etc. If you don’t create this file then webpack uses its default configuration file.
So let’s create a file called webpack.config.js in the root of your project and add the following configurations.

// webpack.config.js
 * Webpack configuration.

const path = require( 'path' );
const MiniCssExtractPlugin = require( 'mini-css-extract-plugin' );
const OptimizeCssAssetsPlugin = require( 'optimize-css-assets-webpack-plugin' );
const cssnano = require( 'cssnano' ); //
const { CleanWebpackPlugin } = require( 'clean-webpack-plugin' );
const UglifyJsPlugin = require( 'uglifyjs-webpack-plugin' );

// JS Directory path.
const JS_DIR = path.resolve( __dirname, 'src/js' );
const IMG_DIR = path.resolve( __dirname, 'src/img' );
const BUILD_DIR = path.resolve( __dirname, 'build' );

const entry = {
	main: JS_DIR + '/main.js',
	single: JS_DIR + '/single.js',

const output = {
	path: BUILD_DIR,
	filename: 'js/[name].js'

 * Note: argv.mode will return 'development' or 'production'.
const plugins = ( argv ) => [
	new CleanWebpackPlugin( {
		cleanStaleWebpackAssets: ( argv.mode === 'production' ) // Automatically remove all unused webpack assets on rebuild, when set to true in production. ( )
	} ),

	new MiniCssExtractPlugin( {
		filename: 'css/[name].css'
	} ),

const rules = [
		test: /\.js$/,
		include: [ JS_DIR ],
		exclude: /node_modules/,
		use: 'babel-loader'
		test: /\.scss$/,
		exclude: /node_modules/,
		use: [
		test: /\.(png|jpg|svg|jpeg|gif|ico)$/,
		use: {
			loader: 'file-loader',
			options: {
				name: '[path][name].[ext]',
				publicPath: 'production' === process.env.NODE_ENV ? '../' : '../../'

 * Since you may have to disambiguate in your webpack.config.js between development and production builds,
 * you can export a function from your webpack configuration instead of exporting an object
 * @param {string} env environment ( See the environment options CLI documentation for syntax examples. )
 * @param argv options map ( This describes the options passed to webpack, with keys such as output-filename and optimize-minimize )
 * @return {{output: *, devtool: string, entry: *, optimization: {minimizer: [*, *]}, plugins: *, module: {rules: *}, externals: {jquery: string}}}
 * @see
module.exports = ( env, argv ) => ({

	entry: entry,

	output: output,

	 * A full SourceMap is emitted as a separate file ( e.g. )
	 * It adds a reference comment to the bundle so development tools know where to find it.
	 * set this to false if you don't need it
	devtool: 'source-map',

	module: {
		rules: rules,

	optimization: {
		minimizer: [
			new OptimizeCssAssetsPlugin( {
				cssProcessor: cssnano
			} ),

			new UglifyJsPlugin( {
				cache: false,
				parallel: true,
				sourceMap: false
			} )

	plugins: plugins( argv ),

	externals: {
		jquery: 'jQuery'

Babel Configurations

Create a file called .babelrc inside assets directory and add the below configurations.

  "presets": [
		"targets": {
		  "browsers": [
			"last 2 Chrome versions",
			"last 2 Firefox versions",
			"last 2 Safari versions",
			"last 2 iOS versions",
			"last 1 Android version",
			"last 1 ChromeAndroid version",
			"ie 11"

Lets create a directory called clock inside of src directory and add a file called index.js and just write some JavaScript lets say console.log(‘hello’);

Then inside of main.js import the clock/index.js and the image like so :

import './clock';

// Images.
import '../img/cats.jpg';

Running dev server

Now run npm run dev and it will run the webpack dev server in watch mode and bundle the files for you . Babel is going to convert the modern JS into JS that most browsers can understand. Notice the build folder.

npm run dev

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