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Q1 2021 JavaScript Build Tools and Module Bundlers report

Intro

The landscape of JavaScript build tools and module bundlers is very dynamic at the moment. Developers experiment with new approaches. Some of them look very promising and already got traction in the community.

Hence, I thought that area of JavaScript ecosystem deserves a closer look at it. It would be interesting to capture a short period of time, Q1 2021, and see what were the dynamics, have look at the tools from different angles and see how they performed, compare them side by side.

I used the same approach and the same data sources as in other reports dedicated to JavaScript ecosystem.

If interested, I recommend checking out other reports as well: Frontend Frameworks, State Management Libraries, Testing Frameworks, Static Sites Generators (JAMStack), and End-to-End Testing Frameworks.

Data Sources

Data for the report came from:

Metrics

Report

Hint: scroll horizontally to see values for all the libraries.

Each library has two links - Moiva and GitHub links. Use Moiva link to see more data about a particular library, to see historical data and trends.

Criteria
Stars
58K
20K
38K
18K
24K
23K
3.8K
14K
6K
New Stars
1.2K
565
703
3.1K
9.4K
6.3K
596
167
387
New Stars, %
2.1%
2.9%
1.9%
21%
68%
38%
19%
1.2%
7%
Monthly
64M
17M
95K
142K
168K
1.1M
1.2K
5M
91K
Monthly % (incr.)
14%
38%
18%
101%
260%
189%
25%
11%
14%
Developer Usage, %
88.7%
30.1%
27.4%
5.4%
-
5.5%
-
34.9%
-
Tech Radar
TRIAL
-
ASSESS
ASSESS
-
-
-
-
-
Releases
36
28
0
18
12
43
10
0
0
Commits
416
107
130
514
1002
492
339
1
4
Contributors
8
11
21
33
58
20
14
1
4
Dependencies
23
1
21
10
4
0
1
48
39
Types
BUNDLED
BUNDLED
-
BUNDLED
BUNDLED
BUNDLED
BUNDLED
SEPARATE
-
Security
Age
9 years
6 years
4 years
2 years
12 months
5 years
11 months
11 years
3 years
License
MIT
MIT
MIT
MIT
MIT
MIT
MIT
MIT
MIT

Popularity: GitHub Stars

Webpack is the oldest tool in the report (after Browserify), it is very mature and it holds the biggest number of GitHub stars, 58k stars in total.

a bar chart showing numbers of JavaScript libraries' GitHub stars in total

The situation changes quickly though and new tools gain popularity at lightning speed. Vite, a year-old project, has already acquired 24k stars and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down - it obtained a phenomenal number of stars in Q1 2021, 9.4K stars.

a bar chart showing numbers of JavaScript libraries' new stars in Q1 2021

Vite is not only a leader in absolute growth (by GitHub stars), but it is also a leader in relative growth. It grew by 68% in Q1 2021.

Esbuild also grew significantly by 38%.

a bar chart showing percentage of JavaScript libraries' new stars in Q1 2021 compared to the total value

Popularity: NPM Downloads

Webpack’s 64M monthly downloads leave other libraries far away. It definitely is the most adopted tool so far. a bar chart showing numbers of JavaScript libraries monthly npm downloads in Q1 2021

Vite’s monthly downloads increased by 260% till 168K. Esbuild’s downloads also grew significantly by 189% till 1.1M.

Snowpack showed a nice growth of 101% till 142K monthly downloads. a bar chart showing percentage of JavaScript libraries monthly npm downloads in Q1 2021 compared to the value in Q4 2020

Development Activity: commits, releases, and contributors

Vite is leading in almost every metric. The same with Development Activity metric. In Q1 2021 Vite got an astonishing amount of commits, 1002 commits, that is 11 commits per day on average. The commits came from 58 contributors. a bar chart showing numbers of JavaScript libraries commits in Q1 2021

Esbuild on the other hand produced the biggest number of new versions - 43. a bar chart showing numbers of JavaScript libraries releases in Q1 2021 a bar chart showing numbers of JavaScript libraries contributors in Q1 2021

Further Reading

If you want to see a comparison of the tools in terms of functionality, I recommend reading this nice recently published article https://css-tricks.com/comparing-the-new-generation-of-build-tools/.


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