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Front-end build tool Vite.js speeds up development

JavaScript development server and bundler Vite.js brings multiple enhancements with the release of Vite 3.0.

Vite.js, a free and open source JavaScript development server and bundler, is designed to speed up large-scale, modern web browser projects with native ECMAScript modules in the browser and JavaScript tools written in compile-to-native languages.

Vite 3.0, the latest major update to the front-end build tool, is now available and includes several improvements for developers, such as a better command-line interface, a server port change to avoid incompatibility with other tools and a new default connection scheme that makes Vite.js work out of the box in most situations.

The Vite team plans a major release at least every year to align with major Node.js versions, according to the Vite.js website. In addition, Vite makes frequent incremental updates; more content might be released as soon as this upcoming week, according to Vite core team member Matias Capeletto, more commonly known as Patak.

"Vite comes at the right time," said Andrew Cornwall, senior analyst at Forrester Research. While Webpack, an open source JavaScript module bundler released in 2012, had to support a range of modules, Vite is focused only on ECMAScript (ES) modules, which separate code into independent building blocks and are now the standard for modern web browsers, he said.

That doesn't mean Vite is independent of older web packing technologies -- it uses Rollup.js under the hood -- but it can hide some complexity for day-to-day operations, Cornwall said.

Vite.js takes on the competition

Vite.js is speedy compared with other front-end tools like Vue, a JavaScript framework built by the same team as Vite and released in 2014, making Vite.js a good choice for fast bootstrapping and easy configuration, said Sergio Gutiérrez Villalba, CTO of Internxt, a cloud storage startup. Changes on the development server are instant, which means developers can see changes without reloading the webpage or clearing the state, he said.

Another competitor, Snowpack, which had similar module support and technology, ended support in April this year -- mostly due to burnout rather than any technical reason, Cornwall said. Many Snowpack developers have moved over to Vite, and people who stumble upon Snowpack are being directed by its website to Vite.js, which is similar enough to be a drop-in replacement, he added.

Some developers will continue to use Webpack, because code that relies on old-style modules such as CommonJS or AMD still exists, Cornwall said. But ES modules are probably the future of modules in JavaScript, which means Vite.js can succeed without having to support older technologies, he said.

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