Make your own React production version with webpack


If you’ve been developing with React, you must have seen that you are provided with very verbose errors/warnings that can come in handy.

Quote from the download page of React:

We provide two versions of React: an uncompressed version for development and a minified version for production. The development version includes extra warnings about common mistakes, whereas the production version includes extra performance optimizations and strips all error messages.

When you’re making your production bundle, you should not include all the extra code used in development (which makes extra checks not useful in production and at the end makes your bundle heavy).

The way to do that is to use the Webpack.DefinePlugin or envify, if you’re using browserify.

By doing the following, you’ll be injecting a variable process.env.NODE_ENV set to "production" at build time which is used inside React as we’ll see.

module.exports = {
    new webpack.DefinePlugin({
        'NODE_ENV': JSON.stringify('production')
    new webpack.optimize.UglifyJsPlugin({
        warnings: true

That way, you’ll be including the same kind of code which is in react.min.js inside your bundle. If you take a look at the source code of React inside ./node_modules/react/lib, you’ll see a lot of places with a ternary like process.env.NODE_ENV !== 'production'. All those development related features will be dropped at the minification step.



But why not directly use the production version react.min.js published by facebook ?…

That way, you get to keep using the development version (with the extra checking/errors/warnings) while you’re developping.

Yeah but it takes time to minify, I could simply use the resolve.alias property of webpack and alias react to react.min.js wherever I use it in the code …

You could do that, it would totally work, but think about how UglifyJS works. Since its algorithm will be applied to your whole app, similarities might be found (like document which is used in React and probably other modules). I’ll agree that since it’s developed in a modular way, it won’t find so much of those …

However, you’ll still be minifying an alredy minified file … You may be able to skip minification for some files but this adds complexity …

8 thoughts on “Make your own React production version with webpack

  1. Why do you use JSON.stringify(‘production’)? Do we get any extra benefit from it? can’t we just use like below

    new webpack.DefinePlugin({
    ‘NODE_ENV’: ‘production’

  2. @nmrony – the value needs to be “‘production'” (i.e. a quoted strong), and not simply a string. JSON.stringify is a verbose way to do this to make it obvious what’s going on.

  3. You can also use the EnvironmentPlugin of Webpack. That allows you to get rid of the weird JSON.stringify() call.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *