Our content is free thanks to ag-Grid

ag-Grid is the industry leading JavaScript datagrid

ag-grid.com

Webpack 5 Module Federation: A game-changer in JavaScript architecture

Post Editor

Module federation allows a JavaScript application to dynamically run code from another bundle/build, on both client and server. This is the JavaScript bundler equivalent of what Apollo did with GraphQL. > A scalable solution to sharing code between independent applications has never been convenient, and near impossible at scale. The closest we had was externals or DLLPlugin, forcing centralized dependency on a external file. It was a hassle to share code, the separate applications were not tru

8 March 202010 min read
post-image

Webpack 5 Module Federation: A game-changer in JavaScript architecture

Module federation allows a JavaScript application to dynamically run code from another bundle/build, on both client and server. This is the JavaScript bundler equivalent of what Apollo did with GraphQL. > A scalable solution to sharing code between independent applications has never been convenient, and near impossible at scale. The closest we had was externals or DLLPlugin, forcing centralized dependency on a external file. It was a hassle to share code, the separate applications were not tru

image
image
8 March 202010 min read

Module federation allows a JavaScript application to dynamically run code from another bundle/build, on both client and server.

This is the JavaScript bundler equivalent of what Apollo did with GraphQL.

A scalable solution to sharing code between independent applications has never been convenient, and near impossible at scale. The closest we had was externals or DLLPlugin, forcing centralized dependency on a external file. It was a hassle to share code, the separate applications were not truly standalone and usually, a limited number of dependencies are shared. Moreover, sharing actual feature code or components between separately bundled applications is unfeasible, unproductive, and unprofitable.

For those who want a more digestible version of this article, Jack Herrington made one!


We need a scalable solution to sharing node modules and feature/application code. It needs to happen at runtime in order to be adaptive and dynamic. Externals doesn’t do an efficient or flexible job. Import maps do not solve scale problems. I’m not trying to download code and share dependencies alone, I need an orchestration layer that dynamically shares modules at runtime, with fallbacks.

What is Module Federation?

Module Federation is a type of JavaScript architecture I invented and prototyped. Then with the help of my co-creator and the founder of Webpack — it was turned into one of the most exciting features in the Webpack 5 core (there’s some cool stuff in there, and the new API is really powerful and clean).

I’m proud to present, a long awaited leap forward in JavaScript application architecture. Our contribution to the open-source community:
Module Federation

Module Federation allows a JavaScript application to dynamically load code from another application and  in the process, share dependencies. If an application consuming a federated module does not have a dependency needed by the federated code,  Webpack will download the missing dependency from that federated build origin.

Code is shared if it can be, but fallbacks exist in each case. Federated code can always load its dependencies but will attempt to use the consumers’ dependencies before downloading more payload. This means less code duplication and dependency sharing just like a monolithic Webpack build. While I may have invented this initial system, it was co-authored into Webpack 5 by myself (Zack Jackson) and Marais Rossouw with lots of guidance, pair-programming, and assistance from Tobias Koppers. These engineers played a key role in rewriting and stabilizing Module Federation within the Webpack 5 core. Thank you for the continued collaboration and support.

Terminology

  • Module federation: the same idea as Apollo GraphQL federation — but applied to JavaScript modules. In the browser and in node.js. Universal Module Federation
  • A host: a Webpack build that is initialized first during a page load (when the onLoad event is triggered)
  • A remote: another Webpack build, where part of it is being consumed by a “host
  • Bidirectional-hosts: when a bundle or Webpack build can work as a host or as a remote. Either consuming other applications or being consumed by others — at runtime
It’s important to note that this system is designed so that each completely standalone build/app can be in its own repository, deployed independently, and run as its own independent SPA.

These applications are all bi-directional hosts. Any application that’s loaded first, becomes a host.  As you change routes and move through an application, it loads federated modules in the same way you would implement dynamic imports. However if you were to refresh the page, whatever application first starts on that load, becomes a host.

Let’s say each page of a website is deployed and compiled independently. I want this micro-frontend style architecture but do not want page reloads when changing route. I also want to dynamically share code & vendors between them so it’s just as efficient as if it was one large Webpack build, with code splitting.

Landing on the home page app would make the “home” page the “host”. If you browse to an “about” page, the host (home page spa) is actually dynamically importing a module from another independent application (the about page spa). It doesn’t load the main entry point and another entire application: only a few kilobytes of code. If I am on the “about” page and refresh the browser. The “about” page becomes the “host” and browsing back to the home page again would be a case of the about page “host” Fetching a fragment of runtime from a “remote” — the home page. All applications are both remote and host, consumable and consumers of any other federated module in the system.

Read more on the technical aspects on GitHub: https://github.com/webpack/webpack/issues/10352

Building a federated application

Let us start out with three standalone applications.

App One

Configuration:

I'm going to use the app container <App> from App One. It will be consumed by other applications. To do so, I expose its App as AppContainer.
App One will also consume components from two other federated applications. To do so, I specify the remotes scope:

const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require("html-webpack-plugin");
const ModuleFederationPlugin = require("webpack/lib/container/ModuleFederationPlugin");

module.exports = {
  // other webpack configs...
  plugins: [
    new ModuleFederationPlugin({
      name: "app_one_remote",
      remotes: {
        app_two: "app_two_remote",
        app_three: "app_three_remote"
      },
      exposes: {
        'AppContainer':'./src/App'
      },
      shared: ["react", "react-dom","react-router-dom"]
    }),
    new HtmlWebpackPlugin({
      template: "./public/index.html",
      chunks: ["main"]
    })
  ]
}

Setting up build orchestration:

In the head of my applications, I load app_one_remote.js. This connects you to other Webpack runtimes and provisions the orchestration layer at runtime. It's a specially designed Webpack runtime and entry point. It's not a normal application entry point and is only a few KB.

It's important to note these are special entry points — they are only a few KB in size. Containing a special Webpack runtime that can interface with the host, it is NOT a standard entry point

<head>
  <script src="http://localhost:3002/app_one_remote.js"></script>
  <script src="http://localhost:3003/app_two_remote.js"></script>
</head>
<body>
  <div id="root"></div>
</body>

Consuming code from a remote

App One has a page that consumes a dialog component from App Two.

const Dialog = React.lazy(() => import("app_two_remote/Dialog"));

const Page1 = () => {
    return (
        <div>
            <h1>Page 1</h1>
            <React.Suspense fallback="Loading Material UI Dialog...">
                <Dialog />
            </React.Suspense>
        </div>
    );
}

export default Page1;

And the router looks pretty standard:

import { Route, Switch } from "react-router-dom";

import Page1 from "./pages/page1";
import Page2 from "./pages/page2";
import React from "react";

const Routes = () => (
  <Switch>
    <Route path="/page1">
      <Page1 />
    </Route>
    <Route path="/page2">
      <Page2 />
    </Route>
  </Switch>
);

export default Routes;

App Two

Configuration:

App Two will expose Dialog, enabling App One to consume it. App Two will also consume App One’s <App> — so we specify app_one as a remote - showcasing bi-directional hosts:

const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require("html-webpack-plugin");
const ModuleFederationPlugin = require("webpack/lib/container/ModuleFederationPlugin");
module.exports = {
  plugins: [
    new ModuleFederationPlugin({
      name: "app_two_remote",
      filename: "remoteEntry.js",
      exposes: {
        Dialog: "./src/Dialog"
      },
      remotes: {
        app_one: "app_one_remote",
      },
      shared: ["react", "react-dom","react-router-dom"]
    }),
    new HtmlWebpackPlugin({
      template: "./public/index.html",
      chunks: ["main"]
    })
  ]
};

Consumption:

Here's what the root App looks like:

import React from "react";
import Routes from './Routes'
const AppContainer = React.lazy(() => import("app_one_remote/AppContainer"));

const App = () => {
    return (
        <div>
            <React.Suspense fallback="Loading App Container from Host">
                <AppContainer routes={Routes}/>
            </React.Suspense>
        </div>
    );
}

export default App;

Here's what the default page, that uses Dialog, looks like:

import React from 'react'
import {ThemeProvider} from "@material-ui/core";
import {theme} from "./theme";
import Dialog from "./Dialog";


function MainPage() {
    return (
        <ThemeProvider theme={theme}>
            <div>
                <h1>Material UI App</h1>
                <Dialog />
            </div>
        </ThemeProvider>
    );
}

export default MainPage

App Three

As expected, App Three looks similar. However, it does not consume the <App> from App One working more as a standalone, self-running component (no navigation or sidebar). As such, it does not specify any remotes:

new ModuleFederationPlugin({
  name: "app_three_remote",
  library: { type: "var", name: "app_three_remote" },
  filename: "remoteEntry.js",
  exposes: {
    Button: "./src/Button"
  },
  shared: ["react", "react-dom"]
}),

The end result in the browser

Pay close attention to the network tab. The code is being federated across three different servers: three different bundles. In general, id recommends against federating the whole application container unless you are taking advantage of SSR or progressive loading. The concept, however, is extraordinarily powerful.

Code Duplication

There is little to no dependency duplication. Through the shared option — remotes will depend on host dependencies, if the host does not have a dependency, the remote will download its own. No code duplication, but built-in redundancy.

Manually adding vendors or other modules to shared is not ideal at scale. This can be easily automated with a custom-written function, or with a supplemental Webpack plugin. We do plan to release AutomaticModuleFederationPlugin and maintain it from outside the Webpack Core. Now that we have built first-class code federation support into Webpack, extending its capabilities is trivial.

Now for the big question - Does any of this work with SSR??

Server-Side Rendering

We have designed this to be Universal. Module Federation works in any environment. Server-side rendering federated code is completely possible. Just have server builds use a commonjs library target. There are various ways to achieve federated SSR: S3 Streaming, ESI, automate an npm publish to consume server variants. I plan to use a commonly shared file volume or async S3 streaming to stream files across the filesystem. Enabling the server to require federated code just like it happens in the browser and using fs instead of http to load federated code.

module.exports = {
 plugins: [
  new ModuleFederationPlugin({
   name: "container",
   library: { type: "commonjs-module" },
   filename: "container.js",
   remotes: {
    containerB: "../1-container-full/container.js"
   },
   shared: ["react"]
  })
 ]
};
“Module Federation does also work with target: "node". Instead of URLs pointing to the other micro-frontends, here file paths are used which point to the other micro-frontends. That way you can do SSR with the same codebase and a different webpack config for building for node.js. The same properties stay true for Module Federation in node.js: e. g. Separate builds, Separate deploys” — Tobias Koppers

Federated Next.js on Webpack 5

Federation requires Webpack 5 — which Next doesn’t officially support. However, I did manage to fork and upgrade Next.js to work with Webpack 5! It’s still a work in progress. Some development mode middleware needs finishing touches. Production mode is working, some additional loaders still need to be re-tested.

Talks, podcasts, or feedback

I’d love the opportunity to share more about this technology. If you want to use Module Federation or Federated architecture, we would love to hear about your experience and changes with the current architecture. We also would love opportunities to speak about it on Podcasts, meetups, or corporations. Reach out to me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScriptedAlchemy

You can also get hold of my co-creator. Follow us for the latest updates on Module Federation, FOSA (Federation of Standalone Applications) Architecture, and other tools we are creating —that are  designed to work with Federated Applications

Speed up the Angular CLI by up to 10 times

Learn more

Examples of Module Federation

The community response has been enthusiastic! My co-creators' time, along with my own has been heavily focused on writing this into Webpack 5. We hope some code samples will help while we finalize some of the remaining features and write some documentation: https://twitter.com/codervandal

Webpack 5 and Module Federation - A Microfrontend Revolution
Picture this: you’ve got yourself a pretty whiz-bang component, not just any component, but that clas...

As we have the bandwidth, we will create SSR examples and more comprehensive demos. If anyone wants to build something that can be used as a demo,  we will gladly accept pull requests back to webpack-external-import

module-federation/module-federation-examples
Examples showcasing Webpack 5′s Module Federation. Contribute to module-federation/module-federation-examples development by creating an account on GitHub.
module-federation/next-webpack-5
Contribute to module-federation/next-webpack-5 development by creating an account on GitHub.
ScriptedAlchemy/mfe-webpack-demo
Contribute to ScriptedAlchemy/mfe-webpack-demo development by creating an account on GitHub.
ScriptedAlchemy/webpack-external-import
Dynamically import modules from other webpack bundles. Painless code sharing between separate apps - ScriptedAlchemy/webpack-external-import
Discuss with community

Share

About the author

author_image
Zack Jackson

Principal Engineer of Web @ Lululemon. Specializing in Webpack, React at Scale, and Javascript Orchestration

author_image

About the author

Zack Jackson

Principal Engineer of Web @ Lululemon. Specializing in Webpack, React at Scale, and Javascript Orchestration

About the author

author_image
Zack Jackson

Principal Engineer of Web @ Lululemon. Specializing in Webpack, React at Scale, and Javascript Orchestration

This ad makes content free.

Make angular cli faster

Learn how

Featured articles

JavaScriptpost-image
20 October 20203 min read
Getting Started with Modern JavaScript — Spread vs Rest

In this article, we will try to clear up the confusion and look into the two ways of using Javascript’s three dots.

JavaScriptpost-image
20 October 20203 min read
Getting Started with Modern JavaScript — Spread vs Rest

In this article, we will try to clear up the confusion and look into the two ways of using Javascript’s three dots.

Read more
JavaScriptpost-imageGetting Started with Modern JavaScript — Spread vs Rest

20 October 2020

3 min read

In this article, we will try to clear up the confusion and look into the two ways of using Javascript’s three dots.

Read more
automated-testingpost-image
19 October 20208 min read
Announcing Stryker 4.0: Mutation Switching

Stryker 4.0 is out! This new version of the mutation testing framework for JavaScript and friends brings significant performance and usability improvements. Features include mutation switching, build command support, checker plugin support and better coverage analysis.

automated-testingpost-image
19 October 20208 min read
Announcing Stryker 4.0: Mutation Switching

Stryker 4.0 is out! This new version of the mutation testing framework for JavaScript and friends brings significant performance and usability improvements. Features include mutation switching, build command support, checker plugin support and better coverage analysis.

Read more
automated-testingpost-imageAnnouncing Stryker 4.0: Mutation Switching

19 October 2020

8 min read

Stryker 4.0 is out! This new version of the mutation testing framework for JavaScript and friends brings significant performance and usability improvements. Features include mutation switching, build command support, checker plugin support and better coverage analysis.

Read more
Angularpost-image
16 October 20209 min read
Bring reactivity to your Angular templates with the LetDirective - Part 1

Part one of the step-by-step tutorial on how to implement your own structural directive for binding an Observable to the Angular view.

Angularpost-image
16 October 20209 min read
Bring reactivity to your Angular templates with the LetDirective - Part 1

Part one of the step-by-step tutorial on how to implement your own structural directive for binding an Observable to the Angular view.

Read more
Angularpost-imageBring reactivity to your Angular templates with the LetDirective - Part 1

16 October 2020

9 min read

Part one of the step-by-step tutorial on how to implement your own structural directive for binding an Observable to the Angular view.

Read more