Bundle inlining

Parcel includes several ways to inline the compiled contents of one bundle inside another bundle.

Inlining a bundle as text

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The bundle-text: scheme can be used to inline the contents of a bundle as plain text. Parcel will compile the resolved file as normal, including bundling all dependencies, and then inline the result as a string into the parent bundle.

This could be used in many ways. For example, you could inline a compiled CSS bundle and use the result to inject a style tag at runtime. This might be useful in cases where you need to control where the style tag is inserted, e.g. into a Shadow DOM root.

import cssText from 'bundle-text:./test.css';

// inject <style> tag
let style = document.createElement('style');
style.textContent = cssText;
shadowRoot.appendChild(style);

Inlining as a data URL

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The data-url: scheme allows inlining a bundle as a data URL. The resolved file will be compiled, including all dependencies, and converted to a data URL. If the file is in a binary format, it will be encoded as base 64, otherwise as a URI.

One example where this could be useful is inlining small images inside a CSS file.

.foo {
background: url(data-url:./background.png);
}

Under the hood

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bundle-text: and data-url: are implemented in the default Parcel config using Named pipelines. The @parcel/transformer-inline-string Transformer plugin marks the compiled asset as inline, which tells Parcel not to write the bundle to disk and instead inline it into the parent bundle. To implement data URLs, the @parcel/optimizer-data-url Optimizer plugin is used to convert the compiled bundle to a data url.

In the Parcel config, it looks like the following. The "..." in each pipeline tells Parcel to run the normal transformers that match the file first, and then run @parcel/transformer-inline-string.

@parcel/config-default:
{
"transformers": {
"bundle-text:*": ["...", "@parcel/transformer-inline-string"],
"data-url:*": ["...", "@parcel/transformer-inline-string"]
},
"optimizers": {
"data-url:*": ["...", "@parcel/optimizer-data-url"]
}
}

You can create your own named pipelines to customize inlining however you’d like, reusing the above plugins or creating custom ones. See Parcel configuration for more details.

Another Parcel plugin that might be useful is @parcel/transformer-inline. Like @parcel/transformer-inline-string, it marks assets as inline, but the result is not encoded as a string. This means if the inline bundle contains code, it will be executed in the parent bundle rather than returning a string to the user. This could be useful if you have a custom plugin that wraps the bundle somehow and needs to decode it at runtime.

For example, maybe you’d like to inline a file as an ArrayBuffer, or some other custom encoding. That could be implemented using a custom Optimizer plugin, which post-processes the output of a bundle.

import {Optimizer} from '@parcel/plugin';
import {blobToBuffer} from '@parcel/utils';

export default new Optimizer({
async optimize({contents}) {
let buffer = await blobToBuffer(contents);
return {
contents: `new Uint8Array(${JSON.stringify(Array.from(buffer))}).buffer`
};
}
});

Now you could define a named pipeline using your new plugin, and import compiled files as array buffers.

See the Plugin system docs for more details on writing custom plugins, and the Parcel Configuration docs for more information about named pipelines.

Inlining as a blob URL

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You may want to inline the contents of a bundle as a blob URL, which can be passed to many web APIs in the browser. The @parcel/optimizer-blob-url plugin can be used to do this, in combination @parcel/transformer-inline. A named pipeline for these is not included by default, so you'll need to create one in your .parcelrc.

.parcelrc:
{
"extends": "@parcel/config-default",
"transformers": {
"blob-url:*": ["...", "@parcel/transformer-inline"],
},
"optimizers": {
"blob-url:*": ["...", "@parcel/optimizer-blob-url"]
}
}

Inlining without transforming

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In JavaScript, it’s possible to inline the contents of a file without running it through Parcel transformers first. This can be done using the fs Node module, which Parcel statically analyzes. It can be inlined as a string in a number of different encodings, or as a Buffer. See the Node emulation docs for more details.

import fs from 'fs';

const sourceCode = fs.readFileSync(__dirname + '/foo.js', 'utf8');

In the above example, the sourceCode variable would be the contents of foo.js without being compiled, i.e. the original source code rather than the bundled result.

Integration with other tools

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Since bundle inlining is a Parcel-specific feature, you’ll need to configure other tools such as TypeScript or Flow to support it. See the Configuring other tools section in the dependency resolution docs for details on how to do this.