What is Vite JS? A Comprehensive Guide on Modern Frontend Tool


Published On:

  December 21, 2022
Read Time 17.98 Minute Read
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What is Vite JS? A Comprehensive Guide on Modern Frontend Tool

Adopting new technologies is essential to enhance the performance of web applications and developers’ experience to the next level. To cope with it, Evan You, the one and only man behind the creation of the VueJS framework, launched Vite JS.

ViteJS is a next-generation frontend development tool with inspiring features like an instant server start, a lighting-fast Hot Module Replacement (HMR), rich features, an optimized build, server-side rendering, and more.

To make it easy for you, we’ve come up with an article that will guide you through what is Vite JS, how Vite works, and its unique features to help you understand why Vite is one of the best frontend build tools you need it.

What is Vite.js?

Vite is an impressive build tool solely responsible for improving the front-end development experience to a great extent. This rapid development tool helps you build and maintain web projects smoothly and primarily focuses on speed and performance.

The primary use of Vite JS is to create a development environment where you can efficiently deal with the leading frameworks like Vue, React, and vanilla Javascript applications. With the help of Vite.js, you’ll get a quick and responsive build tool out of the box with highly customizable API using plugins.

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Top Features of Vite JS

Let’s explore the features of using Vite over other popular module bundlers to improve your business application’s performance.

  1. Faster Builds

    Vite offers faster build time with ESbuild, a bundler written in Go. Trust me, Vite is 10-100 times faster compared to any other bundler.

    By leveraging ESbuilt for converting CommonJS modules to ESM, especially for project dependencies, Vite plays an essential role. Moreover, Vite’s latest version, Vite 2.0, uses ESBuilt instead of Rollup, which enhances the performance in build time.

    In simple words, we can say that ESBuild is solely responsible for dealing with prebundling dependencies.

  2. Framework-agnostic

    Vite 2.0 comes up with a list of leading boilerplates for prominent frameworks. Some of the frameworks included in Vite JS building tools are Vue.js, React, Preact, and many more. Not only this, but you’ll also find a vanilla JavaScript boilerplate and TypeScript-supported boilerplates.

    Let’s talk about ReactJS, it’s the most commonly used web application development framework that makes it easy for you to build an app fast and securely.

    Vite is a robust building tool for front-end development that offers a consistent tooling experience across frameworks due to its framework-agnostic nature.

  3. Improved CSS Support

    Vite is not just a build tool but has inspiring features that allow you to deal with CSS features, like CSS splitting, URL re-bashing, and more.

    However, you can opt for such features irrespective of any configurations. Vite’s resolver improves the @import and url() paths in CSS by respecting aliases and npm dependencies.

  4. Experimental Support for Server-side Rendering

    Vite currently backs Server Side Rendering (SSR). Vite 2.0 typically supports SSR for React.js technology and Vue version 3.

    Moreover, this building tool offers APIs and constructs for effectively loading and updating ESM-based source code. Finally, and most importantly, it is responsible for automatically externalising CommonJS-compatible dependencies.

    With its low-level functionality, Vite SSR helps you by offering an impressive tooling experience for a higher-level feature in the coming future. And if we talk about the production build, SSR is decoupled from this build tool.

    If dealing with the same setup, there are more chances of getting tremendous support for pre-rendering.

  5. New Plugin System

    Vite is a front-end build that is a boon for every developer as it simplifies their development process. In addition, it plays a vital role in improving the developer’s experience by identifying your application’s build type.

    With the help of Vite JS, the developers find it easy to access configs and development server configurations. Moreover, this build tool is entirely compatible with many Rollup.js plugins.

    Vite’s new plugin system, which is WMR based, allows you to provide unique and innovative Hot Module Reload handling features and offers API to add middleware to the dev server.

    Apart from these functionalities, the new system of Vite typically adds Vite-specific functionality to the Rollup plugin system.

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How Does Vite Works?

During the launch of the ES modules in ES2016, the browser supports for Es6 modules was challenging to cope with. To overcome that issue, many browsers now typically support ES modules in native form. It means that you can now define import and export statements natively.

In addition, you have complete freedom to directly import inside your HTML file by simply stating that you are importing a module using the type+” module” attribute in your script tag, as shown below:

<script type="module" src="filename.js"> </script>

And if I talk about ViteJS documentation, ES import syntax is served directly to the browser in our source code.

With the help of the native-supported browser is solely responsible for parsing them automatically, making HTTP requests for each import.

On the other hand, the development server typically receives HTTP requests from the browser and executes any necessary code changes. Simply put, it boosts the application speed and makes the Vite server insanely fast.

Why Should You Opt For Vite?

After having a look at how Vite works, it’s time to see the primary reasons for using Vite, a leading frontend build tool.

  1. Hot Module Replacement (HMR)

    One of the most inspiring features of Vite is Hot Module Replacement (HMR). This feature allows you to deal with JavaScript bundlers that effectively change the browser’s source code without needing to refresh a browser.

    You do not have to reload the browser for every content update that you perform in the Vite application. This Vite tool allows your browser to have an immediate effect of being reflected on every change.

    Your Vite application is solely responsible for enhancing the project consistency as HMR is disengaged from the total number of modules included in the application. If we talk about developers’ perspectives, the speed of HMR can be somewhat challenging who are using Webpack regularly.

  2. Bare Module Resolving

    Generally, there is no specific support for bare module import for any browser. So, you don’t need to import directly from any package name like import {createApp} from ‘vue’, as you’ll not find the relative path to the application’s node_modules.

    Vite JS typically search for bare import specifiers in your JavaScript files to make your application run. Then, it completely rewrites them and uses such module resolution to locate the individual files from your Vite application dependencies.

    Finally, the process takes place where you can easily resolve them as legitimate module specifiers.

  3. On-demand Compilation

    The browser is solely responsible for sending source files to compile, and the good part is that you can view only the required or changed code that is compiled on the screen.

    So, if you have any unchanged files, get ready to witness the 304 (Not Modified) error code on your screen. It simply compiles every located file in the project and moves ahead for bundling them just before making any significant change in the Vite application.

    For that reason, Vite is considered the best choice for large projects.

  4. Configuration Option

    With the help of a vite.config.js or vite.config.ts file, you have complete freedom to take over the project control. These files are available in the existing working directory or the project’s base root directory.

    Moreover, you have an option where you can mention a config file using the command vite –config my-config.js.

    Furthermore, adding a Rollup plugin for build and Koa middleware in your configuration file makes it easy for you to include support for custom file transforms for your application.

    These are the primary reasons for using Vite as a building tool for front-end development services like AngularJS development. To summarize, I have identified some of the other reasons for using Vite for your next project needs.

    • Vite is one such robust building tool for front-end development that is 100% compatible with ECMAScript modules.
    • With its active support of the Legacy mode plugin, you can effectively deal with browsers that are not supporting native ESM.
    • Vite is a tool that comes up with faster dependency prebuilding. So, rather than using Rollup for dependency prebuilding, it makes use of esbuild.
    • Vite has typescript, automatic CSS code-splitting, and CSS pre-processor support.

How to Create a Vite Application?

Below are the step for creating a Vite application. Let’s get started.

Step 1: The command for creating a Vite app is npm create vitejs@latest new-vite-app. Once you type this command, you’ll see the screen with different options like:

Create Vite JS Application

Here, new-vite-app is the name of the project. As you can see, there are a lot of template options available to create an application. Currently, we’ll go with the React framework.

Now it’s time to run the following commands to complete the Vite installation.

>>cd new-vite-app
>>npm install
>>npm run dev

Once you run these commands, you’ll see a url for your Vite application.

Vite Application
There you go. Congratulations, you’ve made it possible.

Understanding the Vite Folder Structure

Now, it’s time to understand the folder structure of the Vite application.

Vite JS Folder Structure

  1. node_modules folder

    All the essential dependencies of your Vite applications are maintained under the “node_modules” folder. And yes, all such dependencies information is well-defined in the package.json file itself.

    So, once you run the command “npm install”, all such dependencies that are available in the package.json file will be directly downloaded into the node_modules folder.

    If you’re pushing your source code directly to Github, it’s not essential to push the node_modules folder. The reason behind it is that users have an option where they can directly install required dependencies through the application’s package.json file.

    The package.json file is available in the root directory of your Vite application.

  2. src folder

    The src folder is one of the most important folders you can use to interact with almost all the folders, especially when creating the Vite application. In this src folder, you’ll find vital files like app.jsx, main.jsx, app.css and index.js.

    You can also efficiently keep or maintain the application’s assets, like images, videos, and other files, in the src folder. The good part of Vite JS is that it is solely responsible for automatically rebasing all URLs inside index.html.

  3. App.jsx and main.jsx

    Inside your Vite application, the app.jsx file is considered the most important file. This is because it serves as a container for all of the other components used in the application.

    The base component file, app.jsx, allows you to easily target the root id from the index.html and make it easy to render all the components used in the vite application.

  4. index.css and app.css

    You can beautify your Vite application by applying different CSS styles in your coding. Moreover, you can even add your customized CSS files and styling in these files.

Vite 4.0 – New Features and Upgrades

At Qcon International Sofware Development Conference, Vite 4.0 release date was March 27–29, 2023. So, if your next question is what’s new in Vite 4.0?, I’ve come up with major updates introduced in Vite version 4.0.

Vite 4.0 comes with advanced vite.new

With the help of the command, pnpm create vite, you can easily create a new vite project with any framework. Alternatively, you can use vite.new to open a standard template online.
Moreover, you can also run the command pnpm create vite-extra to get access to different templates directly from other available frameworks.

Vite 4.0 introduces a new React plugin using SWC.

One of the best alternatives for React projects after Babel is Speedy Web Compiler (SWC). So, if you’re dealing with the implementation of React Fast Refresh, SWC is the right option for your business project.

Here, we are talking about Vite 4.0, so two advanced plugins help you deal with React projects: @vitejs/plugin-react and @vitejs/plugin-react-swc (new).

Vite 4.0 are fully compatible with modern browsers.

By default, Safari 14 is the browser that is considered to be a modern browser build, especially for wider ES2020 compatibility.

So, you can efficiently use BigInt and nullish coalescing operator for modern builds without transpiling.

Environment Variables with Vite 4.0

Vite 4.0 is the latest version that uses dotenv 16 and dotenv-expand 9. So, for example, you need to wrap value with quotes if you have a value including # or ` .

-VITE_APP=xy#za bc

+VITE_APP=”yz#ab cd

Apart from these features, there are some other major upgrades like:

  • Vite 4.0 allows you to import CSS as a String.
  • With its environmental impact, Vite 4.0 plays a vital role in enhancing the app installation and increasing Vite’s packaging size.
  • To provide better performance with collaborators, Vite Core and vite-ecosystem-ci makes your vite development process a smooth one.

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I hope you got a clear vision of what is Vite and how it plays a vital role in enhancing the developer’s experience to a great extent. Compared with other tools like Parcel and Snowpack, Vite is a front-end build tool that is easy to set up and takes minimized effort to work with this tool.

If you ask me personally about Vite JS, I would prefer Vite as a built tool, especially when I’m avoiding a framework involved in minified scripts and styles.

If you’re planning for front-end development services contact Albiorix. We have a team of passionate developers who constantly strive to provide the best possible IT solutions.

Ankur Akvaliya is Sr. Software Engineer at Albiorix Technology. He is a dedicated and hard-working person to deals with any technological needs. He is prominent in working with object-oriented design, problem resolution, requirement gathering, and finally debugging the code. Above all, his keen interest is in writing the technical articles that can become a boon for readers.

Ankur Akvaliya

Ankur Akvaliya is Sr. Software Engineer at Albiorix Technology. He is a dedicated and hard-working person to deals with any technological needs. He is prominent in working with object-oriented design, problem resolution, requirement gathering, and finally debugging the code. Above all, his keen interest is in writing the technical articles that can become a boon for readers.

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