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Webpack Dashboard Improves UX over Console Output

| by David Iffland Follow 4 Followers on Aug 18, 2016. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

A new tool, Webpack Dashboard, has quickly become a hit with developers disappointed with the UX of existing console-based tools.

Ken Wheeler, Director of Open Source at Formidable, said that while Webpack provides a "great collection of information" in its terminal output, he wanted more:

I’ve always found it to be hard to derive any useful information from it without waiting for it to finish and then scrolling upwards until I could find the information I wanted.

Wheeler decided to build something with information presented in a more dense and organized fashion. Built on the powerful blessed library, Webpack Dashboard provides at-a-glance information on a Webpack build. Included in the dashboard are build progress and status as well as logs and a list of modules in the build.

The popularity of this project seems to have hit a nerve in the community and Wheeler isn't really surprised. "I think the community yearns for better developer experience, and this is just one small thing out of many that can make it better", he told InfoQ. Facebook engineer Dan Abramov took note of the response and tweeted that there's "Huge demand for better UX in dev tools."

Some in the community have questioned the usefulness of this tool. On Hacker News, Kris Siegel commented:

After you setup and start webpack, do people actually look at the terminal to see it recompiling / etc? At least anecdotally I haven't heard of anyone doing that. You're not really going to be seeing much of anything important there unless you're looking for errors or something similar.

Wheeler already has plans for more:

I already have a PR/branch up that simplifies the API and setup, and runs the dashboard as a separate process, communicating with webpack via sockets (Relax, its non breaking changes). This should fix a lot of edge cases, and possibly speed things up. Next up, I'd like to create a minimal mode that isn't so full screen. Future? I suppose making an API through which users could customize the panels and connect to things other than webpack.

Webpack is a module bundler that has quickly gained a foothold in the JavaScript development community, particularly those that use React.

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