Loading framework’s plugins with RequireJS

In big project, you often use framework extensions or plugins: things that extend your framework’s namespace but do not export any modules themselves. For example I use Backbone and React with Backbone.localStorage, react.backbone and my own React mixins.

I’m trying to find the best way to include such modules with RequireJS. Most of them can be used for polyfills too.

Almighty copypasta

Just require everything in all modules.

// mymodule.js
define(['backbone', 'react', 'backboneLocalStorage', 'reactBackbone', 'util/react-extras'], function(Backbone, React) {
    …
});

Pros:

  • None.

Cons:

  • Code repetition.
  • Very hard to maintain.

Main module

Require everything in the main module.

// main.js
require(['router', 'backbone', 'backboneLocalStorage', 'reactBackbone', 'util/react-extras'], function(Router, Backbone) {
    …
});

Pros:

  • Clean modules.
  • All extensions in (almost) one place.

Cons:

  • Difficult to test (tests don’t include main.js), so you need to require these modules for tests differently.

Bootstrap module

Put all the extensions in a separate module and require it from your main module and from tests.

// main.js
require(['bootstrap', 'router', 'backbone'], function(_, Router, Backbone) {
    …
});

// bootstrap.js
define([
    'backbone',
    'react',
    'backboneLocalStorage',
    'reactBackbone',
    'util/react-extras'
]);

Pros:

  • All extensions in one place.
  • Clean modules.

Cons:

  • You need to require bootstrap from your main module and from every test.

RequireJS bundles

Bundle is a special module, which you create with the RequieJS optimizer. Any time you require one of the modules inside the bundle RequireJS will load the bundle instead.

// config.js
require.config({
    bundles: {
        'backbone-bundle': ['backbone', 'backboneLocalStorage'],
        'react-bundle': ['react', 'reactBackbone', 'util/react-extras']
    }
    …
});

(I haven’t try this method myself because I think it’s overcomplicated but here’s a good article on how to make and use bundles.)

Pros:

  • Clean modules.
  • No need to do anything special for tests.

Cons:

  • You need to create and maintain bundles.

Wrappers

Create a separate module that requires an original framework with all needed extensions and returns framework back. Do it for all your frameworks that you want to extend.

// config.js
require.config({
    paths: {
        // Rename original framework
        reactOriginal: 'bower_components/react…',
        // require('react') will load our wrapper module
        react: 'react-with-extras'
    }
    …
});

// react-with-extras.js
define(['reactOriginal', 'util/react-extras'], function(React) {
    return React;
});

Pros:

  • Clean modules.
  • No need to do anything special for tests.

Cons:

  • A bit complicated.

Conclusion

I don’t like any of these techniques very much and I hope I’ve just missed the best one. Tell me if you know it.

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About me

I’m a frontend developer living in Berlin, Germany. I work at Here, and in my spare time I love making photos, writing, hanging out with my dogs and drinking lots of coffee.

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