Are ES6 modules in browsers going to get loaded level-by-level?

James Burke jrburke at gmail.com
Thu Apr 23 16:48:09 UTC 2015


On Thu, Apr 23, 2015 at 7:47 AM, Domenic Denicola <d at domenic.me> wrote:

>  Indeed, there is no built-in facility for bundling since as explained in
> this thread that will actually slow down your performance, and there’s no
> desire to include an antipattern in the language.
>
>
>


Some counterpoint:

For privileged/certified FirefoxOS apps, they are delivered as zip files
right now. No HTTP involved. Asking for multiple files from these local
packages was still slower than fetching one file with scripts bundled, due
to slower IO on devices, so the certified apps in FirefoxOS right now still
do bundling for speed concerns. No network in play, just file IO.

With service workers, it is hard to see that also being faster since the
worker needs to be consulted for every request, so in that FirefoxOS app
case, I would still want bundling.

With HTTP2, something still needs to do the same work as bundling, where it
traces the dependencies and builds a graph so that all the modules in that
graph can be sent back in the HTTP2 connection.

So the main complexity of bundling, a "build" step that traces dependencies
and makes a graph, is still there. Might as well bundle them so that even
when serving from browser cache it will be faster, see device IO concerns
above.

Plus, bundling modules together can be more than just a speed concern: a
library may want to use modules in separate files and then bundle them into
one file for easier encapsulation/distribution.

I am sure the hope is that package managers may help for the distribution
case, but this highlights another use related to bundling: encapsulation.
Just like nested functions are allowed in the language, nested module
definitions make sense long term. Both functions and modules are about
reusing units of code. Ideally both could be nested.

I believe that is a bigger design hurdle to overcome and maybe that also
made it harder for the module champions to consider any sort of bundling,
but bundling really is a thing, and it is unfortunate it is not natively
supported for ES modules.

The fun part about leaving this to transpilers is trying to emulate the
mutable slots for import identifiers. I think it may work by replacing the
identifiers with `loader.get('id').exportName`, or whatever the module
meta/loader APIs might be, so having those APIs are even more important for
a usable module system. There is probably more nuance to the transformation
than that though. Like making sure to add in "use strict" to the function
wrapper.

It is kind of sad that to use ES modules means to actually not really use
them at runtime, to transpile back to ES5-level of code, and needing to
ship a bootstrap loader script that allows slotting that the ES5-level code
into the ES loader. For the extra script and transpiling concerns, it does
not seem like an improvement over an existing ES5-based module systems.

James
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