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Building JavaScript Outputs

Bazel supports an incremental and customizable means of building and testing JavaScript outputs from JavaScript, TypeScript, and Angular sources.

Note: This document describes Bazel features and workflows that are useful, but the Bazel team has not fully verified and does not officially support these features and workflows.

Contents

Overview

Bazel rules for building JavaScript outputs are split into three layers, since you can use JavaScript without TypeScript, and TypeScript without Angular. This document assumes you are already familiar with Bazel and uses the Angular for Bazel sample project to illustrate the recommended configuration. You can use the sample project as a starting point and add your own code to it to start building with Bazel.

If you're new to Bazel, take a look at the "Getting Started" material before proceeding.

Setting up your environment

To set up your environment for building JavaScript outputs with Bazel, do the following:

Step 1: Installing Bazel

If you have not already done so, Install Bazel.

Step 2: Installing iBazel

iBazel, or iterative Bazel, is a "watchdog" version of Bazel that automatically runs whenever your source files change. Use it to auto-run your tests and auto-refresh the code served by the development server.

Install iBazel globally using your package manager of choice. The global installation is required so that iBazel is in your PATH variable. Also install a specific version of iBazel into your project so that your whole team updates together. For example:

npm install --save-dev @bazel/ibazel
npm install --global @bazel/ibazel

or

yarn add -D @bazel/ibazel
yarn global add @bazel/ibazel

To use ibazel, simply replace bazel with ibazel in your Bazel commands.

Step 3: Configuring the bazel.rc file

Any Bazel build flag or option that can be placed on the command line can also be set in the project's bazel.rc file so that it is applied every time Bazel builds or tests the project.

Based on how you want to share Bazel settings across your project and team(s), you can use any combination of the following techniques:

  • To use the same Bazel settings for the project, create a tools/bazel.rc file at the root of the Bazel workspace. Adding it to the workspace will check the file into version control and propagate it to others working on the project as well as the CI system.

  • To personalize Bazel settings for the project but not share them, create a .bazel.rc file at the root of the project and add the file to your .gitignore list.

  • To personalize Bazel settings for all of your projects on your local machine, create a .bazel.rc file in your home directory.

Here's an example tools/bazel.rc file to share with your team. Modify this template as needed.

###############################
# Directory structure         #
###############################

# Globally cache downloaded artifacts.
build --experimental_repository_cache=~/.bazel_cache/
test --experimental_repository_cache=~/.bazel_cache/
run --experimental_repository_cache=~/.bazel_cache/

# Don't create bazel-* symlinks in the WORKSPACE directory. These
# symlinks require .gitignore and may scare users. Instead, run
# `bazel info bazel-bin` to find out where the outputs are stored.
build --symlink_prefix=/

# Another good choice is to create a dist/ directory. Then you can
# use build --symlink_prefix=dist/ to get folders like dist/bin.
# Be aware that this setup will still create a bazel-out symlink in
# your project directory, which you may need to exclude from the
# editor's search path.

###############################
# Output                      #
###############################

# A more useful default output mode for bazel query, which
# prints "ng_module rule //foo:bar" instead of just "//foo:bar".
query --output=label_kind

# By default, failing tests don't print any output, it's logged to a
# file instead.

test --test_output=errors

# Show which actions are running under which workers and print all
# the actions running in parallel. This shows that Bazel runs on all
# cores of a CPU.
build --experimental_ui
test --experimental_ui

###############################
# Typescript / Angular / Sass #
###############################
# Make TypeScript and Angular compilation fast, by keeping a few
# copies of the compiler running as daemons, and cache SourceFile
# ASTs to reduce parse time.
build --strategy=TypeScriptCompile=worker --strategy=AngularTemplateCompile=worker

# Enable debugging tests with --config=debug
test:debug --test_arg=--node_options=--inspect-brk --test_output=streamed --test_strategy=exclusive --test_timeout=9999 --nocache_test_results

Step 4: (Optional) Setting up Continuous Integration (CI)

For building JavaScript outputs with Bazel in a CI setting, it's useful to use a container as the environment. The ngcontainer Docker image is a ready-to-use environment you can use that makes your builds reproducible in other environments, such as your local machine. This reproducibility is especially convenient on CircleCI, which lets you choose a Docker image as the environment for your build. See the example CircleCI configuration in the sample project to learn more.

Tip: When building in a CI environment, add settings to your bazel.rc file that are specific to CI using the build:ci and or test:ci prefixes. With this configuration, you can enable those CI-specific options by simply adding the --config=ci argument to your Bazel/iBazel commands.

Building JavaScript

Use the rules_nodejs rules to build NodeJS applications and execute JavaScript code within Bazel. You can execute JavaScript tools in the Bazel toolchain, binary programs, or tests. The NodeJS rules add the NodeJS runtime to your Bazel project.

Most notable NodeJS rules include:

  • nodejs_binary - builds an executable program based on JavaScript source files and an entry point path relative to the output root. To provide extra inputs to be read at runtime, put them in the data attribute.

  • jasmine_node_test - runs JavaScript spec files through the Jasmine test framework. See the node_js API documentation for more information.

Building TypeScript

Use the rules_typescript rules to build JavaScript outputs from TypeScript inputs.

To set up your Bazel project for building TypeScript inputs, do the following:

  1. Make Bazel aware of the TypeScript build rules by adding the following entry to your WORKSPACE file:

    http_archive(
        name = "build_bazel_rules_typescript",
        url = "https://github.com/bazelbuild/rules_typescript/archive/v0.13.0.zip",
        strip_prefix = "rules_typescript-0.13.0",
    )
    
    load("@build_bazel_rules_typescript//:defs.bzl", "ts_setup_workspace")
    
    ts_setup_workspace()
    
  2. Add the --strategy settings to your bazel.rc file as shown in the example .bazel.rc file in "Configuring the bazel.rc file".

Compiling TypeScript inputs (ts_library)

The ts_library rule compiles one package of TypeScript code at a time. Each library compiles independently using the .d.ts declaration files from its dependencies. Thus, Bazel will only rebuild a package if the API the package depends on changes.

The ts_libraryrule, by default, outputs a .d.ts file for each .ts source file input into it, plus an ES5 (devmode) .js file to be used as inputs for rule targets that depend on the current target, including transitively.

Tip: You can try out the ts_library rule by running bazel build src in the sample project.

Note: We recommend standardizing your TypeScript settings into a single tsconfig.json file or as few tsconfig.json files as possible.

Note the following:

  • Bazel controls parts of the tsconfig.jsonfile that define locations of input and output files, manage dependencies on typings, and produce JavaScript output that's readable by downstream tooling. Currently, this format is unbundled UMD modules, wrapping noth named (non-anonymous) AMD modules and commonjs modules.

  • Bazel may introduce new requirements for your TypeScript code. For example, Bazel uses the -declarations flag to produce .d.ts outputs required by dependent rule targets; your code may require adjustment to not produce errors when the -declarations flag is in use.

  • If your TypeScript builds are slow, consider granularizing the affected rule target(s) into smaller sub-targets and declaring dependencies between them appropriately.

Running a development server (ts_devserver)

The ts_devserver rule brings up a development server from your application sources. It's intended for use with the ibazel run command so that the server picks up your code changes immediately. The rule injects a livereload script into the browser, which causes the page to auto-refresh with the latest changes at the completion of each build.

Tip: You can test-drive the development server feature by running ibazel run src: devserver on the sample project.

Testing TypeScript code (ts_web_test)

Use the ts_web_test rule to execute the Karma test runner. This rule works best with ibazel so that both the test runner and the browser pick up your changes at the completion of each build. For faster builds, Bazel bundles your code and its dependencies into a single JavaScript file delivered to the browser when the test runner executes.

If you need to match lots of tests with a target pattern such as bazel test //… or using CI, run the ts_web_test rule with the regular bazel test command instead. Bazel will then launch a headless Chrome instance and exit after a single run.

Tip: You can test-drive the ts_web_test rule by running ibazel run or bazel run on the src/hello-world:test target in the sample project.

Building Angular inputs

Bazel can build JavaScript outputs from Angular. For instructions, see Building Angular with Bazel.