Building a simple web application with Parcel: A step-by-step guide

Building a simple web application with Parcel: A step-by-step guide

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of building a simple web application using Parcel, including setting up the development environment, using the development server, and building the application for production.

Building a web application can be a complex process, especially when managing and bundling the various assets and code required for the application to function properly. Parcel is a popular web application bundler that aims to simplify this process by providing a zero-configuration setup and built-in support for modern languages and assets.

Parcel combines a great out-of-the-box development experience with a scalable architecture that can take your project from just getting started to a massive production application. By the end of this guide, you will have a solid understanding of how to use Parcel to streamline the development and deployment of your web applications.

First, you will need to have Node.js and npm (Node Package Manager) installed on your machine. You can check if you have them installed by running the following commands in your terminal:

node -v
npm -v

If you don't have them installed, you can download and install them from the official website (

Next, please create a new directory for your project and navigate into it. Then, create a new file called index.html and another one called index.js. In the index.html file, you can add the basic HTML structure of your web page. In the index.js file, you can add some JavaScript code that you want to bundle and transpile.

In the terminal, run the following command to install Parcel:

npm install -g parcel-bundler

Now, you can start the development server by running the following command in the terminal:

parcel index.html

This command will start a development server and open your project in a web browser at http://localhost:1234. You can start making your project changes and seeing them in real time by refreshing the browser.

To add CSS to your project, create a new file called styles.css and reference it in the index.html file. For example:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="styles.css" />

Make changes to the CSS file, and you will see the changes in the browser without having to refresh the page.

To build your project for production, you can use the following command:

parcel build index.html

This command will create a dist directory in your project's root, containing a production-ready version of your project. The files in this directory are minified and optimized for better performance.

Parcel also supports hot module replacement (HMR) which allows you to change the code and see the changes in the browser without refreshing the page. To enable HMR, you will need to install the parcel-plugin-hmr plugin and then start the development server with the --hmr flag.

npm install parcel-plugin-hmr
parcel index.html --hmr

In this guide, we have shown you how to use Parcel to bundle and transpile code for a simple web application. With its zero-configuration setup and built-in support for modern languages and assets, Parcel is a great choice for building web applications.