Features

At the very basic level, developing using Vite is not that much different from using a static file server. However, Vite provides many enhancements over native ESM imports to support various features that are typically seen in bundler-based setups.

NPM Dependency Resolving and Pre-Bundling

Native ES imports do not support bare module imports like the following:

import { someMethod } from 'my-dep'

The above will throw an error in the browser. Vite will detect such bare module imports in all served source files and perform the following:

  1. Pre-bundle them to improve page loading speed and convert CommonJS / UMD modules to ESM. The pre-bundling step is performed with esbuild and makes Vite's cold start time significantly faster than any JavaScript-based bundler.

  2. Rewrite the imports to valid URLs like /node_modules/.vite/my-dep.js?v=f3sf2ebd so that the browser can import them properly.

Dependencies are Strongly Cached

Vite caches dependency requests via HTTP headers, so if you wish to locally edit/debug a dependency, follow the steps here.

Hot Module Replacement

Vite provides an HMR API over native ESM. Frameworks with HMR capabilities can leverage the API to provide instant, precise updates without reloading the page or blowing away application state. Vite provides first-party HMR integrations for Vue Single File Components and React Fast Refresh. There are also official integrations for Preact via @prefresh/vite.

Note you don't need to manually set these up - when you create an app via @vitejs/create-app, the selected templates would have these pre-configured for you already.

TypeScript

Vite supports importing .ts files out of the box.

Vite only performs transpilation on .ts files and does NOT perform type checking. It assumes type checking is taken care of by your IDE and build process (you can run tsc --noEmit in the build script or install vue-tsc and run vue-tsc --noEmit to also type check your *.vue files).

Vite uses esbuild to transpile TypeScript into JavaScript which is about 20~30x faster than vanilla tsc, and HMR updates can reflect in the browser in under 50ms.

Note that because esbuild only performs transpilation without type information, it doesn't support certain features like const enum and implicit type-only imports. You must set "isolatedModules": true in your tsconfig.json under compilerOptions so that TS will warn you against the features that do not work with isolated transpilation.

Client Types

Vite's default types are for its Node.js API. To shim the environment of client side code in a Vite application, add vite/client to compilerOptions.types of your tsconfig:

{
  "compilerOptions": {
    "types": ["vite/client"]
  }
}

This will provide the following type shims:

  • Asset imports (e.g. importing an .svg file)
  • Types for the Vite-injected env variables on import.meta.env
  • Types for the HMR API on import.meta.hot

Vue

Vite provides first-class Vue support:

JSX

.jsx and .tsx files are also supported out of the box. JSX transpilation is also handled via esbuild, and defaults to the React 16 flavor. React 17 style JSX support in esbuild is tracked here.

Vue users should use the official @vitejs/plugin-vue-jsx plugin, which provides Vue 3 specific features including HMR, global component resolving, directives and slots.

If not using JSX with React or Vue, custom jsxFactory and jsxFragment can be configured using the esbuild option. For example for Preact:

// vite.config.js
export default {
  esbuild: {
    jsxFactory: 'h',
    jsxFragment: 'Fragment'
  }
}

More details in esbuild docs.

You can inject the JSX helpers using jsxInject (which is a Vite-only option) to avoid manual imports:

// vite.config.js
export default {
  esbuild: {
    jsxInject: `import React from 'react'`
  }
}

CSS

Importing .css files will inject its content to the page via a <style> tag with HMR support. You can also retrieve the processed CSS as a string as the module's default export.

@import Inlining and Rebasing

Vite is pre-configured to support CSS @import inlining via postcss-import. Vite aliases are also respected for CSS @import. In addition, all CSS url() references, even if the imported files are in different directories, are always automatically rebased to ensure correctness.

@import aliases and URL rebasing are also supported for Sass and Less files (see CSS Pre-processors).

PostCSS

If the project contains valid PostCSS config (any format supported by postcss-load-config, e.g. postcss.config.js), it will be automatically applied to all imported CSS.

CSS Modules

Any CSS file ending with .module.css is considered a CSS modules file. Importing such a file will return the corresponding module object:

/* example.module.css */
.red {
  color: red;
}
import classes from './example.module.css'
document.getElementById('foo').className = classes.red

CSS modules behavior can be configured via the css.modules option.

If css.modules.localsConvention is set to enable camelCase locals (e.g. localsConvention: 'camelCaseOnly'), you can also use named imports:

// .apply-color -> applyColor
import { applyColor } from './example.module.css'
document.getElementById('foo').className = applyColor

CSS Pre-processors

Because Vite targets modern browsers only, it is recommended to use native CSS variables with PostCSS plugins that implement CSSWG drafts (e.g. postcss-nesting) and author plain, future-standards-compliant CSS.

That said, Vite does provide built-in support for .scss, .sass, .less, .styl and .stylus files. There is no need to install Vite-specific plugins for them, but the corresponding pre-processor itself must be installed:

# .scss and .sass
npm install -D sass

# .less
npm install -D less

# .styl and .stylus
npm install -D stylus

If using Vue single file components, this also automatically enables <style lang="sass"> et al.

Vite improves @import resolving for Sass and Less so that Vite aliases are also respected. In addition, relative url() references inside imported Sass/Less files that are in different directories from the root file are also automatically rebased to ensure correctness.

@import alias and url rebasing are not supported for Stylus due to its API constraints.

You can also use CSS modules combined with pre-processors by prepending .module to the file extension, for example style.module.scss.

Static Assets

Importing a static asset will return the resolved public URL when it is served:

import imgUrl from './img.png'
document.getElementById('hero-img').src = imgUrl

Special queries can modify how assets are loaded:

// Explicitly load assets as URL
import assetAsURL from './asset.js?url'
// Load assets as strings
import assetAsString from './shader.glsl?raw'
// Load Web Workers
import Worker from './worker.js?worker'
// Web Workers inlined as base64 strings at build time
import InlineWorker from './worker.js?worker&inline'

More details in Static Asset Handling.

JSON

JSON files can be directly imported - named imports are also supported:

// import the entire object
import json from './example.json'
// import a root field as named exports - helps with treeshaking!
import { field } from './example.json'

Glob Import

Vite supports importing multiple modules from the file system via the special import.meta.glob function:

const modules = import.meta.glob('./dir/*.js')

The above will be transformed into the following:

// code produced by vite
const modules = {
  './dir/foo.js': () => import('./dir/foo.js'),
  './dir/bar.js': () => import('./dir/bar.js')
}

You can then iterate over the keys of the modules object to access the corresponding modules:

for (const path in modules) {
  modules[path]().then((mod) => {
    console.log(path, mod)
  })
}

Matched files are by default lazy loaded via dynamic import and will be split into separate chunks during build. If you'd rather import all the modules directly (e.g. relying on side-effects in these modules to be applied first), you can use import.meta.globEager instead:

const modules = import.meta.globEager('./dir/*.js')

The above will be transformed into the following:

// code produced by vite
import * as __glob__0_0 from './dir/foo.js'
import * as __glob__0_1 from './dir/bar.js'
const modules = {
  './dir/foo.js': __glob__0_0,
  './dir/bar.js': __glob__0_1
}

Note that:

  • This is a Vite-only feature and is not a web or ES standard.
  • The glob patterns are treated like import specifiers: they must be either relative (start with ./) or absolute (start with /, resolved relative to project root).
  • The glob matching is done via fast-glob - check out its documentation for supported glob patterns.

Web Assembly

Pre-compiled .wasm files can be directly imported - the default export will be an initialization function that returns a Promise of the exports object of the wasm instance:

import init from './example.wasm'

init().then((exports) => {
  exports.test()
})

The init function can also take the imports object which is passed along to WebAssembly.instantiate as its second argument:

init({
  imports: {
    someFunc: () => {
      /* ... */
    }
  }
}).then(() => {
  /* ... */
})

In the production build, .wasm files smaller than assetInlineLimit will be inlined as base64 strings. Otherwise, they will be copied to the dist directory as an asset and fetched on-demand.

Web Workers

A web worker script can be directly imported by appending ?worker to the import request. The default export will be a custom worker constructor:

import MyWorker from './worker?worker'

const worker = new MyWorker()

The worker script can also use import statements instead of importScripts() - note during dev this relies on browser native support and currently only works in Chrome, but for the production build it is compiled away.

By default, the worker script will be emitted as a separate chunk in the production build. If you wish to inline the worker as base64 strings, add the inline query:

import MyWorker from './worker?worker&inline'

Build Optimizations

Features listed below are automatically applied as part of the build process and there is no need for explicit configuration unless you want to disable them.

CSS Code Splitting

Vite automatically extracts the CSS used by modules in an async chunk and generate a separate file for it. The CSS file is automatically loaded via a <link> tag when the associated async chunk is loaded, and the async chunk is guaranteed to only be evaluated after the CSS is loaded to avoid FOUC.

If you'd rather have all the CSS extracted into a single file, you can disable CSS code splitting by setting build.cssCodeSplit to false.

Preload Directives Generation

Vite automatically generates <link rel="modulepreload"> directives for entry chunks and their direct imports in the built HTML.

Async Chunk Loading Optimization

In real world applications, Rollup often generates "common" chunks - code that is shared between two or more other chunks. Combined with dynamic imports, it is quite common to have the following scenario:

graph

In the non-optimized scenarios, when async chunk A is imported, the browser will have to request and parse A before it can figure out that it also needs the common chunk C. This results in an extra network roundtrip:

Entry ---> A ---> C

Vite automatically rewrites code-split dynamic import calls with a preload step so that when A is requested, C is fetched in parallel:

Entry ---> (A + C)

It is possible for C to have further imports, which will result in even more roundtrips in the un-optimized scenario. Vite's optimization will trace all the direct imports to completely eliminate the roundtrips regardless of import depth.