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Packaging JS and CSS with Encore


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When we installed Webpack Encore, its recipe gave us this new assets/ directory. Check out the app.js file. Interesting. Notice how it imports this bootstrap file. That's actually bootstrap.js: this file right here. The .js extension is optional.

JavaScript Imports

This is one of the most important things that Webpack gives us: the ability to import one JavaScript file from another. We can import functions, objects... really anything from another file. We're going to talk more about this bootstrap.js file in a little bit.

This also imports a CSS file!? If you haven't seen this before, it might look... weird: JavaScript importing CSS?

To see how this all works, in app.js, add a console.log().

15 lines | assets/app.js
// ... lines 1 - 12
console.log('Hi! My name is app.js!');

And app.css already has a body background... but add an !important so that we can definitely see if this is being loaded.

body {
background-color: lightgray !important;

Ok... so who reads these files? Because... they don't live in the public/ directory... so we can't create script or link tags that point directly to them.


To answer that, open webpack.config.js. Webpack Encore is an executable binary: we're going to run it in a minute. When we do, it will load this file to get its config.

And while there are a lot of features inside of Webpack, the only thing we need to focus on right now is this one: addEntry(). This app could be anything... like dinosaur, it doesn't matter. I'll show you how that's used in a minute. The important thing is that it points to the assets/app.js file. Because of this, app.js will be the first and only file that Webpack will parse.

It's pretty cool: Webpack will reads the app.js file and then follow all of the import statements recursively until it finally has a giant collection of all the JavaScript and CSS our app needs. Then, it will write that into the public/ directory.

Running Webpack Encore

Let's see it in action. Find your terminal and run:

yarn watch


If you're using NPM run:

npm run watch

This is, as it says, a shortcut for running encore dev --watch. If you look at your package.json file, it came with a script section with some shortcuts.

Anyways, yarn watch does two things. First, it created a new public/build/ directory and, inside, app.css and app.js files! But don't let the names fool you: app.js contains a lot more that just what's inside assets/app.js: it contains all the JavaScript from all the imports it finds. app.css contains all the CSS from all the imports.

The reason these files are called app.css and app.js is because of the entry name.

So the takeaway is that, thanks to Encore, we suddenly have new files in a public/build/ directory that contain all the JavaScript and CSS our app needs!

The Encore Twig Functions

And if you move over to your homepage and refresh... woh! It instantly worked!? The background changed... and in my inspector... there's the console log! How the heck did that happen?

Open your base layout: templates/base.html.twig. The secret is in the encore_entry_link_tags() and encore_entry_script_tags() functions. I bet you can guess what these do: add the link tag to build/app.css and the script tag to build/app.js.

You can see this in your browser. View the source for the page and... yup! The link tag for /build/app.css... and script tag for /build/app.js. Oh, but it also rendered two other script tags. That's because Webpack is really smart. For performance purposes, instead of dumping one gigantic app.js file, sometimes Webpack will split it into multiple, smaller files. Fortunately, these Encore Twig functions are smart enough to handle that: it will include all the link or script tags needed.

The most important thing is that the code that we have in our assets/app.js file - including anything it imports - is now functioning and showing up on our page!

Watching for Changes

Oh, and because we ran yarn watch, Encore is still running in the background watching for changes. Check it out: go into app.css... and change the background color. Save, move over and refresh.

body {
background-color: maroon !important;

It instantly updated! That's because Encore noticed the change and recompiled the built file really quickly.

Next: let's move our existing CSS into the new system and learn how we can install and import third party libraries - look Bootstrap or FontAwesome - right into our Encore setup.