Bundling PostGraphile with Webpack

PostGraphile is designed to be ran as a standard Node.js application on the server, using the built in require functionality which reads code from the filesystem. However, if system startup time is a critical metric in your environment (for example on serverless environments) this "searching and loading from disk" behaviour can be very expensive. One way to solve this problem is to bundle your code up into a single JavaScript file so that no filesystem access is required.

Webpack is a tool that you can use to bundle JavaScript code up; there are, however, many gotchas to doing so due to the way that a bundler works, and some of these apply to PostGraphile:

  • __dirname is less meaningful once the package is bundled, since __dirname in the bundle likely refers to a different location than __dirname did in the original code.
  • Bundlers have particular problems with conditional require(...)s and with native modules. Unfortunately PostGraphile depends on modules that have both of these problems.

Worry not, for we can work around these issues with some configuration!

A minimal webpack config for PostGraphile (depending on what other resources you use) might be this one from @chadfurman:

module.exports = {
  // All your other webpack options:
  // ...

  // We're targetting node:
  target: "node",

  context: `${__dirname}/app`,

  // Update `__dirname` references to point to the correct location, relative to
  // `context`:
  // https://webpack.js.org/configuration/node/#node__dirname
  node: {
    __dirname: true,

  // We cannot bundle native modules, so leave it out:
  externals: ["pg-native"],

A more invasive and optimised config can be found in our Lambda example; note that it cannot be used with watch mode and does not support subscriptions. Here's a simplified and commented version of it:

const webpack = require("webpack");
const TerserPlugin = require("terser-webpack-plugin");

module.exports = {

  target: "node",
  plugins: [
    // Prevent loading pg-native (in a weird, backwards kind of way!)
    new webpack.DefinePlugin({
      // Nice light dependencies
      "process.env.NODE_ENV": '"production"',
      "process.env.POSTGRAPHILE_ENV": '"production"',

      // Forces node-postgres to attempt to use the native module, HOWEVER we
      // trick this below by replacing the native module with the JavaScript
      // client using `NormalModuleReplacementPlugin`. 😈
      "process.env.NODE_PG_FORCE_NATIVE": '"1"',

      // Set this if you want the smallest bundle; it excludes GraphiQL
      "process.env.POSTGRAPHILE_OMIT_ASSETS": '"1"',

    // Here's where we replace the native `pg` module reference with the
    // JavaScript client. (See NODE_PG_FORCE_NATIVE above.)
    new webpack.NormalModuleReplacementPlugin(

    // Omit websocket functionality from postgraphile:
    new webpack.NormalModuleReplacementPlugin(

    // Just in case you install express, omit the expensive view file:
    new webpack.NormalModuleReplacementPlugin(

  // We don't need to use __dirname any more:
  node: {
    __dirname: false, // just output `__dirname`

  // Without this, you may get errors such as `Error: GraphQL conflict for 'e'
  // detected! Multiple versions of graphql exist in your node_modules?`
  // May not be necessary for newer versions of the `graphql` module.
  optimization: {
    minimizer: [
      new TerserPlugin({
        terserOptions: {
          mangle: false, // < This is the important part

Note this config depends on express-lib-view.js and postgraphile-http-subscriptions.js

Install webpack with yarn add --dev webpack webpack-cli and then you can run it as yarn webpack.