How to set up and use Laravel Mix with your project

Despite the name, Laravel Mix isn't just for Laravel. It is a tidy, succinct task runner with understandable syntax and a single config file. This tutorial will run through setting it up with your project

Intro

I am a massive advocate of Gulp and have used it for years. However, there is a new player in town and. for all my side projects it knocks the socks off Gulp. Laravel Mix is a Webpack wrapper - this means it uses its own config files while benefitting from the greatness that is Webpack.

It's created by Jeffery Way, the author of Laravel, which is where I assume it gets its name from but you don't need to have a Laravel powered app to utilise its power. There are plenty of plugins available too. We will set up Laravel Mix with SCSS, ES6 compilation, image optimisation and run it alongside Eleventy.

Objectives

This blog post uses the command line to install tools via npm, along with using SCSS. It is USEFUL if you are familiar with using these tools.

We are going to:

  • Install Laravel Mix
  • Compile SCSS and JS
  • Copy and optimise images while making .webp versions

TL:DR;

Just want to copy and paste? In a rush and just need the bullet points?

  • Set up
    • Ensure you have a package.json file (npm init if not)
    • Install laravel-mix: npm install laravel-mix --save
    • Create a webpack.mix.js in your project root
    • Make sure your file structure matches
  • SCSS and JS compilation
    • Add the sass and js compilation to the file
    • Add the NPM scripts to your package.json file
    • Run npm run prod:assets
    • Check your compiled assets exist, and include them in your template (<link rel="stylesheet" href="/assets/css/style.css">)
  • Image Optimisation

Steps

Laravel Mix Setup

As with any "cool" tech these days, we need to start with npm. If you haven't done so already, run the following on the command line (make sure you have cdd to the correct directory). If you are unsure whether this is required, look for a package.json file in your folder.

npm init

This will run you through some questions and set up a package.json file for you.

Next we need to install laravel-mix. This can be done by entering the following command:

npm install laravel-mix --save

This will take a few minutes to install as it has several dependencies to install itself.

Next, using the your editor, IDE or the command line, create a new file called webpack.mix.js in the root of your projects

SCSS and JS file setup

The code below assumes you have the following file structure (if not, you should should adjust the code to suit)

- build/
	- css/
		- screen.scss
	- js/
		- app.js
- public/
	- index.html (or similar)
	- assets/ (this will be auto generated)
- webpack.mix.js
- package.json

SCSS and JS Compilation

Open the webpack.mix.js file and put the following in (not forgetting to update the paths if yours are different).

let mix = require('laravel-mix');

mix
	.sass('build/css/screen.scss', 'public/assets/css/style.css')
	.js('build/js/app.js', 'public/assets/js/app.js');

This defines a new "mix" (using laravel-mix) and then specifies a sass (scss) and JS processor.

Once saved (and the file structure set up) you can run the following command to compile and generate your assets

NODE_ENV=production node_modules/webpack/bin/webpack.js --progress --hide-modules --env=production --config=node_modules/laravel-mix/setup/webpack.config.js

To make this less hassle (and easier to remember), you can create a script in your package.json file. Open up the file and replace the scripts block with the following:

"scripts": {
  "prod:assets": "cross-env NODE_ENV=production node_modules/webpack/bin/webpack.js --progress --hide-modules --env=production --config=node_modules/laravel-mix/setup/webpack.config.js",
  "watch:assets": "cross-env NODE_ENV=development node_modules/webpack/bin/webpack.js --watch --progress --hide-modules --config=node_modules/laravel-mix/setup/webpack.config.js",
}

This lets you now run the following instead of that lengthy command:

npm run prod:assets

This will create your assets for production. As a bonus, this also includes a watcher script, which will compile as you save either the scss or js files. This can be activated, by running the command:

npm run watch:assets

With your assets hopefully compiling, they can be included in your template, as you would with other CSS and JS files

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/assets/css/style.css">

Image Optimisation

The next step is to add image optimisation to our build process. This will minify the jp(e)gs and pngs and also generate webp images. Serving up the webp images can either be hardcoded in your files, templates & content or you can use browser sniffing to serve up the right versions. We'll cover that in another post.

Add the following to your laravel.mix.js file, after the JavaScript configuration (included in the snippet below for reference). Be careful of your semi-colons (the one after js() has been removed)

.js('build/js/app.js', 'html/assets/js/app.js')
.imagemin({
	from: 'img/**/*'
}, {
	context: 'build'
})
.webpackConfig({
	plugins: [
		new ImageMinWebpWebpackPlugin({
			config: [
				{
					test: /(img).*\.(jpe?g|png)/,
					options: {
						quality: 80
					}
				}
			]
		})
	]
})
.setPublicPath('html/assets');

imagemin has slightly different syntax for the to and from, so if your paths change be sure to update the context and the setPublicPath paths at the end. With the context, this is folder your image folder is in.

The webpackConfig block in the middle is the WebP generation. If you don't need this then feel free to remove. This optimises any images in html/assets/img (which is placed there by the imagemin before it).

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Mike Street

Written by Mike Street

Mike is a front-end developer from Brighton, UK. He spends his time writing, cycling and coding. You can find Mike on Twitter.