Monday 8 October 2018

Code Splitting in SharePoint Framework (SPFx)

Code splitting is not a new concept to TypeScript/React/Webpack developers. In short, it is a optimisation technique which allows us to split our application bundle into smaller bundles and load them on-demand only when required.

E.g. when a React component or a third party package is only needed when the user clicks on a certain button, then there is no need to load in on the first page load. It can be fetched on-demand when the button is pressed. This reduces the amount of data fetched over the wire on first page load, thus improving performance and user experience. This can be particularly helpful in large applications with many third party packages and components.

In this post let's have a look at how to do code splitting in the SharePoint Framework. As an example, I am going to use an SPFx web part created using React but the code splitting approach can be used with other frameworks/libraries as well.

We are going to have a look at two scenarios where code splitting can really help:

1) Loading a React Component on-demand (where we load the DetailsList component from Office UI Fabric)

2) Loading a third party package on-demand (where we load the infamous-for-its-large-size moment js)

So to begin with, here is my render method of a React component created by default by the SPFx yeoman generator:

I have edited it to show only 2 buttons. This component will be our "main" component which will load other components and third party packages when a user clicks on the relevant button.

Load a React Component on-demand: 

The _loadDocumentsClicked function will fire when the user clicks on the Load Documents button. The DetailsList component is defined in a file called DetailsListComponent.tsx which is in the same folder as the main component.

Once the import function fetches the DetailsList component class, we create an an instance of the class and use ReactDom to insert the component to the detailsContainer div in our main component. 

Load a third party package (moment js) on-demand:

Similarly, the _loadMomentClicked function will fire when the load moment js button is clicked. it will fetch the moment package and then assign the value of moment().calendar() to a property in the current component's state.

And here is the code in action on a modern SharePoint page:

(click to zoom)

What is also important to note is that the bundle will be loaded only if it was not loaded earlier. The import function is smart enough to determine if the bundle is already downloaded and it does not request it again.

Hope you found this useful!

As always, the code for this is available on GitHub: