Ben Hanna

Software Craftsman and Game Programming Enthusiast

Building a Backbone.js project with Parcel

  • Fri 24 August 2018
  • Blog

Do you loathe configuring webpack every time you setup a new application? Well, you may be better served by parcel, an alternative bundler that touts zero-configuration. Quite simply, it just works.

In this article I'll demonstrate how setup a basic Backbone project using parcel.

Create the project

Starting from scratch let's first create a new folder and initialize npm.

mkdir my-backbone-app
cd my-backbone-app
npm init

Next let's install backbone and it's dependencies, which are jquery and underscore.

npm install --save backbone jquery underscore

We're going to use the following folder structure.

  • src - This is where we'll put all our JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

Install Parcel

Since the main advantage of parcel is that it requires zero-configuration all we really need to do use it is install parcel-bundler.

npm install --save parcel-bundler

parcel performs both the functions of building your bundle and then watching it for changes while serving it on a local HTTP server. The latter is similar to what is provided when using webpack-dev-server with webpack.

When you run parcel you just tell it what your entry file is (usually index.html) and then it will automatically find any assets (i.e. scripts, stylesheets) that you're using and bundle them all together.

Create an application

Before we can load our application we need to create our shell. We'll save this file as src/index.html.

<!DOCTYPE html>

    <!-- Using the 'async' attribute will keep our script from blocking the page load. -->
    <script src="index.js" async></script>

Now let's scaffold out a basic use of Backbone with parcel.

First we'll create a view for our application in src/app.view.js;

// Import the Backbone module and its dependencies
var Backbone = require('backbone');

// Declare our options we'll use to extend the base view
var viewOptions = {
  el: 'body',

  initialize: function () {

  render: function () {
    this.$el.text('App Ready');

// Export our extended view
module.exports = Backbone.View.extend(viewOptions);

Now let's create our entry module that bootstraps the application at src/index.js.

// Import the Backbone module and its dependencies
var Backbone = require('backbone');

// Import our view
var AppView = require('./app.view');

// Execute after the DOM has loaded
Backbone.$(function () {
  // Create an instance of our view
  new AppView();

With all the base components stubbed out we can now start up the application.

npx parcel src/index.html --port 8080

Navigate to http://localhost:8080 in a browser and you should see the message displayed.

Wrapping up

Hopefully this article demonstrated how easy it is to use parcel with Backbone. If you'd like to see a slightly more involved example with routing and templates then please see my backbone-fundamentals-parcel repository.