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Vojtech Miksu

Ladle has been out for 3 months and the community feedback was overwhelming and amazing. Thank you! Some numbers:

  • 🎯 20,000 unique visitors on this website.
  • ⭐ 1,300+ GitHub stars.
  • 🖊️ 10 contributors.
  • 💬 100+ folks joined our Discord community.

Today, it's time to graduate Ladle to its first major stable version 1. We've fixed many bugs discovered by early adopters and added some big features as well:

V1 brings the most requested feature - the full access to Vite configuration. When Ladle was released, it was intended as a tool that could replace Storybook. The bundler (Vite) was just an implementation detail and completely hidden away. However, for more advanced setups, you need to customize various aspects of compilation (similar to Storybook's Webpack). It makes sense to fully expose vite.config.js and embrace Vite first applications as well. Ladle's configuration has been rewritten from the ground up.

Check the new config documentation.

Breaking Changes

  • Ladle now loads top-level vite.config.js/ts/mjs and uses all its options.
  • All Vite related options from config.mjs are removed and an error will be thrown, use vite.config.js instead.
  • enableFlow option removed, you can create your own plugin (check our e2e/flow test).
  • Programmatic API imports changed to @ladle/react/serve and @ladle/react/build.
  • --out renamed to --outDir to mimic Vite configuration, added -o alias, outDir moved to the top-level in config.mjs.
  • --port has an alias -p, port moved to the top-level in config.mjs.
  • vite.config.js can be customized through viteConfig and --viteConfig.
  • --base-url removed, use base in vite.config.js.
  • --open removed, use server.open in vite.config.js.
  • --sourcemap removed, use build.sourcemap in vite.config.js.

This makes our internal setup much simpler since we don't need to pass through individual Vite settings - you can now customize all of them without Ladle being in your way.

Next big features?

We are adding MDX support and making it easier to use Ladle for documentation.

Vojtech Miksu

Ladle is a tool for developing and testing your React components in an environment that's isolated and faster than most real-world applications. It supports Component Story Format - a concept widely popular thanks to Storybook. In fact, Ladle has been developed as a drop-in replacement of Storybook - it should already work with your existing stories.

Ladel Demo

Storybook ❤️

At Uber, we are big fans of Storybook. We have over 100 instances of Storybook in our web monorepo. Our teams use it to develop, showcase, document and test React components. We have developed a CI based system that automatically deploys each Storybook with every change and runs automated visual snapshot tests. This happens a thousand times each day. It's a critical tool for our web workflows. The performance is extremely important.

Unfortunately, there are some areas where Storybook is not doing as good as we would like to:

  • production build time - often times it's the slowest part of our CI
  • dev mode start up time - not always faster than the related prod app
  • bundle output - hosting storage + slow initial time to interactive
  • maintenance - we repackaged Storybook, its dependencies and configuration to provide a seamless setup for our developers; however, the addon versioning and monorepo setup makes maintenance difficult
  • testing - for our automated visual testing, we need to crawl and parse stories in a separate process since Storybook doesn't export a static list of stories (and other metadata)

Next Generation Frontend Tooling ⚡

There is a shift happening. ES modules are now natively supported by all browsers and Node. We don't need to bundle our components anymore in order to serve them. This is a major slowdown for Storybook and other Webpack based environments.

Ladle is built around Vite. It serves modules directly to the browser and uses fast esbuild when bundling is required for dependencies. It provides the performance leap we were looking for.

Performance Numbers ⏱️

We used Base Web to benchmark Ladle and latest Storybook v6.4.19. Base Web is a complex component library and has about 350 stories. The Storybook uses the default bootstrapped settings. The test is made on MBP 2018, i7 2.7 GHz. The time is measured in seconds and less is better.

BaseWeb stories compilation time

Both Ladle and Storybook utilize cache. The initial dev startup takes 6s vs 58s. Once the cache is built, Ladle starts almost instantly (3s is just the browser tab being opened + time to interactive). Storybook always takes about 25s to start. The production build is about 4x faster with Ladle.

There is another improvement - hot reload takes less than 100ms with Ladle and preserves the state. Storybook takes about 2.5s and doesn't preserve the state.

We also care about the bundle size and the amount of resources that browser has to initially download:

  • Ladle build folder is 4.6 MB vs Storybook's 16.1 MB
  • Ladle downloads 388 kB of resources to open the default story, Storybook 14.3 MB

How is this even possible? Ladle code-splits each story by default so it doesn't matter how many stories you have. It always keeps the initial bundle reasonable.

Not Just Fast 📝

Ladle is a single package and command. It's easy to install and setup - there is no configuration required. Some other features:

  • Supports controls, links, dark theme, RTL and preview mode
  • Built-in addons always preserve the state through the URL - useful for testing
  • A11y and keyboard friendly
  • Responsive, no iframes
  • Code-splitting and React Fast Refresh enabled by default
  • Exports meta.json file with list of stories and additional metadata
  • Programmatic API so it can be easily repackaged

Conclusion 🔮

The new set of web tools is coming and brings huge performance wins. Ladle is using them to provide a significantly faster environment for developing, sharing and testing your React components. Are you ready to give it a try? Also, check our GitHub and give us ⭐.

mkdir my-ladle
cd my-ladle
pnpm init
pnpm add @ladle/react react react-dom
mkdir src
echo "export const World = () => <p>Hey</p>;" > src/hello.stories.tsx
pnpm ladle serve

Do you want to work on Ladle and other web tooling? Our team at Uber is hiring!