Check for missing dependencies with yarn and webpack

profile picture

Spencer Miskoviak

October 5, 2019

Photo by Steven Wright

When working in a codebase with a large number of contributors, it's likely npm packages will be getting added or upgraded over time. The next time another person pulls those changes they may forget to run yarn install. They start up webpack (assuming that's the build tool of choice) or maybe never restarted it when switching between git branches. This might result in a webpack build error with something like the following.

ERROR in ./src/index.ts
Module not found: Error: Can't resolve 'lodash'.
 @ ./src/index.ts

However, this is probably one of the easier ones to understand that a package is probably missing. If using TypeScript others might look like one of the following.

TS2554: Expected 1-2 arguments, but got 3.
TS7016: Could not find a declaration file for module 'lodash'.
'node_modules/lodash/lodash.js' implicitly has an 'any' type.

These are only a sample of many possible errors that are all the result of either missing or incorrect versions (due to breaking changes). These can be particularly misleading and cryptic when not making any related changes leading to time wasted trying to understand what's wrong and usually resolving with a yarn install. What if there was a way to explicitly error with missing or incorrect packages?

A webpack plugin to verify packages

There was the npm-install-webpack-plugin that could automatically install dependencies with npm but it unfortunately doesn't support webpack 4.

Looking at other tools, webpacker handles outdated packages on start and exits. What about long running webpack process and switching between branches?

The intent of the yarn-check-webpack-plugin is to help solve this issue. It can be added to the webpack configuration as a plugin to run during each build and will print warnings with a prompt to run the proper command to install missing or incorrect packages.

To get started, install the package.

yarn add -D yarn-check-webpack-plugin

Then, add it to the webpack configuration's list of plugins.

// webpack.config.js (JavaScript)

const { YarnCheck } = require("yarn-check-webpack-plugin");

module.exports = {
  // Additional configuration...
  plugins: [new YarnCheck()]
// webpack.config.ts (TypeScript)

import * as webpack from "webpack";
import { YarnCheck } from "yarn-check-webpack-plugin";

const config: webpack.Configuration = {
  // Additional configuration...
  plugins: [new YarnCheck()]

module.exports = config;

Now, starting the webpack process should print any missing or incorrect packages. There are also a few configuration options depending on the use case.

How does it work?

For example, say a webpack watch process is running and started on the master branch. In the process of working or reviewing code the branch add-underscore is checked out (git checkout add-underscore). In this case, the branch name gives it away, but sometimes it's not immediately obvious that a package was added or changed. This plugin will list the differences between the installed versus expected packages. In this specific example, the forceKill option is enabled so the webpack process also exits.

Demo of the yarn-check-webpack-plugin

See a higher quality version of this gif in the project's README.

This check is done using the yarn check --verify-tree command.


Have you ran into cryptic errors with webpack that are fixed with a yarn install? Give the yarn-check-webpack-plugin a shot!

If you have ideas for improvements or feedback let me know on GitHub.



Practical Abstract Syntax Trees

Learn the fundamentals of abstract syntax trees, what they are, how they work, and dive into several practical use cases of abstract syntax trees to maintain a JavaScript codebase.

Check out the course