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Public Path

The publicPath configuration option can be quite useful in a variety of scenarios. It allows you to specify the base path for all the assets within your application.

Use Cases

There are a few use cases in real applications where this feature becomes especially neat. Essentially, every file emitted to your output.path directory will be referenced from the output.publicPath location. This includes child chunks (created via code splitting) and any other assets (e.g. images, fonts, etc.) that are a part of your dependency graph.

Environment Based

In development for example, we might have an assets/ folder that lives on the same level of our index page. This is fine, but what if we wanted to host all these static assets on a CDN in production?

To approach this problem you can easily use a good old environment variable. Let's say we have a variable ASSET_PATH:

import webpack from 'webpack';

// Try the environment variable, otherwise use root
const ASSET_PATH = process.env.ASSET_PATH || '/';

export default {
  output: {
    publicPath: ASSET_PATH

  plugins: [
    // This makes it possible for us to safely use env vars on our code
    new webpack.DefinePlugin({
      'process.env.ASSET_PATH': JSON.stringify(ASSET_PATH)

On The Fly

Another possible use case is to set the publicPath on the fly. webpack exposes a global variable called __webpack_public_path__ that allows you to do that. So, in your application's entry point, you can simply do this:

__webpack_public_path__ = process.env.ASSET_PATH;

That's all you need. Since we're already using the DefinePlugin on our configuration, process.env.ASSET_PATH will always be defined so we can safely do that.

Be aware that if you use ES6 module imports in your entry file the __webpack_public_path__ assignment will be done after the imports. In such cases, you'll have to move the public path assignment to its own dedicated module and then import it on top of your entry.js:
// entry.js
import './public-path';
import './app';