Public Path

webpack has a highly useful configuration that let you specify the base path for all the assets on your application. It's called publicPath.

Use cases

There are a few use cases on real applications where this feature becomes especially neat.

Set value on build time

For development mode what we usually have is an assets/ folder that lives on the same level of our index page. This is fine but let's say you want to host all these static assets on a CDN on your production environment?

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';

// Whatever comes as an 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)

Set value on the fly

Another possible use case is to set the public path on the fly. webpack exposes a global variable that let's you do that, it's called __webpack_public_path__. So in your application 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.

WARNING: 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';

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