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StackBlitz June 2021 Update

Tomek Sułkowski

Wow, it is really hard to believe it has only been a little over a month since we've announced WebContainers! What a crazy couple of weeks these have been! And since then we haven't slowed down a bit – focusing on improving Node.js APIs support and adding new capabilities to the WebContainer platform.

A whopping 100 new pull requests have been created and merged. As a result, we've been able to support more open-source projects and enhance the editor's core developer experience. Let's go over some of the more distinct improvements!

Introducing WebContainers

Technology & DX improvements 🚀 Permalink

WebContainer: Permalink

  • Execution speed now up to 20% faster than local

The optimizations that enabled this performance improvement spanned the entire containerization layer and was a monumental multi-month effort. See the speed difference between a local Next.js production build process versus WebContainer:

Next.js build finishes faster in WebContainer than on local!

Terminal: Permalink

  • Added terminal query parameter support for StackBlitz URLs
    This allows you to define an npm script that autoruns when linking to a StackBlitz project. This is great for custom OSS documentation examples, StackOverflow answers, etc. You can specify multiple terminals to open in parallel too!
    For example 👉 stackblitz.com/edit/webpack-cli?terminal=serve
    Add a "terminal" query to define a start command

  • Added open command in terminal
    Use it with a file path to open it in the editor, or a local url to open it in the built-in preview. This also enables you to open files from node_modules and live edit them, which is amazing for OSS maintainers when trying to repro bugs 🙌
    Run "open" command to open a path in the editor

  • Added .jshrc and .jshrc_history files support
    JSH is the custom shell that's built into WebContainer. In this month's update we've enabled new functionality and capabilities for JSH:

    • Shell history is persisted between reloads
    • Users are now able to add custom aliases by opening code ~/.jshrc
    • Both files are scoped per user. This means that if a machine is shared between multiple users, they all own their own copy of .jsh_history and .jshrc
      Your terminal history is persisted – use up/down arrows or ctrl+r to search through it

Code editor: Permalink

  • Added Node.js types for autocompletion
  • Enabled Prettier for jsx and tsx files
  • Added possibility to define prettier settings in the "prettier" key of package.json
  • Fixed auto-indent for JavaScript, TypeScript and other files
  • Fixed auto-surround for JavaScript and TypeScript

Other enhancements: Permalink

  • Improved GitHub importer experience
    StackBlitz GitHub importer screen
  • Updated file icons
    Examples of some of the file icons
  • Added payment and autoplay permissions to the preview iframe
  • Fixed an issue with empty files created by webcontainer not appearing in the UI
  • Updated our Create React App preset to enable TypeScript out of the box (try it!)

Contributions from the Web Community 🙌 Permalink

  • Introducing next.new
    We've worked closely with our friends at Vercel to give you the fastest way to start your Next.js project! You can even start template projects from the offical vercel/next.js repo by just appending them to the path!
    next.new spins up a new Next.js project in seconds

  • You can now click the "Open in StackBlitz" button on the Webpack Documentation and vercel/next.js examples to get a live example in seconds
    Open Webpack or Next.js project by clicking an "Open in StackBlitz" button

  • ExpressJS, Koa, NestJS, Nuxt, Egg.js and UmiJS are now on the list of frameworks supported by WebContainers
    Thanks to all our contributors that helped make this happen! ❤️
    Our community helped us add ExpressJS, Koa, NestJS, Nuxt, Egg.js and UmiJS to the list of supported frameworks

  • We've added 3 new starters: Next.js, Node.js and GraphQL directly to your StackBlitz dashboard
    Start Next.js, Node.js or GraphQL project from the StackBlitz dashboard

  • Our Vue 3 support is out of beta now (try it out!)

  • Nuxt is working great 🎉
    To ensure solid reliability, once we have a bit more usage data from Nuxt projects on StackBlitz we'll be officially adding a starter project for it to our homepage!

Acknowledgements Permalink

Phew! So many updates! All thanks to our engineering team being so incredible. A special thanks go to Sam Verschueren, Kwinten Pisman, Florens Verschelde, Garrison Snelling, Dominic Elm, Devon Wolfe, Roberto Vidal, and Adam Clarke. You truly rock!

What's coming next? Permalink

Next month we're continuing to relentlessly focus on:

  1. Stabilizing the core WebContainer runtime
  2. Rapidly improving the end-to-end developer experience

To help accomplish these objectives, here are some of the big things we expect to ship in our July 2021 Update:

  • Full Node.js ESM support in WebContainer
  • Enabling non-JS tools like esbuild and their consumers (i.e. vite, snowpack, etc) to run natively in WebContainer
  • Adding a new batch of officially supported starter projects to our homepage/dashboard
  • Editor DX improvements
  • And more!

We also have some exciting surprises to share over the next few weeks — stay tuned! 👀