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And then you wind up spending multiple days trying to figure out how to do something that doesn't quite fit in with what other people have already done.

How many times do we have to learn the same lessons over and over? Small tools that compose together is infinitely more flexible than any plugin based tool can possible be.

Importing PNGs to JS is about dependency-wrangling, not task-running.

That is, the point of using webpack isn't that it's the best way to optimize a bunch of PNGs. The point of webpack is that it can parse your dependency tree and figure out which PNGs are depended on by a given entry point. If you also want your PNGs optimized, you can do that with a webpack plugin or a separate tool, as you like - that's orthogonal to the matter of why it's useful to import PNGs into JS.

Yeah, sorry but I don't buy that. webpack outputs JavaScript bundles, not a dependency graph. Importing PNGs into JavaScript is only useful if you use a JavaScript AST to then do something with those imports.

I'm not selling it, and I don't follow what you're disagreeing with. Webpack can output JS bundles, but it understands dependencies between non-JS assets as well, and will process any file in the dependency graph any way you like.

As such the point of requiring a PNG into JS (or CSS, or a Vue/React component, etc) is to tell webpack there's a dependency on it. Then that image will get pulled in to the build process for entry points that need it, and not otherwise.

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