Front-End Web & Mobile

Using webpack with the Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript

This blog post is aimed at developers of all experience levels who develop and deploy JavaScript based applications (whether server-side with Node.js or client side) that incorporate the AWS SDK, the Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript and who also use the popular webpack module bundler.

In July 2016, Amazon Web Services launched Amazon Cognito User Pools, a feature that makes it easy for developers to add sign-up and sign-in functionality to mobile and web applications. To help developers easily realize the power of user pools within their own applications, we also released the Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript.

Amazon Cognito User Pools allows you to easily add user sign-up and sign-in to your mobile and web applications. The fully managed user pool can scale to hundreds of millions of users and you can have multiple directories per AWS account. Creating a user pool takes just a few minutes and allows you to decide exactly which attributes (including address, email, phone number as well as custom attributes) are mandatory and even optional when a new user signs up for your application or service. Your application can also specify the desired password strength, whether the use of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is required, and verify new users via phone number or email address to further enhance the security of your application.

If you are new to the Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript this AWS blog post is a great place to start.

Why Use Asset & Module Bundling with the Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript

Today, modern web applications for both mobile and desktop have to provide the user with a secure, fast, responsive, and native-app-like experience. There is no doubt that modern browsers are extremely powerful and cater to a vast array of possible implementation approaches. Many of the more popular implementations rely heavily on the deployment of a JavaScript application through some form of asset packaging and/or module bundling. This allows a developer to take their JavaScript application and create one or more files that can be loaded by the client browser by using script tags.

There are many schools of thought on how you can achieve this packaging , including task runners such as Grunt and Gulp, and bundlers such as Browserify. However, there is a general consensus that asset packaging is not only about improving load times—it enables the modularization of your application while ensuring testability and robustness.

Using webpack with the Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript

In the many requests we get to provide more detail on how to integrate the Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript within a webpack environment, we’re specifically asked how to ensure that webpack correctly manages the following third-party dependencies:

Throughout these examples, the following bower libraries are used by bower.json

"aws-cognito-sdk": "",
"amazon-cognito-identity": "",
"sjcl": "",
"jsbn": "",

For all the reasons we gave earlier for the importance of asset packaging to development processes, and unless your application is extremely small, the use of an asset packaging tool such as webpack is almost always recommended. Of course, one could simply pull in all of these dependencies using tags. However, this would pollute global namespace, and not provide the most optimal resource management and loading approach. Many developers start with a standard webpack.config.js file that has a standard babel loader, as shown here.

  /** test for file ending in js or jsx 
   * exclude node_module and bower_components - we dont want to babel these 
   * use the babel loader 
   * apply the react and es2015 (es6) transformations **/

  test: /.jsx?$/,
  exclude: /(node_modules|bower_components)/,
  loader: 'babel',
  query: {
    presets: ['react', 'es2015']

It’s important to remember that this configuration doesn’t take into account that some of third-party dependencies used by the Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript currently do not use the Universal Module Definition (UMD) pattern for JavaScript.

The UMD pattern attempts to offer Asynchronous Module Definition (AMD) based compatibility with the most popular script loaders of the day such as RequireJS and CommonJS.

This is a pattern that webpack relies on, and so we must make some changes to how webpack loads these modules. Without these changes, you may encounter errors such as the following.

amazon-cognito-identity.min.js:19 Uncaught ReferenceError: BigInteger is not defined

Such an error may be encountered when making a call to AWSCognito.CognitoIdentityServiceProvider.CognitoUser property authenticateUser This is an example of where we can make use of the webpack imports and exports loader capability to overcome this error.

Using webpack Loaders

According to the webpack documentation “loaders allow you to preprocess files as you require() or “load” them. Loaders are kind of like “tasks” are in other build tools, and provide a powerful way to handle front-end build steps. Loaders can transform files from a different language like, CoffeeScript to JavaScript, or inline images as data URLs”

In order to resolve the lack of UMD compatibility, you will rely to two specific loaders, import and export.

Using the Export Loader

In the case of the Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript, we need to ensure we export theAWSCognito variables into the scope of the module that requires/imports (for ES6) them.

  test: /aws-cognito-sdk/index.js/,
  loader: 'exports?AWSCognito'

Using the exports loader has the effect of exporting a module method within bundle created by webpack. As a result, both AWSCognito and AWS are now accessible when required or import(ed) (for ES6).

var AWSCognito = require('aws-cognito-sdk')

/*** EXPORTS from export-loader ***/ 
module.exports = AWSCongito

More information about the exports loader can be found here

Using the Import Loader

The import loader is mostly used to inject (import) variables into the scope of another module. This is especially useful if third-party modules are relying on global variables like BitInteger or sjcl as is the case with Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript.

If you don’t use the webpack loader, the following is generated within the bundle.

__webpack_require__(431);       // refers to jsbin
__webpack_require__(432);       // refers to sjcl

Beacuse neither jsbin or sjcl export anything, any calls that rely on these modules will result in an error.

To resolve this, we can use the following webpack loader configuration:

  test: /amazon-cognito-identity/index.js/,
  loader: 'imports?jsbn,BigInteger=>jsbn.BigInteger,sjcl'
  test: /sjcl/index.js/,
  loader: 'imports?sjcl'

This injects the following into the bundle (in this case bundle.js) created by webpack.

/*** IMPORTS FROM imports-loader ***/
var jsbn = __webpack_require__(431);
var BigInteger = jsbn.BigInteger;
var sjcl = __webpack_require__(432);

As a result, jsbn, BigInteger and sjcl are all imported from their respective modules into Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript.

More information about the import loader can be found here

Next Steps

We encourage you to download the Amazon Cognito Identity SDK for JavaScript and start building your application. Coupled with webpack, and by following the guidance in this blog, you we hope you have a smooth development experience.

If you have any comments or questions, please free to comment below, reach out via email ( or raise an issue here.


This blog post makes reference to the following third party resources