Get started with Babel 7 (2023)

JavaScript is unique due to the breadth of the ecosystem. While new standards add syntactic sugar, getting them supported on browsers takes time. Babel works around this problem via automatic transpilation.

The idea behind the product is simple: Babel takes in ES6 or ES7 code and replaces new syntactical elements with emulation code. Its output confirms to classic JavaScript syntax and runs on older browsers like Internet Explorer.

Babel's initial release took the world by storm. Soon after it first appeared, various frameworks like React, Vue and Ember embraced it. Developers often use the product without knowing that it works in the background – more than one popular npm project has a dependency on Babel.

  • How to make an app

These dependencies transformed the release process of the predecessor into a conflict-fraught affair. Version 7, still managed by a small maintainer team, thus tried to be as compatible as possible. Breaking changes are few and far between, while code generation quality remains high (if you're working with a team, saving documents in cloud storage will help you stay cohesive).

If you haven't worked with Babel before, let this be your guide. Being able to use advanced JavaScript features without compatibility worries makes life much easier.

Would you like some tools to streamline your process? Our guide to the best website builder will help. Want long term support? Get the right web hosting service.

(Video) What is Babel and why you need it? Introduction to Babel 7

01. Version check

Babel usually lives in the Node runtime environment. Let's start out by checking the versions used. The output provides the version state found on the Ubuntu 14.04 workstation used to create the following article. This isn't pedantry – the figure accompanying this step shows that the Babel team dropped support for quite a few Node.js versions.

[emailprotected]:~$ node --versionv8.14.0[emailprotected]:~$ npm --version6.4.1

02. Change of package names

One breaking change in version 7 has involved moving the Babel packages into their own namespace. Older packages were not removed from the various repositories. This is important, as the use of legacy package names leads to the situation shown in the figure accompanying this step.

[emailprotected]:~/workspaceB7$ npm install --save-dev @babel/core @babel/cli @babel/preset-env @babel/node. . .+ @babel/[emailprotected]+ @babel/[emailprotected]+ @babel/[emailprotected]+ @babel/[emailprotected]

03. Add a build action

The step above assumes that you work inside of an npm project. In that case, running Babel via the build action is easy. Open package.json and modify it as demonstrated in the code below:

{. . ."main": "index.js","scripts": {"test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1","build": "babel index.js -d lib"},

04. Transpile code by hand

Putting Babel to work involves firing off the build action. This is best accomplished via the npm run command. The -d value informs Babel that the results must be placed in the lib folder – the figure accompanying this step shows that the folder gets created on the fly.

[emailprotected]:~/workspaceB7$ npm run build> [emailprotected] build /home/tamhan/workspaceB7> babel index.js -d libSuccessfully compiled 1 file with Babel.

05. A question of configuration

Invoking Babel without further configuration options does not enable transpilation. Code can be transpiled only if the framework receives further information about the target environment. This can be done via a command line parameter, or by creating a file called .babelrc in the project root.

06. Configure the babelrc

Babel configures itself via a set of plugins, each of which applies transpilation transforms to the code base. We use the preset-env package – it comes with a pre-configured set of transformations intended to cover most bases.

(Video) Getting Started With Babel - Transpiling Javascript

{"presets": ["@babel/preset-env"]}

07. Time for a test drive

Add a bit of new-age JavaScript to index.js to test the program against some live code. The code accompanying this step would not work on legacy browsers – when done, the implicit function gets replaced with a normal declaration, as shown in the figure.

function tamstest(){[1, 2, 3].map((n) => n + 1);}

08. Adjust targeting

preset-env applies most transpilations by default: the product's goal is to create universally compatible JavaScript without regard to bandwidth and performance costs. You can change its configuration by passing in a targets object – the example below targets specific versions of Chrome and IE.

{"presets": [["@babel/preset-env",{"targets": { "chrome": "58", "ie": "11"}}]]}

09. Advanced targeting

Babel's browser targeting isn't limited to Chrome and Internet Explorer. Thanks to cooperation with browserslist , developers can mix and match from more than a dozen targets, as shown below.

Names are case insensitive:

  • Android for Android WebView.
  • Baidu for Baidu Browser.
  • BlackBerry or bb for Blackberry browser.
  • Chrome for Google Chrome.
  • ChromeAndroid or and_chr for Chrome for Android.
  • Edge for Microsoft Edge.
  • Electron for Electron framework. It will be converted to Chrome version.
  • Explorer or ie for Internet Explorer.
  • ExplorerMobile or ie_mob for Internet Explorer Mobile.
  • Firefox or ff for Mozilla Firefox.
  • FirefoxAndroid or and_ff for Firefox for Android.
  • iOS or ios_saf for iOS Safari.
  • Node for Node.js.Opera for Opera.
  • OperaMini or op_mini for Opera Mini.
  • OperaMobile or op_mob for Opera Mobile.
  • QQAndroid or and_qq for QQ Browser for Android.
  • Safari for desktop Safari.
  • Samsung for Samsung Internet.
  • UCAndroid or and_uc for UC Browser for Android.

10. Advanced targeting, part two

Browserlist can also take advanced queries. Its homepage lists the configuration options, almost all of which can also be used inside Babel by modifying babelrc . Queries can be evaluated locally if your workstation has npx installed.

{"targets": "> 0.25%, not dead"}

11. Automatic transpilation

Having to invoke Babel by hand gets tedious quickly. The nodemon utility monitors filesystem resources and fires off commands as changes get detected. In theory, adding nodemon support is handled via a small change to package.json .

(Video) Configuring Babel 7

{"name": "workspaceb7",. . ."main": "index.js","scripts": {"start": "nodemon --exec babel-node index.js",

12. Check for presence

Some workstations have nodemon installed globally. If this is not the case, invoking the program will yield an error message similar to the one shown below. Fortunately, deploying nodemon is easily accomplished via the npm install command.

tamha[emailprotected]:~/workspaceB7$ npm install --save-dev nodemon

13. Check functionality

Fire off npm start in a terminal window and proceed to change the content of index.js with an editor like gedit or Visual Studio Code . After saving, nodemon will output status information.

[nodemon] restarting due to changes...[nodemon] starting `babel-node index.js`[nodemon] clean exit - waiting for changes before restart

14. Fix transpilation

While nodemon 's detection should work flawlessly at this point, the contents of the index.js file that are found in lib do not update. This is caused by a nicety of babel-node – it does not commit the transpiled files to the disk. It instead fires off a modified version of the Node CLI, which works with the transpiled files.

15. Transpile code programmatically

Babel isn't limited to working on the command line. If the correct packages are installed, code can also be transpiled from another program. The snippet accompanying this step applies a set of basic transformations to an input string. Keep in mind that the configuration settings, usually, are obtained from a babelrc file.

var babel = require("@babel/core");import { transform } from "@babel/core";import * as babel from "@babel/core";babel.transform("code();", options, function(err, result) {result.code;;result.ast;});

16. Transpile entire files

Source code usually does not get stored in string variables. The Babel API accounts for this via a set of file-related functions, which forgo the input string for a variable with a filename. The results, however, get returned as a normal JavaScript variable.

babel.transformFile("filename.js", options, function (err, result) {result; // => { code, map, ast }});

17. Sync and async

Babel 7 introduced synchronous and asynchronous versions of most API calls. Make sure to pick the right one for your needs – while transpiling small examples can be done on the fly, setting Babel loose on more complex files can easily lead to delays running into dozens of seconds.

(Video) How to get polyfills with Babel 7 and Webpack

18. Learn about individual plugins

Should you ever find yourself wondering about what happens in the background, simply visit this page . It provides a list of all plugins currently contained in the Babel distribution, and also contains a few hints for all those seeking to create a plugin of their own.

19. Strip out TypeScript specifics

Babel isn't limited to transpiling new-age JavaScript elements. The product contains a feature-constrained TypeScript engine. It strips out typing information and replaces advanced elements. Sadly, Babel does not perform type-checking – this eliminates one of the most significant benefits of the TypeScript language.

{"presets": ["@babel/preset-typescript"]}

20. Run Babel online

While the transpilation operations usually work out smoothly, problems sometimes do occur. In that case, the Babel REPL is helpful. It runs Babel in the browser of your workstation and shows input and output right next to one another.

21. Learn about pain points

Our introduction explained that Babel sees widespread use across various projects. Babel's maintainer team simplifies version upgrades with a detailed change log . If you use Babel programmatically, do not forget to consult the API upgrade guide .

This article was originally published in issue 283 of creative web design magazine Web Designer . Buy issue 283 here or subscribe to Web Designer here .

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What is the difference between Babel 7 and Babel 6? ›

The latest version of Babel, 7 released with changes to the already existing packages. The installation part remains the same as it was for Babel 6. The only difference in Babel 7 is that all the packages need to be installed with @babel/, for example @babel/core, @babel/preset-env, @babel/cli, @babel/polyfill, etc.

Do we need Babel for JSX? ›

JSX should not be implemented directly by browsers, but instead requires a compiler to transform it into ECMAScript. This is where Babel comes in. Babel acts as this compiler allowing us to leverage all the benefits of JSX while building React components.

Which of the following feature is disabled by default in the latest version of Babel 7.0 to improve the performance? ›

In previous versions tokens were always attached to the AST on the top-level. In the latest version of @babel/parser we removed this behavior and made it disabled by default to improve the performance of the parser.

What is the latest version of Babel? ›

Babel 7.21 is released!

Is Babel deprecated? ›

The deprecated usage of babel-core/register has been removed in Babel 7; instead use the standalone package @babel/register . Install @babel/register as a new dependency: npm. Yarn.

Do I need Babel anymore? ›

In conclusion, Babel is not required for small projects which do not require older browser support or if the developer does not use Javascript syntax introduced after ES5.

Can I use Webpack instead of Babel? ›

"Modern Javascript works with all browsers", "Open source" and "Integration with lots of tools" are the key factors why developers consider Babel; whereas "Most powerful bundler", "Built-in dev server with livereload" and "Can handle all types of assets" are the primary reasons why Webpack is favored.

What can I use instead of Babel? ›

Top Alternatives to Babel
  • Webpack. A bundler for javascript and friends. ...
  • TypeScript. TypeScript is a language for application-scale JavaScript development. ...
  • CoffeeScript. It adds syntactic sugar inspired by Ruby, Python and Haskell in an effort to. ...
  • ESLint. ...
  • rollup. ...
  • Modernizr. ...
  • Scala.js. ...
  • Rome.

Does React work without Babel? ›

Whenever we create a React application, we need to install some packages like npm, Babel, and web pack. But you can also create React components without using these packages. In this article, let us see how. In this article, I am going to create a simple React application with and without Babel.

What does if you are sure you have a compatible version of Babel core? ›

If you are sure you have a compatible version of @babel/core, it is likely that something in your build process is loading the wrong version. Inspect the stack trace of this error to look for the first entry that doesn't mention “@babel/core” or “babel-core” to see what is calling Babel.

Is Babel backwards compatible? ›

Babel is a toolchain that is mainly used to convert ECMAScript 2015+ code into a backwards compatible version of JavaScript in current and older browsers or environments. Here are the main things Babel can do for you: Transform syntax.

What is the difference between Babel and Google closure compiler? ›

Babel will turn your ES6+ code into ES5 friendly code, so you can start using it right now without waiting for browser support. On the other hand, Closure Compiler is detailed as "A JavaScript checker and optimizer". The Closure Compiler is a tool for making JavaScript download and run faster.

How do I know what version of Babel I have? ›

You can also check the version of babel-cli by finding the babel-cli folder in node_modules and looking at the version property of the package. json that is at the base of that folder. If babel-cli was installed globally via -g flag of npm install , you could check the version by executing command babel --version .

How many levels are there in Babel Tower? ›

Gameplay. The player controls Indy Borgnine through 64 levels, using L-shaped blocks and vines in order to reach the exit of each level.

How to install Babel with npm? ›

Step 2: Set Up Babel
  1. Open a command prompt, and navigate ( cd ) to the es6-tutorial directory.
  2. Type the following command to create a package.json file: npm init. ...
  3. Type the following command to install the babel-cli and babel-core modules: npm install babel-cli babel-core --save-dev.

Why use Babel for backend? ›

Purpose of using babel is, it converts edge JavaScript into plain old ES5 JavaScript that can run in any browser.

Is Babel used in production? ›

Not meant for production use

You should not be using babel-node in production. It is unnecessarily heavy, with high memory usage due to the cache being stored in memory. You will also always experience a startup performance penalty as the entire app needs to be compiled on the fly.

Should I use Babel with node? ›

A common reason Babel is frequently involved in the build process for Node webapps is that Babel allows us to easily compile ES6 code to older versions (usually ES5), because it has better browser support. For a purely server-side app, there is no reason, other than maybe slight performance gains, to compile to ES5.

Do I need core JS with Babel? ›

Since @babel/polyfill was deprecated in 7.4.0, we recommend directly adding core-js and setting the version via the corejs option.

Why do people use Babel? ›

Babbel uses both audio and visual forms of teaching, helping you to better memorize words and get the most out of your lessons. Most people generally enjoy using Babbel and find that it helps them to learn new languages.

Should I use Babel with TypeScript? ›

By using babel's support for TypeScript, you get the ability to work with existing build pipelines and are more likely to have a faster JS emit time because Babel does not type check your code.

What is the difference between Babel and JSX? ›

Babel is a transpiler that turns input code into "pure" JavaScript. JSX is a syntax sugar over JavaScript.

Is Babel a compiler or transpiler? ›

Babel is a free and open-source JavaScript transcompiler that is mainly used to convert ECMAScript 2015+ (ES6+) code into backwards-compatible JavaScript code that can be run by older JavaScript engines. It allows web developers to take advantage of the newest features of the language.

What is faster than Webpack? ›

Vite is faster than Webpack because Vite uses native ES modules and provides a faster and simpler build pipeline than Webpack's complex configuration process.

What replaced Babel in next JS? ›

SWC replacing Babel

Next.js now uses a Rust-based compiler, SWC, to compile JavaScript/TypeScript. This new compiler is up to 17x faster than Babel when compiling individual files and allows for up to 5x faster Fast Refresh.

What is the difference between Babel and webpack? ›

In the preceding section, you learned that webpack is a tool that brings together many loaders and plugins to create a single bundled code file. Babel is a library that does a single job: it compiles JavaScript. Babel is one of many loaders you can use with webpack.

What is the difference between Babel and TypeScript? ›

TypeScript is additional add-ons to JS, which allow for strong typing. Babel is a transpiler (tool) that takes newer JS syntax features as input and returns older/more reliable syntax as output.

Why not to use ReactJS? ›

When you are making an app like a game or a demanding creative app, React is not the best choice. This problem stems from the fact that it uses a Virtual DOM. Virtual DOMs, or VDOMs, are layers that help make unoptimized DOM manipulations faster.

Is Babel required for angular? ›

You don't need to worry about babel in an angular 2+ application. You configure the ECMAscript level in the tsconfig. app. json file in you project.

Can I learn React without coding knowledge? ›

As a prerequisite for learning React, you need to have knowledge of fundamental programming languages. This is because React is a library that is based on JavaScript. And before you start coding using React, you should not only learn JavaScript but also HTML and CSS.

What is Babel equivalent for CSS? ›

What is postcss-preset-env? Basically, it's Babel for CSS. It allows developers to write CSS using modern and future syntax and transpiles that code to CSS which is widely supported by most browsers. Sounds simple, right?

Is Jest compatible with Babel 6? ›

The problem with Babel 6

The problem is that Jest stopped supporting Babel 6 since 24.0. 0 in favor of Babel 7 which introduces a lot of changes on how devs work with Babel. Jest recommends upgrading to Babel 7 if your project is still on Babel 6, but not all projects can upgrade quickly.

How do you get Babel vs code? ›

  1. Install Babel.
  2. Create a folder to store your stories.
  3. Open this folder with VSCode (either using the context menu in your file system explorer or directly from VSCode).
  4. Click Babel icon in the activity bar to active the extension. ...
  5. Create a new story. ...
  6. Start writing.
Sep 18, 2021

What is the difference between Babel and polyfill? ›

What Are the Differences Between Babel and Polyfills? To avoid confusion, let's make it clear what Babel and polyfills can each cover. The only thing Babel can do is to convert ES6+ syntax to ES5, if there aren't any plugins. The thing polyfills can do is inject a snippet code to support web APIs.

What is Babel core bridge? ›


This repo holds what we're calling a "bridge" package that is meant to ease the transition for libraries that use "babel-core" as a peer dependency for Babel 6. The issue with Babel 7's transition to scopes is that if a package depends on Babel 6, they may want to add support for Babel 7 alongside.

What is the difference between a compiler and a transpiler? ›

The difference between transpiler and compiler is in the level of abstraction in the output. Generally, a compiler produces machine-executable code; whereas a transpiler produces another developer artifact.

Is the library of Babel finite? ›

However, the books in the Library of Babel are of bounded length ("each book is of four hundred and ten pages; each page, of forty lines, each line, of some eighty letters"), so the Library can only contain a finite number of distinct strings.

What parser does Babel use? ›

The Babel parser (previously Babylon) is a JavaScript parser used in Babel. The latest ECMAScript version enabled by default (ES2020).

What is the alternative to Google closure compiler? ›

Top 10 Alternatives & Competitors to Closure Compiler
  • Babel. (21)4.5 out of 5.
  • FusionReactor APM. (144)4.8 out of 5.
  • ReSharper. (83)4.5 out of 5.
  • Semmle. (76)4.4 out of 5.
  • SonarQube. (49)4.5 out of 5.
  • Coverity. (55)4.3 out of 5.
  • CodeScan. (34)4.6 out of 5.
  • JProfiler. (33)4.3 out of 5.

How many languages came out of Babel? ›

Because a count of all the descendants of Noah listed by name in chapter 10 of Genesis (LXX) provides 15 names for Japheth's descendants, 30 for Ham's, and 27 for Shem's, these figures became established as the 72 languages resulting from the confusion at Babel—although the exact listing of these languages changed over ...

How do I run Babel project? ›

How to setup babel for node (Easy)
  1. Setup your environment. First things first, you should create your project folder and inside your folder. ...
  2. Setup babel. Make a file .babelrc touch .babelrc. ...
  3. Setup environments. Create a folder when we are going to store both production and development files and configuration mkdir bin.
Jan 12, 2019

Why did God destroy Babel? ›

According to the Book of Genesis, God destroyed the Tower of Babel because the people building it were getting too powerful. He made them all speak different languages so that they would find it more difficult to collaborate.

Where is the Tower of Babel today? ›

The location of the Tower of Babel has been debated for a long time. Many claims that this land of Shinar was a place in Babylon or perhaps an alternative name for Babylon itself and if one was to go by this claim, the location of the Tower of Babel will be in modern-day Iraq.

What book of the Bible has the Tower of Babel? ›

Tower of Babel, in biblical literature, structure built in the land of Shinar (Babylonia) some time after the Deluge. The story of its construction, given in Genesis 11:1–9, appears to be an attempt to explain the existence of diverse human languages.

Can we use JSX without Babel? ›

React doesn't require babel but the library is built on the concept of using ES6 javascript syntax. React app however can be built with old ES5 syntax and JSX which would remove the need for Babel but you would lose the potential benefits of ES6.

How to configure Babel in JavaScript? ›

The entire process to set this up involves:
  1. Running these commands to install the packages: npm. Yarn. pnpm. ...
  2. Creating a config file named babel.config.json (requires v7.8.0 and above) in the root of your project with this content: babel.config.json. { "presets": [

What are the Babel stages? ›

Stage 1 - Proposal: this is worth working on. Stage 2 - Draft: initial spec. Stage 3 - Candidate: complete spec and initial browser implementations. Stage 4 - Finished: will be added to the next yearly release.

What version of Babel am I using? ›

You can figure this out by typing in the command line: babel --help , look over the output and you can see other options that you might need.

Is the Tower of Babel the same as the Tower of Babylon? ›

Etemenanki: name of the large temple tower in Babylon, also known as the Tower of Babel. Its Sumerian name E-temen-an-ki means "House of the foundation of heaven on earth". The story of the Tower of Babel, found in the Biblical book of Genesis, is one of the most famous and beloved legends of mankind.

What is a faster alternative to Babel? ›

SWC is a super-fast JavaScript compiler written in Rust. It is a developer tool used for the compilation, minification, and bundling of JavaScript code for production. SWC is a competitor of Babel, as it runs 20x faster than Babel. It can also be used to attain a faster development build.

How many steps is Babel? ›

StageNameApproximate # of Steps (Single Mode)
4Axis Mundi280

What does Babel mean today? ›

1 : (sometimes capitalized Babel) a confusion of sounds or voices 2 : (sometimes capitalized Babel) a scene of noise or confusion.

What does the Tower of Babel teach us? ›

The Tower of Babel echoes the theme that God is all-powerful. He cares how his people behave, and if he sees something that he does not like, he has the ability to punish people for their infractions.

When should I use Babel? ›

Babel is a toolchain that is mainly used to convert ECMAScript 2015+ code into a backwards compatible version of JavaScript in current and older browsers or environments.

Is Babel required for Nextjs? ›

Next. js includes the next/babel preset to your app, which includes everything needed to compile React applications and server-side code.

What is Babylon called today? ›

I also explained that the once-so-powerful nation of Babylon — the country which we now call Iraq — will one day rise to become the most wealthy and powerful nation in the world, according to Old and New Testament prophets and apostles.

Where is Babel located today? ›

The city of Babylon was located about 50 miles south of Baghdad along the Euphrates River in present-day Iraq. It was founded around 2300 B.C. by the ancient Akkadian-speaking people of southern Mesopotamia.

Why did God stop the Tower of Babel? ›

God was not happy that the people were building the tower. He changed their language so that they could not understand each other. Because they could not understand each other, they had to stop building the tower. God scattered the people and sent them all over the earth to live.

Is Babel a transpiler or interpreter? ›

Babel is a free and open-source JavaScript transcompiler that is mainly used to convert ECMAScript 2015+ (ES6+) code into backwards-compatible JavaScript code that can be run by older JavaScript engines. It allows web developers to take advantage of the newest features of the language.

What is the advantage of Babel? ›

Advantages of Babel

BabelJS can transpile to the next version of JavaScript, such as ES6, ES7, ESNext, and so on. BabelJS may be used in conjunction with gulp, webpack, flow, react, typescript, and other tools, making it extremely powerful and useful for large projects.


1. Using ES6 with Babel and Gulp
2. Use Babel 7 to Compile ES2018 to ES2015 - Transpile ES6 into ES5
(Daily Tuition)
3. JavaScript : Upgrade to Babel 7: Cannot read property 'bindings' of null
4. Babel for JavaScript Introductory Tutorial
5. An den Wassern zu Babel
(Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir - Topic)
6. NodeJS : External imports in Babel 7 do not get transpiled
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