Babel 7

Babel has become the de-facto standard to compile ECMAScript 6 applications to a version of ECMAScript that can run in current browsers.

I recently updated an older project to Babel version 7. Read on for some advice how to update.


At first you will notice that the new package ecosystem now exists as a monorepo and all npm modules are namespaced behind the @babel organization handle.


The “env” preset has been out for a while and it replaces some of the earlier “year presets” that was recommeneded before. I’ve been using env a while and it is very convenient. From the babel-preset-env website:

Without any configuration options, @babel/preset-env behaves exactly the same as @babel/preset-es2015, @babel/preset-es2016 and @babel/preset-es2017 together (or the deprecated babel-preset-latest).

Uninstall old dependencies

First up let’s remove some older packages:

npm uninstall -D babel babel-register babel-preset-env babel-polyfill babel-cli babel-core

Add new packages

Depending on what packages you need, now continue to install the new ones:

npm i -D @babel/core @babel/preset-env

My package.json now looks like this:

"devDependencies": {
	"@babel/core": "^7.0.0-beta.54",
	"@babel/preset-env": "^7.0.0-beta.54",


With the packages updated, adjust the package.json, .babelrc or .babelrc.js. I adjusted my .babelrc like this:

 "presets": [
    ["@babel/preset-env", {
      "targets": {
        "browsers": ["last 2 versions"]


If you want to specify target browsers, simply use the "targets.browsers" option like above. You can also use a .browserslistrc config, which is also used by many tools.

Update an old Gulp task

I this project I have a workflow to process ES6+ code that is using Browserify and Babelify. Later on I might replace this with Webpack, but for now an update will work just fine. Let’s dive in.

Upgrade babelify:

npm i -D babelify@next

Upgrade uglify

npm i -D gulp-uglify-es

My gulp task now looks like this:

const isProduction = process.env.NODE_ENV === 'production'

gulp.task('js', () => {
	return browserify({
		entries: `${config.basePaths.scripts.base}app.js`,
		debug: true
		.transform('babelify', { presets: ['@babel/preset-env'] })
		.on('error', err => {
		.pipe(gulpif(isProduction, uglify()))

npm tips

  • Tip 1: You can run npx npm-check -u for an interactive list of all your dependencies and their upgrade status. It’s pretty rad. Read more about it

  • Tip 2: i is short for npm install -D is short for --save-dev

More reading

More detailed info about the migration