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Configuring babel for Node.js/Express Server

In this article, we will see how to configure babel for Express server. Configuring babel for Node.js/Express Server. To learn more about Node.js

ECMAScript is a Javascript Standardization which gets updated every year, it is a good practice to update our code as well. ES6 Features

Sometimes, the browser doesn't compatible with the latest javascript standards.

To solve this kind of problem, we need something like a babel which is nothing but a transpiler for javascript.

Babel Setup

Firstly, we need to install two main packages to setup babel in the project.

  • babel-core - babel-core is the main package to run any babel setup or configuration
  • babel-node - babel-node is the package used to transpile from ES(Any Standard) to plain javascript.
  • babel-preset-env - this package is used to make use of upcoming features which node.js couldn't understand. like, some feature will be new and take time to implement in the node.js by default.

Best Practice

Mainly, the reason for using the babel is to make use of Javascript new features in the codebase. we don't know whether the node.js in the server will understand the particular code or not unless it is a vanilla javascript.

So, it is always recommended to transpile the code before deployment. there are two kinds of babel transpiling code.

  • One is for Production
  • One is for Development

Development Setup

$ npm init --yes
$ npm install --save express body-parser cors
$npm install --save nodemon

Here, we initialize the package.json and install the basic express server with nodemon.

Next, we need to install @babel /core and @babel /node packages.

$ npm install @babel/core @babel/node --save-dev

After that, we need to create a file called .babelrc which contains all the babel configuration.

    "presets": [

Now, the setup is ready. we need to create a script which transpile our code on run time.

 "scripts": {
    "dev": "nodemon --exec babel-node index.js"

Finally, add the following code in the index.js and run the script.

import express from 'express';
import bodyParser from 'body-parser';

const app = express();


app.get('/',(req,res) => {
    res.send("Hello Babel")

app.listen(4000,() => {
    console.log(`app is listening to port 4000`);

$ npm run dev

Finally, you will see the output like Hello Babel.

Production Setup

Mainly, we cannot transpile the code in run time in production. So, what we need to do is, to compile the code into vanilla javascript and deploy the compiled version to the node.js production server.

Add the following command for building a compiled version of code

"scripts": {
    "build" : "babel index.js --out-file index-compiled.js",
    "dev": "nodemon --exec babel-node index.js"

Babel compiles the index.js file and writes the compiled version in index-compiled.js

Meanwhile, when you run the command, you will get the compiled version like

Finally, we need to deploy the compiled version in the node.js production server.

To Learn Babel in-depth, you can refer to this video from Brad Traversy

That's for this article, we will see more about babel and webpack in the upcoming articles.

Until then, Happy coding :-)

Top comments (7)

azamat21 profile image

Great Article. But you forgot to include to install babel prev

npm install @babel /preset-env --save-dev without this line babel won't work I think

bhargav_25 profile image
Bhargav Gohil

And if I have to deploy node app on Heroku, what should add in Procfile ?

ganeshmani profile image


bhargav_25 profile image
Bhargav Gohil


suelopoder profile image
Diego Sisto

Thanks man! Short and spot on!

  • where it says "npm install --save exress body-parser cors"
  • it should say "npm install --save express body-parser cors" (express misses a "p")
ganeshmani profile image

Thanks for the correction man! :-) Fixed it

lpolon profile image

Hey. Thanks for this article. Very helpful. the build npm script will only work if you have the @babel/cli installed.