Configuring Babel 6.0

Today we’ll be configuring Babel 6.0, a Javascript transpiler that allows you to write ES6 (and beyond) code. Babel transpiles files into vanilla ES5 which can be used in any major browser (or Node.js). Here’s how to get started.


First, you need to install a preset. Previously, Babel came with a few transpilers (e.g. React, ES2015), but with the release of Babel 6.0, the API was changed such that the developer now has to specify which transpilers should be used.

Let’s install the stage-0 preset, which has the most bleeding-edge set of features - decorators, async functions, exponentiation, and more.

To install, run npm install babel-preset-stage-0 --save-dev. Once the package is done installing, we need to create a .babelrc file to tell Babel which presets we want to use. Create that file, and put the following contents inside:

// .babelrc

Now, Babel is ready for use.


To use the Babel CLI, install it as a devDependency via npm install babel-cli --save-dev. It’s recommended for the CLI to be installed locally to allow for more portability.

If we had installed Babel globally, we’d be able to run babel myscript.js. However, since it’s installed locally we need to invoke it via an npm script. In your package.json, add the following lines:

// package.json
"scripts": {
  "babel": "babel src --out-dir lib",
  "babel:w": "babel -w src --out-dir lib"
"devDependencies": {

Now, from the terminal you can run npm run babel or npm run babel:w (if you’d like to watch for changes) and Babel will transpile our files. In this case, Babel will transpile files in src and output them to lib.

Require Hook

To use the require hook, run npm install babel-register --save-dev. If you put require('babel-register') at the top of a file, all subsequently required files will be transpiled by Babel.

// app.js
// app.es6
import express from 'express';
let app = express();
let port = process.env.PORT || 3000;

app.get('*', (req, res) => {
  res.send('Babel is the best!');

app.listen(port, () => {
  console.log(`Server listening on ${port ** 0.5} squared!`);
$ node app
=> Server listening on port 54.772255750516614 squared!


ES6 Gulpfile

To write your Gulpfile in ES6, name your gulpfile gulpfile.babel.js. When you run gulp, Babel will automatically be used to compile your gulpfile.

Transpile Files

To use Gulp to transpile ES6, first install the plugin: npm install gulp-babel --save-dev. Here’s an example of an ES6 gulpfile that uses gulp-babel:

// gulpfile.babel.js
import gulp from 'gulp';
import babel from 'gulp-babel';

gulp.task('default', () => {
  return gulp.src('src/app.js')

Jade (with Express)

To use the :babel filter in Jade with Express, run npm install jade-babel --save. In your app.es6, add this:

// app.es6
import jade from 'jade';
import babel from 'jade-babel';
jade.filters.babel = babel();
app.set('view engine', 'jade');

Now, when you call res.render, the code in the :babel filter in your Jade templates will be transpiled.

doctype html
    title Jade Example
    meta(name='viewport' content='width=device-width,initial-scale=1.0')
        $(document).ready(() => {
          let text = `Babel is cooler than ${10 ** 6} ice cubes!`;


ES6 is fast approaching, and using Babel is a great way to future-proof your apps. Thanks for reading!


  Node.js, Javascript