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0.8.3 • Public • Published


EsquireJS is an ECMAScript module and resource loader for the modern period.

EsquireJS is intended to bridge the gap between ECMAScript (ES) modules and Asynchronous Module Definition (AMD) modules. The library makes it possible for AMD modules to transparently depend on ES modules, and ES modules to depend on simple AMD modules with minimal fuss. This allows for a smooth transition from RequireJS based asynchronous module loading into ECMAScript dynamic importing.

This library is not for everyone. If your project does not use RequireJS then this library is not likely something you want to spend another minute looking at. If your project depends on asynchronously loading dynamic JavaScript modules and you've been stuck with using RequireJS for that, then this library may well be what you've been waiting for. The library is still not a complete drop-in replacement for RequireJS. Some APIs are not 100% the same and some features are not supported at this moment.


EsquireJS supports both ES and AMD module loading and provides a plugin API to expand the feature set in userland. With AMD modules, both named and anonymous modules are supported. JSON, HTML and CSS files (based on file name extension) are automatically fetched as strings.

  • Define: The define function supports named and anonymous modules, dependency definition arrays, module data and factory formats and the special exports, require, and module dependencies.
import { define } from "esquirejs";
// Anonymous module data
    foo: 3
// Anonymous module factory with special `exports` dependency
define((exports) => { = 3;
// Named module factory with dependency array
define("my-module", ["lodash"], function myModule(_) {
    return {
        foo: _.clamp(3, Math.random(), 3),
  • Load: The main import function for EsquireJS is the load function. It takes a module name and a second, optional options argument, and returns a Promise for required the module. The load logic can be extended by using the plugin API.
// amd-module.js
    value: 3,
// es-module.js
export const value = 6;
export const roundedValue = 3;
// main.js
import { load } from "esquirejs";
load("/amd-module.js").then(({ value }) =>
    console.log(value) // 3
load("/esm-module.js").then(({ value, roundedValue }) =>
    console.log(value, roundedValue) // 6 3
  • Require: The legacyRequire function works similarly to RequireJS's require function. Given a module name, EsquireJS will attempt to fetch a module with the given name from its cache and throws an error if no such module has been loaded or provided. Given an array of module names, EsquireJS will fetch all the modules from cache or asynchronously and either returns a Promise for an array of the modules, or calls the callback given as a second parameter to the function.
import { legacyRequire } from "esquirejs";
// Synchronous require
const _ = legacyRequire("lodash");
// Asynchronous, Promise-based require
const [myModule] = await legacyRequire(["my-module"]);
// Asynchronous, callback-based require
legacyRequire(["my-module"], myModule => {
    console.log(; // 3
  • Provide: The provide API can be used to synchronously provide modules into the EsquireJS cache without having to wrap them in define calls or anything of the sort. It is mainly intended for providing eg. Webpack-built modules for AMD modules to use.

Example: The main app uses lodash and it is built into the vendor bundle. At the same time asynchronously loaded AMD modules want to use the library as well. This can be achieved as simply as:

import { provide } from "esquirejs";
import * as _ from "lodash";
provide("lodash", _);
  • Asynchronous provide: The provideAsync API can be used to provide module loading functions into the EsquireJS cache. This is mainly intended for providing dynamically imported modules built by eg. Webpack for AMD modules to load on demand.

Example: The main app doesn't use d3 but it must be available for asynchronously loaded AMD to use in case they need it. Synchronously providing the library would be an option but would bloat up the vendor bundle with a library that is not actually used by the application at all. In this case both the aims can be achieved with:

import { provideAsync } from "esquirejs";
provideAsync("d3", () => import("d3"));

If this is built by Webpack, the import("d3") will be changed to a dynamic Webpack import. EsquireJS will keep this module load function in its asynchronous cache and if some module requests d3 then the function will be executed and the result saved into the EsquireJS synchronous cache.

  • Undefine: The undefine API can be used to remove a module from EsquireJS module cache. After a module has been removed it can be re-provided or re-defined by the above APIs. Removing a module from cache does not remove it from existing, built AMD modules that depend on it.

Missing features compared to RequireJS

EsquireJS is not a complete drop-in replace for RequireJS. Most of the advanced features of RequireJS (and even a few of the basic ones) are missing at present.

  • Base URL: RequireJS offers support to change the base URL from which all requests are made from. This is not yet supported in EsquireJS but is considered high priority.
  • Timeout: RequireJS offers support for automatic load timeouts. This is not yet supported in EsquireJS but is considered medium priority.
  • Relative AMD imports: RequireJS can calculate and normalize paths from AMD modules to relative imports. Since this is natively supported with ES modules, this is not a high priority for EsquireJS.
  • Paths and shim configuration: RequireJS offers a method to configure module paths and shims. These sort of imports are generally better left for bundlers such as Rollup or Webpack. They can also be defined in user-land with the provideAsync API. As such, this is not a high priority for EsquireJS.
  • Context: RequireJS offers support for multiple loading contexts. This allows for eg. multiple versions of the same library to be used on the same page, both referred to by the same name but used in different loading contexts. This has not been seen as an important feature and is thus not a high priority for EsquireJS.


To drop-in replace simple RequireJS usage with EsquireJS, remove <script src="requirejs.js"></script> from your index.html and add the following code into your index.js:

// Import the simple `setup` function from esquirejs
import { setup } from "esquirejs/esquirejs";

The setup function setups the basic load plugins, and exposes the legacyRequire (as require) and define functions into the window object.

If more control is preferred, something as follows should be used:

import { define, provide, defineBasePlugin, definePlugin, plugins } from "esquirejs";
// Expose define to global scope; notably leave require out
window.define = define;
const basePlugin = plugins.base;
basePlugin.setOptions({ crossOrigin: "use-credentials" }); // Send credentials to cross-origin locations
    // This plugin uses dynamic import without <script> tag usage
    // and will fail if used in Chrome browser with 'strict-dynamic'
    // and nonce CSP headers.


EsquireJS offers two base plugins for loading JavaScript modules.

The base plugin uses the ECMAScript dynamic import(). This base plugin is exported as plugins.base.

The secondary base plugin uses the traditional <script> tag appending. Compared to RequireJS the tag module type is set to "module" and thus supports ES module imports and exports. Once the script has finished loading the plugin then calls the dynamic import() method on the same module URL and returns the result, giving access to any exports in the module. Since the module had already been loaded and executed by the script tag, the module is simply returned from browser cache and does not cause a new HTTP request. This base plugin is exported as plugins.scriptBase. The reason for this plugin's existence is a Chrome bug that causes dynamic imports to fail on subsequent loads of modules when 'strict-dynamic' and nonce CSP are used.

Note that all modules imported by EsquireJS are run in strict mode and as "module" type scripts, meaning that the this of the modules is not window but undefined. This should generally not cause any issue.

Which base plugin to use? Chrome, CSP and import()

As mentioned above, Chrome browser will fail to load ES modules when the plugins.base plugin is used as the base loading plugin. The relevant bug is Chromium bug #979351 but there is also another bug in older Chome browsers that stops import() usage when cookies are required. A short checklist for the base plugin usage is offered:

Use the scriptBase plugin if:

  1. Your application uses Content Security Policy with a nonce header, and
  2. Your application uses Content Security Plicy strict-dynamic header, and
  3. You intend to support any current Chrome or Chromium browsers. OR
  4. Your application's dynamic modules require cookies (authentication) for loading, and
  5. You intend to support Chrome older than at least Chrome 73.

Otherwise, use base plugin.

What do I lose by using scriptBase plugin?

Nothing. Basic testing shows that for both small (few lines) and large (thousands of lines) modules, there is no performance difference between the two load methods. Both are equally valid ways of importing module-type scripts into your application and accessing their exports.

Interoperating between ES and AMD modules

EsquireJS is first and foremost intended to create a seamless bridge between AMD and ES module loading. Interoperating between the two module worlds is very easy from the direction of AMD into ES modules. The reverse is still relatively easy with simple AMD modules. Complex AMD modules become more of an issue.

Loading ES modules from inside AMD modules

Since EsquireJS can load both AMD and ES modules, an AMD module should simply define a dependency on an ES module and it will be loaded with no issue.

// es-module.js
export default function roundToNearestThree(number) {
    return 3;
// path/amd-module.js
define(["/es-module.js"], roundToNearestThree => {
    return roundToNearestThree(6);
// main.js
import { load } from "esquirejs";
load("/path/amd-module.js").then(result => {
    console.log(result); // 3

As seen, the AMD module automatically receives the default export from es-module.js when there are no other exports in the ES module. This behaviour can be controlled by the amdReturnDefaultExport EsquireJS option.

Loading AMD modules from inside ES modules

Loading simple AMD modules from inside ES modules is not a significant challenge as long as the resource path is known. The only issue is how to get access to the return value of the AMD module. For this, the legacyRequire or directRequire function needs to be exposed to the ES module (usually through global scope) and the AMD module must be named with the name being known to the ES module.

// path/amd-module.js
define("function-results", {
    foo: 3,
    bar: 3,
// path/es-module.js
import "./amd-module.js";
const { foo, bar } = globalThis.directRequire("function-results");
export const results = [foo, bar];
// main.js
import { load } from "esquirejs";
load("path/es-module.js").then(({ results }) => {
    console.log(results); // [3, 3]

Here, the static import statement will ensure that the amd-module.js module gets loaded and executed before the es-module.js code is executed. Thus, when the es-module.js code calls directRequire, the define call in amd-module.js will already have been called and the module can be synchronously found by EsquireJS.

If the AMD module itself were to import more dependencies, EsquireJS would likely end up in a situation where the directRequire would find no synchronously defined module in the cache and an error would be thrown. In the future the top-level await proposal allow this problem to be circumvented by using await load("function-results"); instead of the directRequire API.

At present the only way to make sure no such problems arise is for the ES module to deeply import all AMD dependencies in order. eg. For importing Backbone from an AMD module inside an ES module the file would need to begin with:

import "underscore"; // jQuery and Backbone depend on underscore
import "jquery"; // Backbone depends on jQuery
import "backbone";
const Backbone = globalThis.directRequire("backbone");

This approach is, though, dependent on all the dependencies being AMD modules.

Plugin API

EsquireJS has a plugin API similar to RequireJS but powered by Promises. A plugin needs to export only a single method, load, to be functional. The signature of the load function as follows:

  • Parameters:
    • moduleName: String defining the resource to be loaded. The name may contain other plugin name prefixes.
    • load: Internal EsquireJS load function. If the plugin wants to eg. use the defined base plugin to load a resource, it should call this function with the resource path (possibly prefixed with any needed plugin names) and return the result.
    • options: EsquireJS's current options. The current options are passed to the plugin as a frozen object.
  • Return value:
    • The plugin load function should return the result of the load, be that a value or a Promise for the value. If the plugin uses the internal EsquireJS load function, its return value must be returned.

Defining and using plugins

Plugins are defined using the definePlugin and defineBasePlugin APIs. The base plugin takes care of loading all modules that are not explicitly set for any other plugins to load, eg. "./module.js" gets passed onto the base plugin for loading. Other plugins are used by explicitly prefixing the plugin name onto the module name, eg. "my-plugin!lodash" gets passed onto the plugin defined with the name "my-plugin" (or asynchronously provided module of the same name, in which case the module is first loaded and defined as a plugin). The separator for plugin name prefixes is by default "!" but this can be changed through the separator EsquireJS option.


EsquireJS options can be viewed through the getOptions API and can be set using the setOptions API.


  • Type: boolean
  • Default: true

If true then when an AMD module's dependency resolves into an ES modules with only default export (or default and __esModule exports), the AMD module will only receive the default export value for the dependency instead of the entire Module object.

This does not affect what gets saved into the module cache when cacheESModules is set to true.


  • Type: string
  • Default: window.location.href

Base URL for all loads. Not yet supported.


  • Type: boolean
  • Default: false

If true then ES modules loaded through EsquireJS will be saved into the module cache and become requireable using the directRequire API.


  • Type: boolean
  • Default: true

If true then AMD modules are not built until they are loaded. eg. If a bundle file defines many AMD modules, they're only registered into the cache using the provideAsync API. Only once a load call for a module comes in is the building of the module started.

If false then AMD modules are built immediately on define call if possible, or on next tick if some module dependencies need to be loaded.


  • Type: boolean
  • Default: true

If true then when a load call resolves into an ES module with only a default export (or default and __esModule exports), the load call returns only the default export value instead of the entire Module object.

This does not affect what gets saved into the module cache when cacheESModules is set to true.


  • Type: string
  • Default: !

Defines what string value is used as the separator between plugin names and module names in load calls.


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