node package manager


ES6 Module Transpiler Build Status

ES6 Module Transpiler is an experimental compiler that allows you to write your JavaScript using a subset of the current ES6 module syntax, and compile it into AMD or CommonJS modules.

WARNING: The ES6 module syntax is still undergoing a lot of churn, and will likely change before final approval.

ES6 Module Transpiler will track ES6 syntax, and not attempt to maintain backwards compatibility with syntax that ultimately did not succeed as part of ES6.

This compiler provides a way to experiment with ES6 syntax in real world scenarios to see how the syntax holds up. It also provides a nicer, more declarative way to write AMD (or CommonJS) modules.

See the CHANGELOG for the latest updates.


Build tools

The easiest way to use the transpiler is from an existing build tool. There several plugins developed for different build tools:


The transpiler can be used directly from the command line:

$ npm install -g
$ compile-modules foo.js --to compiled

Here is the basic usage:

compile-modules FILE [FILE…] --to OUTPUT [--type=TYPE]
  [--anonymous] [--module-name=NAME]
  [--global=GLOBAL] [--imports=IMPORTS]
  An input file relative to the current directory to process.
  An output directory relative to the current directory.  If it does not exist,
  it will be created.
  One of `amd` (for AMD output), `cjs` (for CommonJS output), `yui` (for YUI
  If you use the --anonymous flag with the AMD type, the transpiler will output
  a module with no name.
  You can supply a name to use as the module name.  By default, the transpiler
  will use the name of the file (without the ending `.js`) as the module name.
  You may not use this option if you provided multiple FILEs.
  This option is only supported when the type is `globals`. By default, the
  `globals` option will attach all of the exports to `window`. This option will
  attach the exports to a single named variable on `window` instead.
  This option is only supported when the type is
  `globals`. It is a hash option. If your module
  includes imports, you must use this option to
  map the import names onto globals. For example,
  `--imports ember:Ember underscore:_`


You can also use the transpiler as a library:

var Compiler = require("es6-module-transpiler").Compiler;
var compiler = new Compiler(inputString, moduleName);
var output = compiler.toAMD(); // AMD output as a string 

If you want to emit globals output, and your module has imports, you must supply an imports hash. You can also use the global option to specify that exports should be added to a single global instead of window.

var Compiler = require("es6-module-transpiler").Compiler;
var imports = { underscore: "_", ember: "Ember" };
var options = { imports: imports, global: "RSVP" };
var compiler = new Compiler(string, name, options);
compiler.toGlobals() // window global output 

The string parameter is a string of JavaScript written using the declarative module syntax.

The name parameter is an optional name that should be used as the name of the module if appropriate (for AMD, this maps onto the first parameter to the define function).

Supported ES6 Module Syntax

Again, this syntax is in flux and is closely tracking the module work being done by TC39.

Named Exports

There are two types of exports. Named exports like the following:

// foobar.js 
var foo = "foo", bar = "bar";
export { foo, bar };

This module has two named exports, foo and bar.

You can also write this form as:

// foobar.js 
export var foo = "foo";
export var bar = "bar";

Either way, another module can then import your exports like so:

import { foo, bar } from "foobar";
console.log(foo);  // "foo" 

Default Exports

You can also export a default export. For example, an ES6ified jQuery might look like this:

// jquery.js 
var jQuery = function() {};
jQuery.prototype = {
  // ... 
export default = jQuery;

Then, an app that uses jQuery could import it with:

import $ from "jquery";

The default export of the "jquery" module is now aliased to $.

A default export makes the most sense as a module's "main" export, like the jQuery object in jQuery. You can use default and named exports in parallel.

Other Syntax


Whereas the import keyword imports specific identifiers from a module, the module keyword creates an object that contains all of a module's exports:

module foobar from "foobar";
console.log(;  // "foo" 

In ES6, this created object is read-only, so don't treat it like a mutable namespace!

import "foo";

A "bare import" that doesn't import any identifiers is useful for executing side effects in a module. For example:

// alerter.js 
alert("alert! alert!");
// alertee.js 
import "alerter";  // will pop up alert box 

Compiled Output

Default Exports

This is super important:

Default exports bind to an identifier on the module called default!

Internally, the transpiler will use this default identifer when importing, but any outside consumer needs to be aware that it should use the default key and not the module itself. For example, an AMD consumer should look like this:

  function(jQuery) {
    var $ = jQuery['default'];

In general, if your project wants to create a "native" module for AMD, YUI, CJS, or globals, you should wrap modules with default exports like so:

// AMD wrapper 
  function(jQuery) {
    return jQuery['default'];
// consumer 
  function($) {
    // $ is now bound to jQuery['default'] 

The reason for all of this extra boilerplate is that ES6 modules support a module having both default and named exports, whereas AMD, YUI and CJS do not.

Individual Exports

This input (ember.js):

var get = function(obj, key) {
  return obj[key];
var set = function(obj, key, value) {
  obj[key] = value;
  return obj;
export { get, set };

will compile into this AMD output:

  function(__exports__) {
    "use strict";
    var get = function(obj, key) {
      return obj[key];
    var set = function(obj, key, value) {
      obj[key] = value;
      return obj;
    __exports__.get = get;
    __exports__.set = set;

The output is the same whether you use the single-line export (export { get, set }) or multiple export lines, as above.

Individual Imports

This input:

import { get, set } from "ember";

will compile into this AMD output:

  function(__dependency1__) {
    "use strict";
    var get = __dependency1__.get;
    var set = __dependency1__.set;


Add this project to your application's package.json by running this:

$ npm install --save es6-module-transpiler

Or install it globally:

$ sudo npm install -g es6-module-transpiler


Thanks to Yehuda Katz for js_module_transpiler, the library on which this one is based. Thanks to Dave Herman for his work on ES6 modules. Thanks to Erik Bryn for providing the initial push to write this library. Thanks to Domenic Denicola & Thomas Boyt for their efforts to make this project even better. And finally thanks to the JavaScript community at Square for helping to write and release this library.


  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request

Any contributors to the master es6-module-transpiler repository must sign the Individual Contributor License Agreement (CLA). It's a short form that covers our bases and makes sure you're eligible to contribute.

When you have a change you'd like to see in the master repository, send a pull request. Before we merge your request, we'll make sure you're in the list of people who have signed a CLA.

Thanks, and enjoy living in the ES6 future!