3.1.13 • Public • Published


Enables the browser to import from node_modules

Check if import maps are released first before using.


  • Use bare specifiers when importing from node_modules in your src code.
  • The browser receives transformed JS code which has import paths absolutely resolved to file locations on the origin file server.
  • The file server serves node_modules.
  • If the requested file came from under the /node_modules/ root path, then any import paths in it are also absolutely resolved to the file location.


web-imports can be used as one of two ways: SSG or SSR.

In both cases, web-imports transforms JS files so that any imports with bare specifiers are converted into absolute paths starting with /node_modules/. This allows the origin server to easily find the file location during a request, thus the browser can import from node_modules, and it allows your node_modules dependencies to also have their own node_modules dependencies.

For example,

import grainbox from 'grainbox'

might become

import grainbox from '/node_modules/grainbox/dist/esm/index.mjs'

Static Site Generation

For SSG, run web-imports as a CLI tool, and pass it a glob of all the files to transform.

In the example below, it is assumed that your build script has created a folder called artifact containing everything that will be uploaded to the static site hosting provider. So there should be a copy of node_modules at artifact/node_modules.

// package.json
  "scripts": {
    "predeploy": "web-imports 'artifact/**/*.{js,mjs}'"

Server Side Rendering

For SSR, run web-imports as a function within your request handler.

The following example uses express:

import {transformImports} from 'web-imports'
import express from 'express'

const app = express()

app.get(/^\/node_modules\/(.*)\/?$/i, async (req, res) => {
  const filepath = req.params["0"]
  if (
    !filepath?.endsWith(".js") &&
  ) {
    res.status(404).send("Has unsupported extension: " + filepath)
  const packagePath = path.resolve(__dirname, `../node_modules/${filepath}`)
  let js = fs.readFileSync(packagePath, { encoding: "utf-8" })

  js = transformImports(js)
  res.setHeader("content-type", "application/javascript")
  res.setHeader("x-content-type-options", "nosniff")



CLI Usage

npx web-imports <file/dir/glob> [--prefix '/node_modules/']
  • <file/dir/glob> - Required. Only .js or .mjs files are considered for transform.
  • --prefix - Optional. Equal to /node_modules/ by default.

Programmatic Usage

// import:
import {transformImports} from 'web-imports'

// signature:
async function transformImports(contents: string, file: string, prefix?: ?string) {...}

// example:
const prefix = '/node_modules/' // optional parameter
const filename = '/foo/bar/baz.js' // required absolute path of file being transformed
js = transformImports(js, filename, prefix)

transformImports is not expected to throw any errors.

Other Details

If the package name cannot be found, then the import statement will not be transformed.

Commented import statements will still be transformed if the package name can be found.

Current Issues and Todos

There is probably a need for a mode which causes the prefix to be a variable relative path to node_modules rather than a static prefix setting. This would be useful in some cases where CDN is being used.

Support dynamic imports of bare specifiers.

This currently works by using a regexp to find the import statements. It does not detect dynamic imports, and sometimes, there can be a false positive match. To fix this, a strategy similar to the implementation of jsx-to-hyperscript can be used, I.E. tokenizing the file, and then identifying when import statements happen by keeping track of when a scope is entered or exited.

web-imports should only transform files which are included in NPM. See the files field documentation. Avoid transforming files which import devDependencies. These are not installed into node_modules when they are distributed as a dependency.


npm i web-imports

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  • grainstackdev