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Let's Setup Babel in Node.js


Node.js is one of the most popular and most used backend technologies. It is used by many. I just want to create a project to play with node.js. Hence I thought to create a simple starter project with node.js and express (for myself or anyone who is interested).
I would like to use ES6+ features hence I'm using babel here. Other than that, node, express, body-parser, and cors will be added.

The source code is here.

What is Babel?

Bable is a JavaScript transcompiler that is mainly used to convert ES2015+ code into backward-compatible JavaScript code. What that means is we can use newer JavaScript features and babel will transcompile it for us to use in older JavaScript engines.


  • Create the project
  • Install dependencies
  • Setup babel
  • Create the express server

Create the project

We can initialize a node.js project using npm.
npm init -y

Install dependencies

Let's install our required packages.
npm install express body-parser cors --save

Install Babel

Babel is used to transpile the ES6+ code.
npm install @babel/core @babel/node @babel/preset-env --save-dev

Install nodemon

Nodemon is used to refresh the server without restarting for every change.
npm install nodemon --save-dev

Setup ES6 module

Add the below entry in package.json to enable ES6 modules.
"type": "module"

Add start entry

Add start entry point to package.json
"scripts": {
  "start": "nodemon --exec babel-node src/index",
  "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
  "name": "babel-rest-starter",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "main": "src/index.js",
  "scripts": {
    "start": "nodemon --exec babel-node src/index",
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
  "keywords": [],
  "author": "Manjula Jayawardana",
  "license": "ISC",
  "description": "Node.js restful starter with babel",
  "devDependencies": {
    "@babel/core": "^7.19.1",
    "@babel/node": "^7.19.1",
    "@babel/preset-env": "^7.19.1",
    "nodemon": "^2.0.20"
  "dependencies": {
    "body-parser": "^1.20.0",
    "cors": "^2.8.5",
    "express": "^4.18.1"

Setup babel presets

Create a file called .babelrc in the project and add it below.
touch .babelrc
  "presets": ["@babel/preset-env"]

Create the express server

Create index.js in src folder -> src/index.js and add the below content.
import express from "express";
import bodyParser from "body-parser";
import cors from "cors";

const app = express();

app.use(bodyParser.urlencoded({ extended: false }));

app.get("/", (req, res) => res.json({ message: "Hello World" }));

app.listen(3000, () => console.log("app listening on port 3000"));


npm start
curl localhost:3000
That is it. Future me will be happy ☺