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Browser Compatibility and Transpilation

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ES5 & ES6 Compatibility

ECMAScript (ES) is a scripting language specification standardized by Ecma International for Javascript. ES5 is the older JavaScript version which is supported by all web browsers while the ES6 version, released in 2015, is not supported by all web browsers.

ES6 JavaScript backwards compatibility

ES6 is a version of JavaScript that was released in 2015 and is backward compatible. One example of how to do this is the JavaScript Babel library which transpiles ES6 JavaScript to ES5. Transpilation is the process of converting one programming language to another.

Installing JavaScript Packages

The npm install command installs JavaScript packages to the project directory. It creates a folder called node_modules and copies the JavaScript package files to it. This command also installs all the dependencies for the given package.

Babel Package Installation

The babel-cli JavaScript package contains Babel command line tools. The babel-preset-env JavaScript package is used to transpile ES6 JavaScript code to ES5. They should be installed with the flag -D in the command line instruction like npm install -D babel-preset-env to be installed as development dependency.

Installing Development JavaScript Packages

When a -D flag is used to install a JavaScript package using the command line, this adds the package under the property called devDependencies in a package.json file for the project. Whenever the developer runs npm install, all the listed packages and their dependencies will be installed.

Babel configuration file

Babel uses the .babelrc file as a configuration file to determine the JavaScript file’s presets, plugins and more. It can be created with the command touch .babelrc.

Running scripts with npm

Command line shortcuts can be defined in a package.json file in a “scripts” object. This is used to combine multiple command line instructions in one command. These shortcuts can be executed from the terminal with the npm run command. For example, a script command named "build" can be executed with npm run build.

Babel build process

Babel uses the npm run build commend to covert all the JavaScript ES6 files in the src folder of the project to ES5. This conversion makes the JavaScript code compatible on all modern browsers. The ES5 code is written in a new file named main.js within the folder called lib for checking browser support

The website is useful for looking up the percent of browsers that support certain features in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and their libraries.

For instance, you can find out what percent of browsers support specific features in ES6, as covered in the “Browser compatibility and transpilition” lesson.

Reasons to update JavaScript

Ecma international updated JavaScript from ES5 to ES6 in 2015 to make JavaScript syntax more similar to other languages, make JavaScript syntax more efficient and easier to read, and address ES5 bugs.

Node Package Manager

The node package manager, or npm, is a package manager for JavaScript which is used to access and manage Node packages - modules that contain JavaScript code written by other developers that are meant to provide helpful tools, reduce duplication of work, and reduce bugs.

Initiate JavaScript project

The command line instruction npm init is used to set up a new JavaScript project. A package.json file is created by the npm init command and contains a list of key-value pairs that provides information about the JavaScript project, such as the project name, version, description, a list of node packages required for the project, command line scripts, and more.

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