ES Module

JavaScript didn't have concept of module; your scripts included in a webpage are in global scope by default.

var x = 15;
function incrementX() {
function getX() {
return x;
console.log(x); // x is available here!!

As you can imagine, it becomes hard to maintain once your application grow big.

ES Module is the module system introduced into JavaScript.

export and import

In ES Module, a file is a module. All variables defined within the file will be kept within the file and cannot be accessed by other file directly.

To export variables/function from a file, you use the keyword export.

const x = 5; // x can only be accessible within this file.
export const y = 10; // y can be accessed by other files.

To import a variable from another file, you use the keyword import.

import { x } from './another-file.js';

The syntax of import is:

import { variableName } from '<path-to-the-file-from-this-file>';

To illustrate, imagine you have two files: x.js and y.js placed next to each other in a folder:


y.js export a variable myName and a function doSomething:

// y.js
export const myName = 'Malcolm';
export function doSomething() {
console.log('Something happened!');

To import doSomething into x.js, this is what you do:

// x.js
import { doSomething } from './y.js';
doSomething(); // we can use doSomething in x.js

Now imagine if y is in a subfolder called others:


Now the import statement in x.js should change to:

import { doSomething } from './others/y.js';

Now assume if x.js is in the others subfolder while y.js is in myFolder directly:


The import statement in x.js should now change to:

import { doSomething } from '../others/y.js';

The ., .., and / in the file path is actually follow the command line convention:

  • . means within same folder
  • .. means parent directory
  • / is used to separate folder name, file name, and the ./.. characters.


Given the following folder structure and files.

│  ├──b.js
│  ├──c.js
│  └──subfolderI
│     └──d.js

All js files export a constant similar to their filename, e.g. a.js exports a constant a, e.js exports a constant e.

Write the import statements to import all the constants into b.js.

// b.js
import { c } from './c.js';
// write other import statements

Default Export

There is another way to export something from a file, which is known as "Default Export", which look like this:

// do-that.js
function doThat() {
console.log('Yes Sir');
export default doThat;

To import doThat in another file, you do this:

import doThat from './do-that.js';
doThat(); // 'Yes Sir';

Note that the naming here is up to you when you write the import statement, therefore, the following works too:

import doFancyStuff from './do-that.js';
doFancyStuff(); // 'Yes Sir';

To differentiate these two kinds of export, we call them "named export" and "default export".

export const sayA = () => console.log('a'); // named export
export const sayB = () => console.log('b'); // named export
export default sayB; // default export

As the code snippet above show, you can use both named export and default export in a same file.

So, which one should you use? Named export or default export?

For me that's based on your personal taste, I'll just present to you two conventions people are following in regards to this:

  1. Approach 1: use export default if your file only exporting one thing (a function, a constant), else use named export.
  2. Approach 2: use named export unless default export is required by the library/framework that you use. For instance, lazy loading React component with React.lazy could only be used with component that uses default export.

My personal preference is approach 2 because I don't like to juggle between two syntaxes, and there is no way for you to explore if a file has default export (named export can be explored with intellisense). However, I'm not insistent on that; if a project that I join already use approach 1 as its convention, I'll follow that approach instead.

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