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Transforms a project that uses CommonJS to ES Modules.

📝 Introduction

If you are wondering why I built this, go to the Motivation section.

You can use this tool to transform a project that uses CommonJS to ES Modules and get it ready for an ESM world, any module bundler with ESM support, or even typedef imports on JSDoc.

This tool internally uses jscodeshift with the transformations from 5to6 and an extra one created to fix missing extensions.

⚡️ Examples


const { Jimpex } = require('jimpex');
const ObjectUtils = require('wootils/shared/objectUtils');

// Becomes

import { Jimpex } from 'jimpex';
import ObjectUtils from 'wootils/shared/objectUtils.js';
import './homer0/index.js';

It validates if the file needs an extension .mjs or .js by checking if the statement is for a directory and there's package.json in there.

If there's no package.json, it tries to find index.mjs or index.js.


module.exports = Rosario;
module.exports.Pilar = Pilar;

// Becomes

export default Rosario;
export { Pilar }

⚠️: Do not do module.exports = { Pilar }, as the latest version of the parser doesn't support it.

🚀 Usage

The package comes with a binary that you can execute from your package.json, or with npm/yarn:

# From the package.json

npx cjs2esm

# Yarn
yarn cjs2esm

pnpm exec cjs2esm


The tool has a lot of different settings you can change to customize how the imports and extensions are handled:

module.exports = {
  input: ['src'],
  ignore: [],
  output: 'esm',
  forceDirectory: null,
  modules: [],
  extension: {
    use: 'js',
    ignore: [],
  addModuleEntry: false,
  addPackageJson: true,
  filesWithShebang: [],
  codemod: {
    path: '',
    files: ['cjs', 'exports', 'named-export-generation'],

To modify the settings, you can...

  1. Create a property cjs2esm on your package.json.
  2. Create a property cjs2esm inside the config object of your package.json.
  3. Create a .cjs2esm file that uses JSON syntax.
  4. Create a .cjs2esm.json file.
  5. Create a .cjs2esm.js file and use module.exports to export the settings (like on the example above).


The list of directories that should be transformed.

Default ['src']


A list of expressions (strings that will be converted on RegExp) to specify files/paths that should be ignored.

When a path is ignored, not only doesn't it get transformed, but it also doesn't get copied to the output directory.


The directory where the transformed code should be placed.

Default esm


By default, if input has only one directory, the only thing copied will be its contents, instead of the directory itself; this flag can be used to force force it and always copy the directory.

This is a boolean setting, using null means that the tool gets to decide.

Default null


This is a list of modifiers for imports of specific modules and that can be used to change their paths. Yes, pretty complicated to explain, an example will be better:

The module wootils uses this tool and generates an ESM version on a esm diretory, so we need to change all the imports for wootils so they'll use wootils/esm:

const options = {
  // ...
  modules: {
    name: 'wootils',
    path: 'wootils/esm',

Now, when tool gets executed, it will perform the following change:

// From
const ObjectUtils = require('wootils/shared/objectUtils');
// To
import ObjectUtils from 'wootils/esm/shared/objectUtils.js';

Default []


Starting on Node v14, when you are using ESM, and unless there's a package.json specifying the type modules, you'll need all your imports to have file extensions.

This group of settings are specific for how the tool handles the extensions.


The extensions the files need to have; it can be js or mjs.

If you use mjs, when transforming the project files, all filenames will be renamed.

Default js


A list of expressions (strings that will be converted on RegExp) to ignore import statements when validating the use of extensions.

Default []


Whether or not to modify the project package.json and add a module property with the path to the transformed entry file. This will only work if the project has a main property and the file it points to was transformed.

Default false


Whether or not to add a package.json with type set to module on the output directory.

Default true


The list of files that have a shebang, as the tool needs to remove it before transforming them in order to avoid issues with the parsers. The list are strings that will be converted on into RegExps, so they can be a parts of the path, or expressions.

For example, this project uses src/bin.js.

Default []


Due to the jscodeshift and 5to6-codemod projects not being updated quite often, it's not hard to run on scenarios in which your code is not compatible with the transformations, so this group of settings will allow you to run custom versions of the codemod, change the order fo the transformations, and even are your own.


This is the path, relative to the working directory, in which the transformation files are located.

Default '' // On runtime, it gets resolved to 5to6-codemod/transforms


These are the name of the files for the transformations, inside the path directory.

The list can also be used to change the order of the default transformations, and it can also contain the <cjs2esm> special keyword, which references the tranformation file this package uses.

For example:

  "files": [

With that, exports wouldn't be used, and the package transformation would run before named-export-generation.

Local transformation files can also be specified, using path relatives to the working directory:

  "files": [
  • ⚠️ If the list is empty, it will use the default value.
  • ⚠️ The <cjs2esm> cannot be used as the first item in the list.
  • ⚠️ The names can't contain the extension, and they need to be .js files.

Default ['cjs', 'exports', 'named-export-generation']

ES Modules

Yes, if you want to use the tool as a library, the tool uses itself to generate a ESM version, so you can use the /esm path to access it:

// commonjs
const { prepare, getConfiguration } = require('cjs2esm');

// ESM
import { prepare, getConfiguration } from 'cjs2esm/esm';

// #dogfooding

Check src/index.js to see how the API is used.

⚙️ Development


Script Description
test Run the project unit tests.
lint Lint the modified files.
lint:all Lint the entire project code.
docs Generate the project documentation.
todo List all the pending to-do's.

Repository hooks

I use husky to automatically install the repository hooks so the code will be tested and linted before any commit, and the dependencies updated after every merge.

Commits convention

I use conventional commits with commitlint in order to support semantic releases. The one that sets it up is actually husky, that installs a script that runs commitlint on the git commit command.

The configuration is on the commitlint property of the package.json.


I use semantic-release and a GitHub action to automatically release on NPM everything that gets merged to main.

The configuration for semantic-release is on ./releaserc and the workflow for the release is on ./.github/workflow/release.yml.


I use Jest to test the project.

The configuration file is on ./.jestrc.js, the tests are on ./tests and the script that runs it is on ./utils/scripts/test.

Linting && Formatting

I use ESlint with my own custom configuration to validate all the JS code. The configuration file for the project code is on ./.eslintrc and the one for the tests is on ./tests/.eslintrc. There's also an ./.eslintignore to exclude some files on the process. The script that runs it is on ./utils/scripts/lint-all.

For formatting I use Prettier with my custom configuration. The configuration file for the project code is on ./.prettierrc.


I use JSDoc to generate an HTML documentation site for the project.

The configuration file is on ./.jsdoc.js and the script that runs it is on ./utils/scripts/docs.


I use @todo comments to write all the pending improvements and fixes, and Leasot to generate a report. The script that runs it is on ./utils/scripts/todo.

💡 Motivation

I maintain a lot of open source projects (that only I use :P), most of them are Node libraries, and I alway respect the good practice of giving support to the oldest LTS, currently v10 (for two more weeks).

I don't want to add transpilation just for this, Node v10 has enough features that I don't need Babel, which means that I don't have to use babel-eslint to lint, nor configure Jest for transpilation.

So I started looking for something that would transpile from CJS to ESM, but most of the tooling out there are for ESM to CJS, "code with modern syntax, transpile for legacy"... Node v12, the active LTS (soon to be the oldest), now supports ESM, but you cannot require an ESM module, even if it's natively supported.

The thing I like the least from transpiling from ESM to CJS is that if you use CJS, you have to use require('something').default, as export default becomes exports.default; I've had to update a lot of tools for this kind of changes (on the webpack ecosystem)...That's a sh*#ty experience.

I found jscodeshift and the 5to6 codemod, that are normally used to migrate a project to ESM and I adapted so it can cover a couple more issues (like extensions and the package.json).

It's not as fast as Babel, running it on Jimpex (~40 files), takes ~12seg, but you would only run it on your CI, or once or twice to see what generates.

I believe it's a better experencie to have the ESM version on a different path :D.

Enjoy 🤘!

Once v14 becomes the oldest LTS, I'll archive this repository and deprecate the tool. Node 12 now supports ESM without a flag, but there are still a lot of things that use CommonJS, and the fact that you can't require ESM makes things complicated, so I'm not sure yet when I'll deprecate the tool. Update: 2022, and the interop is still a mess, so I'm not sure when I'll deprecate the tool.