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Install Peer Dependencies


Install peerDependencies along with packages that peer-depend on them.

Ensure that a validly matching peer dependency is found at or above the peer-dependant's location in the node_modules tree.

If peerDependencies are omitted from the install, then create a tree which could have peerDependencies added correctly.


Due to some of the difficulties that peerDependencies present with the installer as of npm v6, peerDependencies are not installed by default with npm. Instead, it's on individual consumers to install and manage peerDependencies by themselves, prompted by a warning.

That warning is often misinterpreted as a problem, and reported to package maintainers, who in response, sometimes omit the peer dependency, treating it as effectively an optional dependency instead, but with no checks on its version range or validity.

Furthermore, since the npm installer is not peer dependency aware, it can design a tree which causes problems when peer dependencies are present.

This proposed algorithm addresses these problems, making peerDependencies a first-class concept and a requirement for package tree validity.

For example, tap had a dependency on ink, which had a peer dependency on react@16. In order to meet this peer dependency tap also added a dependency on react@16. However, if a package depends on both tap and react@15, then the installer will see the conflicts only as it relates to tap's dependency, resulting in a package tree like:

+-- react (15)
+-- ink
+-- tap
    +-- react (16)

Because no version of ink existed higher in the tree, the installer moves it up a level, even though this breaks the peer dependency.

To work around this, tap currently bundles both ink and react, but this is not optimal. In cases where ink and/or react can be deduplicated, they no longer are.

Detailed Explanation

This extends the "maximally naive deduplication" algorithm that npm currently uses.

Validity Test

A peer dependency is valid iff:

  • The name resolves from the dependant package to a package which satisfies the listed dependency according to standard dependency resolution semanatics, and
  • The resolved dependency is not found in the dependant's node_modules tree (ie, it must be at or above it's own parent), unless the dependent is the root in its package tree.

Adding a New Dep

When adding a dependency D in a range R with a set of peer dependencies P at location L in the tree:

  • For each p in P, starting from L, find the location in the tree closest to the root where p can be placed without conflicts.
  • If all p in P can be placed:
    • then: note the location furthest from the root where some p was placed, as location L'
    • else: error, D cannot be placed in this tree at location L.
  • Starting from L, find the location in the tree closest to L' where D can be placed without conflicts.
  • If D can be placed between L and L':
    • then: hooray! it is installed successfully.
    • else: error, D cannot be placed in this tree at location L.

(Optional failure handling: attempt with other versions of D in the range R.)

Handling Future Tree Munging

If a user installs a new dependency, which will cause a conflict with D or any of P, then re-start the placement of D and P at L.

If D and P cannot be placed in the tree in the presence of the newly requested dependency, then refuse to install it until the user resolves the conflict. Otherwise, move D and P to their new homes as part of the installation.

Tracking and Verifying

When reading from the actual node_modules tree (or an inflated shrinkwrap, ie, any time we have a full manifest), Arborist will flag Edge nodes of the peer type with an INVALID error if they resolve to their peer dependant's node_modules folder.

Rationale and Alternatives

A: Leave it

We could keep not installing peer dependencies, and printing a warning about it. It causes problems, but there are workarounds.

The main issue is that, because the use of peerDependencies has gotten so popular in the React community, and because React is extremely popular among front-end developers who are somewhat new to npm, the hazards of the current approach affect them the most profoundly, and they are the least able to know what to do when faced with the error.

B: Drop Support for Peer Dependencies Entirely

Tempting. But that ship sailed long ago. Peer dependencies do address a valid need for cases where a module adds functionality to a framework or plugin architecture. Dropping support would be too disruptive.

C: Treat Like Regular Dependencies

Most of the time, this would result in the same package tree, and in fact, many react-using modules (like ink) do not need the peer-nature of a peer dependency.

However, this would be a violation of the contract as it is widely understood and documented, and so would also be too disruptive.

D: Treat Like Optional Dependencies

All the problems of B, combined with the problems of C.

E: Let Authors Declare Which peerDependencies Should Be Installed

Add a dependency to both dependencies and peerDependencies. This would require that the package be installed at or above the dependent's level in the tree, and be satisfied by anything in the peerDependencies specifier. However, if not found in the tree, then the package specifier in dependencies will be automatically installed.

However, having a package in both peerDependencies and dependencies means that it would be installed as a normal dependency in npm v6 and before, which will generate an incorrect tree in many of the cases that the feature contemplated in this RFC seeks to address.

See: yarnpkg/berry#1001

F: Use peerDependenciesMeta To Trigger Auto-Install

We could do something like this:

  "peerDependencies": {
    "foo": "1.x",
    "bar": "2.x"
  "peerDependenciesMeta": {
    "foo": {
      "autoinstall": true
    "bar": {
      "autoinstall": false

That would enable package authors to be more fine-grained about which peer dependencies are installed, and which are not, and is not incompatible with this RFC. However, it is out of scope for this RFC, and may be contemplated as a way to address any concerns that arise during the v7 beta testing process.

The default value of the autoinstall field in peerDependenciesMeta, and whether it overrides any --omit=peer or --include=peer options, is left as an open question for that future RFC.


This is implemented in @npmcli/arborist and included in npm v7.

The omit option to Arborist.reify() can be used to exclude peerDependencies (or optional or dev dependencies) from the reification process.

Unresolved Questions and Bikeshedding

Issues Relying on peerDeps as "More Optional" optionalDependencies

For several years prior to npm v7, peerDependencies were not installed automatically. This has led to some cases where users rely on this fact, and use peerDependencies as a sort of more-optional optionalDependencies. That is, a dependency which is not installed by default, allowing the user greater control over its resolution.

For example, a package.json file might do this:

  "peerDependencies": {
    "secret-thing": "1.x"

and rely on users to provide secret-thing from a private git repository or other alternative specifier. Upon seeing this, npm v7 will attempt to fetch secret-thing from the registry if it has a version specifier, and is not satisfied by something higher up in the dependency tree already.

However, as the default warning on seeing a missing peer dependency is to tell the user to install it, the status quo could be expected to lead to the same behavior, albeit without automating that behavior.

In the end, we have decided to release the npm v7 betas with peerDependencies autoinstallation enabled, and judge from early play-testing whether it's a net improvement in the user experience. If it turns out to cause problems, or not be worth the risk, we can default to omitting peerDependencies, and still build trees that can have peer dependencies correctly installed by explicitly including them.