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Why I've stopped exporting defaults from my JavaScript modules

Last updated 1 year ago by Nicholas C. Zakas


I tweeted this after realizing that a lot of problems I had with JavaScript modules could be traced back to fights with default exports. It didn’t matter if I was using JavaScript modules (or ECMAScript modules, as many prefer to call them) or CommonJS, I was still stumbling over importing from modules with default exports. I got a variety of responses to the tweet, many of which questioned how I could come to this decision. This post is my attempt to clarify my thinking.

A few clarifications

As is the case with all tweets, my tweet was meant as a snapshot into an opinion I had rather than a normative reference for my entire opinion. To clarify a few points people seem confused by on Twitter:

  • The use case of knowing whether an export is a function or a class was an example of the type of problems I’ve encountered. It is not the only problem I’ve found named exports solve for me.
  • The problems I’ve encountered don’t just happen with files in my own projects, they also happen with importing library and utility modules that I don’t own. That means naming conventions for filenames don’t solve all of the problems.
  • I’m not saying that everyone should abandon default exports. I’m saying that in modules I’m writing, I will choose not to use default exports. You may feel differently, and that’s fine.
  • Hopefully those clarifications setup enough context to avoid confusion throughout the rest of this post.
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