Babel with Henry Zhu

Different browsers consume JavaScript in different ways.

When a new version of JavaScript comes out, developers are eager to use the new functionality of that language version. But if you are writing frontend JavaScript code, that code needs to be interpretable by every browser that might consume it–whether the consumer is on an iPhone running Safari or a Windows machine running Internet Explorer 11.

Babel is a transpiler for JavaScript. Babel allows new versions of JavaScript to be consumed by older browsers by translating new language features of JavaScript into code that is readable by an older JavaScript interpreter. Babel does this by parsing JavaScript code, creating an abstract syntax tree, and manipulating the AST to make that code comply with the old browser.

Henry Zhu is a core maintainer of Babel and a full-time open source developer. In today’s episode, Henry explains how Babel works and its various applications. He also talks about life as a full-time open source developer, where he earns a living through Patreon and OpenCollective.


Transcript provided by We Edit Podcasts. Software Engineering Daily listeners can go to to get 20% off the first two months of audio editing and transcription services. Thanks to We Edit Podcasts for partnering with SE Daily. Please click here to view this show’s transcript.



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