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Babel vs gulp: What are the differences?

Babel: Use next generation JavaScript, today. Babel will turn your ES6+ code into ES5 friendly code, so you can start using it right now without waiting for browser support; gulp: The streaming build system. Build system automating tasks: minification and copying of all JavaScript files, static images. More capable of watching files to automatically rerun the task when a file changes.

Babel belongs to "JavaScript Compilers" category of the tech stack, while gulp can be primarily classified under "JS Build Tools / JS Task Runners".

Some of the features offered by Babel are:

  • Array comprehensions
  • Arrow functions
  • Async functions

On the other hand, gulp provides the following key features:

  • By preferring code over configuration, gulp keeps simple things simple and makes complex tasks manageable.
  • By harnessing the power of node's streams you get fast builds that don't write intermediary files to disk.
  • gulp's strict plugin guidelines assure plugins stay simple and work the way you expect.

"Modern Javascript works with all browsers", "Open source" and "Integration with lots of tools" are the key factors why developers consider Babel; whereas "Build speed", "Readable" and "Code-over-configuration" are the primary reasons why gulp is favored.

Babel and gulp are both open source tools. It seems that Babel with 33.5K GitHub stars and 3.57K forks on GitHub has more adoption than gulp with 31.3K GitHub stars and 4.4K GitHub forks.

According to the StackShare community, gulp has a broader approval, being mentioned in 1158 company stacks & 689 developers stacks; compared to Babel, which is listed in 888 company stacks and 661 developer stacks.

What is Babel?

Babel will turn your ES6+ code into ES5 friendly code, so you can start using it right now without waiting for browser support.

What is gulp?

Build system automating tasks: minification and copying of all JavaScript files, static images. More capable of watching files to automatically rerun the task when a file changes.
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      What are some alternatives to Babel and gulp?
      A bundler for javascript and friends. Packs many modules into a few bundled assets. Code Splitting allows to load parts for the application on demand. Through "loaders" modules can be CommonJs, AMD, ES6 modules, CSS, Images, JSON, Coffeescript, LESS, ... and your custom stuff.
      TypeScript is a language for application-scale JavaScript development. It's a typed superset of JavaScript that compiles to plain JavaScript.
      It adds syntactic sugar inspired by Ruby, Python and Haskell in an effort to enhance JavaScript's brevity and readability. Specific additional features include list comprehension and de-structuring assignment.
      A pluggable and configurable linter tool for identifying and reporting on patterns in JavaScript. Maintain your code quality with ease.
      It’s a collection of superfast tests or detects as we like to call them which run as your web page loads, then you can use the results to tailor the experience to the user. It tells you what HTML, CSS and JavaScript features the user’s browser has to offer.
      See all alternatives
      Decisions about Babel and gulp

      I use JavaScript these days and for few years I didn't have to use jQuery at all. I used to use it back in the days when IE8 and similar was a thing. But due to better browser support of native functions for DOM manipulation I could move to vanilla JavaScript. Most of the time, that's all I need to work with modals/accordions and similar. But I'm not saying that jQuery is bad. It was, and still is a great tool. Some of it's features are available in all browsers nowadays so it is not so important as it used to be. But jQuery has still advantage for example in it's selector engine, some DOM selections which are easy in jQuery are a bit more difficult in vanilla JS (you have to create some helper functions or use some 3rd party library to help you with that), but to be honest I needed this on very few occasions. So it really depends on your project (supported browses, plain JS or some bundling - gulp, Webpack, whether you plan to use modules etc.). Hope this helps.

      See more
      Gustavo Muñoz
      Gustavo Muñoz
      Web UI Developer at Globant · | 4 upvotes · 202.6K views

      Using Webpack is one of the best decision ever. I have used to Grunt and gulp previously, but the experience is not the same, and despite I know there are other bundlers like Parcel, Webpack gives me the perfect balance between automatization and configuration. The ecosystem of tools and loaders is amazing, and with WebPack #merge, you can modularize your build and define standard pieces to assemble different build configurations. I don't like processes where you cannot see their guts, and you have to trust in magic a little bit too much for my taste. But also I don't want to reinvent the wheel and lose too much time configuring my build processes. And of course, I love #WebPackDevServer and hot reloading.

      See more
      Interest over time
      Reviews of Babel and gulp
      Avatar of gdi2290
      Co-Founder and CTO at Tipe
      Review ofgulpgulp

      Gulp is a new build system which shows a lot of promise. The use of streams and code-over-configuration makes for a simpler and more intuitive build. There isn't much boilerplate code so you're able to roll your own asset pipeline. Even if you don't know node.js streams, gulp is pretty readable and easier to understand.

      PS: It's worth saying if you know Grunt then you can learn Gulp in a day.

      Avatar of longgge
      pm at 36kr
      Review ofgulpgulp

      love it!l like gulp‘s logo!

      How developers use Babel and gulp
      Avatar of Cloudcraft
      Cloudcraft uses BabelBabel

      Babel is awesome! 100% of the code for is transpiled from ES2015 (even some ES7 extensions, like decorators and class properties!), using Gulp+Browserify for the frontend and on-the-fly translation in the Node.js backend. Babel allows us to use all the features of future JS, today, giving us a efficient and clean codebase. Overall, it has been an exceptionally smooth adoption, everything Just Works(tm), including debugging with source maps, etc.

      Avatar of Cloudcraft
      Cloudcraft uses gulpgulp

      Gulp is used as the build system for with a lot of custom targets: vendoring dependencies, transpiling ES2015 to Ecmascript5 (with Babel), incremental compilation of multiple watched modules, minification, creation of app distribution packages etc. Having previously used Grunt, I've come to greatly prefer Gulp due to the ability to easily write my own tasks using plain JS without necessarily relying on plugins for everything.

      Avatar of Volkan Özçelik
      Volkan Özçelik uses BabelBabel

      When you are using modern (or sometimes experimental) features of the language, you’ll eventually have to transpile them so that your app works in a wide spectrum of user agents.

      Babel is the transpilation tool of my choice.

      Avatar of Kent Steiner
      Kent Steiner uses BabelBabel

      I use babel so I can confidently move forward using ES6 and other more modern Javascript concepts and libraries in development and still maintain compatibility with the current state of web browsers and other viewports.

      Avatar of Mick Dekkers
      Mick Dekkers uses BabelBabel

      Babel transpiles ES6/ES2015+ code to a format older browsers (*cough* IE *cough*) can understand. This allows developers to write modern JS code while remaining compatible with older systems.

      Avatar of Scrayos UG (haftungsbeschränkt)
      Scrayos UG (haftungsbeschränkt) uses gulpgulp

      gulp is used to package our plugins for the WSC (Woltlab Suite Core) in a fast, convenient and code-driven way. We enjoy the comfort it offers with stuff like the gzip-plugin or tar-packing.

      Avatar of Marc3842h
      Marc3842h uses BabelBabel

      Babel is used in Kuro (

      Kuro is the browser facing portion of shiro. We use Babel as a easy to use build system for our frontend stack.

      Avatar of Refractal
      Refractal uses gulpgulp

      For all our frontend site builds, Grunt allows us to do one-click builds for SASS, Coffeescript and other tools, with minifying and general restructuring built right in.

      Avatar of IVS
      IVS uses gulpgulp

      gulp is a fancy alternative to grunt (that we don't use anymore). Just use async/await instead of "stream" everything (which is a nonsens). We don't use gulp.

      Avatar of Tinker Travel
      Tinker Travel uses gulpgulp

      If a project has a more complex build, gulp allows us to build a flexible build pipeline and automatically rebuild on files changes. Speeds up JS development.

      How much does Babel cost?
      How much does gulp cost?
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