Tree shaking ES6 JavaScript code. Does tree-shaken bundle of single named export contain others of that file?

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When tree shaking ES6 JavaScript code, if I import a single named function from a file that exports multiple named functions, will the tree shaken code still contain the other named functions?

No, in most cases, tree shaking will remove the unused named functions from the final code. Here’s how it works:

  1. Static Analysis: Tree shaking tools like Webpack or Rollup analyze the module’s import statements. They create a dependency graph, mapping which exported functions are actually used by other modules.

  2. Unused Code Elimination: If a named function is not imported anywhere, tree shaking removes it from the final bundle. Only the necessary code for used functions is included.


// math.js
export function add(x, y) { return x + y; }
export function subtract(x, y) { return x - y; }

// main.js
import { add } from './math.js';

console.log(add(2, 3));
  • After tree shaking, subtract will be removed from the final code, as it’s not imported in main.js.

Important Considerations:

  • Tree shaking is most effective with direct named imports: While it generally works with named imports, it might be less effective with default imports or complex module structures.
  • Side Effects: Tree shaking cannot remove functions that have side effects, like modifying global state or accessing external resources, even if they’re not directly used. The bundler assumes they might be necessary for the application to function correctly.

Tips for Effective Tree Shaking:

  • Use named imports whenever possible.
  • Be mindful of side effects in exported functions.
  • Consider using bundler options like sideEffects: false in package.json to provide hints about modules that can be fully tree-shaken.
  • Use tools like Webpack Bundle Analyzer to visualize the generated bundle and identify optimization opportunities.

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