Unlike many open source projects that have strong backing from corporate dev teams, it's primarily driven by individual volunteers. Those volunteers worked for a year to create Babel 7, shipping it last week. Babel 6 was released almost three years ago.
"We worked with the TypeScript team on getting Babel to parse/transform type syntax with @babel/preset-typescript, similar to how we handle Flow with @babel/preset-flow," said Babel volunteer Henry Zhu in a blog post last week.
Daniel Rosenwasser, the TypeScript guru on the Microsoft dev team, provided more information on the new support.
"Over a year ago, we set out to find what the biggest difficulties users were running into with TypeScript, and we found that a common theme among Babel users was that trying to get TypeScript set up was just too hard," Rosenwasser said. "The reasons often varied, but for a lot of developers, rewiring a build that's already working can be a daunting task."
There are some caveats with the new functionality -- such as a few constructs that don't compile -- and Microsoft still recommends use of its tsc TypeScript compiler for type-checking TypeScript code, which Babel doesn't do.
Besides the TypeScript support, Babel 7 also features a lot of other new functionality. "Babel 7 is a huge release," Zhu said, "we've made it faster, created an upgrade tool, JS configs, config 'overrides,' more options for size/minification, JSX Fragments, TypeScript, new proposals, and more!"
David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.