How to upgrade npm dependencies

2020-05-23   2 min read

I have a confession: I did not know how to update npm dependencies until today. I know, it's shameful. But the good news is now I do!

I wanted to improve Democratic Carpool Karaoke but alas, some of depencies were a bit too old so I looked up how to pretend everything is okay when it's not to upgrade npm dependencies. I'd like to leave some memos for my future self.

Contents

  • How to read npm version - Major.Minor.Patch
  • Those intimidating ^ and ~
  • npm install doesn't necesarily do all the job for you
  • How to update all dependencies
  • How to update dependencies with major changes

(1) How to read npm version - Major.Minor.Patch

Example: v17.11.5 (Major).(Minor).(Patch)

Major - this number is incremented when breaking changes are made

Minor - this number is incremented when they fix bugs and it won't break consuming code

Patch - this number is incremented when they fix bugs and it won't break consuming code

https://semver.org/

(2) Those intimidating ^ and ~

^ means the latest minor verion can be install safely. ^ 17.5.4 means it can be safely installed if it's the newest version in 17.x.x

~ means the latest patch verion can be install safely. ^ 17.5.4 means it can be safely installed if it's the newest version in 17.5.x

(3) npm install doesn't necesarily do all the job for you

npm install will install the latest version of dependencies only if

  • they don't exist in the node_modules folder, and
  • there is no package-lock.json file.

However, npm install will NOT update the dependencies if

  • the packages have already been installed into node_modules folder

and npm install will install the exact dependency versions specified in package-lock.json if

  • the packages haven't been installed, and
  • a package-lock.json file exists

(4) How to update all dependencies

It's actually not that hectic.

step1. Run npm putdated

then you'll get something like this a list of outdated npm packages

step2. Run npm update

this command will update all npm packages to the wanted version.

In case you don't want to update all packages, you can specify package names like npm update "react" "react-dom"

(5) How to update dependencies with major changes

Manual way

If you don't think updating packages will break your app, dun npm install PACKAGENAME_0@LATEST_VERSION PACKAGENAME_1@LATEST_VERSION

Use npm-check-updates

Alternatively, you can also run npx npm-check-updates -u

This will update the dependencies to the latest version (including major version changes) in the package.json file. If you want to go ahead with the upgrades, then run npm install.

This will then upgrade the packages in the node_module folder, and the package-lock.json file will be updated as well.


Typos/comments/suggestions are welcomed on GitHub issues

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