译文:Understanding ASTs by Building Your Own Babel Plugin

- FrontEnd AST Babel
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Language Overview

We want to design a plugin that will allow us to use regular object and array literals, which will be transformed into persistent data structures using Mori


We want to write code like this:


var foo = { a: 1 };
var baz = foo.a = 2;
foo.a === 1;
baz.a === 2;

And transform it into code like this:


var foo = mori.hashMap('a', 1);
var baz = mori.assoc(foo, 'a', 2);
mori.get(foo, 'a') === 1;
mori.get(baz, 'a') === 2;

Let’s get started with MoriScript!

让我们开始使用 MoriScript

Babel Overview

if we look beneath the surface of Babel, we’ll find three important tools that handle the majority of the process.

如果我们来看看 Babel 的表面,我们会发现这里有 3 个重要的工具来处理大部分的流程:

babel overview


Babylon is the parser and it understands how to take a string of JavaScript code and turn it into a computer friendly representation called an Abstract Syntax Tree (AST).

Babylon是解析器,它知道如何提取一串 JavaScript 代码,并将其转换为计算机友好的表示方式,称为抽象语法树(AST)。


The babel-traverse module allows you to explore, analyse and potentially modify the AST.

babel-traverse 模块允许你探索、分析、潜在修改 AST。


Finally, the babel-generator module is used to turn the transformed AST back into regular code.

最后,通过babel-generator 模块被用来将转换后的 AST 恢复成正常的代码。

What is an AST?

It’s fundamental that we understand the purpose of an AST before continuing with this tutorial. So let’s dive in to see what they are and why we need them.

在继续本教程之前,我们了解 AST是非常重要的事情。 所以让我们来看看它们是什么以及为什么我们需要它们。

JavaScript programs are generally made up of a sequence of characters, each with some visual meaning for our human brains. This works really well for us, as it allows us to use matching characters ([], {}, ()), pairs of characters (“, “”) and indentation to make our programs easier for us to interpret.

JavaScript 程序通常由一系列字符组成,每个字符对我们的人类大脑来说都有一些视觉意义。 这对我们真的非常有用,因为它允许我们使用匹配的字符([],{},()),字符对(”,“”)和缩进,使我们的程序对我们来说更容易解释、抽象。

However, this isn’t very helpful for computers. For them, each of these characters is just a numeric value in memory and they can’t use them to ask high level questions like “How many variables are there in this declaration?”. Instead we need to compromise and find a way to turn our code into something that we can program and computers can understand.

但是,这对计算机来说不是很有帮助。 对于它们,这些字符中的每一个只是内存中的一个数字值,他们不能使用它们来问高级问题,例如 “这个声明中有多少个变量”? 相反,我们需要妥协,并找到一种方式将我们的代码转换成我们可以编程并且计算机可以理解的东西。

Have a look at the following code.


var a = 3
a + 5

When we generate an AST for this program, we end up with a structure that looks like this:

当我们为这个程序生成一个 AST 的时候,我们最终得到一个如下所示的结构:

AST for example code

All ASTs start with a Program node at the root of the tree, which contains all of the top level statements in our program. In this case, we only have two:

所有的 AST 程序都从树结构的根节点开始,它包含我们程序中所有的顶层语句,在这种情况下,我们只有 2 个:

A VariableDeclaration with one VariableDeclarator that assigns the Identifier “a” to the NumericLiteral “3”.

一个包含变量声明的变量声明符,将标识符’a’分配给数字字面量 ‘3’。

An ExpressionStatement which is in turn is made up of a BinaryExpression, which is described as an Identifier “a”, an operator “+” and another NumericLiteral “5”.


Despite the fact that they are made up of simple building blocks, the size of ASTs means they are often quite complex, especially for nontrivial programs. Rather than trying to figure out ASTs ourselves, we can use astexplorer.net, which allows us to input JavaScript on the left, then outputs an explorable representation of the AST on the right. We’ll use this tool exclusively to understand and experiment with code as we continue.

事实上它们尽管由一些简单的组件组成,AST 的大小意味着它们往往相当复杂,特别是对于非平凡的程序,我们可以使用astexplorer.net,它允许我们在左边输入 JavaScript,然后在右边输出一个可探索的 AST 视图,而不是试图我们自己来找出 AST。 我们将继续使用此工具专门用于理解和实验代码。

To stay consistent with Babel, make sure you choose babylon6 as a parser.

为了和 Babel 转换保持一致,确保你选择了 babylon6 作为解析器。

When writing a Babel plugin, it’s our job to take an AST then insert/move/replace/delete some nodes to create a new AST which can be used to generate code.

当开始去写一个 Babel 插件的时候,我们的工作便是:提取一个 AST,然后插入/移动/替换/删除一些节点创建一个新的 AST,这些可用于生成代码。


Make sure you have Node and Npm installed before you start. Then create a folder for the project, create a package.json file and install the following dev dependencies.

在你开始前确认你已经装过 NodeNpm,然后为项目创建一个文件目录、创建 package.json文件,然后安装下面的一些开发依赖。

mkdir moriscript && cd moriscript
npm init -y
npm install --save-dev babel-core

Then we’ll create a file for our plugin and inside we’ll export a default function.


// moriscript.js
module.exports = function(babel) {
  var t = babel.types
  return {
    visitor: {},

This function exposes an interface for the visitor pattern, which we’ll come back to later.


Finally we’ll create an runner that we can use to test our plugin as we go.


// run.js
var fs = require('fs')
var babel = require('babel-core')
var moriscript = require('./moriscript')

// read the filename from the command line arguments
var fileName = process.argv[2]

// read the code from this file
fs.readFile(fileName, function(err, data) {
  if (err) throw err

  // convert from a buffer to a string
  var src = data.toString()

  // use our plugin to transform the source
  var out = babel.transform(src, {
    plugins: [moriscript],

  // print the generated code to screen

We can call this script with the name of an example MoriScript file to check that it generates the JavaScript we are expecting. For example, node run.js example.js

我们可以使用一个示例 MoriScript 文件的名称来调用此脚本,以检查它是否生成我们期望的 JavaScript,例如:node run.js example.js


The first and foremost goal for MoriScript is to convert Object and Array literals into their Mori counterparts:HashMaps andVectors. We’ll tackle arrays first, as they’re slightly simpler.

MoriScript的首要目标是将ObjectArray字面量转换为 Mori 对应函数:HashMapsVectors。 我们将首先处理数组,因为它们稍微简单一些。

var bar = [1, 2, 3]
// should become
var bar = mori.vector(1, 2, 3)

Paste the code from above into astexplorer and highlight the array literal [1, 2, 3] to see the corresponding AST nodes.

将上面的代码粘贴到astexplorer中并突出显示数组文本[1,2,3]以查看对应的 AST 节点。

For the sake of readability, we’ll omit the metadata fields that we don’t need to worry about.


  "type": "ArrayExpression",
  "elements": [
      "type": "NumericLiteral",
      "value": 1
      "type": "NumericLiteral",
      "value": 2
      "type": "NumericLiteral",
      "value": 3

Now let’s do the same with the call to mori.vector(1, 2, 3).


  "type": "CallExpression",
  "callee": {
    "type": "MemberExpression",
    "object": {
      "type": "Identifier",
      "name": "mori"
    "property": {
      "type": "Identifier",
      "name": "vector"
  "arguments": [
      "type": "NumericLiteral",
      "value": 1
      "type": "NumericLiteral",
      "value": 2
      "type": "NumericLiteral",
      "value": 3

If we express this visually, we’ll get a better sense of what needs to change between the two trees.


visually diff