export default considered harmful

Consider you have a file foo.ts with the following contents:

class Foo {
}
export default Foo;

You would import it (in bar.ts) using ES6 syntax as follows:

import Foo from "./foo";

There are a few maintainability concerns here:

  • If you refactor Foo in foo.ts it will not rename it in bar.ts.
  • If you end up needing to export more stuff from foo.ts (which is what many of your files will have) then you have to juggle the import syntax.

For this reason I recommend simple exports + destructured import. E.g. foo.ts:

export class Foo {
}

And then:

import { Foo } from "./foo";

Below I also present a few more reasons.

Poor Discoverability

Discoverability is very poor for default exports. You cannot explore a module with intellisense to see if it has a default export or not.

With export default you get nothing here (maybe it does export default / maybe it doesn't ¯\_(ツ)_/¯):

import /* here */ from 'something';

Without export default you get a nice intellisense here:

import { /* here */ } from 'something';

Autocomplete

Irrespective of if you know about the exports, you evenautocomplete at this import {/*here*/} from "./foo"; cursor location. Gives your developers a bit of wrist relief.

CommonJS interop

With default there is horrible experience for commonJS users who have to const {default} = require('module/foo'); instead of const {Foo} = require('module/foo'). You will most likely want to rename the default export to something else when you import it.

Typo Protection

You don't get typos like one dev doing import Foo from "./foo"; and another doing import foo from "./foo";

TypeScript auto-import

Auto import quickfix works better. You use Foo and auto import will write down import { Foo } from "./foo"; cause its a well defined name exported from a module. Some tools out there will try to magic read and infer a name for a default export but magic is flaky.

Re-exporting

Re-exporting is unnecessarily hard. Re-exporting is common for the root index file in npm packages e.g. import Foo from "./foo"; export { Foo } (with default) vs. export * from "./foo" (with named exports).

Dynamic Imports

Default exports expose themselves badly named as default in dynamic imports e.g.

const HighChart = await import('https://code.highcharts.com/js/es-modules/masters/highcharts.src.js');
Highcharts.default.chart('container', { ... }); // Notice `.default`

Needs two lines for non-class / non-function

Can be one statement for function / class e.g.

export default function foo() {
}

Can be one statement for non named / type annotated objects e.g.:

export default {
  notAFunction: 'Yeah, I am not a function or a class',
  soWhat: 'The export is now *removed* from the declaration'
};

But needs two statements otherwise:

// If you need to name it (here `foo`) for local use OR need to annotate type (here `Foo`)
const foo: Foo = {
  notAFunction: 'Yeah, I am not a function or a class',
  soWhat: 'The export is now *removed* from the declaration'
};
export default foo;

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