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babel-loader's hidden feature - babelrc:false

8/21/20162 min read

I've spent 3 days configuring Webpack and babel to deal with CSS Modules while doing server-side rendering. I've just discovered an undocumented setting in Webpack's babel-loader that solves the mystery of disappearing css.

On the server, I've got a .babelrc file which uses babel-plugin-css-modules-transform.

    "presets": ["es2015-node4", "react"],
    "plugins": [
        ["css-modules-transform", {
            "generateScopedName": "[name]__[local]___[hash:base64:5]",
            "extensions": [".styl", ".css"],
            "preprocessCss": "./stylus-require-hook.js"
    "ignore": ["./stylus-require-hook.js"]

On the client side, I've got webpack building my code, I'm using the babel-loader to transform my JavaScript and I've set up a regex to catch all the .styl files and push them through the stylus loader, then the css loader with the css modules configuration and finally to the style loader.

I could get the server side code to correctly create the hashed module names, but on the client, I couldn't get Webpack to pick up the stylus file that I created so I could transform it into css modules. I checked out the regex's multiple times and every other setting I could find. I'd rewritten my Webpack config at least twice from scratch and still I was getting this issue. My build output wouldn't contain any css files despite using the Extract Text Plugin.

I eventually checked out the javascript created from my build and discovered that it contained a lot of css attribute names and this is when it clicked. My babel-loader config was picking up my server side .babelrc and running my stylus files through the css module transform.

I'd checked the documentation a few times but I couldn't see anything about the default functionality of picking up the .babelrc file. This is a weird default because we compile to different targets with different features for server and web.

I discovered the settings babelrc: false in one of the github issues and gave it a go. It has to be supplied as an attribute on the query object passed to babel-loader.

It should look like this:

                test: /\.js/,
                exclude: /(node_modules|bower_components)/,
                loader: 'babel',
                query: {
                    babelrc: false,
                    presets: ['es2015', 'react'],
                    plugins: [
                        ['transform-es2015-classes', { loose: true }],

This means that the babel-loader will only use the settings you've provided to it in the query object allowing you to have entirely different babel configurations for both client and server.

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