Updating Dependencies in `package.json`

Naveera A.

The Problem

How can you update each dependency in a package.json file?

You can manually update each dependency’s version number in package.json file. But is there a way to update them without making changes to the package.json file manually?

The Solution

Before you update any dependency to a major updated version, make sure to check for backward compatibility.

You can find out all outdated dependencies by running the following command:

npm outdated

All dependencies in your current project will be listed with their current, wanted, and latest versions:

Shell output

The wanted version is the version that is safe to update to without checking for breaking changes. It is calculated depending on how your dependency versions are declared in the package.json file, but it usually does not include major changes.

You can update all dependencies to the wanted version using the following command:

npm update

Or you can update individual dependencies by specifying its name, like so:

npm update express

If you want to update your dependencies to the latest version, the safest option is to update manually after checking the changelog of each dependency.

But if you want a quicker way to update all dependencies to the latest version at once, you can use npm-check-updates. According to the documentation:

npm-check-updates upgrades your package.json dependencies to the latest versions, ignoring specified versions.

The npm-check-updates module will update the package.json file to the latest versions for all dependencies. You can do so with the following command:

npx npm-check-updates -u

If you are working in a fresh project (for example, if you have copied the package.json file from another project and haven’t installed any dependencies yet), you can just run:

npm install

If you have the dependencies installed already, you can delete the node_modules folder from your project and then run npm install and all dependencies will be installed to the latest version.

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