Babel (formerly 6to5) is essentially an ECMAScript 2015 (ES6) and beyond transpiler. It means that it is a program that translates future’s JavaScript into today’s widely understood (by browsers) JavaScript. The idea behind such a tool is to allow developers to write their code using ECMAScript’s new features while still making it work in current (and past) environments.

As of version 6, Babel also intends to be a platform, a suite of tools designed to create the next generation of JavaScript tooling. This means Babel is also supposed to power minifiers, linters, formatters, syntax highlighters, code completion tools, type checkers, codemod tools, and every other tool to be using the same foundation to do their job better than ever before.