You don't need --save anymore for NPM installs


Why you don't need the --save command anymore for npm installs

18 Aug, 2021 · 2 min read

If you ever installed an NPM package, the following syntax looks very familiar to you:

npm install --save package_name

This was long the golden standard to install a package and save it as a dependency in your project.

If we didn’t specify the --save flag, it would only get locally installed and not added to the package.json file.

NPM evolved

Over time NPM evolved into a huge player in package management, and ever since version 5 of NPM, we no longer need to define this --save argument.

Meaning our packages will be saved by default into our package.json file.

I’m thrilled with this addition, as it’s scarce to want to install a package that you don’t need in your package.json file.

Installing dev dependencies using NPM

We also used the following command to install a package as a dev dependency.

npm install --save-dev package_name

This will place the package in your dev dependencies in the package.json file.

So to recap, the standard install will install our package under the dependencies, while the --save-dev argument will place them under devDependencies.

  "name": "my_project",
  "version": "0.0.1",
  "dependencies": {
    "package_name": "^1.0.0",
  "devDependencies": {
    "package_dev_name": "^1.0.0",

NPM install additional flags

As we saw, the default install has no flags and will install our dependency. NPM, however, gives us some flags to control the options.

  • -P, ‘—save-prod`: Package will install as a dependency
  • -D, --save-dev: Package will be installed as a dev dependency
  • -O, --save-optional: Package will be installed as an optional dependency
  • --no-save: Package won’t be saved in package.json file

These are the essential flags we can use. However, the only one you frequently use might be the -D flag.

Do keep in mind the letter flags are capital sensitive.

So to recap: we don’t need to use the --save attribute anymore. This is now the default behavior. We can provide the -D flag to save a package as a dev dependency.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you learned something new today. And thank you, NPM, for making this available.

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