Regenerator Runtime is not defined

Nov 11, 2018·4 min read

I was tinkering with my antiquated, silly, and super tiny NPM module this morning: giphy-random. It basically for retrieving a random GIF using the Gihpy API.

I simplified the code, from the class-based to just a simple function. I also replaced the Promise syntax with the async-await style. It's super simple:

import axios from "axios";

const giphyRandom = async (apiKey, { tag, rating = "g" } = {}) => {
  const params = { api_key: apiKey, rating };

  if (tag) {
    params.tag = tag;

  const { data } = await axios.get("", {

  return data;

export default giphyRandom;

Then I went ahead and upgraded the babel package to the latest version 7. Using Babel 7 means I no longer need to use the babel-plugin-external-helpers. This plugin was used to prevent Babel from injecting the same helper functions on each file its transformed.

My .babelrc looks simpler without any additional plugins:

  "presets": [
    ["@babel/env", {
      "modules": false

The modules is set to false because I use rollup to bundle my library—which can handle the ES module.

The Error

When I build this tiny library, an error arises from the UMD build:

giphy-random.umd.js:59 Uncaught ReferenceError: regeneratorRuntime is not defined
    at giphy-random.umd.js:59
    at giphy-random.umd.js:104
    at giphy-random.umd.js:4
    at giphy-random.umd.js:5

If you've been working with Babel, you might've already known the culprit. This error usually shows up when you use the generator or async function in your code.

The Culprit

When you support some older browsers that can't handle the generator or async syntax. Babel will transform your generator/async code into a backward-compatible ES5 syntax.

Here's my .browserslistrc file. And apparently, some browsers in that query still does not support async function 😅.

last 1 version
>= 5%
not dead

Here's the snippet of generated UMD build from my giphy-random library:

var giphyRandom =
function () {
  var _ref = _asyncToGenerator(
  regeneratorRuntime.mark(function _callee(apiKey) {
    // Omitted...

    return regeneratorRuntime.wrap(function _callee$(_context) {
      // Omitted...
    }, _callee, this);

  return function giphyRandom(_x) {
    return _ref.apply(this, arguments);

The Solutions

As you can see the async giphyRandom function is transformed. And the error is thrown because it can't find the reference to the regeneratorRuntime. There are two possible solutions here:

  1. Let the user provides this regeneratorRuntime module itself.
  2. Include this regeneratorRuntime module in our bundle.

The first approach is just too much of a hassle for the user. So let's include this regeneratorRuntime module in our bundle. (Or you can just drop the support for older browsers 😉)

There are also three ways of including this regeneratorRuntime module in your bundle:

  1. Import the module explicitly: regenerator-runtime.
  2. Use the Babel plugin: @babel/plugin-transform-runtime.
  3. Or if you use @babel/preset-env, you can simply set the useBuiltIns option to usage.

The first solution is not scalable. Imagine that in the future all the browsers in our .browserslistrc file finally support this async function. But because we explicitly import the regenerator-runtime, this module will always be included in our final bundle.

With the second and the third approach, the regeneratorRuntime module will only be injected if the targetted environment does not support a generator or async function.

To execute the second solution, first install the plugin:

$ npm install @babel/plugin-transform-runtime -D

# If you use Yarn
$ yarn add @babel/plugin-transform-runtime -D

Next, register this plugin on your .babelrc file:

  "presets": [
    ["@babel/env", {
      "modules": false
  "plugins": ["@babel/plugin-transform-runtime"]

Finally, update the babel plugin parameter on your Rollup configuration file. Set the runtimeHelpers argument to true.

Here's the snippet of giphy-random's Rollup configuration for the UMD build format:

import babel from "rollup-plugin-babel";
import commonjs from "rollup-plugin-commonjs";
import resolve from "rollup-plugin-node-resolve";

import pkg from "./package.json";

export default [
    input: "src/index.js",
    output: {
      file: pkg.browser,
      format: "umd",
      name: "giphyRandom",
      globals: {
        axios: "axios"
    external: ["axios"],
    plugins: [
        exclude: "node_modules/**",
        runtimeHelpers: true

The third solution is a lot more simpler. All we have to do is set the useBuiltIns option to usage on our .babelrc file:

  "presets": [
    ["@babel/env", {
      "modules": false,
      "useBuiltIns": "usage"

Babel will automatically import the polyfills for the features that we only use. The polyfill itself is provided by the core-js.

Now everything should be working fine 👌🏻