Node.js development environment

When developing for the Block Editor, you will need Node.js development tools along with a code editor and a local WordPress environment (see Block Development Environment). Node.js (node) is an open-source runtime environment that allows you to execute JavaScript code from the terminal (also known as a command-line interface, CLI, or shell)

Installing node will automatically include the Node Package Manager (npm) and the Node Package eXecute (npx), two tools you will frequently use in block and plugin development.

Node Package Manager (npm) serves multiple purposes, including dependency management and script execution. It’s the recommended package manager and is extensively featured in all documentation.

The Node Package eXecute (npx) tool is used to run commands from packages without installing them globally and is commonly used when scaffolding blocks with the create-block package.

Node.js installation on Mac and Linux (with nvm)

It’s recommended that you use Node Version Manager (nvm) to install Node.js. This allows you to install and manage specific versions of node, which are installed locally in your home directory, avoiding any global permission issues.

Here are the quick instructions for installing node using nvm and setting the recommended Node.js version for block development. See the complete installation guide for more details.

  1. Open the terminal and run the following to install nvm. On macOS, the required developer tools are not installed by default. Install them if prompted.
curl -o- | bash
  1. Quit and restart the terminal.
  2. Run nvm install --lts in the terminal to install the latest LTS (Long Term Support) version of Node.js.
  3. Run node -v and npm -v in the terminal to verify the installed node and npm versions.

If needed, you can also install specific versions of node. For example, install version 18 by running nvm install 18, and switch between different versions by running nvm use [version-number]. See the nvm usage guide for more details.

Some projects, like Gutenberg, include an .nvmrc file which specifies the version of node that should be used. In this case, running nvm use will automatically select the correct version. If the version is not yet installed, you will get an error that tells you what version needs to be added. Run nvm install [version-number] followed by nvm use.

Node.js installation on Windows and others

You can download a Node.js installer directly from the main Node.js website. The latest version is recommended. Installers are available for Windows and Mac, and binaries are available for Linux.

Microsoft also provides a detailed guide on how to install nvm and Node.js on Windows and WSL.


If you encounter the error zsh: command not found: nvm when attempting to install node, you might need to create the default profile file.

The default shell is zsh on macOS, so create the profile file by running touch ~/.zshrc in the terminal. It’s fine to run if the file already exists. The default profile is bash for Ubuntu, including WSL, so use touch ~/.bashrc instead. Then repeat steps 2-4.

The latest node version should work for most development projects, but be aware that some packages and tools have specific requirements. If you encounter issues, you might need to install and use a previous node version. Also, make sure to check if the project has an .nvmrc and use the node version indicated.

Additional resources