Transitioning from Vue 2 to Vue 3: A Step-by-Step Guide

Anton Ioffe - December 23rd 2023 - 10 minutes read

Welcome, seasoned developers, to the precipice of evolution in the Vue ecosystem. As we venture into this meticulous guide, we invite you to transcend the familiar comfort of Vue 2 and master the transformative features of Vue 3. Prepare to navigate the dynamic landscape where the Composition API redefines reactivity, project structures ascend to new modular heights, breaking changes become opportunities for growth, and state management and routing harmonize with modern necessities. Through pragmatic examples and strategic insights, we will arm you with the knowledge to not only refine your mastery but to also amplify application performance and maintainability. Join us as we demystify the intricacies of migration, paving the way for a sleek, robust, and ahead-of-the-curve Vue 3 experience.

Embracing the Composition API: Refactoring and Paradigm Shift

Leaping into Vue 3's Composition API means more than just an API switch; it signifies a fundamental shift in the way Vue components are conceived and structured. This paradigm shift revolves around the use of reactive state variables directly within a function scope, replacing the traditional Options API's pattern of separating data, methods, computed properties, and lifecycle methods into different options. The Composition API's flexibility affords developers the power to craft highly modular and reusable code pieces, which can be orchestrated together to manage complex application logics more efficiently.

Refactoring existing components to the Composition API starts with rethinking your application logic as a composition of functions. Instead of having a monolithic data object, for instance, you would define independent ref or reactive properties within the setup() function. Methods become regular functions that manipulate these reactivity-aware variables. Here’s a simple example showing a typical conversion of a Vue 2 component using the Options API to Vue 3’s Composition API style:

// Vue 2 with Options API
export default {
  data() {
    return {
      count: 0
  methods: {
    incrementCount() {

// Vue 3 with Composition API
import { ref } from 'vue';

export default {
  setup() {
    const count = ref(0);

    function incrementCount() {

    return {

In this process, a common pitfall is to overly decompose the logic, leading to fragmentation and potential over-abstraction. While modularization is generally beneficial, creating too many small, intertwined reactive states can be as detrimental as overly large ones, often complicating rather than simplifying component logic. To strike a balance, group related reactive states and functions into cohesive logical units that represent clearly defined aspects of component functionality.

To optimize for performance and maintainability, leverage the Composition API's computed and watch functions to efficiently track dependencies and react to changes, replacing the need for watch options and computed properties that were scattered across the component definition in Vue 2. This clears the way for more predictable data flow and easier debugging. Additionally, while refactoring, avoid premature optimizations, such as overusing reactive over ref for single-value reactive states, as each has its suitable use-case scenarios and performance implications.

Cementing these best practices early in the refactoring process will ease the transition and set a standard for future development that aligns with Vue 3’s strengths. Moreover, as you refactor, continuously test individual components and consider potential performance bottlenecks such as unnecessary re-renders or expensive computations. The Composition API provides developers with powerful tools to create optimized applications, but they must be used judiciously to fully reap the benefits of this modern approach to Vue development.

Migrating to the New Vue 3 Project Structure

When transitioning from Vue 2 to Vue 3, one pivotal step is the reconfiguration of the project structure and build setups to leverage Vue 3's focus on modularity and scalability. Start by examining your package.json to ensure all dependencies are compatible with Vue 3. Update build tools like Babel and Webpack to accommodate Vue 3's updated features. Change to vue-loader@16, designed for Vue 3, and update babel-preset-env to the latest version.

// babel.config.js for Vue 3
module.exports = {
  presets: [
    ['@babel/preset-env', {
      targets: { esmodules: true },
    // Other relevant presets for Vue 3
  plugins: [
    // Additional plugins for Vue 3 support
  // Other configuration as needed

Updating your webpack configuration is crucial to make it compatible with Vue 3, particularly in terms of the vue alias to point to Vue 3's ESM build. This shift to ESM facilitates tree shaking for an optimized final bundle.

// webpack.config.js after migration to Vue 3
module.exports = {
  resolve: {
    alias: {
      'vue$': 'vue/dist/vue.esm-bundler.js', // Correctly targets Vue 3 ESM build
      // Apply further necessary aliases
    // Additional resolve configurations
  // Rest of webpack configurations and rules

Reassess and potentially reorganize the directory structure of your components and files. Migrating towards a feature-centric organization not only enhances modularity and scalability but also aids maintainability. Grouping components by domain, for instance, can result in more intuitive navigation and management of the codebase.

Consider adopting Vue 3's Single File Components (SFCs) with <script setup> for a more concise and declarative component format. While this step is not obligatory for migration, it conforms to best practices and can significantly improve both the development process and code maintainability.

In the end, updating your project's infrastructure is a strategic process that encompasses a comprehensive review of how your project is organized. By aligning your project with Vue 3's capabilities, you will establish an organized, efficient, and modern application architecture poised for future development and optimization.

Handling Breaking Changes and Deprecated Features

As developers transition from Vue 2 to Vue 3, they'll encounter breaking changes and deprecated features that need to be addressed to ensure application stability. One of the deprecated features in Vue 3 is the global filter mechanism. In Vue 2, filters were often used to format textual content in templates. For example:

// Defining a global filter in Vue 2
Vue.filter('capitalize', function (value) {
    if (!value) return '';
    value = value.toString();
    return value.charAt(0).toUpperCase() + value.slice(1);

// Usage in Vue 2 template
{{ message | capitalize }}

To update this code for Vue 3, you would need to replace filters with methods or computed properties within your components:

// Computed property or method in Vue 3
const capitalize = (value) => {
    if (!value) return '';
    return value.charAt(0).toUpperCase() + value.slice(1);

// Usage in Vue 3 template
{{ capitalize(message) }}

Another significant deprecation to handle is the replacement of inline templates. Vue 2 allows for inline templates which could be defined using the inline-template attribute. However, Vue 3 has eliminated this feature for several reasons, including scope confusion and performance drawbacks. Take the following Vue 2 snippet:

// Vue 2 component with inline template
<my-component inline-template>
    <p>{{ text }}</p>

In Vue 3, the same functionality should be achieved by defining a proper parent-child component structure:

// MyComponent.vue in Vue 3
    <p>{{ text }}</p>

export default {
    props: ['text']

// Parent component usage
<my-component :text="message"></my-component>

Additionally, the Vue 2 event bus pattern is no longer a best practice and should be replaced with more explicit state management solutions. The use of $on, $off, and $emit on an instance for global event handling can lead to hard-to-maintain and debug code. Here’s how you might have used an event bus in Vue 2:

// EventBus.js in Vue 2
const EventBus = new Vue();
export default EventBus;

// Component A emitting an event
EventBus.$emit('eventName', data);

// Component B listening to the event
EventBus.$on('eventName', (data) => {
    // handle event

In Vue 3, consider using provide/inject for tightly coupled component trees or a state management library like Vuex for more global needs:

// Provide/inject pattern in Vue 3 component
provide('eventName', eventNameHandler);

// Child component receiving the event handler
const eventNameHandler = inject('eventName');

For handling the breaking changes in Vue 3's global API, outdated methods like Vue.set and Vue.delete are no longer needed due to the improved reactivity system. To manipulate reactivity in Vue 3, you should directly set properties on reactive objects or use the Vue.set if you're dealing with edge cases in compatibility builds. This change simplifies the overall reactive system and improves application performance. Here's how you adapt your approach:

// In Vue 2, you might have used:
Vue.set(this.someObject, 'newProperty', value);

// In Vue 3, simply set the property directly to retain reactivity:
this.someObject.newProperty = value;

// As for property deletion, Vue 3's reactivity tracks it automatically:
// Vue 2
Vue.delete(this.someObject, 'propertyToDelete');

// Vue 3, simply use the delete keyword
delete this.someObject.propertyToDelete;

With deprecations being a natural aspect of technological progression, it's crucial for developers to carefully evaluate and rewrite the parts of their Vue 2 applications that use outdated patterns. What strategies do you usually employ when approaching breaking changes in a major library update? Are there ways you can mitigate the risks associated with these transitional updates in your application development lifecycle? Addressing these considerations will not only ensure a smoother migration but also result in cleaner and more maintainable code.

Streamlining State Management and Routing

Upgrading the state management system to Vuex 4 is essential when transitioning to Vue 3, as Vuex 3 is not compatible with the newer Vue version. During the upgrade, the Vuex store's initial setup undergoes a notable change. Instead of passing the store to Vue using a plugin during the Vue instance's initialization, Vuex is now directly used within the root application instance's app.use() method. Here's the basic code modification corresponding to this change:

import { createApp } from 'vue';
import { createStore } from 'vuex';
import App from './App.vue';

// Create a new store instance
const store = createStore({
    // State and mutations go here

const app = createApp(App);

This alteration not just streamlines the initialization process but results in cleaner and more modular code. It is important to review each module within your store to ensure they are exported correctly and maintain type safety within the context of TypeScript, if used.

When it comes to routing, upgrading to Vue Router 4 requires attention to breaking changes. A prime point of consideration is the navigation guard's API adjustments. Navigation guards are crucial for controlling access to routes based on various conditions and the new Vue Router simplifies their usage by using promise-based functions, which enhance route handling:

import { createRouter, createWebHistory } from 'vue-router';

const router = createRouter({
    history: createWebHistory(),
    routes: [/* ... */],

router.beforeEach((to, from, next) => {
    // Navigation guard logic
    if (routeIsProtected && !userIsAuthenticated) {
    } else {

This ensures a more efficient and predictable navigation process, contributing to a better overall application performance by avoiding unnecessary waits or complex callback structures.

Revisiting Vuex, the store's reactivity when using Vue 3's reactivity system must be kept intact after migration. With Vuex 4, state management continues to be reactive out of the box. Nevertheless, it is critical to verify that your state, getters, mutations, and actions are all correctly updated and that modules remain reactive after changes.

Implementing these upgrades is not without its challenges. Considering performance, the changes have minimal impact, provided the migration is done correctly. However, the complexity of the code may initially increase as one adapts to the new patterns and ensures compatibility with existing architectural decisions. It is beneficial to take this opportunity to review and potentially refactor state management and routing in your application, to align with the modular and reusable paradigms that Vue 3 advocates.

In conclusion, migrating Vuex and Vue Router to their Vue 3 compatible versions is a significant undertaking that demands careful planning and testing. Not only does it involve modifying the code to conform to the new APIs, but it also provides a good opportunity to improve the application's structure for better manageability. The process, while tricky, can lead to better type safety, improved modularity, and ultimately, an enhanced performance profile for your Vue 3 application.

Testing and Fine-Tuning After Migration

After migrating your codebase from Vue 2 to Vue 3, it's imperative to conduct exhaustive testing to validate the application's stability and functionality. Employ both unit and integration tests using Vue 3's test utilities like @vue/test-utils. This can be supplemented with Vue's own reactivity APIs like reactive and ref as means of state management within the tests. To showcase, consider the following unit test example for a component that employs the reactivity system:

import { shallowMount, reactive } from '@vue/test-utils';
import MyComponent from '@/components/MyComponent.vue';

describe('MyComponent', () => {
  it('reacts to state changes', async () => {
    const wrapper = shallowMount(MyComponent, {
      propsData: {
        initialCount: 0,
    const state = reactive({ count: wrapper.vm.count });

    await wrapper.vm.$nextTick();

    expect(wrapper.text()).toContain('Count: 1');

With the fundamentals of testing in place, ensure that each feature of your application performs as expected within the Vue 3 environment. This includes the smooth operation of animations, the reactivity of data bindings, and the proper rendering of components. A comprehensive regression test suite guarantees that all aspects, including new features and changes applied during the migration, function coherently.

Performance optimization must also be a focal point post-migration. Vue 3 offers a more efficient reactivity engine that can lead to better performance characteristics. However, it is crucial to validate these benefits within the context of your application. Use Vue 3's reactive and computed properties to streamline reactivity and eliminate unnecessary re-renders. Here's a snippet to illustrate efficient reactivity usage:

import { ref, computed } from 'vue';

const counter = ref(0);
const doubledCounter = computed(() => counter.value * 2);

function incrementCounter() {

Transitioning to Vue 3 also introduces the opportunity to refactor components into a composition-based architecture promoting reusability and modularity. Assess the scalability of your components by evaluating their encapsulation of logic and state. This strategy not only improves readability but also simplifies future maintenance and scaling of the application.

Lastly, adhere to best practices to keep your codebase clean and maintainable. Regularly refactor your code to simplify complex methods, break down larger components into smaller ones, and leverage Vue 3's features to their fullest without overcomplicating your setup. Be meticulous with code comments to explain intent, particularly when using advanced reactivity concepts that might be less clear at first glance. With a blend of rigorous testing, performance optimization, and continuous refactoring, your application will reap the full advantages of Vue 3's robust ecosystem.


In this article, experienced developers are guided through the process of transitioning from Vue 2 to Vue 3, focusing on key aspects such as embracing the Composition API, refactoring components, updating project structures, handling breaking changes and deprecated features, streamlining state management and routing, and testing and fine-tuning after migration. The article emphasizes the need for careful planning, code refactoring, and thorough testing to ensure a smooth and successful migration. As a challenging task, developers are encouraged to refactor and optimize their own Vue 2 components using the Composition API and Vue 3's reactivity features, while also considering potential performance bottlenecks and maintaining a clean and maintainable codebase.

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