React Invariant Violation / Minified Exception on iOS 8 with Webpack + Babel


Check out this gist to see the bug.

I ran into a head-scratcher over the weekend that I needed document, because I spent a few more hours than I wanted to trying to see why a deployed project wasn’t working at all on iOS 8.4.

My project is using react, webpack, and babel. One of the babel plugins I’m using is babel-plugin-transform-react-inline-elements which transforms react elements to increase performance in production.

I’m also using the babel-polyfill (which includes the core-js shim) to polyfill some features like Symbols.

The project was working fine locally on iOS 8, but when deployed I was getting an error from react.

Error: Minified exception occurred; use the non-minified dev environment for the full error message and additional helpful warnings.

If I removed the babel-polyfill, the error went away. The problem was I needed the babel-polyfill especially on iOS 8 where there is no Symbol. I also tried just loading core-js/shim or just core-js/es6/symbol but the error was still happening. Here’s a way stripped down version of my main JS file which was causing the error:

// The error goes way with no polyfill, but I need the polyfill
import "babel-polyfill"

import React from "react"
import DOM from "react-dom"

DOM.render(<div>hey everybody</div>, document.getElementById("root"))

Next, I removed the webpack define plugin so it was no longer replacing process.env.NODE_ENV so I could see what the unminified error was:

Invariant Violation: ReactDOM.render(): Invalid component element. This may be caused by unintentionally loading two independent copies of React.

I had a feeling that I wasn’t actually loading two different copies of react, so I kept digging. It was then that I remembered I had some babel plugins turned on in production only. My .babelrc looked like this:

  "presets": [
  "env": {
    "production": {
      // Yay! Removing this plugin fixes it!
      "plugins": [

Once I disabled the transform-react-inline-elements plugin the error went away. Since this plugin is only used for performance improvements, I decided that working on iOS 8 was more important.

I put together a full gist of the bug to make it easier to reproduce. I still don’t know exactly why this error is happening, but I plan on trying to report it to the relevant projects to see if it can be tracked down and fixed. The main lessons I learned though:

  • Remove process.env.NODE_ENV overwriting from your webpack bundle so you can see the error messages from react. See the DefinePlugin docs for more info
  • Babel environment specific plugins can lead to environment specific bugs. Always turn these off as a first step to debugging a production only bug.