Closure Compiler Compilation Levels

The Closure Compiler lets you choose from three levels of compilation, ranging from simple removal of whitespace and comments to aggressive code transformations.


The WHITESPACE_ONLY compilation level removes comments from your code and also removes line breaks, unnecessary spaces, extraneous punctuation (such as parentheses and semicolons), and other whitespace. The output JavaScript is functionally identical to the source JavaScript.

This compilation level provides the least compression of the three levels.


The SIMPLE_OPTIMIZATIONS compilation level performs the same whitespace and comment removal as WHITESPACE_ONLY, but it also performs optimizations within expressions and functions, including renaming local variables and function parameters to shorter names. Renaming variables to shorter names makes code significantly smaller. Because the SIMPLE_OPTIMIZATIONS level renames only symbols that are local to functions, it does not interfere with the interaction between the compiled JavaScript and other JavaScript.

Compilation with SIMPLE_OPTIMIZATIONS always preserves the functionality of syntactically valid JavaScript, provided that the code does not access local variables using string names (by using eval() statements, for example, or by calling toString on functions).

SIMPLE_OPTIMIZATIONS is the default compilation level.


The ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS compilation level performs the same transformations as SIMPLE_OPTIMIZATIONS, but adds a variety of more aggressive global transformations to achieve the highest compression of all three levels. The ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS level compresses JavaScript well beyond what is possible with other tools.

To enable this extreme compression, ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS makes strong assumptions about the compiled code. If your code does not conform to those assumptions, ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS will produce code that does not run.

For example, code compiled with ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS may not work with uncompiled code unless you take special steps to ensure interoperability. If you do not flag external functions and properties referenced in your code, Closure Compiler will inappropriately rename references in your code, causing mismatches between the names in your code and in the external code.

To learn more about how to prepare your code for ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS, read Advanced Compilation and Externs.

The ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS transformations include:

  • more aggressive renaming:

    Compilation with SIMPLE_OPTIMIZATIONS only renames parameters and variables within functions. ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS also renames global variables, function names, and properties.

  • dead code removal:

    Compilation with ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS removes code that is provably unreachable. This is especially useful in combination with large libraries. If you use only a few functions from a large library file, the compiler can remove everything except those functions from its output.

  • global inlining:

    Compilation with ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS replaces some function calls with the body of the function. This transformation is known as "inlining". The compiler only inlines functions when it determines that inlining is safe and saves space. Compilation with ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS also inlines constants and some variables when the compiler determines that it can do so safely.

How to Set the Compilation Level

The Closure Compiler service UI, service API, and application all have different methods for setting the compilation_level.

In the Closure Compiler service UI

To set the compilation level in the Closure Compiler service UI, click on the radio buttons in the Optimization section of the interface.

UI screenshot

In the Closure Compiler service API

To set the compilation level in the Closure Compiler service API, include a request parameter named compilation_level with a value of WHITESPACE_ONLY, SIMPLE_OPTIMIZATIONS, or ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS, as in the following python program:


import httplib, urllib, sys

params = urllib.urlencode([
    ('code_url', sys.argv[1]),
    ('compilation_level', 'ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS'),
    ('output_format', 'text'),
    ('output_info', 'compiled_code'),

headers = { "Content-type": "application/x-www-form-urlencoded" }
conn = httplib.HTTPConnection('closure-compiler.appspot.com')
conn.request('POST', '/compile', params, headers)
response = conn.getresponse()
data = response.read()
print data

In the Closure Compiler application

To set the compilation level in the Closure Compiler application, include the command line flag --compilation_level with a value of WHITESPACE_ONLY, SIMPLE, or ADVANCED, as in the following command:

java -jar compiler.jar --compilation_level ADVANCED_OPTIMIZATIONS --js hello.js