I Am Simme

Random musings by a programmer and film photography geek.

Bye bye Grunt, bye bye Gulp. Hello package.json.

Posted in Web Development.

Build systems. The eternal blight of software development. The necessary evil that causes hair loss at a way to young age. Ok, maybe it's not all that bad. But we've all been bitten by them. The build systems.

Anyway. I've never liked Grunt. There I said it. The configuration style doesn't fit me. I've always thought it was too configy and clunky. Then came Gulp that promised a straightforward pipe-based API. It was supposed to be fast. I took to it. I spent some time getting in to Gulp, learning it's API and building out my own build system.

After a while I found this article about how Dan Tello structures his Gulpfile. I started doing the same. But then, one day, I read a blog post by Keith Cirkel where he was talking about why we should stop using Grunt & Gulp. And it struck me:

Why am I spending all this time writing code that is not my "real" code?

The post has a perfectly valid point:

I realise that someone, somewhere will have a valid use-case for build tools like Grunt and Gulp. I believe, however, that npm can handle 99% of use-cases elegantly, with less code, less maintainence, and less overhead than these tools.

I like that. "Less code, less maintainence".

So, the gist of it. I like SASS and Browserify. So what do I need? I need to:

Here's a relevant section from an example package.json file.

  "scripts": {
    "test": "node_modules/.bin/istanbul cover node_modules/.bin/_mocha -- --ui tdd -R spec --inline-diffs",
    "build": "browserify -t [ hbsfy -e hbs ] assets/js/main.js -o build/foo.js | uglifyjs2 build/foo.js > build/bloglovin.min.js",
    "watch": "watchify -d -v -t [ hbsfy -e hbs ] assets/js/main.js -o build/foo.js & sass --watch --sourcemap assets/sass:build",
    "start": "NODE_ENV=development nodemon index.js --port=3000 --admin-port=3001"
  },

Now when I run npm run build I know exactly what it does!

Does it look good? No. It doesn't. But it's pragmatic. I know exactly what each of my build commands does. I don't need to go in to detail about it here. But as you can see it does everything I need it to do in four lines of "code". If I thought one of the lines was getting out of hand I could pretty easily extract it into it's own Bash script and run that instead.

Just like in March when I realized I had strived too far from what makes CSS, CSS and that I wanted to get back to basics. I've started to feel the same about build systems. Let's keep it simple. Let's focus on the code that makes up our apps! :D