Maria D. Campbell

When a Bare Bones Automated JS Workflow Makes Sense

Sometimes we have JavaScript projects which don’t need workflow tools such as Gulp, Grunt, Browserify, Webpack, and the like. But we want to be able to simplify our lives with a simple automated workflow.

Right now I am working on updating my React workflow to reflect the changes that have taken place in React, Webpack, and Babel. I am using the reveal.js presentation deck, and I wanted to be able to quickly and easily deploy my presentation to gh-pages. I didn’t want to integrate some complicated tooling into the project, and neither is it necessary. I like how the gh-pages npm package works for my React applications, and figured I could use it for my React Workflow documentation created with reveal.js. What I came up with is really simple to use and quick to deploy.

First I initialized npm with the command

npm init

Then I added the gh-pages npm package as a dependency with the command

npm i gh-pages -S

Then I added the rimraf npm package as a devDependency with the command

npm i rimraf -D

Next I had to create my custom local scripts in my package.json. This is how my scripts property looked like initially:

"scripts": {
    "clean": "rimraf dist",
    "dist": "mkdir dist",
    "buildfiles": "cp index.html dist/",
    "builddirs": "cp -R plugin lib js images css dist/",
    "deploy": "gh-pages -d dist"


The rimraf npm package is known as

The UNIX command `rm -rf` for node.

In other words, it will remove whichever folder you want removed from your project. My local script

"clean": "rimraf dist"

removes my dist folder. I do this whenever I have made changes to my project. I need to be able to deploy an updated version of dist, so I first remove the old version to make room for the new.

My local script

"dist": "mkdir dist"

creates a directory called dist. Since I am not using Webpack here, which normally would take care of creating a dist folder for me somewhere in my webpack config, I need to initially create a dist folder where all my project files and folders go for deployment to gh-pages. Each time I remove my dist folder with the npm run clean command, I have to recreate my dist folder.

The script

"buildfiles": "cp index.html dist/",

copies my index.html which is in root into my newly created dist folder.

I couldn’t copy both files and folders all in one command, so I created a second script,

"builddirs": "cp -R plugin lib js images css dist/",

which copied the folders I needed from root into the dist folder.

With all necessary files and folders copied into dist, I am ready to deploy my project to gh-pages with the following command:

"deploy": "gh-pages -d dist"

The -d flag stands for deployment. The script means that the dist folder will be deployed to gh-pages with the npm run deploy command.

I realized that I could, however, improve upon this automation. I ended up with the following terser automation utilizing the following sequence of scripts in my package.json:

"scripts": {
    "clean": "rimraf dist && mkdir dist",
    "prebuild": "cp index.html dist/",
    "build": "cp -R plugin lib js images css dist/",
    "postbuild": "gh-pages -d dist"

Instead of separating rimraf dist from mkdir dist, I combined the two, thereby getting rid of the npm run dist command. Instead of naming my remaining scripts buildfiles, builddirs, and deploy, I named them prebuild, build, and postbuild. With the former script naming, I would have to type out all three scripts, because they are not naming conventions, built in script names. Naming my last three scripts prebuild, build, and postbuild, I only have to run ONE script:

npm run build

All three scripts would run in sequence. First prebuild, then build, and last postbuild.

And that’s it! No fuss, no muss, and only took a minute or two to create.

Happy Bare Bones Automated JS Workflows!

Related Resources:

Categorized under:front-end-developmentnode-package-managerweb-development-workflowsosxcommand-line
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