Peter Lyons

npm modules: development and release versions

February 01, 2013

You are working on two npm modules that are both actively being developed:

  1. my_app: some application, which depends on my_lib
  2. my_lib: a shared library

There are 2 modes you'll need inside my_app: 1) using a published release of my_lib and 2) using a local development version of my_lib.

Using a published release of my_lib is standard faire:

  1. list my_lib as a dependency in my_app/package.json 1. dependencies: {"my_lib": "1.2.x"}
  2. cd my_app && npm install
  3. npm will populate my_app/node_modules/my_lib for you as you would expect

To use your development version so you can easily make changes to both codebases and have them available with minimal fuss, set up this structure

~/projects/my_app (working directory for the app)
~/projects/my_lib   (working directory for the lib)
~/projects/node_modules/my_lib (symlink to ../../my_lib)

You can set this up with

mkdir -p ~/projects/my_app ~/projects/my_lib ~/projects/node_modules
cd ~/projects/node_modules
ln -nsf ../../my_lib

So now when developing my_app and you want to use the local development version of my_lib, just do :

cd ~/projects/my_app
npm uninstall my_lib

Now node's require function will load my_lib from ~/projects/node_modules/my_lib and you are good to go. To switch back to a public of my_lib just do:

cd ~/projects/my_app
npm install

Of course, there is the npm link command which does something nearly identical to this, so far I prefer this approach as I find it a little simpler.