How can I handle Node.js dependencies in a project on git with NPM?

Problem

I’ve run into this scenario quite a few times and still haven’t found the answer. I’m starting a new Node.js project, and this project will be dependent on some other libraries. For sake of argument, let’s say that some are purely JS libraries that could be added as git submodules in the new project, but some have pieces that need some extra effort (such as system dependencies that npm installs, or C libraries that must be compiled).

What’s the best way to start this project and add it to git, with the following two requirements:

  • Other people’s libraries aren’t committed to our own repo, and are instead submodules or are pulled in dynamically and installed by npm.
  • Not needing to have a big list of instructions that have to be followed just to clone the repo and have a working environment. Running git submodules update — init — recursive is fine, running an npm command to read package.json and install the dependencies is fine (does such a command exist?), but forcing everyone to run through an “npm install __” of every single dependency isn’t ok, and I’d rather not use ‘make’ or ‘ant’ to do that if I don’t have to.

Any thoughts of the best way to do this? It seems like such a simple, basic thing, but I couldn’t find a single example of what I’m trying to do.

Edit: Grammar

Problem courtesy of: Tom Frost

Solution

edit Ignore below, but left for reference. Sometimes I don’t think clearly in the morning :)

make a package.json file, add your dependencies and your install simply becomes:

npm install

from your project directory. git ignore all the added projects.


npm submodule foo

It installs the packages into node_modules via git submodule so github, etc will recognize that they're link. This works whenever the npm package has a git URI included. Unfortunately a good number don't, so you're out of luck on those.

Also, note that when you do this, npm won't work on the module any longer, e.g. you can't update via npm, you have to do it via git


Or you could just do something like:

./modules.js

modules.exports = [ 'express@1.0', 'jade@2.0', 'stylus@3.0' ];

./make

#!/usr/bin/env node
var modules = require( './modules' )
, spawn = require('child_process').spawn;

for( var i=0, l=modules.length; i<l; i++ ){
spawn( 'npm', [ 'install', modules[i] ] );
}

Solution courtesy of: Mark Kahn

View additional discussion.