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1.2.2 • Public • Published


An extensible, Gulp-based front-end toolchain designed for quick and fussless setup and maintenance.

Table of Contents

System Requirements

In order to use this tool, you must have each of the following installed in your system:


Calliope is a front-end task runner based on Gulp. It is designed to provide reasonable defaults that will get most web projects up and running with minimal setup or maintenance. Common tasks include image processing, JavaScript compression, Sass compilation, linting, watching for changes, and starting a reverse proxy that will refresh the browser anytime assets change. These tasks can be configured to suit your project’s needs.

This tool also exposes a simple API for customization. Default tasks can be overridden and custom tasks can be registered to be run in a variety of scenarios.

Quick Start Guide

Get Calliope up and running in three easy steps!

  1. Install Calliope.

    Run the following command wherever you intend to run your front-end tooling:

    yarn add @chromatichq/calliope
  2. Jump-start your project.

    Set up calliope by running the init command, like so:

    npx @chromatichq/calliope init

    Note the use of npx in the command above. npx ships with your Node installation and there is no Yarn equivalent for it. We only use npx for this init command.

    What does the `init` command do?

    The init command will do a few things for you:

    • Create a calliope.config.js file in the directory where Calliope is installed.
    • Create an .env-sample file for team members to use as a reference when configuring their development environment.
    • Create a .gitignore file.
    • Create .eslintrc.yml and .stylelintrc.yml files based on the rules we typically use at Chromatic.
    • Create a as a starter for your theme or project with basic information about basic Calliope commands.
    • Update your project’s package.json file to add common commands to be invoked with Yarn (e.g. build, start, etc.).

    By default, the init command will not overwrite any files whose names may collide with the files detailed above. If any of those files already exist when you run this command, you will see messages indicating that files were found and instructions on how to overwrite them. In addition to this, Calliope allows you to pick and choose which of these files you want with the --only-* flags (--only-config or --only-stylelint, for instance). Run npx @chromatichq/calliope init --help for additional details on these options.

  3. Configure your toolchain.

    Open your newly created calliope.config.js file and make any changes that your project requires, if any. If this is a new project, the first (and possibly only) thing to update would be Browsersync’s proxy configuration, which you’ll want to modify to be your project’s development URL (typically, a Lando URL). Refer to the code comments in the calliope.config.js file for additional details of all configuration options.

That’s it! You’re ready to start generating front-end assets for your project. See Available Commands for details on the commands available out of the box.

Available Commands

For the most part, you will be interacting with commands: build and start.

yarn build - Build Production-ready Assets Once

The build command runs all of the tasks defined as pipelines (see Pipelines below).

yarn start - Build Production-ready Assets & Watch For Changes

The start command will run the build command, watch for changes in the project’s source files, and re-run the appropriate tasks when any changes are detected. In addition to watching for changes, the start command will also run any daemons available in your project. (See the Daemons section for details).

yarn calliope TASK - Run Arbitrary Tasks

In addition to the built-in commands detailed above, any individual task can be invoked as a standalone command via Calliope’s CLI. If your package.json has been set up correctly (as it should be if you ran the init command), you should be able to run any task as needed. For example, the command below would run the scripts task once by itself:

yarn calliope scripts

Default Tasks

Calliope ships with a few basic tasks that most projects will need. This section provides an overview of these tasks and what they accomplish. For details on the configuration options available for each of the following tasks, see the calliope.config-sample.js file in this project’s repository.


Your project’s build is defined by its pipeline tasks. These tasks are concerned with processing your project’s static assets (JS, CSS, images, etc) and are run every time you run the build or start commands.

fonts - Move Font Files

The fonts task merely moves font files from your source directory to the destination directory without any additional processing.

fonts is disabled by default, but can be easily enabled by adding a configuration object for it in your project’s calliope.config.js file. See calliope.config-sample.js for configuration details.

images - Optimize Images

The images moves image files from the source directory to the destination directory. It also provides simple image optimization for SVGs via gulp-imagemin.

images is disabled by default, but can be easily enabled by adding a configuration object for it in your project’s calliope.config.js file. See calliope.config-sample.js for configuration details.

scripts - Optimize JavaScript

The scripts task handles operations related to JavaScript processing and optimization. It provides linting, uglification/compression (via terser), and concatenation. All of these operations are configurable to some degree.

By default, this task does not lint JS files, but linting can be enabled via an .env file. See Developer Personalization for details.

styles - Pre-process Stylesheets

The styles task generates CSS from your project’s .scss files using node-sass. It includes a few affordances, such as gulp-sass-glob, gulp-autoprefixer, and gulp-clean-css. This task generates both minified and expanded (i.e. not minified) CSS stylesheets. Minified stylesheets will be named after your SCSS files, and expanded stylesheets will have the suffix -expanded attached to the filename. So if your stylesheet is named main.scss, Calliope will produce two files: main.css and main-expanded.css.

By default, this task does not lint SCSS files, but linting can be enabled via an .env file. See Developer Personalization for details.


Daemons are tasks that run alongside your watched tasks when you use the start command. They are typically servers designed to enhance or otherwise facilitate the development experience without necessarily impacting the outcome of your build.

browsersync - Reverse Proxy

The browsersync task reverse proxies your project’s local URL, so that it may be accessed at https://localhost:3000. Using this reverse proxy during development saves time and effort by dynamically refreshing styles when styles change or auto-refreshing the page when JS or template files change.

Generic Tasks

Generic tasks are tasks that are not part of the build and are not run alongside your watched tasks, but are nevertheless invoked independently throughout the development workflow in one way or another.

lint - Lint JS and SCSS

The lint tasks uses gulp-eslint-new and gulp-stylelint to lint your project’s JS and SCSS (respectively). It uses the src and (optional) watch settings of the scripts and styles configuration to determine which files should be linted, and relies on your project’s .eslintrc.yml and .stylelintrc.yml files to define the rules with which to lint your source files.


Calliope works out of the box without much configuration, outside of setting your project’s development URL for the Browsersync proxy. Should you need to configure how any of the default tasks behave or add configuration for a custom task, refer to the code comments in your calliope.config.js (if you used the init command) or just reference the calliope.config-sample.js file in this repository. The file contains details on how to configure each individual task, and serves as a reference for creating configuration for a custom task, if needed.

Developer Personalization

In addition to the configuration options available in your project’s calliope.config.js, individual developers may modify parts of the tooling behavior according to their personal preferences. Developers may opt into JS and SCSS linting, and modify the reverse proxy’s URL (or opt out of reverse proxying altogether) by creating a .env file in their project and setting variables according to their needs. See the .env-sample file in this project’s repo for reference.


Calliope will serve the needs of most of our projects out of the box, but if you run into a scenario where you need it to do something different or extra there are two things you can do: override default tasks or create custom tasks. In both cases, all you have to do is create a calliope/ directory and add your tasks to the appropriate directory within. Read on to learn the details.

Custom Task Types

Calliope is just a fancy wrapper around Gulp, so all tasks that you may need to create will be just standard Gulp tasks. However, there are three different types of tasks within Calliope, some of which get special treatment.

  1. Pipelines: These are typically tasks that process static assets, e.g. compiling styles, compressing JavaScript, processing images, moving fonts around, etc. If your custom task or override is intended to be run as part of each build, it goes in calliope/pipelines/. In addition to creating custom pipelines, Calliope supports overriding its default pipelines if your project requires this. See Overriding Default Pipelines below for details.
  2. Daemons: Daemons are long-running processes that you want Calliope to run alongside any watched tasks. Anytime you run yarn calliope start, Calliope will not only build assets and start watching for changes, but also run any daemons that may be available. If you need to run a service during development (a component library server, an API stubs server, etc.), it belongs in calliope/daemons/. While you may create custom daemons to run in parallel to build and watched tasks during development, the default reverse proxy daemon may not be overridden at this time.
  3. Tasks: These are generic tasks that may be used as needed. They are standard Gulp taks that are only run when you explicitly invoke them in the command line. e.g. if you have a calliope/tasks/build-patterns.js file in your project, you can use yarn calliope build-patterns to run it. You can create as many custom generic tasks as your project needs, but existing ones are not currently overrideable.

Overriding Default Pipelines

Any of Calliope’s pipeline tasks can be overridden by creating an appropriately-named module file in the calliope/pipelines/ directory within your project. Your task file should have the same name as the task you intend to override (e.g. scripts.js overrides the scripts task, fonts.js overrides fonts, etc.). Your override file should export a function to be used by Gulp instead of the default function provided by Calliope:

Here’s what it might look like to override the scripts task (keeping in mind this is a highly-contrived example that merely moves JS files without modifying them in any way):

 * @file
 * Gulp task to process client-side JavaScript.

// Get the configuration object from Calliope.
const config = require('@chromatichq/calliope').config;
const { src, dest } = require('gulp');

function scripts() {
  return src(config.pipelines.scripts.src, { sourcemaps: true })
    // Transform JS files one way or another.
    .pipe(dest(config.pipelines.scripts.dest, { sourcemaps: '.' }));

module.exports = scripts;

Creating Custom Pipelines

Custom pipeline tasks are unique custom tasks that do not override any of the default pipeline tasks shipped with Calliope. These tasks are simply run alongside the default pipelines. This can be useful in the case that your project has special assets that need to be processed one way or another in a way that Calliope does not currently support. For example, say your project includes custom Vue.js components that need to be processed separately from all the other JS. You could write a components.js file that exports a Gulp task to process those files and add it to your projects calliope/pipelines/ directory.

Custom Pipelines require one more step, however. Calliope only runs pipelines that have a configuration. This makes it possible for Calliope to programmatically determine what tasks constitute a “build”, so that it may be easily reproduced in a variety of contexts (*building in production, watching in development, etc). Your project’s config.pipelines object dictates what tasks are run as pipeline tasks during build and watch processes. Therefore, in order for Calliope to know about your custom pipeline, it must be added to the pipelines configuration object exported in your project’s calliope.config.js file.

Using the components example above, your calliope.config.js file should have something like this:

exports.pipelines = {
  // Other pipeline configuration…
  components: {
    // Your Vue.js task’s configuration here.

Any configuration you include in that components object can be accessed from your custom components.js file like so:

const config = require('@chromatichq/calliope').config;

Finally, note that in the unlikely event that your custom pipeline needs no configuration whatsoever, you can simply pass an empty object:

exports.pipelines = {
  components: {},

Creating Custom Daemons & Tasks

Custom daemons and generic tasks is very similar to creating custom pipelines, with the exception that these are simply picked up by Calliope automatically without the need to add them to calliope.config.js. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t add configuration for these tasks if you need it; only that you don’t have to in order for Calliope to know about and use these tasks.

In the case of daemons, Calliope will run them in parallel to the build tasks while watching for changes during development (i.e. during the start command). Refer to the tasks/browsersync.js file in this project for an example of a daemon.

As for generic tasks, Calliope will register them and only run them when you explicitly run yarn calliope TASK_NAME. For an example of a generic task, refer to the tasks/lint.js file in this project.

Environment Variables

Depending on the nature of your custom task, it may make sense to make some configuration available for developers to customize in a localized manner that only affects their local environment. This should only be used for configuration that does not impact the reproducibility of a build; think: linting vs not linting during development (a feature that the default scripts and styles tasks offer out of the box!), or whether to print stats about your fancy Vue.js compilation process to the console.

This sort of personalization can be easily accomplished by declaring one or more appropriately-named variables in your .env file and referencing said variables from the calliope.config.js file. For example, if you create a variable like this in your .env file:


You can then access that value from calliope.config.js like so:

const myCustomVar = process.env.CALLIOPE_MY_CUSTOM_VAR || 'some less fun fallback';

See the pipelines.scripts and pipelines.styles objects in the config/defaults.js file in this project for other examples of how we currently use environment variables.

It’s important to note that these personalization options should always be optional and there should always be a fallback in your configuration. You should also document any new environment variables in the Development Settings section of your project’s README for ease of reference and add sample variable definitions in your project’s .env-sample file.




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