node package manager


Local dependencies helper


Command-line tool to help with managing largeish amounts of local dependencies in node_modules for a single project.


npm install -g aperture
  aperture <command> [options]
  open     links, installs and purges your dependencies for fresh projects.
  link     Sets up the local links in the target directory.
  list     Lists the modules configured to be linked.
  bulk     Runs a shell command from each linked module.
  install  Intelligently install your node dependencies for local development.
  config   Print out the current config being used.
  expand   Expand any globs present in `aperture.sources`.
  purge    Permanently removes any module duplicates which should
           be linked in the tree.
  -b, --bail     Exit early on reaching an error during "aperture bulk".
  -v, --version  Output the current version and exit
  -d, --cwd      Target a different directory for this command.
                 Default: current directory


Configuration is added to a package.json file at the root of your project, e.g.:

  "aperture": {
    "sources": [

Where aperture.sources should be an array of package directories – globs are supported too.

aperture init

Provided the configuration has been set up correctly, you can run this command to set up the dependencies for a fresh project. Essentially, it's the equivalent of this:

aperture link &&
aperture bulk -- npm install --color=always &&
aperture purge

But is none-the-less included for convenience. For more flexibility and faster updates after the initial setup, the commands that follow are likely to be useful.

aperture link

Now, to symlink these directories to the top-level, just run this for your project's root:

aperture link

aperture bulk

If you've just cloned the project repo, you probably don't want to visit each local dependency to get npm install or any other setup commands running. This is easily fixed with aperture bulk, which runs your chosen command from each source's directory:

# Install dependencies for all of the local modules
# defined in "aperture.sources"
aperture bulk npm install
# Remove the currently installed node_modules
# folder for each local module. Note the use of --
# to allow for the -rf flags.
aperture bulk -- rm -rf node_modules

By default, each script will run whether or not the previous one executed successfully. You can change this behavior using the --bail flag:

$ aperture bulk --bail -- bash -c 'echo hello && exit 1'
Error: Invalid exit code: 1

aperture install

In practice, aperture bulk npm install works, but can take a long time when projects share a lot of common dependencies. The install command is a little smarter about this, and will install each linked module's dependencies for you in a way that minimises duplicate packages.

Essentially, aperture will build a list of the dependencies required for each project and their expected version. For each dependency:

  • Check if all of the versions are compatible, and if so install them once in the root directory, alongside your linked modules.
  • Otherwise, install that module as normal.

This can result in significant speedups (and a smaller node_modules folder) for installs when working on larger projects.

aperture purge

The last remaining thing to do is remove any other dependencies or symlinks hidden in the tree that might conflict with your new top-level ones:

aperture purge

Use the above command with caution! It will rm -rf any conflicting packages it finds along the way, and while the effects won't leave the project directory you should make sure all your changes have been checked in properly.

After that, it should be set up, and you just need to run aperture link every time a new dependency has been added.

aperture expand

Glob patterns work well for early development, but once a project starts to solidify it can be useful to return to explicit dependencies, much like the dependencies field is always explicit.

When you're ready, simply run aperture expand to convert your glob patterns into explicit module paths. As an example, the following:

  "name": "my-app",
  "aperture": {
    "sources": ["utils-*/*"]

Might become something like this:

  "name": "my-app",
  "aperture": {
    "sources": [

aperture list

You can list all of the module directories that should be linked locally using this command:

$ aperture list

aperture config

Quickly print out the project's current config using this command:

$ aperture config
  "sources": [