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BoneScript is a node.js library for physical computing on embedded Linux, starting with support for BeagleBone.

Information on the language is available at

To check the version and to see if BoneScript is in your path, try running:

node -pe "require('bonescript').getPlatform().bonescript"

Additional documentation is available at

The concept is to use Arduino-like functions written in JavaScript to simplify learning how to do physical computing tasks under embedded Linux and to further provide support for rapidly creating GUIs for your embedded applications through the use of HTML5/JavaScript web pages.

Global Installation

BoneScript comes installed on your BeagleBone. To update to the latest revision, use 'npm' on a recent Debian image from and perform:

TERM=none sudo npm cache clear
TERM=none sudo npm install -g --prefix /usr/local --unsafe-perm bonescript
sudo shutdown -r now

Testing on other distributions is limited.

There are some additional installation steps that can be performed, but are typically installed by other mechanisms on the Debian images. These setup background services (bone101 webserver with bonescript RPC and bonescript autorun service) as well as configure environment variables for these services and other globally run scripts.

sudo cp bonescript/etc/default/node /etc/default/node
sudo cp bonescript/etc/profile.d/ /etc/profile.d/
sudo cp bonescript/systemd/\* /lib/systemd/system
sudo systemctl enable bonescript.socket
sudo systemctl enable bonescript-autorun.service

Launching applications persistently

To have your applications launch on startup, simply drop them into the /var/lib/cloud9/autorun folder. Moving them out of that folder will kill the processes. You are expected to only drop in already bug-free apps into this folder as there isn't a good way to perform debug on them.

Note on code state

There's still a lot of development going on, so be sure to check back on a frequent basis. Many of the fancier peripherals aren't yet supported except through performing file I/O.

Directory layout

  • index.js: Main BoneScript source code
  • autorun.js: Node.JS app to run apps dropped in the autorun folder
  • package.json: NPM.JS package descriptor
  • server.js: BoneScript web server to serve up remote procedure calls
  • dts: Devicetree templates
  • etc: Configuration files to be placed in target distro
  • src: Library source code
  • systemd: Configuration files for systemd to start services
  • test: To-be-automated test code


For a BoneScript application, you must currently manually 'require' the bonescript library. Functions are then referenced through the object provided back from require.

I started out trying to provide Arduino-like setup/loop functions, but the idea really isn't a good match for JavaScript. Using JavaScript's native flow works best, but the familiar functions are enough to give you a boost in your physical computing productivity.

Here's an example:

var b = require('bonescript');
b.pinMode('P8_12', b.INPUT);
b.pinMode('P8_13', b.OUTPUT);
setInterval(copyInputToOutput, 100);
function copyInputToOutput() {
    b.digitalRead('P8_12', writeToOutput);
    function writeToOutput(x) {
        b.digitalWrite('P8_13', x.value);

The 'P8_12' and 'P8_13' are pin names on the board and the above example would copy the input value at P8_12 to the output P8_13 every 100 ms.


When a callback is provided, the functions will behave asynchronously. Without a callback provided, the functions will synchronize and complete before returning.


  • getPlatform([callback]) -> platform
  • getEeproms([callback]) -> eeproms
  • echo(data, [callback]) -> data
  • readTextFile(filename, [callback]) -> data
  • writeTextFile(filename, data, [callback])
  • setDate(date, [callback])

Digital and Analog I/O

  • analogRead(pin, [callback]) -> value
  • analogWrite(pin, value, [freq], [callback])
  • attachInterrupt(pin, handler, mode, [callback])
  • detachInterrupt(pin, [callback])
  • digitalRead(pin, [calback]) -> value
  • digitalWrite(pin, value, [callback])
  • pinMode(pin, direction, [mux], [pullup], [slew], [callback])
  • getPinMode(pin, [callback]) -> pinMode
  • shiftOut(dataPin, clockPin, bitOrder, val, [callback])



  • serialOpen(port, options, [callback])
  • serialWrite(port, data, [callback])
  • serialParsers is serialport.parsers



  • i2cOpen(port, address, options, [callback])
  • i2cScan(port, [callback])
  • i2cWriteByte(port, byte, [callback])
  • i2cWriteBytes(port, command, bytes, [callback])
  • i2cReadByte(port, [callback])
  • i2cReadBytes(port, command, length, [callback])
  • i2cStream(port, command, length, [callback])

Robot Control

new in 0.7.0 Runs on BeagleBone Blue; or BeagleBone Black or BeagleBone Black Wireless with Robotics Cape

  • rcInitialize([callback])
  • rcState([state], [callback]) -> state
  • rcLED(led, [value], [callback]) -> value
  • rcOn(event, [callback])
  • rcMotor(motor, value, [callback])
  • rcServo(option, value, [callback])
  • rcBMP([option], [callback]) -> value
  • rcIMU([option], [callback]) -> value
  • rcEncoder(encoder, [value], [callback]) -> value

Bits/Bytes, Math, Trigonometry and Random Numbers

  • lowByte(value)
  • highByte(value)
  • bitRead(value, bitnum)
  • bitWrite(value, bitnum, bitdata)
  • bitSet(value, bitnum)
  • bitClear(value, bitnum)
  • bit(bitnum)
  • min(x, y)
  • max(x, y)
  • abs(x)
  • constrain(x, a, b)
  • map(value, fromLow, fromHigh, toLow, toHigh)
  • pow(x, y)
  • sqrt(x)
  • sin(radians)
  • cos(radians)
  • tan(radians)
  • randomSeed(x)
  • random([min], max)

Note on performance

This code is totally unoptimized. The list of possible optimizations that run through my head is staggering. The good news is that I think it can all be done without impacting the API, primarily thanks to the introspection capabilities of JavaScript.

Eventually, this is planned to enable real-time usage, directly from JavaScript. The plan is to attact the ability to use this programming environment in real-time on several fronts:

  • Enabling multiple loops and analyzing them to determine if they can be off- loaded to a PRU. This will be the primary mechanism for providing real-time servicing of the IOs.
  • Providing higher-order services that utilize the standard peripherals for their intended use:
    • Serial drivers for I2C, SPI, UARTs, etc.
    • analogWrite for PWMs using hardware PWMs, timers, kernel GPIO drivers, etc.
  • Adding real-time patches to the kernel

The JavaScript language provides some features that I think are really cool for doing embedded programming and node.js does some things to help enable that. The primary one is that the I/O functions are all asynchronous. For embedded systems, this is especially useful for performing low-latency tasks that respond to events in the system. What makes JavaScript so much easier than other languages for doing this is that it keeps the full context around the handler, so you don't have to worry about it.

What's New

0.7.4 key updates

  • Enabled BeagleBone AI GPIO functions (digitalRead/digitalWrite/getPinMode)

0.7.3 key updates

Big speed-up on loading by lazy-loading infrequently used modules

0.7.2 key updates

0.7.1 key updates

Very minor update on a function scope

0.7.0 key updates

Most of these fixes came from a Google Summer of Code 2018 project

  • Fixes in PWM output during analogWrite updates
  • Added function calls for Robot Control library support on BeagleBone Blue or Robotics Cape
  • Added support for node-style callbacks with error and data separated (optional)


  • SPI support
  • PRU support
  • Handling array of pins in pinMode and getPinMode
  • Saving off created dtbo and writing configuration to cape EEPROM


npm i bonescript

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