1.0.0 • Public • Published

cakex - extended functionality for cake

If you currently use CoffeeScript's cake utility as a project builder, the cakex package may be useful to you. It provides a number of useful functions to make it even easier to script your builds.

cakex should be usable with other build tools as well.

using cakex

Add cakex to your devDependencies property of your package.json file.

Once added, you can access cakex from your Cakefile with a simple require invocation:

require "cakex"

globals that cakex adds

cakex adds a number of global functions to your running environment.

  • Adds all of the functions in the shelljs package as global functions. Eg, you can use ls() to get a list of files.

  • Adds fs, path, and _ as global variables, whose values are require("fs"), require("path"), and require("underscore").

  • Adds the cakex exported functions. See below for more on these functions

  • Adds a function for every "script" in your node_modules/.bin directory. Any characters in those script names, which are not valid in JavaScript identifiers, will be converted to underscores, so you can reference them easily. Any script names that still aren't legal JavaScript identifiers will need to be accessed from the global variable. Eg, access the script 6to5 as global['6to5'].

    The script functions are invocations of the shelljs function exec() with the arguments passed to the functions appended to the script name. For example, if you call:

    browserify "foo"

    it will be invoked as:

    exec("node node_modules/.bin/browserify foo")

    You may also pass valid additional exec() arguments to the script functions. For example, if you call:

    browserify "foo", {silent: true}

    it will be invoked as:

    exec("node node_modules/.bin/browserify foo", {silent: true})

cakex exported functions

The following functions are exported from the cakex module, but also available as globals.


Writes a string to the console, prefixed by the name of the main program running. When called with no argument, prints a blank line.

watch({files: gazeSpec, run: fn})

The argument to this function should be an object with a files property and a run property.

The files property should be a gaze pattern argument (string or array of strings).

The run property is a function that will be called when a file matching the files patterns changes. The function will be called with this set to the argument of the watch() function, and with a single argument file name of the file that triggered the watch.

The watch will not respond to any other file changes until after the run function completes.

You can call watch() multiple times. There is no way to cancel a watch, so once you've called watch() at least once, your cake invocation will run forever; or until you break out of it, or the Cakefile calls exit() (or process.exit()).

daemon.start(handle, program, args, options={})

This function starts a background process with the child_process.spawn() function, ensuring only one instance of the program will be running for each unique handle. The first argument should be a handle to refer to this server, for later use with daemon.start() or daemon.kill(). The remaining arguments are the same as for the child_process function spawn().

daemon.start() will first call daemon.kill() with the same handle, to ensure that an earlier invocation of the process is killed before the new one starts.

daemon.kill(handle, cb)

This function will kill a background process started with daemon.start(). If a callback is passed, it will be invoked when the process has been killed (or as near as we can guess).


This function will add scripts from a node_modules/.bin directory as global functions, just as is done with with the node_modules/.bin in your current directory by default. In fact, those globals are added by invoking defineModuleFunctions(".") when cakex starts.

If you have other node_modules directories that you'd like to add tools from, you can do that with this function.

The argument to this function should be the directory that contains the relevant node_modules directory.

integration with npm start

To make life easier on your users, if you're using cake as your build tool, consider:

  • adding coffee-script to your devDependencies in your package.json
  • adding a watch and cake script to the scripts in your package.json
  • use npm run watch during development, which calls the watch script from your package.json, which presumably does a cake watch

The reason for structuring things this way is that you won't be dependent on a global install of the coffee-script package; that's a terrible way to live!

Here's an examplefrom this package's package.json

    "cake":             "cake",
    "watch":            "cake watch"
    "coffee-script":    "1.9.x"

example Cakefile

Below is an example Cakefile that uses cakex. It defines 3 tasks: watch, build, and serve.

The watch task will run the build and serve tasks, then start watching source files for changes. When a source file changes, the build and serve tasks are run again. Because the serve task uses daemon.start(), the existing server (if any) is first stopped, and then restarted, presumably running the new code. So as you're saving files in your editor, and you have cake watch (or maybe npm run watch) running in a terminal window, you see the build run, and server recycle, and then start waiting for your next save.

The build task can be run stand-alone, if you just want to run a "build".

The server task can also be run stand-alone, if you just want to run the server.

In addition, if you make changes to the Cakefile while cake watch is running, the cake invocation will exit. The rationale is that you've changed the Cakefile, and so to pick up the changes, you'll need to start over.

# add this to the top of your Cakefile to cakex-ize it 
require "cakex"
# I just always do this, often handy to get name, version, etc 
pkg = require "./package.json"
task "watch""watch for source changes, build, restart server"-> taskWatch()
task "build""run a build",                                     -> taskBuild()
task "serve""run the server stand-alone",                      -> taskServe()
# globs of my source files, to feed to `watch()` 
WatchSpec = "lib/**/* www/**/*"
# gotta have a tmp directory! 
mkdir "-p""tmp"
# this build doesn't do much, log a message; runs jshint 
taskBuild = ->
  log "linting ..."
  jshint "lib/*.js"
# set up the things to watch, and what to do when the watches fire 
taskWatch = ->
  # run the build/serve/whatever steps when starting 
  # when a source file changes, run the build/serve/whatever steps 
    files: WatchSpec.split " "
    run:   watchIter
  # when this file changes, kill `cake`; for some reason the gaze lib ends 
  # up watching other things besides this file, with this spec, so do an extra 
  # check in the `run` function 
    files: "Cakefile"
    run: (file) ->
      return unless file == "Cakefile"
      log "Cakefile changed, exiting"
      exit 0
# stuff to do when a source file changes; do a build, restart the server; 
# handy to have it as a separate function so I can run it BEFORE watching 
# as well 
watchIter = ->
  log "in #{path.relative "../.."__dirname}"
# start the server; if it's already running, shut it down, restart it 
taskServe = ->
  log "restarting server at #{new Date()}"
  daemon.start "test server""node"["server"]
# handy utility to clear out build output dirs before a build 
cleanDir = (dir) ->
  mkdir "-p"dir
  rm "-rf""#{dir}/*"


This project uses CoffeeScript's cake as it's build tool. To rebuild the project continuously, use the command:

npm run watch

Other cake commands are available (assuming you are using npm v2) with the command

npm run cake -- <command here>

Run npm run cake to see the other commands available in the Cakefile.


Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.




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