node package manager


Elegant command execution.

executive Build Status Coverage Status NPM version Gitter chat

An elegant child_process.spawn. Automatically pipes stderr and stdout for you in a non-blocking fashion, making it very useful with build tools and task runners. Great async support with easy serial and parallel command execution.


  • Node.js callback, promise and synchronous APIs.
  • Serial execution by default, parallel optional.
  • Automatically pipes stderr and stdout by default.
  • Streams stderr and stdout rather than blocking on command completion.
  • Automatically uses shell when command uses operators or globs.
  • New-line delimited strings are automatically executed sequentially.


$ npm install executive


No need to echo as stderr and stdout are piped by default.

var exec = require('executive');
exec('uglifyjs foo.js --compress --mangle > foo.min.js')

It's easy to be quiet too.

exec.quiet('uglifyjs foo.js --compress --mangle > foo.min.js')

Callbacks and promises are both supported.

exec('ls -l', function(err, stdout, stderr) {
    var files = stdout.split('\n');
exec('ls -l').then(function(res) {
    var files = res.stdout.split('\n');

Automatically serializes commands.

exec(['ls', 'ls', 'ls'], function(err, stdout, stderr) {
    // All three ls commands are called in order. 
ls`) // Same 

Want to execute your commands in parallel? No problem.

exec.parallel(['ls', 'ls', 'ls'])


Options are passed as the second argument to exec. Helper methods for quiet, interactive, parallel and sync do what you expect.

exec('ls', {options: quiet})



are equivalent.

options.interactive | exec.interactive

default false

If you need to interact with a program (your favorite text editor for instance) or watch the output of a long running process (tail -f), or just don't care about checking stderr and stdout, set interactive to true:

exec.interactive('vim', function(err) {
    // Edit your commit message 

options.quiet | exec.quiet

default false

If you'd prefer not to pipe stdout and stderr set quiet to true:

exec.quiet(['ls', 'ls'], function(err, stdout, stderr) {
    // You can still inspect stdout, stderr of course. 

options.sync | exec.sync

default false

Blocking version of exec. Returns {stdout, stderr} or throws an error.

options.parallel | exec.parallel

default false

Uses parallel rather than serial execution of commands.

default null

Force a shell to be used for command execution.


default false

Any non-zero exit status is treated as an error. Promises will be rejected and an error will be thrown with exec.sync if syncThrows is enabled.


default false

Will cause exec.sync to throw errors rather than returning them.


Great with cake, grunt, gulp and other task runners. Even better mixed with generator-based control flow libraries and/or ES7 async/await.

Complex example using shortcake (which provides a superset of Cake's features, including generator/promise support):

require 'shortcake'
task 'package''Package project'->
  yield exec '''
    mkdir -p dist/
    rm   -rf dist/*
  yield exec.parallel '''
    cp manifest.json dist/
    cp -rf assets/   dist/
    cp -rf lib/      dist/
    cp -rf views/    dist/
  yield exec '''
    zip -r dist/
    rm -rf dist/

You can find more usage examples in the tests.