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Monitors files for changes and fires commands straight at them when they do.

hawkeye - track files and fire commands at them with absolute precision.

Why reinvent the wheel?

This functionality was inspired by tools like grunt and fsniper (to name a couple). The reason why I decided to take a whack at it was because I thought they are either too complex for the job at hand or too difficult to configure. Hawkeye uses a very simple configuration syntax to get you going. Plus it has a method called "deploy(warhead)" that actually works, which is just plain awesome.

Target any file

You can use any valid glob-style pattern to target files. If you already know you way around the command line, you probably already know how to glob files:

  • A single asterisk (*) selects everything in that folder
  • Specific extensions are specified with an asterisk followed by the file extension (*.txt)
  • A literal file name can be specified by just naming it (i.e. example.txt)
  • More complex patterns can be found in the minimatch readme

Run any command

The moment a tracked file is modified on disk, the related command is executed and the results are logged by stdout/stderr (for now, although I will add support for standard log files soon). Real time tracking is provided by the most excellent [node-]inotify.


Create a file on the current path (called '.hawkeye' by default) with the following command:

$ hawkeye -C

A file with contents similar to the one below is created. Spacing at the start of each pattern is important to indicate that it belongs to the upper (non-indented) line:

    "*": "echo the file %% was just modified!"

Specify the path that you want to track by changing /your/path with... well, your path. Then simply provide a pattern to track file(s) and the command to execute once a modification is detected. The two percentage signs get replaced with the absolute path of the file being tracked at runtime. For example, if you create a file called /your/path/example.txt, you will get the following command:

$ echo file /your/path/example was just modified!

Which in this case will simply (you guessed it) echo that command on screen.

A slightly more complicated example:

    "*.conf": "logger someone just changed %%"
    "*.pdf": "mupdf %%"
    "*.zip": "unzip %%"

Both abosulte and relative paths work, so you can simply use a single dot to specify the current working directory:

    "*.txt" : "echo the text file %% was just detected."

The tracking is NOT made recursively, so you will need to specify both the parent and child paths if you want to track them both:

    "*.pdf": "logger 'new download: %%'"
    "*.pdf": "mupdf %%"

Expanded variables

As of v0.2.0 you can now expand the following variables (in addition to %%):

%%b   [b]are file name (without path or extension)
%%c   [c]urrent working directory (full path)
%%d   [d]ate (uses Date.toISOString format)
%%e   file [e]xtension (ie ".html")
%%f   [f]ilename with extension (ie "index.html")
%%h   [h]awkeye's working directory (where it was first run)

Environment variables

As of v0.1.8 you now have access to shell environment variables. For example, assuming that you have a variable in your .bashrc called APP_DIR pointing to a directory, you could use a rule like:

  "*.html": "The file %%f was modified inside $APP_DIR"


Once the config file is saved run the executable in the same path as your config file (or alternatively point to it using the -c switch):

$ hawkeye -c path/to/config

Add -v if you want verbose output:

$ hawkeye -v
hawkeye info version 0.2.4 deployed
hawkeye info opened watch file './.hawkeye'
hawkeye info tracking target '/any/absolute/path'
hawkeye info tracking target 'relative/paths/too'


$ hawkeye -h

Usage: hawkeye [options]

    -h, --help           output usage information
    -V, --version        output the version number
    -c, --config [path]  set config file path [.hawkeye]
    -C, --create [path]  create a new config file here [.hawkeye]
    -v, --verbose        output events to stdout


Hawkeye uses the following excellent libraries:


If you happen to be running this under Linux with systemd, you can use this service file to run hawkeye in the background (please edit as necessary before actually installing it). You can use it in user mode, since hawkeye doesn't need root privileges to track privileged files.


Feel free to fork away and/or submit a pull request. If you want to contact me directly, you can email me (hawkeye at or send me a tweet (@bkuri). I read and try to reply to everything.