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Importer adds an #import statement to JavaScript based languages including CoffeeScript that works like #include in C-based languages. It compiles files into JavaScript, concatenates them together in the places you've defined, generates source maps, and manages recompilation for only those files that have changed, speeding up builds for large projects.

#import "name" 
#import "" 
#import "somefile.js" 
# some code using the imported files here... 

In JavaScript, the //import directive can be used instead of #import.


  • Import statements can be placed anywhere and the dependency source code will replace it.
  • Compiling CoffeeScript and JavaScript source files are included out of the box. You can add more to the importer.extensions object.
  • Support for generating source maps.
  • Support for framework or library dependencies in a search path as well as relative paths.
  • File extensions are optional and will be automatically resolved if not included.
  • Files will only be included once in the resulting code, regardless of how many times a file is imported.
  • If used as a server, only modified files will be recompiled on subsequent requests.
  • Can be used to run the compiled code directly on the command line or required in a Node module.

Command line usage

When installed with npm install importer -g, a command line tool called importer will be made available.

  1. To start a server to host your compiled code, run importer --port 8080
  2. To output to a file, run importer main.js
  3. To compile and execute, run importer

The command line options include:

-p, --port        Port to start server on       
-f, --frameworks  Path to frameworks directory    [default: "./frameworks"]
-m, --minify      Minifies the output JavaScript  [boolean]
-s, --source-map  Whether to output a source map  [boolean]

Node module usage

importer = require 'importer'
pkg = importer.createPackage './path/to/main/file',
    frameworkPath: '/path/to/frameworks'
    sync: false               # whether compilation should be synchronous (default: false) 
    sourceMap: ''   # filename/url of the output sourcemap (default: null) 
    minify: false             # whether to minify the output with UglifyJS 
# if asynchronous... (err, result) ->
    # result is an object containing  
    # {code: 'compiled js', map: 'sourcemap if requested'} 
# if synchronous... 
    result =
catch err
    # do something 
# to load and run the result as a node module... 
moduleExports = pkg.require()
# or, without creating a package 
moduleExports = importer.require './path/to/main/file',
    frameworkPath: '/path/to/frameworks'

Connect/Express middleware

# options supports all options documented above, plus the `url` 
# attribute giving the route to use to access the compiled JS. 
# Defaults to `"/#{path.basename(main, path.extname(main))}.js"` 
# Sourcemaps are automatically generated at "#{url}" unless 
# you turn them off by setting the `sourceMap` option to `false`. 
app.use importer.middleware(''options)

Adding additional languages

Currently, importing CoffeeScript and JavaScript files are supported but you can extend that to other languages that compile to JavaScript by adding an entry to the importer.extensions object.

importer.extensions['.lua'= (code, generateSourceMap) -> 
    return lua.compile(code)

If a language compiler supporting source maps is used, you should first check the generateSourceMap option to be sure that they are desired by the user, and if so, return an object containing {code: 'compiled js', map: 'sourcemap'}. Otherwise, return a string.


The importer module is licensed under the MIT license.