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0.30.1 • Public • Published

IPFS in JavaScript logo

The JavaScript implementation of the IPFS protocol.

Project status

We've come a long way, but this project is still in Alpha, lots of development is happening, API might change, beware of the Dragons 🐉..

Want to get started? Check our examples folder to learn how to spawn an IPFS node in Node.js and in the Browser.

You can check the development status at the Waffle Board.

Throughput Graph

Please read this: DHT (automatic content discovery) and Circuit Relay (pierce through NATs and dial between any node in the network) are two fundamental pieces that are not finalized yet. There are multiple applications that can be built without these two services but nevertheless they are fundamental to get that magic IPFS experience. If you want to track progress or contribute, please follow:

Weekly Core Dev Calls

Tech Lead

David Dias

Lead Maintainer

Alan Shaw

Table of Contents



This project is available through npm. To install run

> npm install ipfs --save

Requires npm@3 and node@6 or above, tested on OSX & Linux, expected to work on Windows.

Use in Node.js

To include this project programmatically:

const IPFS = require('ipfs')
const node = new IPFS()

Through command line tool

In order to use js-ipfs as a CLI, you must install it with the global flag. Run the following (even if you have ipfs installed locally):

> npm install ipfs --global

The CLI is available by using the command jsipfs in your terminal. This is aliased, instead of using ipfs, to make sure it does not conflict with the Go implementation.

Use in the browser

Learn how to bundle with browserify and webpack in the examples folder.

You can also load it using a <script> using the unpkg CDN or the jsDelivr CDN. Inserting one of the following lines will make a Ipfs object available in the global namespace.

<!-- loading the minified version -->
<script src=""></script>
<script src=""></script>
<!-- loading the human-readable (not minified) version -->
<script src=""></script>
<script src=""></script>

Inserting one of the above lines will make an Ipfs object available in the global namespace.



The jsipfs CLI, available when js-ipfs is installed globally, follows(should, it is a WIP) the same interface defined by go-ipfs, you can always use the help command for help menus.

# Install js-ipfs globally 
> npm install ipfs --global
> jsipfs --help
  bitswap               A set of commands to manipulate the bitswap agent.
  block                 Manipulate raw IPFS blocks.
  bootstrap             Show or edit the list of bootstrap peers.
  commands              List all available commands
  config <key> [value]  Get and set IPFS config values
  daemon                Start a long-running daemon process
# ... 

js-ipfs uses some different default config values, so that they don't clash directly with a go-ipfs node running in the same machine. These are:

  • default repo location: ~/.jsipfs (can be changed with env variable IPFS_PATH)
  • default swarm port: 4002
  • default API port: 5002
  • default Bootstrap is off, to enable it set IPFS_BOOTSTRAP=1

IPFS Daemon

The IPFS Daemon exposes the API defined http-api-spec. You can use any of the IPFS HTTP-API client libraries with it, such as: js-ipfs-api.

If you want a programmatic way to spawn a IPFS Daemon using JavaScript, check out ipfsd-ctl module

IPFS Module

Use the IPFS Module as a dependency of a project to spawn in process instances of IPFS. Create an instance by calling new IPFS() and waiting for its ready event:

// Create the IPFS node instance
const node = new IPFS()
node.on('ready', () => {
  // Your node is now ready to use \o/
  // stopping a node
  node.stop(() => {
    // node is now 'offline'

Tutorials and Examples

You can find some examples and tutorials in the examples folder, these exist to help you get started using js-ipfs.


IPFS Constructor

const node = new IPFS([options])

Creates and returns an instance of an IPFS node. Use the options argument to specify advanced configuration. It is an object with any of these properties:

  • repo (string or ipfs.Repo instance): The file path at which to store the IPFS node’s data. Alternatively, you can set up a customized storage system by providing an ipfs.Repo instance. (Default: '~/.jsipfs' in Node.js, 'ipfs' in browsers.)


    // Store data outside your user directory
    const node = new IPFS({ repo: '/var/ipfs/data' })
  • init (boolean or object): Initialize the repo when creating the IPFS node. (Default: true)

    If you have already initialized a repo before creating your IPFS node (e.g. you are loading a repo that was saved to disk from a previous run of your program), you must make sure to set this to false. Note that initializing a repo is different from creating an instance of ipfs.Repo. The IPFS constructor sets many special properties when initializing a repo, so you should usually not try and call repoInstance.init() yourself.

    Instead of a boolean, you may provide an object with custom initialization options. All properties are optional:

    • init.emptyRepo (boolean) Whether to remove built-in assets, like the instructional tour and empty mutable file system, from the repo. (Default: false)
    • init.bits (number) Number of bits to use in the generated key pair. (Default: 2048)
    • init.pass (string) A passphrase to encrypt keys. You should generally use the top-level pass option instead of the init.pass option (this one will take its value from the top-level option if not set).
  • start (boolean): If false, do not automatically start the IPFS node. Instead, you’ll need to manually call node.start() yourself. (Default: true)

  • pass (string): A passphrase to encrypt/decrypt your keys.

  • relay (object): Configure circuit relay (see the circuit relay tutorial to learn more).

    • enabled (boolean): Enable circuit relay dialer and listener. (Default: false)
    • hop (object)
      • enabled (boolean): Make this node a relay (other nodes can connect through it). (Default: false)
      • active (boolean): Make this an active relay node. Active relay nodes will attempt to dial a destination peer even if that peer is not yet connected to the relay. (Default: false)
  • EXPERIMENTAL (object): Enable and configure experimental features.

    • pubsub (boolean): Enable libp2p pub-sub. (Default: false)
    • sharding (boolean): Enable directory sharding. Directories that have many child objects will be represented by multiple DAG nodes instead of just one. It can improve lookup performance when a directory has several thousand files or more. (Default: false)
    • dht (boolean): Enable KadDHT. This is currently not interopable with go-ipfs.
  • config (object) Modify the default IPFS node config. Find the Node.js defaults at src/core/runtime/config-nodejs.js and the browser defaults at src/core/runtime/config-browser.js. This object will be merged with the default config; it will not replace it.

  • libp2p (object) add custom modules to the libp2p stack of your node

    • modules (object):
      • transport (Array<libp2p.Transport>): An array of Libp2p transport classes/instances to use instead of the defaults. See libp2p/interface-transport for details.
      • peerDiscovery (Array<libp2p.PeerDiscovery>): An array of Libp2p peer discovery classes/instances to use instead of the defaults. See libp2p/peer-discovery for details. If passing a class, configuration can be passed using the config section below under the key corresponding to you module's unique tag (a static property on the class)
    • config (object):
      • peerDiscovery (object):
        • [PeerDiscovery.tag] (object): configuration for a peer discovery module
          • enabled (boolean): whether this module is enabled or disabled
          • [custom config] (any): other keys are specific to the module
  • connectionManager (object): Configure the libp2p connection manager, see the documentation for available options.


IPFS instances are Node.js EventEmitters. You can listen for events by calling node.on('event', handler):

const node = new IPFS({ repo: '/var/ipfs/data' })
node.on('error', errorObject => console.error(errorObject))
  • error is always accompanied by an Error object with information about the error that ocurred.

    node.on('error', error => {
  • init is emitted after a new repo has been initialized. It will not be emitted if you set the init: false option on the constructor.

  • ready is emitted when a node is ready to use. This is the final event you will receive when creating a node (after init and start).

    When creating a new IPFS node, you should almost always wait for the ready event before calling methods or interacting with the node.

  • start is emitted when a node has started listening for connections. It will not be emitted if you set the start: false option on the constructor.

  • stop is emitted when a node has closed all connections and released access to its repo. This is usually the result of calling node.stop().


Start listening for connections with other IPFS nodes on the network. In most cases, you do not need to call this method — new IPFS() will automatically do it for you.

This method is asynchronous. There are several ways to be notified when the node has finished starting:

  1. If you call node.start() with no arguments, it returns a promise.
  2. If you pass a function as the final argument, it will be called when the node is started. (Note: this method will not return a promise if you use a callback function.)
  3. You can listen for the start event.
const node = new IPFS({ start: false })
// Use a promise:
  .then(() => console.log('Node started!'))
  .catch(error => console.error('Node failed to start!', error))
// OR use a callback:
node.start(error => {
  if (error) {
    console.error('Node failed to start!', error)
  console.log('Node started!')
// OR use events:
node.on('error', error => console.error('Something went terribly wrong!', error))
node.on('start', () => console.log('Node started!'))


Close and stop listening for connections with other IPFS nodes, then release access to the node’s repo.

This method is asynchronous. There are several ways to be notified when the node has completely stopped:

  1. If you call node.stop() with no arguments, it returns a promise.
  2. If you pass a function as the final argument, it will be called when the node is stopped. (Note: this method will not return a promise if you use a callback function.)
  3. You can listen for the stop event.
const node = new IPFS()
node.on('ready', () => {
  console.log('Node is ready to use!')
  // Stop with a promise:
    .then(() => console.log('Node stopped!'))
    .catch(error => console.error('Node failed to stop cleanly!', error))
  // OR use a callback:
  node.stop(error => {
    if (error) {
      console.error('Node failed to stop cleanly!', error)
    console.log('Node stopped!')
  // OR use events:
  node.on('error', error => console.error('Something went terribly wrong!', error))

Core API

The IPFS core API provides all functionality that is not specific to setting up and starting or stopping a node. This API is available directly on an IPFS instance, on the command line (when using the CLI interface), and as an HTTP REST API. For a complete reference, see .

The core API is grouped into several areas:



Crypto and Key Management

  • key
    • ipfs.key.export(name, password, [callback])
    • ipfs.key.gen(name, options, [callback])
    • ipfs.key.import(name, pem, password, [callback])
    • ipfs.key.list([callback])
    • ipfs.key.rename(oldName, newName, [callback])
    • ipfs.key.rm(name, [callback])
  • crypto (not yet implemented)


Node Management

Domain data types

A set of data types are exposed directly from the IPFS instance under ipfs.types. That way you're not required to import/require the following.


A set of utils are exposed directly from the IPFS instance under ipfs.util. That way you're not required to import/require the following:


How to enable WebRTC support for js-ipfs in the Browser

To add a WebRTC transport to your js-ipfs node, you must add a WebRTC multiaddr. To do that, simple override the config.Addresses.Swarm array which contains all the multiaddrs which the IPFS node will use. See below:

const node = new IPFS({
  config: {
    Addresses: {
      Swarm: [
node.on('ready', () => {
  // your instance with WebRTC is ready

Important: This transport usage is kind of unstable and several users have experienced crashes. Track development of a solution at

Is there WebRTC support for js-ipfs with Node.js?

Yes, however, bare in mind that there isn't a 100% stable solution to use WebRTC in Node.js, use it at your own risk. The most tested options are:

To add WebRTC support in a IPFS node instance, do:

const wrtc = require('wrtc') // or require('electron-webrtc')()
const WStar = require('libp2p-webrtc-star')
const wstar = new WStar({ wrtc: wrtc })
const node = new IPFS({
  repo: 'your-repo-path',
  // start: false,
  config: {
    Addresses: {
      Swarm: [
  libp2p: {
    modules: {
      transport: [wstar],
      peerDiscovery: [wstar.discovery]
node.on('ready', () => {
  // your instance with WebRTC is ready

To add WebRTC support to the IPFS daemon, you only need to install one of the WebRTC modules globally:

npm install wrtc --global
# or 
npm install electron-webrtc --global

Then, update your IPFS Daemon config to include the multiaddr for this new transport on the Addresses.Swarm array. Add: "/dns4/"

How can I configure an IPFS node to use a custom signaling endpoint for my WebRTC transport?

You'll need to execute a compatible signaling server (libp2p-webrtc-star works) and include the correct configuration param for your IPFS node:

  • provide the multiaddr for the signaling server
const node = new IPFS({
  repo: 'your-repo-path',
  config: {
    Addresses: {
      Swarm: [

The code above assumes you are running a local signaling server on port 9090. Provide the correct values accordingly.

Is there a more stable alternative to webrtc-star that offers a similar functionality?

Yes, websocket-star! A WebSockets based transport that uses a Relay to route the messages. To enable it, just do:

const node = new IPFS({
  config: {
    Addresses: {
      Swarm: [
node.on('ready', () => {
  // your instance with websocket-star is ready

I see some slowness when hopping between tabs Chrome with IPFS nodes, is there a reason why?

Yes, unfortunately, due to Chrome aggressive resource throttling policy, it cuts freezes the execution of any background tab, turning an IPFS node that was running on that webpage into a vegetable state.

A way to mitigate this in Chrome, is to run your IPFS node inside a Service Worker, so that the IPFS instance runs in a background process. You can learn how to install an IPFS node as a service worker in here the repo ipfs-service-worker

Can I use IPFS in my Electron App?

Yes you can and in many ways. Read for the multiple options.

If your electron-rebuild step is failing, all you need to do is:

# Electron's version. 
export npm_config_target=2.0.0
# The architecture of Electron, can be ia32 or x64. 
export npm_config_arch=x64
export npm_config_target_arch=x64
# Download headers for Electron. 
export npm_config_disturl=
# Tell node-pre-gyp that we are building for Electron. 
export npm_config_runtime=electron
# Tell node-pre-gyp to build module from source code. 
export npm_config_build_from_source=true
# Install all dependencies, and store cache to ~/.electron-gyp. 
HOME=~/.electron-gyp npm install

If you find any other issue, please check the Electron Support issue.

Have more questions?

Ask for help in our forum at or in IRC (#ipfs on Freenode).

Running js-ipfs with Docker

We have automatic Docker builds setup with Docker Hub:

All branches in the Github repository maps to a tag in Docker Hub, except master Git branch which is mapped to latest Docker tag.

You can run js-ipfs like this:

$ docker run -it -p 4002:4002 -p 4003:4003 -p 5002:5002 -p 9090:9090 ipfs/js-ipfs:latest

initializing ipfs node at /root/.jsipfs
generating 2048-bit RSA keypair...done
peer identity: Qmbd5jx8YF1QLhvwfLbCTWXGyZLyEJHrPbtbpRESvYs4FS
to get started, enter:

         jsipfs files cat /ipfs/QmfGBRT6BbWJd7yUc2uYdaUZJBbnEFvTqehPFoSMQ6wgdr/readme

Initializing daemon...
Using wrtc for webrtc support
Swarm listening on /ip4/
Swarm listening on /ip4/
Swarm listening on /ip4/
Swarm listening on /ip4/
API is listening on: /ip4/
Gateway (readonly) is listening on: /ip4/
Daemon is ready

$ curl --silent localhost:5002/api/v0/id | jq .ID


Listing of the main packages used in the IPFS ecosystem. There are also three specifications worth linking here:

Package Version Deps CI Coverage
ipfs-unixfs-engine npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
ipld npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
ipld-dag-pb npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
ipld-dag-cbor npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
ipfs-repo npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
ipfs-block-service npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
ipfs-bitswap npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-circuit npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-floodsub npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-kad-dht npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-mdns npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-mplex npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-railing npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-secio npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-tcp npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-webrtc-star npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-websocket-star npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-websockets npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
Data Types
ipfs-block npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
ipfs-unixfs npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
peer-id npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
peer-info npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
multiaddr npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
multihashes npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-crypto npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
libp2p-keychain npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
ipfs-api npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
ipfs-multipart npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
is-ipfs npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
multihashing npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status
mafmt npm Dep Build Status Coverage Status


Clone and install dependencies

> git clone
> cd js-ipfs
> npm install

Run unit tests

# run all the unit tsts 
> npm test
# run just IPFS tests in Node.js 
> npm run test:node:core
# run just IPFS core tests 
> npm run test:node:core
# run just IPFS HTTP-API tests 
> npm run test:node:http
# run just IPFS CLI tests 
> npm run test:node:cli
# run just IPFS core tests in the Browser (Chrome) 
> npm run test:browser

Run interop tests

Run the interop tests with

Run benchmark tests

# run all the benchmark tests 
> npm run benchmark
# run just IPFS benchmarks in Node.js 
> npm run benchmark:node
# run just IPFS benchmarks in Node.js for an IPFS instance 
> npm run benchmark:node:core
# run just IPFS benchmarks in Node.js for an IPFS daemon 
> npm run benchmark:node:http
# run just IPFS benchmarks in the browser (Chrome) 
> npm run benchmark:browser


Conforming to linting rules is a prerequisite to commit to js-ipfs.

> npm run lint

Build a dist version

> npm run build

Runtime Support

Code Architecture and folder Structure

Source code
> tree src -L 2
src                 # Main source code folder
├── cli             # Implementation of the IPFS CLI
│   └── ...
├── http-api        # The HTTP-API implementation of IPFS as defined by http-api-spec
├── core            # IPFS implementation, the core (what gets loaded in browser)
│   ├── components  # Each of IPFS subcomponent
│   └── ...
└── ...


The HTTP API exposed with js-ipfs can also be used for exposing metrics about the running js-ipfs node and other Node.js metrics.

To enable it, you need to set the environment variable IPFS_MONITORING (any value)

Once the environment variable is set and the js-ipfs daemon is running, you can get the metrics (in prometheus format) by making a GET request to the following endpoint:


IPFS Core Architecture

What does this image explain?

  • IPFS uses ipfs-repo which picks fs or indexeddb as its storage drivers, depending if it is running in Node.js or in the Browser.
  • The exchange protocol, bitswap, uses the Block Service which in turn uses the Repo, offering a get and put of blocks to the IPFS implementation.
  • The DAG API (previously Object) comes from the IPLD Resolver, it can support several IPLD Formats (i.e: dag-pb, dag-cbor, etc).
  • The Files API uses ipfs-unixfs-engine to import and export files to and from IPFS.
  • Swarm, the component that offers a network API, uses libp2p to dial and listen for connections, to use the DHT, for discovery mechanisms, and more. libp2p-ipfs-nodejs is used when running in Node.js and libp2p-ipfs-browser is used when running in the browser.


IPFS implementation in JavaScript is a work in progress. As such, there's a few things you can do right now to help out:

  • Go through the modules below and check out existing issues. This would be especially useful for modules in active development. Some knowledge of IPFS may be required, as well as the infrastructure behind it - for instance, you may need to read up on p2p and more complex operations like muxing to be able to help technically.
  • Perform code reviews. More eyes will help (a) speed the project along, (b) ensure quality, and (c) reduce possible future bugs.
  • Take a look at go-ipfs and some of the planning repositories or issues: for instance, the libp2p spec. Contributions here that would be most helpful are top-level comments about how it should look based on our understanding. Again, the more eyes the better.
  • Add tests. There can never be enough tests.

Want to hack on IPFS?


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