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A command line utility to ease the link-ing of local npm modules, especially when link-ing modules with peerDependencies.

This is for you if

In short, if you use npm link a lot.

Alternatively, if:

  • When developing, you put all your npm modules in a directory, aka workspace, and you expect they will link together magically.
  • You have a number of private npm and you use npm link to link them together.
  • You have local working copies fo your public npm modules, but you prefer to link them when developing.
  • You also have peerDependencies, and npm link doesn't exactly work well with that.
  • You ended up writing a shell script to handle any of the above, but you are not satisfied with the results.


npm install -g npm-workspace

Typical use case

├── prj1
│   ├── lib
│   └── package.json
├── prj2
│   ├── src
│   └── package.json
├── prj3
│   ├── index.js
│   └── package.json
└── workspace.json


  "name": "prj1",
  "version": "0.0.1",
  "private": "true",
  "dependencies": {
    "request": "~2.26.0",       <- A "normal" dependency
    "prj2": "0.0.1"             <- A local dependency, want to npm link that
  "name": "prj2",
  "version": "0.0.1",
  "peerDependencies": {
    "underscore": "~1.5.1",     <- Normal peer dependency, this WILL NOT be installed
                                    in your parent module, if you 'npm link'
                                    this package (prj2)
    "prj3": "0.0.1"             <- Local peer dependency, this WILL NOT be installed
                                    in your parent module, if you 'npm link'
                                    this package (prj2)
  "name": "prj3",
  "version": "0.0.1",
  "peerDependencies": {
    "optimist": "~0.6.0",       <- This becomes a nested peerDependencies
                                    if you consider that prj1->prj2->prj3

Now instead of doing this

cd myNodeJsWorkspace
cd prj3
npm link
cd ../prj2
npm link
cd ../prj1
npm link prj2
npm link prj3
npm install underscore
npm install optimist
npm install

you can just...

The magic part

Create a workspace.json in your workspace dir, and create mappings module name -> module dir



To install and link everything in your workspace

cd myNodeJsWorkspace
npm-workspace install

To install and link only one module

cd myNodeJsWorkspace/prj1
npm-workspace install

To clean your workspace (remove all node_modules directories)

cd myNodeJsWorkspace
npm-workspace clean

Package an app for deployment

When you are ready to deploy your app, you can package all your modules for production, including all your private/local only modules. Just use these 3 options:

  • -c: Copy the packages into node_modules instead of linking them
  • -g: Remove .git directories from dependencies while copying. This is so you can package your production app under a new repo (e.g. for use in a PaaS)
  • -p: Installs only production dependencies (ignores devDependencies)


cd myNodeJsWorkspace/yourapp
npm-workspace install -cgp

Your app is now ready for deployment.

Alternative registry

If you have a few dependencies that come from custom registries, you can add a repos map to workspace.json:

    "links": { ... },
    "repos": {
        "name-of-module": "http://location.of.registry"

This allows mixed registry sources until @scopes are fixed.

Workspace only install scripts

Sometimes it will be convenient to execute a script in your modules only during the installation of your workspace. To do this, add a script named npm-workspace:install to the module's package.json:

    "scripts": {
        "npm-workspace:install": "..."

When you execute npm-workspace install the script will run after the module has been installed (in the same way that install or postinstall scripts are.

Under the hood

  • It finds and parse the links from the nearest workspace.json up in the current directory tree.
  • For each module:
    • If a link was specified in workspace.json: creates a local symbolic link (as opposed to npm link that creates a global link) for each matching module in dependencies and devDependencies
    • Otherwise, npm install all the remaining modules
  • For each module linked, install or link its peerDependencies (recursively)

npm compatibility

npm-workspace should work with npm 1, 2 and 3. To support this npm-workspace takes a conservative approach, with each dependency being added independently.

The installation of Peer Dependencies depends partly on the npm version used, but linked peer dependencies should be correctly fulfilled.

The following npm issues currently have direct work-arounds in npm-workspace:

This is NOT

  • The ultimate solution to your Node.js development workflow/private modules/deployment/etc/etc/etc/

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npm i npm-workspace

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