0.3.0 • Public • Published

The new website.

Visual specs

Getting Started

First install couchdb, and redis, and elasticsearch and clone the repo.

# first grab all the deps, though most of the important ones are 
# already checked in. 
npm install
# to start the dev-node script, which also dumps redis and couchdb 
# logs to stdio, and automatically bunyan-ifies the server logs, 
# and clones 1/256th of the published packages and all of the public 
# user accounts.  This also creates a user named 'admin' with the 
# password 'admin', which you can use to log in and do stuff. 
# This defaults to listening with a highly insecure SSL key, on 
# port 15443. 
npm run dev
# to run the real actual server like in production, copy the 
# config.admin.example.js to config.admin.js, fill in the appropriate 
# fields, and then 
npm start

Data fetcher thingies are in models. They're all defined in models.js.

Define new URL handlers in the routes folder. They're defined on router.js.

The templates are all in templates. They are EJS.

Static assets are in the static folder. The main CSS is generated using stylus, and it is in the stylus folder.

Design Philosophy

  • No frameworks

    Everything is done using small, simple, standalone modules that work with vanilla Node.js http servers.

  • No lib folder

    If you would put it in lib/, then it belongs in a separate module.

  • JavaScript, EJS, and Stylus

    We are using JavaScript because that is the language Node.js runs.

    We are using EJS for templating, because that is the template language that is closest to HTML.

    We are using Stylus for styling, because CSS is intolerable, and stylus is a reasonable superset that adds useful features in a way that makes it very clear what the resulting CSS will be.

  • Showcase new Node.js Features

    You'll note that many of the dependencies require Node.js 0.7.8 and higher. That's because we're using new cluster features to take advantage of multiple CPUs, and the new domains feature to handle errors gracefully.

  • Ridiculous speed

    This site should be surprisingly fast. Towards that end, things are cached and served from memory whenever possible, and ETagged for browser-cacheablility.

  • No Single-Page App Insanity, Push-State, Sammy, Etc.

    This is a documentation site. It should primarily function by talking to a database and returning HTML. It's not an application.

    By returning HTML, we get a lot of benefits for free. Some client-side JavaScript may be added later to smooth out rough edges, but first, it must all work with client-side JavaScript disabled. It's not that we expect any users to have JavaScript disabled, but rather that this discipline forces a consistent approach to the site structure.

  • Beauty

    The goal of this site is to be so beautiful, that people want to publish their programs to npm just to be a part of it. The design of the site must be elegant. Colors, fonts, and spacing must be humane, consistent, and make relevant information clear.

  • Security

    User data is sacred. This site must be a step up in terms of security from just doing things on the command line. If it's not, then we have failed.

  • Unceremonious MVC

    No big MVC class heirarchy. Just have the route handler get some data, then hand it off to a template. Simpler is better.

  • Small Modules

    No single JavaScript file should be more than about 200 lines. If it is, then that's a sign that it should be split up.

  • DRY Dependencies

    If multiple different routes all have to keep doing the same thing, then they should either be the same route, or the repeated bits belong in a dependency.

  • Check in node_modules

    Every time you add a dependency, check it into git. This is a deployed website. We need to keep things predictable.

  • No Binary Dependencies

    There is no need. We are proxying data to redis and couchdb. It's all JSON and HTML. Node can do that just fine without compiling anything.

  • Search using Search Engines

    While we may end up integrating some kind of search into the site directly, it's more likely that we'll go with Bing or DuckDuckGo or Google. There are advantages to an integrated search, but no matter how nice we may make it, people will always go to their default search engines to try to find node modules. We must optimize for that use case first, and then build up from there.

    This is another reason why a plain-jane HTML site is best. Search engines are awesome at searching it.


Contributions welcome!

If you are going to take on some huge part of the site, please post an issue first to discuss the direction. Beyond that, just fork and send pull requests, as is the custom of our time. Your name will be added to the AUTHORS file, and displayed on the /about page.

See the issues page if you are looking for something to help out with. In general, submissions that add new functionality or fix actual bugs will be favored over those that are purely stylistic.

Please follow common sense, and these guidelines:


Learn to use and love the rebase command to make your commits tidy.

  1. Commits should be atomic. One thing = one commit. Do not send a pull request with 5 commits doing things, and then 4 un-doing them, and then 3 finishing it. Do not send a pull request with one commit that does 15 different things.
  2. First line of your commit message should be no more than 50 characters. Following the first line, there should be a blank line, then optionally some paragraphs providing further detail, which should wrap at no more than 80 characters.
  3. Please set up your git config so that a real email address appears in your commits. Be advised that this email address is public.


The npm-www site follows a slightly less strict JavaScript style than npm itself, but it is similar.

  1. Use semicolons minimally, only where they are necessary.
  2. Lines should be no more than 70 characters or so. It's better to be too short than too long.
  3. 2-space indentation.

Overall Structure

  1. Dependencies are checked in. This is a website, not a library.
  2. There is no lib or utils. There is a node_modules folder and a package.json file.
  3. There is no framework. There are dependencies that do a single thing well and are well tested and documented.
  4. Routes go in the routes folder. Data fetching and manipulation goes in the models folder. HTML construction is done in ejs in the templates folder. These concerns must remain separate.
  5. Client-side JavaScript shall be used when it is absolutely necessary. (There are no features yet, or planned, where this is the case. But that might change, of course, once more of the base functionality is established.)
  6. See also the "Design Philosophy" above.




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