Simple project templating


Simple project templating & skeletons

Note: This project is in early development, and versioning is a little different. Read this for more details.

A lot of the time you make projects with similar starting templates/boilerplates. There are a number of different standard boilerplates out there (like h5bp), but everyone has their own preferences and tweaks. The goal of sprout is to allow you to write a base template once that is somewhat configurable where it needs to be then initialize the template with the options you choose from the command line or through a javascript API to get a jumpstart on your project.

We are aware that the yeoman project serves a similar purpose, but built this anyway because we needed a project with a very clean and understandable generator API as well as a public javascript API for integration into other projects, and yeoman does not have either of these.

Try the sprout-express template for generating a boilerplate express app:

$ npm install sprout --global
$ sprout add express git@github.com:carrot/sprout-express
$ sprout init express ~/Projects/sprout-express-instance

We'll do our best to keep an ongoing list of publicly available sprout templates, as well. Feel free to add your own!

Sprout can be used directly through the command line to initialize projects. Once installed, it exposes the sprout command, which you can use to add, remove, and/or use your templates. The command line interface stores templates in a user folder, typically ~/.config/sprout. The commands are more or less what you would expect, and are listed below.

$ npm install sprout --global
$ sprout add <name> <src>

Description: Adds a template to your repertoire from src as name. Name represents how you would like the template to be named within sprout. You are required to add a template which can be either a clone url or a path to a local template. If no name is provided, sprout will use the last piece of the template as the name.


  • -v, --verbose: Verbose mode.
$ sprout remove <name>

Description: Removes the template with the specified name from sprout.


  • -v, --verbose: Verbose mode.

Aliases: rm, delete

$ sprout list

Description: Lists all templates that you have added to sprout.

Aliases: ls, all

$ sprout init <name> <target>

Description: Initializes the template with the given name at the given target.


  • -l [LOCALS [LOCALS ...]], --locals [LOCALS [LOCALS ...]]: Pass locals as options which will override the prompts set in your templates. Locals are passed to the CLI like so: -l key1=value1 key2='value2'

  • -t TAG, --tag TAG: Pass a git tag to generate the template from.

  • -b BRANCH, --branch BRANCH: Pass a git branch to generate the template from.

  • -c CONFIG, --config CONFIG: Pass a JSON or yaml file to pre-define a large set of values, like so:

      "key1": "value1",
      "key2": true,
      "key3": 200

Aliases: new, create

$ sprout run <name> <generator>

Description: Run a generator named generator, provided in a template with the given name, on a template instance in the current working directory.


  • -t TARGET, --target TARGET Optionally pass the path to the template instance (relative to the current working directory).

  • [args, [args ...]] Pass arguments to the generator, like so:

    $ sprout run mvc model User name:string age:integer

Sprout was made specifically to be easy to integrate into javascript applications and libraries that create project structures for you. It can be installed locally via npm and used directly in a node project. The API is similar to the CLI interface described above. Each method returns a A+ compliant promise (with extra sugar from bluebird) Example code given in coffeescript:

$ npm install sprout --save

To construct a Sprout instance:

var Sprout = require('sprout')
  , sprout = new Sprout('/path/where/templates/live');

A Sprout instance has the following public values:

  • path: (string) the path where the templates leive.
  • templates: (object) a dictionary of Template objects.
  • emitter: (object) an EventEmitter.

Each method returns an A+ promise. The promise, on success, returns the same sprout instance.

Create a new template called name from src.

var name = 'sprout-sprout';
var src = 'git@github.com:carrot/sprout-sprout';
sprout.add(name, src).then(
  function (sprout) {
    console.log('template added!');

Remove an existing template called name.

var name = 'sprout-sprout';
  function (sprout) {
    console.log('template removed!');

Use a template called name and save instance to target.

var name = 'sprout-sprout';
var target = '~/Projects/sprout-sprout-instance';
 * Options:
 * locals {Object} - EJS locals to template.
 * tag {String} - A git tag to generate the template from.
 * branch {String} - A git branch to generate the template from.
 * config {String} - Path to a JSON or yaml file with pre-defined values.
var options = {
  locals: {
    foo: 'bar'
sprout.init(name, target, options).then(
  function (sprout) {
    console.log('template generated!');

Run a generator in a template called name and on template instance instance at target, optionally with an array of args.

var name = 'mvc'
var target = '~/Projects/mvc-instance';
var generator = 'model';
sprout.run(name, target, generator, ['User']).then(
  function (sprout) {
    console.log('a model named `User` was created!');

For an example, as well as a sprout template that helps you create new sprout templates, be sure to check out sprout-sprout.

Ok so enough about how this is used, I'm sure you are super excited at this point to get in there and write a template. Probably more excited than a party gorilla, which is pretty wild. So let's take a look.

First thing you'll want to do is set up your project structure, which will probably look something like this:

├── root          Where the actual template goes.
├── generators    Where generators go.
│   ├── file1
│   └── file2
│   └── file3
└── init.js       The Sprout configuration file. Also
                  compatible with CoffeeScript (init.coffee).
└── package.json  Optionally, include a package.json file; all
                  dependencies will be installed on init.

init.js (or init.coffee) sets the hooks and configuration for your sprout template.

 * This function is executed before any of the configuration happens.
 * It's a good place to put any introductory messages you want to display.
 * It is of course optional, and can be asynchronous.
exports.before = function (utils) {
  console.log('Getting started...');
 * Configure is exposed as an array, which accepts any number of
 * arguments. Each argument can be a string or an object. A string
 * will prompt the user directly for that value, and using an object
 * allows you to configure a slightly more customizable prompt.
 * The 'prompt' option in an object has a couple of preset values you
 * conforms to the configuration used by SBoudrias/Inquirer.js, found here:
 * https://github.com/SBoudrias/Inquirer.js#question
exports.configure = [
    type: 'input',
    name: 'foo',
    message: 'What is foo?'
    type: 'input',
    name: 'github_handle',
    message: 'What is your github handle?'
    type: "confirm",
    name: "travis",
    message: "Do you want to utilize Travis CI?",
    default: false
 * This function is executed after the configuration info is collected, but
 * before the templates are rendered. It's a good place use user provided config
 * to generate additional config values needed in the template.
exports.beforeRender = function (utilsconfig) {
  config.foo = 'bar';
  return utils.write('foo.jade', 'h1 Hello World!', config);
 * This function is executed after the templates are rendered.  It's a good place
 * to do any other custom config you need, like building extra files etc. You
 * have the full power of node at your fingertips here.
exports.after = function (utilsconfig) {
  return utils.rename('foo.jade', 'bar.jade');

We also provide you the power of underscore.string in all of your ejs templates. This means you can run powerful string operations on your user input like:

// given 'user_model' is prompted by your init.js 
function <%= S.classify('user_model') %> (foo, bar) {
  // <%= S.classify('user_model') %> constructor! 

So between this config file and the root folder, you should be able to make anything happen fairly easily. If not, please open up and issue and we'll try to make it happening-er and/or easier for you : )

Sprout comes with the following events for you to write custom logic for. Each hook is passed a utilities object for manipulating files in your template. Each of these hooks accept A+ promises as return values. To use these events, export a function for the hook (or multiple hooks) of your choosing in your init.js:

  • before - run before prompting for user input
  • beforeRender - run after the project configuration is set; is passed a configuration object as the second argument.
  • after - run after rendering has completed; is passed a configuration object as the second argument.

The utilities object passed to each hook contains the following functions (each returns a promise):

  • read(from) - read a file at from (relative to the template's base directory).
  • write(to, what, locals) - write what to path to (relative to the template's target directory), optionally with ejs locals at locals.
  • rename(from, to) - rename file at from to path at to (relative to the template's target directory).
  • remove(what) - remove files; pass a path or an array of paths (relative to the template's target directory).
  • exec(cmd, cwd) - run a child process with the target directory set at the current working directory by default; optionally, pass a path to cwd (relative to the target directory).

Sprout templates may also include "generators": small scripts to be executed on instances of a template. For example, an mvc template may include model, controller, and view generators for quickly stubbing out an model-view-controller application. Generators are passed utils (an instance of the Utils that reads from the base directory and writes to the target directory) in the first argument; any arguments passed to sprout.run() follow. A model generator in an mvc template may look like this:

module.exports = function (utilsname) {
  return utils.read('templates/model').then(
    function (output) {
      return utils.write('lib/models/' + name + '.js', output, {name: name});

These generators are stored in your template's generators folder and can be used with sprout's run method:

$ sprout run mvc model User
sprout.run('mvc', 'model', ['User']);

Sometimes changes happen and you might want to be able to specify different versions of a single template. Sprout handles this through git tags. To specify which tag to use, simply pass a tag option to sprout's init method.

$ sprout init my-template ~/Projects/my-template-instance --tag 0.1.2
sprout.init('my-template', '~/Projects/my-template-instance', { tag: '0.1.2' })

init also accepts a branch option for specifying which branch to generate from:

$ sprout init my-template ~/Projects/my-template-instance --branch develop
sprout.init('my-template', '~/Projects/my-template-instance', { branch: 'develop' })

Although you are welcome to use whatever versioning system you are comfortable with, we would strongly recommended using semver, the widely accepted standard in package versioning. This will provide you with a clear framework for managing situations when breaking changes have been made to your template.