node package manager


VinSolutions JavaScript Starter Kit

This is a starter kit for building a new React project at VinSolutions. The goal: Make it easy to start a robust new client-side app using modern tooling:

The starter kit includes a working example app that puts all of the above to use.

Get Started

  1. Install Node. The build process relies on NodeJS and npm.
  2. Install Git.
  3. Clone the project from GitHub. To clone this project to your machine, open the command line of your choice and type git clone This command will create a copy of this repo in your current directory. I suggest using Git Bash for your command line work, but if you're not comfortable with the Unix command line, this starter kit will also work on the Window DOS command prompt.
  4. Install Packages. On your command line, cd to the new folder that was created in the previous step. Type npm install. This will install all the necessary packages which are listed in package.json. npm is basically Nuget for Node. So running npm install is comparable to restoring Nuget packages.
  5. Run Gulp. Type gulp in the root of your project (same dir where you just ran npm install). This will run the automated build process, start up a webserver, and open the application in your default browser. When doing development with this kit, you'll want to keep the command line open at all times so that your code is rebuilt and tests run automatically everytime you hit save.
  6. Review the example app. This starter kit includes a working example app that calculates fuel savings. Note how all source code is placed under /src. Tests are placed alongside the file under test. The final built app is placed under /dist. These are the files you run in production.
  7. Delete the example app files. Once you're comfortable with how the example app works, you can delete those files and begin creating your own app. You can always refer to this repo for the example app code that you deleted.


Streamlined automated testing is a core feature of this starter kit. All tests are placed in files that end in .spec.js. They are placed in the same directory as the file under test. Why?

  • The existence of tests is highly visible. If a corresponding .spec file hasn't been created, it's obvious.
  • Easy to open since they're in the same folder as the file being tested.
  • Easy to create new test files when creating new source files.
  • Short import paths are easy to type and less brittle.
  • As files are moved, it's easy to move tests alongside.

Code Coverage

Code coverage is calculated and reported via Istanbul. To view your current code coverage, run gulp coverage. This will open a tab in your default browser which displays code coverage statistics.


When you run the default Gulp task by typing gulp, no JS is minified. Why? Because minifying slows the build. For production or in-browser debugging, you'll want to minify the JS via gulp build. A sourcemap is generated by the gulp build task to enable easy debugging of minified JS. This means your original JS source will be displayed in your browser's dev console.

Tips for debugging via Sourcemaps:

  1. Browsers vary in the way they allow you to view the original source. Chrome automatically shows the original source if a sourcemap is available. Safari, in contrast, will display the minified source and you'll have to cmd+click on a given line to be taken to the original source.
  2. Do not enable serving files from your filesystem in Chrome dev tools. If you do, Chrome (and perhaps other browsers) may not show you the latest version of your code after you make a source code change. Instead you must close the source view tab you were using and repoen it to see the updated source code. It appears Chrome clings to the old sourcemap until you close and reopen the source view tab. To clarify, you don't have to close the actual tab that is displaying the app, just the tab in the console that's displaying the source file that you just changed.
  3. If the latest source isn't displaying the console, force a refresh. Sometimes Chrome seems to hold onto a previous version of the sourcemap which will cause you to see stale code.