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Web app build system using Browserify, React, and Less


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vitreum is a build library for front-end projects. Built for projects using React, Less, and Node. vitreum focuses on incredibly fast build times and tooling for tightly active development. It's composed of several independant steps that you can configure to meet exactly what your project needs.


npm install --save vitreum


To really get going quickly, I've made a separate project for common commandline tools for vitreum, including a complete project bootstrap.


Vitreum uses a folder-based component system, where each JSX component has it's own folder and an associated style file with it. Any assets or sub-components it needs should be located within it's own folder.

  ├─ page.jsx
  ├─ page.less
  ├─ user.png
  └─ /widget
    ├─ widget.jsx
    └─ widget.less


Vitreum exposes a series of steps you can use to create build and development scripts for your project. Each step is a promise, so they can be easily chained. Youd should use these within npm scripts which you define in your package.json. See the for some best practices.

build steps


Ensures the /build folder exists and removes all files from it.

const clean = require('vitreum/steps/clean');
    .then(() => {})

libs(modulenames : array)

Creates a standalone bundle at /build/libs.js that contains Browserified versions of all the module names passed in. This step is used to isolate very large common libraries from slowing down builds. This file can also be cached in a CDN as it shouldn't need to be ran often (can take up to 10s to run!).

const libs = require('vitreum/steps/libs');
libs(['react', 'classnames', 'lodash'])
    .then(() => {})

jsx(bundleName : string, entryPoint : string, libs : array, shared : array) -> deps : array

Creates a named js bundle at ./build/${bundleName}/bundle.js using the component specified at entryPoint. Any modules listed in libs will not be included in the bundle and will be expected to be loaded extenerally. Any paths listed in shared will be used as additional require paths.

const jsx = require('vitreum/steps/jsx');
jsx('main', './client/main/main.jsx', Proj.libs, ['./shared'])
    .then((deps) => {})

deps will be an array of dependacy paths that the entrypoint require'd. This is used be the less step to search for the appropriate less files.

less(bundleName : string, shared : array, deps : array)

Creates a named css bundle at ./build/${bundleName}/bundle.css using the deps. This step will look at each dependacy provided and see if there is a related less file at that location, if so it will automatically included it within the bundle. The shared parameter lets the less step know where to look for additional require paths.

const jsx = require('vitreum/steps/jsx');
const less = require('vitreum/steps/less');
jsx('main', './client/main/main.jsx', Proj.libs, ['./shared'])
    .then((deps) => {
        return less('main', Proj.shared, deps);

assets(patterns : array, folders : array)

Searches for all files in the array of folders that match any of the patterns. Copies each file, maintaining it's folder pathing, into /build/assets/, eg. /build/assets/main/widget/imgs/user.png.

const assets = require('vitreum/steps/assets');
assets(['*.png', '*.otf', 'myClientLib.js'], ['./client', './shared'])
    .then(() => {})

render(bundleName : string, templateFn : function, props : object, [fields])

Takes a compiled bundled from the jsx step and a template function to render a HTML string. This string can be used to pipe to the client using express, or can be saved to a file for static HTML rendering.

props are passed to the entrypoint component when rendering it. The fields parameter is passed as a second parameter in the template function. This is useful for passing in things like a Google Analytics snippet, or other data. Check out the

const render = require('vitreum/steps/render');
const templateFn = require('./client/template.js');
render('main', templateFn, {})
    .then((htmlString) => {})

template function The template function is a simple function that will be given an object with three properties and is expected to return a string of HTML. You can use whatever templating technique you like: DoT, Handlebars, Jade, native template strings. The three properties are head, body,a nd js

module.exports = (vitreum) => {
    return `<html>
            <main id="reactRoot">${vitreum.body}</main>

note: Injecting react compnents directly into the body is considered bad practice. With Vitreum rendering you must have an element with an id of reactRoot somewhere for it to render your entryPoint into.

watch steps

Note: These steps are only available when vitreum is installed in non-production envirnoments. Don't use them in production build steps!

jsxWatch(bundleName : string, entryPoint : string, libs : array, shared : array)

Creates a watchified bundler and runs it. Each time a file is updated, watchify will rebundle only what's changed resulting in up to a 10x increase in bundle speeds. This step also watches the file system for created or deleted files to updated the bundler's cache.

The deps created with this step will be shared with the less-watch step using global variables.

const jsxWatch = require('vitreum/steps/');
jsxWatch('main', './client/main/main.jsx', Proj.libs, ['./shared'])
    .then(() => {})

lessWatch(bundleName : string, shared : array)

Watches the file system for changes in .less files and will re-run the less step.

const lessWatch = require('vitreum/steps/');
lessWatch('main', ['./shared'])
    .then(() => {})

assetsWatch(patterns : array, folders : array)

Watches the file system for changes in provided patterns and will re-run the asset step.

const assetWatch = require('vitreum/steps/');
assetWatch(['*.png', '*.otf', 'myClientLib.js'], ['./client', './shared'])
    .then(() => {})


Sets up a livereload server that watches for changes in the ./build folder. By installing and using the LiveReload extension your browser will instantly switch up javscript and styles when they change. I strongly suggest using this, greatly speeds up development.

const livereload = require('vitreum/steps/livereload');
    .then(() => {})

serverWatch(serverFile : string, serverDirs : array)

Runs the provided serverFile and sets it up to automatically restart using nodemon when it detects changes in the file or any files within the serverDirs.

const serverWatch = require('vitreum/steps/');
serverWatch('./server.js', ['server'])
    .then(() => {})


Sometimes you'll want your components to be able to modify what's in your HTML head, such for title tags or meta descriptions. This can be pretty tricky to pull off, so this functionality comes built into Vitreum.

const Headtags = require('vitreum/headtags');
const Main = React.createClass({
    render: function(){
        return <div className='main'>
            <Headtags.title>My Fancy Page</Headtags.title>
            <Headtags.meta name="description" content="This is a really fancy page." />
            Hello World!

vitreum/headtags.js provides a title and a meta tag which behave exactly like their regular HTML counterparts. When you use the vitreum render step, it will render the headtags into the head property. This means these tags will be scrapable by robots, even if isomorphic rendering.



If you have more than one build script, it's useful to stored shared project info in a project.json in your ./scripts folder that your scripts can pull from. Things like libs or assets paths.

    "entryPoints" : {
        "main" : "./client/main/main.jsx"
    "assets" : ["*.txt", "cool_lib.js", "fancy.*"],
    "libs" : [


a partial is a bind without needed to set the scope. They are very useful for making clean promise chains. Each step function in vitreum has the partial property added.

const label = 'build';
const cleanStep = require('../../steps/clean.js');
const jsxStep = require('../../steps/jsx.js').partial;
const libStep = require('../../steps/libs.js').partial;
const lessStep = require('../../steps/less.js').partial;
const assetStep = require('../../steps/assets.js').partial;
const Proj = require('./project.json');
    .then(jsxStep('main', './client/main/main.jsx', Proj.libs, ['./shared']))
    .then(lessStep('main', Proj.shared))
    .then(assetStep(Proj.assets, ['./shared', './client']))
    .then(console.timeEnd.bind(console, label))