0.18.0 • Public • Published

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xpm - the xPack project manager

This project implements xpm - the xPack project manager - as a Node.js CLI application.

The main purpose of xpm is to automate common tasks and provide reproducible builds for language neutral, multi-version projects.

More specifically:

  • to manage build configurations and to run actions (sequences of commands) associated with various build steps
  • to manage versioned dependencies, like to install both source code libraries and binary archives, and to easily update them when new versions are available

So far, two main use cases were considered and successfully implemented:

  • to orchestrate complex multi-architecture/multi-platform builds for embedded projects (like semihosted unit tests for µOS++)
  • to perform the multi-platform builds for all binary tools part of the xPack 3rd Party Development Tools project.

The project is open-source and is hosted on GitHub as xpack/xpm-js.

Maintainer info

This page is intended as a brief introduction for those who consider using this tool to manage their projects.

For developer and maintainer information, see the separate README-DEVELOPER.md and README-MAINTAINER.md pages.

Quick links

If you already know the general facts about xpm, you can directly skip to:

xPacks overview

xPacks are general purpose versioned software packages, much the same as the highly successful npm packages in the Node.js ecosystem.

xPacks are usually Git repositories and can be published on npmjs.com or any npm compatible server.

For more details, please read the xPacks 101 page.


The current version requires Node.js >= 16.

Since it is highly recommended to do not use sudo during install, and instead use a version manager or to customize the npm install location, please read the install page for more details.


The basic command is:

npm install --global xpm@latest

Troubleshooting: in case xpm was already installed, in certain conditions the update may not succeed and xpm may become unusable; if this happens, uninstall xpm and retry the install.

For more details, please refer to the install page.

User info

To get an initial glimpse on the program, ask it for help:

% xpm --help

The xPack project manager command line tool
Usage: xpm <command> [<subcommand>...] [<options> ...] [<args>...]

where <command> is one of:
  init, install, link, list, run, uninstall

Common options:
  --loglevel <level>     Set log level (silent|warn|info|verbose|debug|trace)
  -s|--silent            Disable all messages (--loglevel silent)
  -q|--quiet             Mostly quiet, warnings and errors (--loglevel warn)
  --informative          Informative (--loglevel info)
  -v|--verbose           Verbose (--loglevel verbose)
  -d|--debug             Debug messages (--loglevel debug)
  -dd|--trace            Trace messages (--loglevel trace, -d -d)
  --no-update-notifier   Skip check for a more recent version
  -C <folder>            Set current folder

xpm -h|--help            Quick help
xpm <command> -h|--help  Quick help on command
xpm --version            Show version
xpm -i|--interactive     Enter interactive mode

npm xpm@0.18.0 '/Users/ilg/.nvm/versions/node/v16.16.0/lib/node_modules/xpm'
Home page: <https://xpack.github.io/xpm/>
Bug reports: <https://github.com/xpack/xpm-js/issues/>


Similarly to npm, the project configuration is in package.json.

In addition to name and version which must uniquely identify the project, there is an xpack property that groups several xpm specific properties:

  • dependencies
  • devDependencies
  • properties
  • actions
  • buildConfigurations

dependencies and devDependencies are similar to npm, but refer to xPacks. properties define values used in substitutions. actions are a more generalised form of the npm scripts, which allow arrays of commands with substitutions. buildConfigurations define multiple configurations, like debug/release.

Template substitutions

To increase reusability, it is possible to use substitutions in the strings defining actions. The syntax is more elaborate than the simple variable substitution, and is using the LiquidJS template engine syntax, which accepts:

  • variables, like {{ configuration.name }}
  • filters, like {{ configuration.name | downcase }}
  • tags, like {% if os.platform != 'win32' %}xpm run execute --config synthetic-posix-cmake-debug{% endif %}

The substitution values come from the following predefined objects:

  • package, with the entire package.json content
  • properties with the xPack properties
  • os.platform with the Node.js platform (possible values are aix, darwin, freebsd, linux, openbsd, sunos, and win32)
  • os.arch with the Node.js architecture (possible values are arm, arm64, ia32, mips, mipsel, ppc, ppc64, s390, s390x, x32, and x64)

When the xpm command is started with --config, the configuration properties are preferred to the xPack properties and the following object is also added to properties:

  • configuration with the full content of the current xPack build configuration; the configuration name is available as configuration.name

For the full list of variables available for substitutions, please read the documentation of the separate xpack/xpm-liquid-ts project.

Multi-line actions

In order to accommodate more complex actions, it is possible to define sequences of commands as arrays of strings, with each line executed as a separate command.

If multiple commands are generated via loops, line terminators can be inserted with {{ os.EOL }}), for example:

{% for command in package.xpack.my_commands %}{{ command }}{{ os.EOL }}{% endfor %}

The build folder path

When using build configurations, each build must be performed in a separate build folder.

This should be done using the reserved property buildFolderRelativePath, which must define a folder relative to the project root, usually below a top build folder.

This property can be defined either manually for each configuration, or globally, as a computed property, available for the entire project.

The definition can be parametrised with the configuration name, and possibly converted to a lower case folder name, for example:

  "xpack": {
    "properties": {
      "buildFolderRelativePath": "{{ 'build' | path_join: configuration.name | to_filename | downcase }}"

Change log - incompatible changes

According to semver rules:

Major version X (X.y.z | X > 0) MUST be incremented if any backwards incompatible changes are introduced to the public API.

The incompatible changes, in reverse chronological order, are:

  • v0.14.x: separate xPack from npm dependencies (see 0001 policy)


The original content is released under the MIT License, with all rights reserved to Liviu Ionescu.

The design is heavily influenced by the npm application, Copyright (c) npm, Inc. and Contributors, Licensed on the terms of The Artistic License 2.0.


The xpm tool is currently work in progress and should be used with caution.

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