Should You Commit Compiled Code?

Working on a Java project you would never dream of committing a built war or jar file, so when working with JavaScript why would you think of committing the compiled source. So many projects I have worked on have by default commit the dist/lib code. This adds bloat and unnecessary steps to committing and merging such as making sure that you build before committing files and that you build when merging.

Preventing Commits of Complied Code

When setting up a new project always create a .gitignore file and add this to the project. For most projects I have worked on we have always used a dist/lib folder for the compiled source. For these cases add the following to your .gitignore.

# compiled source

if you have already committed the dist or lib you can stop tracking the files by using the following git command: git rm -r –cached

How to Provide Users with the Compiled Source

The easiest and most recommended (personal opinion) method for distributing your source is via npm. Npm allows you to publish code to a central repository and allow users to quickly access and use the code. The reason that I prefer Npm over other package managers like bower is due to the Npm repository, the repository allows publishers to push only the needed content so that users only pull down and have access that what they need. Bower however acts more like a link to git repositories which in turn requires publishers to commit complied source.

NPM Publish

To publish to Npm you can follow some simple steps that will have you pushing code in no time.
Create your npm account. You can also pay to have private repositories and push/get from these.
– Add the name field to the package.json file in your project.
– Add a prepublish task to the npm scripts
– Run npm publish

You can see an example file below:

  "name": "module-name",
  "version": "10.3.1",
  "description": "An example module to illustrate the usage of a package.json",
  "author": "Your Name ",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo 'No Tests'",
    "start": "node index.js",
    "prepublish": "uglifyjs --compress --mangle input.js"
  "main": "dist/foo.js",

You can either have a build task that you call from the prepublish or just call the build commands. Now when you run npm publish the prepublish will run and compile your source. Now you need to make sure that only this gets pushed to the Npm repository. This can be achieved by using a .npmignore similar to the .gitinore however this will list all your project content except for the dist/lib folders.

Now your project is setup to only publish and track what users need and want.




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