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Overview and instructions.

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JanMiksovsky committed Nov 6, 2012
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+The sort-dependencies package is a build tool helper that resolves simple
+dependencies using a simple file naming convention. This is delivered as a Node
+package, and intended for use within a build tool like Grunt
-Build helper that sorts the names of files (JavaScript, CSS, etc.) based on a file naming convention that indicates dependencies
+When building web projects, care must often be taken in combining certain files
+types, such as JavaScript files and CSS, where the order of declarations is
+signficant. A common solution is to define build steps that manually spell out
+the order in which processing should occur. This can be tedious, as the build
+file must be updated every time a new source file is added. Using wildcards in a
+build script will automatically pick up all files of the relevant type, but at
+the risk of ordering the files incorrectly.
+Suppose you have a JavaScript class Foo and a subclass Bar, where these classes
+are defined using any of the common prototype-based solutions for JavaScript.
+Following common practice, you might declare these classes in files Foo.js and
+Bar.js, respectively. If you are a build tool like Grunt, you might try to
+combine these files with a directive like:
+ concat: {
+ src: "*.js",
+ dest: "combined.js"
+ }
+the resulting combined.js will fail to load. The problem is that the *.js
+wildcard will alphabetically sort Bar.js before Foo.js, and at runtime the
+JavaScript engine will complain that Bar depends on Foo, which hasn't been
+defined yet. One could try to simple file name sorting tricks, like naming
+Foo.js something that like "0Foo.js", but such tricks have clear limits.
+As a general solution, the sort-dependencies package relies on a simple source
+file naming convention in which the source file name indicates both the class
+being defined *and* the name of the base class being subclassed. In this
+example, we would create a file Foo.js to hold the base class, and define the
+subclass Bar in a file called Bar.Foo.js. This information is sufficient to
+let the sort-dependencies package correctly sort Bar after Foo in the combined
+How to use
+1. Install the sort-dependencies Node package with:
+ ```
+ npm install sort-dependencies
+ ```
+2. If any JavaScript (or CSS, etc.) file depends on another, rename that file to
+include the name of the dependent file. If Bar.js depends on Foo.js, rename the
+first file to Bar.Foo.js. Files with no dependencies can be left as is.
+3. Load the sort-dependencies package in your build file (e.g., grunt.js), then
+use the sortFiles() function to sort the file names such that no file appears
+before a dependent file:
+ ```
+ var sortDependencies = require( "sort-dependencies" );
+ grunt.initConfig({
+ concat: {
+ src: sortDependencies.sortFiles( "*.js" ),
+ dest: "combined.js"
+ }
+ });
+ ```
+The sortFiles() function takes an array (and/or a list of parameters) that can
+include wildcards, and returns a sorted array with the names of all files in
+order such that no subclass appears before its required base class.
+Assuming the directory contains Bar.Foo.js and Foo.js, the sortFiles() call
+will return the array [ "Foo.js", "Bar.Foo.js" ], because Bar depends on Foo.
+This ensures that the combined files defines Foo and Bar in that order,
+regardless of the alphabetic sorting relationship of their class names. So
+the combined.js output will now look like:
+/* Contents of Foo.js */
+var Foo = ...
+/* Contents of Bar.Foo.js */
+var Bar = ...
+This approach can also be applied to any situation where a given file is
+dependent upon a specific other file being loaded first. E.g., if the JavaScript
+files Bar.Foo.js and Foo.js have corresponding CSS (or LESS, etc.) files, then
+those CSS files can be named Bar.Foo.css and Foo.css. This ensures that CSS
+rules will be applied in the correct order.

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