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Instant asset compilation, concatenation, and minification for Laravel 4.

branch: master

Please note that this project is no longer maintained. Please fork, if you'd like to improve it.

Instant Compilation, Concatenation, and Minification in Laravel 4 (Alpha)

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This plugin improves asset management in Laravel, by:

  • Compiling Sass or Less files automatically
  • Compiling CoffeeScript
  • Automatically running tests on save
  • Concatenating and minifying JavaScript and CSS (if not using a preprocessor)
  • Instant browser refreshing


Before continuing, this package requires Ruby 1.9.2 (or higher) and Rubygems. Please install those first

Install this package through Composer. To your composer.json file, add:

"require-dev": {
    "way/guard-laravel": "dev-master"

Next, run composer install --dev to download it.

Finally, add the service provider to app/config/app.php, within the providers array.

'providers' => array(
    // ...


That's it! Run php artisan to view the three new Guard commands:

  • guard:make - Create a new Guardfile, and specify desired preprocessors
  • guard:watch - Begin watching filesystem for changes, and run tests
  • guard:refresh - Refresh your guard file

Creating a Guardfile

The first step is to install the necessary dependencies (done automatically for you), and create the Guardfile. Run php artisan guard:make to do this as quickly as possible. Once you answer the questions, a new Guardfile will be added to the root of your project.

Configuring Paths

Unless you specify custom paths for these directories, Guard-Laravel will use sensible defaults.

  • Sass: app/assets/sass
  • Less: app/assets/less
  • CoffeeScript: app/assets/coffee
  • JS: public/js
  • CSS: public/css

To override these defaults, publish the default configuration options to your app/config directory. You'll only have to do this once per project, of course.

php artisan config:publish way/guard-laravel

You may now edit these options at app/config/packages/way/guard-laravel/guard.php. When you do, your Guardfile will automatically update to reflect the changes.

Sass/Less/CoffeeScript Compilation

After you've generated a Guardfile with php artisan guard:make (which will also download any necessary dependencies), you'll see a new app/assets directory. This is where your Sass/Less/CoffeeScript files will be stored. Try creating a new file, app/assets/sass/buttons.sass, and add:

  background: red

If you save the file, nothing will happen. We have to tell Guard to begin watching the filesystem. Run php artisan guard:watch to do so. Now, save the file again, and you'll find the compiled output within public/css/buttons.css. This same process will be true for compiling Less (if you choose that option) as well as CoffeeScript.

Concatenation and Minification

By default, when concatenating JavaScript and CSS, this package will simply grab all of the files in their respective directories, and concatenate them in, essentially, random order. Most of the time, this won't be acceptable.

When you need to specify the order, do so in app/config/packages/way/guard-laravel/guard.php (which we created above). Within this file, edit js_concat and css_concat to contain a list of the files, in order, that you want to merge and minify.

js_concat => ['module1', 'module2', 'module3']


This package also includes support for live reloading the browser when you make changes to stylesheets, JavaScripts, or Blade files.

To make use of it, you only need to install the necessary LiveReload extension for your browser of choice. See here for a list of options..

One important note is that, for Chrome, you need to visit chrome://extensions/ and check "Allow access to file URLs."

Once installed, run your server and click the LiveReload icon next to your address bar.

Continuous Testing

When you run php artisan guard:watch, in addition to compiling assets, it will also automatically run your tests when applicable files are saved.

Mac Users: Want native notifications? gem install terminal-notifier-guard, and you're all set to go!

Guard will run PHPUnit:

  1. When any test within app/tests is saved
  2. When a view file is saved, all tests will run. You may want to update this to only run integration tests
  3. When any class file is saved, it will attempt to find an associated test and call it. For example, save app/models/User.php, and it will test app/tests/models/UserTest.php.

Guard Plugin Options

Unless adding new or custom Guards, you should never modify the Guardfile. This is because many of the settings are generated dynamically. In the instances when you want to add options for a plugin (such as selecting compressed Sass over the default nested), specify them as an array within app/config/packages/way/guard-laravel/guard.php.

Set the key to the name of the guard plugin (see the Guardfile) The value should be an array of config options. Refer to the plugin readmes on GitHub for a full list of options. Below is an example for Sass config.

'guard_options' => array(
    'sass' => array(
        'line_numbers' => true,
        'style'        => ':compressed'

View Helpers

This package also includes two global helper functions: stylesheet() and script(). Without any arguments, these two functions spit out the necessary HTML for a stylesheet and script, respectively, using the concatenated/minified file as its href/src.

{{ stylesheet() }}

Will create:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/styles.min.css">


{{ script() }}

Will create:

<script src="/js/scripts.min.js"></script>

You can optionally pass an argument to either of these functions, which should reference a file name that is relative to what you have set under js_path or css_path in the configuration file. For example, to pull in the stylesheet, public/css/normalize.css, and assuming that css_path is set to public/css, simply do:

{{ stylesheet('normalize.css') }}

This will produce:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/normalize.css">


Here's a basic bit of workflow for a new project. First, install package through Composer. Then:

# Create a new guard file
php artisan guard:make

# Publish config options to tailor to your project
php artisan config:publish way/guard-laravel

# Begin watching filesystem for changes
php artisan guard:watch
# or just - guard

# Edit Sass or CoffeeScript file, and watch it auto-compile
# Edit a test, and PHPUnit fires

# Update js_concat to an ordered list of your JS files. Now, they'll be concatenated in
# that exact order.

Have fun!

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