Configuring your Windows development environment
Command line console and other useful tools
One of the pain points we hear from users is that the command line console in Windows could use some work. We hear ya, and we're working on it. In the meantime, we want to enable you to have the best experience possible. So here are some links to recommended tools to complement your existing experience.
- cmd: cmd has had some improvements in Windows 10, so be sure to check it out if you abandoned ship in the past
😃. When you're working with Node.js, chances are you'll be spending a bit more time in the console, so it's well worth brushing up on your CLI commands.
- PowerShell: PowerShell is a powerful object-oriented shell (as opposed to a text-based shell). It's a bit of a learning curve, but well worth it. It also has a bunch of aliases for commands, like
ls, that'll make bash-happy people feel more at home. Here's a good walkthrough of some PowerShell commands from a *nix perspective, and there are many other resources to help you get started.
- Chocolatey: Chocolatey is the apt-get of Windows. There are also some other alternatives like Ninite which have their own advantages, but Chocolatey is the most commonly used.
choco install git.
- nvm-windows: https://github.com/coreybutler/nvm-windows - there are new versions of Node.js coming out all the time, so it can be annoying to migrate between versions. nvm-windows makes it way easier to switch between various versions.
- npm-windows-upgrade: npm is shipped with Node.js, and upgrading on Windows often requires manual upgrade steps. npm-windows-upgrade makes this process much easier. Install it by running
npm install npm-windows-upgrade -g, and run the command by running
- terminal emulators: cmder and ConEmu.
- Cygwin: Cygwin can be handy if you're more familiar with bash, or are trying to use a Node app that assumes a *nix environment. Cygwin is a distribution of popular GNU and other open source tools running on Microsoft Windows. The core part is the Cygwin library which provides the POSIX system calls and environment these programs expect.
- Git for Windows Git for windows provides native versions of the BASH shell and some *nix utilites in addition to the command line git and GUI tool. It is probably the best of shells based on MSYS/MinGW but still supplies ports of older versions of the *nix utilities. Works very well in combination with ConEmu.
- GitHub Desktop GitHub Desktop (previosuly GitHub for Windows) is primarilarly a GUI but it also includes a version of MSYS/MinGW Bash.
- Putty: ssh client.
- WinSCP: free [S]FTP client, also supports SCP and webDAV.
- Fiddler: a web debugging tool. In general, people use it for the browser-side debugging, but you can also configure it to view server-side requests from Node.js.
🚩TODO Provide more dev environment options and a PowerShell script to make things easier.
📈IN PROGRESS We're currently planning the next Windows release, so it's a great time to let us know your biggest command line pain points!
Editors and IDEs
Visual Studio Code is a lightweight, cross-platform IDE that offers powerful editing, debugging, and git integration for Node.js development. Several Visual Studio Code extension may be useful for Node.js development:
Node.js Tools for Visual Studio is a free, open-source extension that turns Visual Studio into a powerful Node.js IDE: intelligent code completions, advanced debugging and profiling, cloud deployment, unit-testing, REPL window, and more. For more information, check out these walkthrough and overview videos. Note that while Visual Studio can be used as a stand-alone additional IDE 'layer' to a comprehensive commandline based workflow, several Visual Studio extensions may also prove useful:
- EditorConfig consistent editor spaces and indents.
- NPM scripts task runner adds npm scripts to the Visual Studio task runner explorer.
- Web Analyzer various linting tools incl. ESLint.
- Web Essentials many useful tools for client and server dev.
- GitHub Extensions for Visual Studio (can installed by selecting during VS installation).
WebStorm is a lightweight yet powerful IDE, perfectly equipped for complex client-side development and server-side development with Node.js. It supports TypeScript 1.6, Flow, ES6, Angular 2, TSLint, npm scripts, and more. For more information, check out jetbrains.com/webstorm.
MAX_PATH explanation and workarounds
For the uninitiated, MAX_PATH is a limitation with many Windows tools and APIs that sets the maximum path character length to 260 characters. There are some workarounds involving UNC paths, but unfortunately not all APIs support it, and that's not the default. This can be problematic when working with Node modules because dependencies are often installed in a nested manner.
❤️Start in a short path (e.g. c:\src)
> npm install -g rimrafdelete files that exceed max_path
> npm dedupemoves duplicate packages to top-level
> npm install -g flatten-packagesmoves all packages to top-level, but can cause versioning issues
❤️Upgrade to npm@3 which attempts to the make the
node_modulesfolder heirarchy maximally flat.
- Ships with Node v5
- Or… > npm install –g npm-windows-upgrade
For additional discussion, please see https://github.com/Microsoft/nodejstools/issues/69
Compiling native Addon modules
There are three primary reasons you might be interested in this section:
- you have an existing C++ library you'd like to take advantage of in your Node.js application
- you are interested in optimizing the performance of some code by writing it in C++
- you're running into dreaded
node-gypissues and have no idea what's going on.
Identifying native modules
How do you know if an npm package you want to install is a native module? Look for
C++ and Node.js? Tell me more...
- Node.js Addon documentation: https://nodejs.org/api/addons.html
- NodeSchool tutorial https://github.com/workshopper/goingnative
Environment setup and configuration:
Option 1: Install all the required tools and configurations using Microsoft's windows-build-tools by running
npm install -g windows-build-toolsfrom an elevated PowerShell (run as Administrator).
Option 2: Install dependencies and configuration manually
- Install Visual C++ Build Environment: Visual Studio Build Tools (using "Visual C++ build tools" workload) or Visual Studio 2017 Community (using the "Desktop development with C++" workload)
- Install Python 2.7 (
v3.x.xis not supported), and run
npm config set python python2.7
- Launch cmd,
npm config set msvs_version 2017
Verify everything's working
Here are a few packages you can try installing to see if your environment is set up properly.
Resolving common issues
|Python||Python 2.7 is not installed or can't be found||
|Inability to find msbuild, Visual Studio, or VC compiler||VC compiler not installed, or environment not properly configured||
|NaN/Node/v8/iojs-related syntax errors||Package incompatible with current version of Node.js||
|Other syntax errors||Incompatible with compiler version||
|Missing command or *.h file||Configuration is probably fine, but missing other prerequisites||
|MSB4019 error||Older versions of Visual Studio or C++ Build tools already installed||
|__pfnDliNotifyHook2 redefinition error||latest version of npm seems to fix this||Run
Deploying native modules
Sometimes, when deploying a native module to production, oftentimes it is not possible to set up the production machine with all the required prerequisites to build the native Addon. Therefore, building locally or on a CI server and deploying
node_modules may be the best option assuming there aren't any platform differences between the development and deployment machines.