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Alfons 5

GitHub stars GitHub tag (latest SemVer pre-release) LuaRocks

Alfons 5 is a rewrite of the original Alfons, written to be much more modular and usable. For the old Alfons 3, see the three GitHub branch.

Alfons is a task runner to help you manage your project. It's inspired by the worst use cases of Make (this means using make instead of shell scripts), it will read an Alfonsfile, extract the exported functions and run the tasks in order. I would tell you that there is no real reason to use this thing, but it's becoming surprisingly useful, so actually try it out.

Table of contents



  • 5.0.2 (23.01.2023) Rolled back test mode
  • 5.0.1 (23.01.2023) Fixed rockspec dependencies
  • 5.0 (23.01.2023) Switched out filekit in favor of lpath.

I am back to life and filekit errored on me. Filekit is terribly inefficient anyway and I don't know why I ever made it. Now I am using an actually good filesystem library. It's a breaking change, though.

  • Compatibility with ComputerCraft has been removed. Alfons 5 is not compatible with it.
  • Replaced filekit with lpath
    • fs in the environment no longer points to filekit, but to path.fs
    • path, fsinfo and env have been added to the environment, corresponding to path, and path.env respectively.
  • Additions to the environment
    • safeOpen: Open IO handles safely
    • listAll: Returns a list of all files and directories recursively.
    • copy: Recursive file copy
    • delete: Recursive delete
    • isEmpty: Checks if a directory is empty
  • Changes to the environment
    • All FS operations don't deal in absolute paths anymore
    • wildcard and iwildcard may exhibit slightly different behavior.


  • 4.4 (04.02.2021) Added exists and Experimental Teal Support.

Some critical bugs in the loading of taskfiles and the invocation of tasks have been fixed.



  • 4.2 (02.10.2020) Internal overhaul.

Alfons 4.2 changes the whole way that Alfons works on the inside. Please refer to Loading and API for the most notable work.


  • 4.1.4 (12.09.2020) - Bugfix on default task.
  • 4.1.3 (11.09.2020) - Funny Homestuck Number update. Fix inotify dependency.
  • 4.1.2 (29.08.2020) - More bugfixes
  • 4.1.1 (27.08.2020) - Bugfixes
  • 4.1 (27.08.2020) - Added uses


Run alfons in a directory with an Alfons.lua or Alfons.moon file. Using MoonScript (obviously) requires installing MoonScript via LuaRocks.

To see the documentation, check out the docs/ folder of this repo.

To get started using Alfons, check out the Tutorial or the Recipes.

Defining tasks

Tasks are obtained by either returning a table {tasks={}} where the empty table is a list of named functions, or by exporting globals. The preferred mode for Lua is exporting globals, and the preferred mode for MoonScript is returning a table, although both work in both languages.


-- Exporting globals
function always(self) print( end
-- Returning table
return { tasks = {
  always = function(self) print( end


-- Exporting globals
export always ==> print @name
-- Returning table
  always: => @name

Calling tasks

From the command line, simply pass the name of the task you wish to run. Alternatively, use tasks.TASK to call TASK if it's loaded.


function test (self)
  print("I am " .. .. " and " .. self.caller .. " called me.")

function call (self)
  tasks.test{caller =}


  test: => print "I am #{@name} and #{@caller} called me."
  call: => tasks.test caller: @name


Arguments are passed in the self table of every function, which contains a field called name which is, well, uh, its own name. You can also use the args table to see the whole tree of arguments. Feel free to play with and abuse this!

Migrating from Alfons 3

Some functions are either not implemented or not yet ported.

Missing functions

moonc, git, clone and toflags do not exist anymore. The first three may be implemented at a later time, and the last won't be implemented due to the changes in Alfons' argument system. For now, you will have to use their command-line counterparts, so moonc file becomes sh "moonc #{file}" and such.

Importable tasks

fetch/fetchs is now just fetch, and ms-compile has been removed and will probably not come back. Write a compile task manually. This should work as a dropin replacement:


compile = function()
  for file in wildcard "**.moon" do sh "moonc ".. file end


compile: => sh "moonc #{file}" for file in wildcard "**.moon"


Since this is not upstream yet, you can't install through the LuaRocks server. However, you can install Alfons using itself.

Alfons 4 is now available on LuaRocks!

$ luarocks install alfons

Extra features

The preincluded task fetch depends on lua-http to be used. The watch function depends on linotify and will not work on platforms other than Linux.

$ luarocks install http     # lua-http
$ luarocks install inotify  # linotify

Projects using Alfons

Thanks for using the project <3.


Throwing it to the public domain. Check out the license.