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Contributing to Dependents

Thanks for being interested in contributing.

  1. Motivation for the tool
  2. Architecture
  3. The Sublime Text Plugin
  1. The Backend
  1. Release Strategy
  2. PR Guidelines
  3. Non-code Contributions
  4. Development workflow


I created Dependents out of frustration. I noticed major inefficiencies in my workflow when trying to navigate and learn a large codebase.

The goal for Dependents and its future features is to allow for fast and effective navigation about front-end codebases. This is achieved by letting you find and understand what you’re looking for with little to no downtime.

Future goals:

I believe that Dependents could bring IDE-like functionality to Sublime Text. My own frustrations with how long it takes to piece together complex inheritance trees, understand pub/sub connections, and holistically grasping dependency trees have spawned a few ideas that I plan on implementing.

If you have feature ideas along these lines, please file an issue.

If you enjoy using the plugin, hearing about it always makes the hard work worthwhile. Feel free to reach out.


Dependents is based on two primary layers: the Sublime Text client and the backend, nodejs-based modules.

This Sublime Text plugin is an intentionally dumb binding between the editor and the backend tools.

The bulk of the logic from the plugin resides in the node tools: node-dependents, node-taxicab, and others as more features are built. This means that the features of the plugin could be ported to different editors fairly easily.

The Sublime Text Plugin

Sublime Text plugins are written in Python since the Sublime Text Api is python-based.

To bind to the node tools, there are several key files:

  • A cross-platform way of shelling out to node commands and collecting/decoding the output
  • Used for issuing commands to the dependents backend
Command files
  • The logic for the "Find Dependents" command
  • The logic for the "Jump to Dependents" command
  • The logic for the "Find relevant app entry points" command
Lib files

Common helpers shared across the commands are placed in the lib/ directory.

All of the helpers have tests in tests/lib.


The test suite resides in tests and is still being backfilled. Testing Sublime Text plugins is still the wild west, so it's a work in progress.

Nose and Mock are used.

You can run the test suite by installing the requirements-dev using pip then running nosetests or npm test.

Any PR contributions must have tests.

The backend node tools

As stated, the backend does the heavy lifting. Each backend tool does one thing well.

Each tool is integrated into sublime-dependents by creating a Python script like that shells out to the binary of the given tool.

The node-based tools are then added to the package.json file for tracking, not so much for npm installation.


node-dependents is used for finding the dependents of a given file across all files in a directory. This supports JS, Sass, and any future languages.

New languages are supported by adding detectives to node-precinct. Precinct is a detective factory that takes in the content of a file and returns a list of dependencies for that file.

PRs or feature requests for new languages are welcome.


node-taxicab is used for finding drivers (i.e., relevant entry points for a given file).

Release Strategy

After a PR has been made, a changelog/ entry is drafted, the changelog entry is added to messages.json and a release/tag is cut.

After a tag is made, the new code will make it to Package Control within the hour.

Package Control visits all plugins hourly and pulls new tags.

PR Guidelines

Try to replicate the existing style, though I'd welcome changes to make the code more idiomatic to the Python language.

A contribution must have tests.

Non-code contributions

If you'd like to help but don't feel comfortable with Python or JavaScript, you can contribute by doing any of the following:

  • Spreading the word about the plugin to the JS and Sass communities
  • Suggesting features
  • Filing bug reports
  • Writing about the tool
  • Screencasts for getting started

Any and all contributions are appreciated.

Development Workflow

You will need Nodejs installed.

When developing Dependents, I have a cloned copy of this repo in /Users/YOUR_USER_NAME/Library/Application Support/Sublime Text 3/Packages/Dependents.

This means that you will only be able to run the development version while developing the plugin – as the production version is installed to that location as well.

Run npm install in the root directory to pull down the dependencies.

  • Since the node tools are already committed via node_modules, you're really only pulling down the development dependencies (which are gitignored to avoid bloating the package).

Run grunt in the root of the repo to start the watcher.

  • Any time you change a file, the command files are reloaded. Otherwise, you won't see new code being used; it's a sublime text thing.

Once the command files are updated, you can test your live changes in an open instance of Sublime Text.

  • I'll typically keep one window open with the Dependents codebase and another window open with a test project.
  • Keep the console open CMD + `` or View -> Show Console` to see print statements and debug information.