Busser is a node.js development system for SproutCore written in Coffeescript.
CoffeeScript JavaScript
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Prominent Note at the Top

This program does not well work yet...

UPDATE 2012-05-11: With work on the SproutCore 1.8 release, attention fell away from busser development. But now is rekindled with help from mauritslamers. The Chance port has been moved from busboy, as a newly named tool, to be chance.coffee as a source file within busser. That way the Chance port can be also used in garcon.

UPDATE 2012-02-02: To the point where layout and css of themes, and for starting work on busboy begins, with study of Chance and other available css and slicing possibilities.

UPDATE 2012-02-01: New Proxy class, improvements to configuration of server and proxies, and fixes for script building and root html.

UPDATE 2012-01-29: Documentation and comments improvements.

UPDATE 2012-01-28: Addition of src/CoffeeScriptHelp.md, along with many improvements of formatting and use of idiomatic CoffeeScript in the code.

UPDATE 2012-01-26b: Added use of prompt and color node.js modules.

UPDATE 2012-01-26a: Thanks to Tyler Keating for fixing the index_set.js bug in SproutCore master, discussed below, in 2012-01-23 entry.

UPDATE 2012-01-24b: busboy, for handling the graphics side of things and other "helper" tasks, has been moved from a source file within busser to a separate repository, for a program, graphics-heavy, that will be made as a separately intallable npm module. So, a developer will be able to install busser for general building and serving tasks, while electing to install busboy also, when theme-building and graphics needs arise.

UPDATE 2012-01-24a: Had to rename project from waiter to busser/busboy, because of a name conflict in npm registry.

UPDATE 2012-01-23: Jasko reported in irc a problem trying an older SC app against master, and it turns out to be the same thing plaguing busser. If lines 86-89 of sproutcore/frameworks/runtime/system/index_set.js are commented out, the hello world app now comes up. Woohoo!


Busser is a node.js development system for SproutCore written in CoffeeScript.

This project is based on garçon, which was written by Martin Ottenwaelter (martoche) and updated substantially by Maurits Lamers (mauritslamers).

Please see these github repos for the basis of work here:



During development of this CoffeeScript version, discussion with Maurits Lamers for background and for explanation has been very important. The martoche version of garçon was used as a starting point for the current development, followed by comparison to the later mauritslamers versions.

General similarities to garçon remain in early work on Busser, but reorganization and renaming of variables happens in course, to adapt to the CoffeeScript ways of doing things, and to add understanding where needed. Several node.js libraries were added to the mix.

Roadmap and ToDo List

Early focus will be on getting Busser to work with SproutCore master, the development target, for running and building the "test controls" SproutCore app in the SproutCore 1.8 release, using an Ace theme.

A longer-term goal is to match the feature set of the very capable Abbot/Chance build tools in Ruby for the next release of SproutCore (1.9?), if not to be incorporated as an official build tools option, to continue as a separately maintained project as an unofficial build tools option.

Busser is being developed with a fresh look at new tools available, such as browserify, stylus, stitch, and the like, to see where use of these tools can replace code or enhance the program.

Review the merit of using express.js for the server part of busser, instead of the straight node.js-based server.

Async programming style in Busser will be reviewed by comparison to examples found on the web and to the build tools called ember-runner, developed by Juan Pablo Goldfinger (Juan77). In particular, the use of the async module in ember-runner will be reviewed. ember-runner may be found at https://github.com/envone/ember-runner.

Also, the design and operation of ember-runner will be reviewed. One aspect to be considered is the way the system of task handlers works, compared to the modifications done in Busser.

Evaluate IcedCoffeeScript, with its addition of await and defer, for replacing code in busser's task handler exec methods, at least for cases where counts are used to wait for overall completion. See IcedCoffeeScript.

For coming up to par with Chance, and for adding new features, graphics production and handling may be enhanced by using node.js modules such as node-canvas, to add screen capturing for SproutCore testing and software release tasks.

The latest mauritslamers version of garçon includes a start for handling of bundles and also includes use of special components from SproutCore itself. The development of Busser will include coverage of bundle support, and may also incorporate these SproutCore components, especially if they are packaged in dedicated npm modules, per discussion with mauritslamers.

DONE 2012-01-26 The node.js modules prompt and color were successfully used in linelizer, so it will be easy to add their use to Busser. prompt will be useful for making a version for new users that prompts them for their project file name, app name or version, build action, etc. And the colors module can be used for custom reporting from the server and in analysis printouts.

DONE 2012-01-28 Format the docco presentation by customizing docco css for the project. [Not by customizing css, yet, but by use of md formatting.]

Add build time console reporting.

Study how the command line tools work in Abbot, for the functionality that might most be needed. The project init and generation code is in the tools module, e.g. in abbot/lib/sproutcore/models/generator.rb. The complexity of buildfiles and of handling merging them for varied targets is rather substantial, and can be weighed against requiring the developer to more explicitly lay out a project hierarchy and dependencies in an nconf json file.

In Abbot, the interface to Chance allows for re-staging of files. When is that needed, and would it be easy to implement in busser? Some comments in abbot/lib/sproutcore/builders/chance_file.rb.

Make busser and chance into installable npm modules. (Need to be separate?)

Review the url, urlFor, and similar functions in Busser, which were not substantially changed from garçon, to see if all of that can be simpler.

Add tests, using vows perhaps, but take a fresh look at mocha and any other testing frameworks available. Some of the node.js modules already employed in busser/chance can be used in concert to make fixtures and testing harnesses.

Support for CoffeeScript programming of SproutCore will be explored and developed as a primary focus after the dust settles on other roadmap items. Busser was written in CoffeeScript as an exploration to learn the language and to test its viability. This experience has been so favorable that an expansion for support of CoffeeScript programming for SproutCore development is a goal.

Review CoffeeScriptLineMatcher and video. This work is tied to ongoing efforts to add direct line number support in the CoffeeScript compiler, which you can follow on the github issue. The concept of providing a dashboard in a browser window is also inticing, and is perfect for a development tool like busser. The dashboard could have the CoffeeScript and javascript side-by-side (could optionally hide the javascript) and coordinated by line number, plus other goodies specific to SproutCore development.

Another original goal of the project has been reevaluated after saturation in CoffeeScript programming. The idea to offer a Python version of the build tools or to wrap/incorporate the build tools in an effective Python development environment no longer seems needed. Rather, instead of writing a version in Python, the similarity of CoffeeScript to Python is now deemed enough to serve as a draw to Python programmers who wish to understand or modify the build tools. This goal exists primarily for addressing a perceived missed opportunity to empower and draw in new users of SproutCore from the Python community, which many of us already know from experience or from use of Python on the backend. Although the Ruby community already may look to Abbot, which is written in Ruby, the style of programming in Busser may be attractive, as for Python developers. All of that is said with the caveat that the underlying async capabilities of node.js are celebrated in Busser, so effort to learn or appreciate it may be required.

Eventual Tool Installation [TODO] Not yet implemented

Install with:

npm install busser

This would install the dependencies and busser, but that doesn't work yet. Significant NOTE: CoffeeScript, nor the testing framework, will not be required in a normal user installation. This will be a node.js tool installable via npm.

Development Installation

git clone http://www.github.com/geojeff/busser

cd busser

npm install coffee-script (use -g for global -- you know you want to)

npm install nconf

npm install prompt

npm install colors

npm install less

npm install strscan

npm install underscore

npm install microtime

npm install uglify-js

These npm install steps will populate a node_modules directory in the busser directory. If you installed coffee-script globally, with -g, you can run coffee to get a REPL for learning, if you want. The coffee command is used to compile src/busser.coffee to bin/coffee.js, with the command:

coffee --output bin ./src/busser.coffee

If you installed coffeescript locally, you will need to use the path:


After a successful step to get a bin/busser.js, you are ready to run busser, after adding a frameworks directory inside busser, then cloning SproutCore master in there. Clone from https://github.com/sproutcore/sproutcore/.

Preparing Config File

Busser uses the node.js nconf module for configurations. See the default conf/busser.json file for usage. busser.json contains a short section for configuring the server at the very top, followed by the default framework sections, which are rather long, offering fine-grained control:

  • default-app-dev

  • default-app-prod

  • default-sc-frameworks-dev

  • default-sc-frameworks-prod

Below these default specifications in the file, there is an apps section, where a developer adds their own app configurations. In the sample config file, there are app sections for 'HelloWorld-dev' and 'HelloWorld-prod' and the same for the test_controls app. Within each app, there are properties for basic metadata items and for build control settings. There is an sc-frameworks section, where addition SproutCore frameworks can be added, in addition to the core frameworks required. This will change, especially after flexibility for bundle support is added, but it is a start. Likewise, there is a custom-frameworks section for each app, for specifying configurations for external frameworks used from github or from in-house customizations and development.

One idea to be pursued is the customization per application "instance," e.g. HelloWorld-dev vs. HelloWorld-prod, which can be maintained for different development experiments, the "master" dev and prod versions, and so on. This flexibility can be matched to horsepower within busser to perform large build jobs, if needed.

See https://github.com/flatiron/nconf for nconf details.


busser uses the node.js prompt module, along with the colors module, to prompt for and validate user input, if the run mode is interactive. If the run mode is command-line-only, the same arguments are validated and parsed with the same code, after which, accepted user input is fed to nconf.

busser is invoked with no arguments as:

node bin/busser.js

which will prompt for the following input items:

  • configPath -- Use the default 'conf/busser.json' until you have a need to customize.

  • appTargets -- Use the test app 'HelloWorld-dev' for which info is in busser.json. This is designed to take multiple targets in comma-delimited format, but for now one app at a time works.

  • actions -- Use a combination of build, save, and run, comma-delimited, blank-delimited, or even all jammed up, as buildsaverun.

Power users will want command-line-only functionality, something like:

node bin/busser.js --config=myconfig.json --appTargets=HelloWorld-dev --actions=build,run

Because this is command line input, when providing multiples for either argument, use comma-delimited style with no blanks, certainly for appTargets, with no blanks, or use quotes, e.g. --appTargets="myapp-dev, myapp-prod" or --actions=build,save,run. You can also use compound words for actions, e.g. --actions=buildsaverun. For actions, the order of input doesn't matter -- build will always be first, then save, if required, then run.

You should see colorized prompts for input, and you should see a colorized report to the console during executing.

For build, save, run, you will see the same output, finishing with a message that the server is now running on localhost, port 8000. If using the run action, visit localhost:8000/HelloWorld to show the app, which, as of 2012-01-23, for HelloWorld will show the first window and pane skewed far left, unusable (Ace problems, probably...).

It is not necessary to save -- during development, you will commonly use build, run.

Running with an Existing Project

Go into your existing project directory, then git clone busser, then cd busser, and follow the instructions above to npm install dependencies locally into your busser directory (this will add node_modules directory). Then compile src/busser.coffee with the coffee command, as explained in the directions above. Then cd .. up to your project directory. cp busser/conf/busser.conf to, say, myproject.json, or wherever you wish to put it. Edit this conf file, changing HelloWorld, etc. to your app's info. Then you should be able to run node busser/bin/busser.js either interactively or via the command line, per instructions above. As of 2012-01-30, an app would not be expected to serve up correctly.

A usage to consider, is to make a conf directory in your project and put a file called busser.json in there. That way, you can edit this file and you won't have to worry with a command line argument, because conf/busser.json is the default.


Jeff Pittman (geojeff)




Tests [TODO] Not yet implemented

Tests are made in Busser with the Vows testing framework. If you wish to install Vows for running tests, you may do so with:

npm install vows

Then, you should be able to run all tests with:

vows test/*

or, to see a more complete report, run:

vows test/* --spec

and individual tests, for example, with:

node test/config.js


For learning coffeescript, the coffeescript.org website is succinct and very good.

Other websites:

The Little Book of CoffeeScript

Smooth CoffeeScript (This book is interactive).

CoffeeScript Cookbook

CoffeeScript One-liners

When first starting, use js2coffee.org to experiment. It is still handy after you have learned coffeescript pretty well. There is also an npm installable command line version that is useful.

A very nice video for background and "top ten" favorites is by Sam Stephenson:

Better JS with CoffeeScript

and another video, by Trevor Burnham:

Introduction to CoffeeScript, which is related to his book on CoffeeScript: CoffeeScript: Accelerated JavaScript Development. Note that the instructions in the README file suggest using npm to install modules, including coffee-script, although you may, for some reason, prefer using something like homebrew for a general install. There is also a description of how to use plugins for TextMate, if you want.

And even an iPad book, by Trevor Burnham: CoffeeScript: An Interactive Reference.

Color-coding for CoffeeScript code is really nice to use. There are many editor plugins. MacVim with the CoffeeScript plugin works great.

See also the file CoffeeScriptHelp.md in the docs directory for help in learning CoffeeScript in the context of busser.