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Brood - A container and manager for spawned scripts

Brood is not 'another child_process helper'. Brood is for holding and managing spawned scripts, for people who needs to spawn different scripts with different configuralation, and only listen to their responses, instead of controlling them.


npm install brood


var Brood = require('brood').Brood;

// Create a new brood instance and load scripts from rootPath
var brood = new Brood({
  rootPath: "scripts"

// Breed a new typeA larva
var args = ['outputFilename', 'timeout']; // args that you want to pass to the 
child while spawning

var larva = brood.breed('typeA', args);

// Now you could listen to events
larva.on('error', function (err) {
  console.log('Oops, error: %s', err);
larva.on('exit', function () {
  console.log('See ya!');

// Default stdout event
larva.on('info', function (msg) {
  console.log('I got a message from my child: %s', msg);

// Custom event
larva.on('story', function (msg) {
  console.log('My child just told me a story: %s', msg);

// Stderr (the stderr are seperated from normal error event)
larva.on('stderr', function (msg) {
  console.log('A msg from stderr: ',msg);


Brood is the catalog of species, brood will build the library with given blueprint.json.

Brood constructor:

  // Available options
  var options = {
    rootPath: 'script'
  var brood = new Brood(options);

rootPath could be absolute path or relative path, actually we directly use path.resolve(rootPath) to deal with it.

Brood.breed(speciesName, [args]) will return a Larva that contains a child_process that spawned with predefined configuration, and append the additional args on it. args could be string or array of strings.

When a larva is created by Brood, brood will keep watching it and kill it if it is regarded as "no-response".


Larva is the container of the spawned child_process, it will help us handling stdout, events and heartbeats. The reason of handling stdout is that stdout.on('data') is triggered only when the stdout buffer is flushed. so the data we get from it might be seperated or concated.

While creating a larva, brood will do this behind the scene:

child_process.spawn(command, [path, arg1, ...], env);

Params like command, path, args, env are calculated by the species.


Species is the DNA of your spawned child_process, a species is an JSON object which describes how the child will be spawned, each species should has a unique name, while building the library, the species with the same name will be overriden.

The example below contains every available field:

  "command": "phantomjs", // The command for executing the script, Default: node
  "name": "yourHouse.myGhost", // The identity of the species
  "scriptPath": "", // Optional 
  "extension": "", // Optional, Default: js
  "args": [], // Optional
  "env": {}, // Optional
  "aliasOf": "", //Optional
  • scriptPath: the relative path to the rootPath, if not given, brood will calculate it from name and replace "." with "/". If the name is "yourHouse.myGhost", the default scriptPath will be "yourHouse/myGhost".
  • extension: the extension of your script, default is 'js'
  • args: An array or a string
  • env: An object, it will be merged with process.env and passed into spawned child.
  • aliasOf: A string, the real species.


If aliasOf is given, it will copy properties from it and merge envs. Only env will be merged, other properties on this species will be ignored. The real species should be put above alias species.


  "name": "killer.jackTheRipper",
  "command": "murder", 
  "extension": "js",
  "env": {
    "area": "London",
    "weapon": "knife"
  "name": "killer.zodiac",
  "aliasOf": "killer.jackTheRipper",
  "env": {
    "area": "California"  

killer.zodiac will has the same args, command and timeout with jackTheRipper, env.weapon is copied from jackTheRipper and env.area is overriden with 'California'.


When a larva receive a message from stdout, it will update the latestHeartBeat, Brood will check the hearbeat timestamp regularly, if the timeout reached, it will be regarded as "dead" and be killed.

Brood only use stdout to determine if a child_process is dead, so brood is no proper for scripts that doesn't/rarely print out msg

Response event

If the msg printed in stdout is a valid JSON and follow this structure:

  event: "updateStatus", 
  data: "i am inside the building now"

than it will be emitted as a custom event:

  larva.emit('updateStatus', 'i am inside the building now');

otherwise, it will be emitted as an 'info' event:

  larva.emit('info', wholeMessage);

Speak to children

Brood doesn't provide a wrap of stdin rightnow, but you could still use the raw stdin stream:

  larva.childProcess.stdin.write("Say your prayers little one");

Manage your library

Brood will load your library from a bludprint.json you provide. Please put it in your rootPath.

The scheme of blueprint:

  "species": [],
  "timeout": 100000, // optional, global timeout, Default: 60000 
  "lifeDetectInterval": 2000 // optional, Default: 2000

If your library looks like:

|  |
|  +--speciesB.js
|  \--speciesC.js
|  |
|  \--speciesF.rb

than the blueprint.json should looks like:

  "species": [
      "name": "typeA.speciesB",
      "command": "node"
      "name": "typeA.speciesC",
      "command": "node",
      "env": {
        "PORT": 8888,
        "HOST": "localhost" 
      "args": ['-arg']
      "name": "typeD.speciesE",
      "command": "python",
      "extension": "py",
      "timeout": "10000"
      "name": "typeD.speciesF",
      "command": "ruby",
      "extension": "rb"
      "name": "speciesG",
      "command": "casperjs"


For convience, brood provides a set of tool to do the common jobs. If you put your rootPath inside the nodejs project and your spawned script is a nodejs script, you could use var utils = require('brood').utils to get those utils.

Right now it only has one function:

var utils = require('brood').utils;'customEvent', 'hi there! this is a msg for ya');
// output is a stringified JSON: 
//    '{"event":"customEvent","data":"hi there! this is a msg for ya"}'

This funcftion is made for sending msg back to father process and trigger a custom event


A container and manager for spawned scripts




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