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Auto-generates your Gruntfile as you build front-end applications
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YA npm npm

Like "Ya mule!"

  1. Motivation
  2. Usage
  1. More custom usage
  2. Assumptions
  1. Examples
  1. Preprocessors Supported
  1. Future Work
  2. Troubleshooting
  3. Changelog


We shouldn't have to waste time defining and maintaining Grunt/Gulp/Broccoli configuration files or build scripts. Our tools should do that for us.

The ultimate goal for YA is a zero-configuration tool for all front-end development build process needs.

YA is a tool that explores automatic, build-engine, configuration file generation. It manages Grunt (currently, but could be user-choosen in the future) behind the scenes to auto-generate and maintain your Gruntfile – downloading any dependencies and recompiling changes along the way.

npm install -g ya.js


Simply run ya in an empty or non-empty directory and it will start working for you.

ya [directory] (defaults to . if a directory is not supplied)

  • Known issue if you ya a subdirectory. cd into that directory and run ya in the interim.

That's it. Running the above command will do the following for you:

Automatically compile preprocessors

  1. Generates a dummy package.json (if you don't already have one)
  2. Downloads (as devDependencies) what's needed for any existing preprocessor files found in [directory]
  3. Generate/overwrites a Gruntfile in [directory]
  4. Compiles any existing preprocessor files. See Supported Preprocessors.
  5. Watches [directory] for new preprocessors (repeating steps 2 to 6)
  6. Watches [directory] for changes and recompile changed files

Automatically build your Browserify or RequireJS application bundles

  1. Determines the entry points (i.e., roots) to all JavaScript applications found in [directory]
  2. For each root:
  • If it's a CommonJS app, YA auto-generates a Browserify configuration and creates *-b-bundle.js in [directory]
  • If it's an AMD app, YA auto-generates a RequireJS r.js configuration and creates a *-r-bundle.js file in [directory]
  1. YA watches [directory] for any changes to the JS files and will regenerate the bundles
  • If your app root changes, YA will detect that and generate a new bundle

Note: The * in the bundle name is replaced with the filename of the app's root. For example, if your CommonJS app's main file is index.js, then YA will generate a Browserified bundle: index-b-bundle.js.

  • The -b- in the bundle name stands for Browserify
  • The -r- in the bundle name stands for RequireJS

Automatically JSHint all of your JS files

  1. If you have a .jshintrc file in [directory], YA will run JSHint on the modification of any JS file in [directory].

More custom build tooling

If you need to customize the Gruntfile for more advanced/custom use-cases, modify the gruntfile and just continue to use grunt instead of ya. YA will overwrite the existing Gruntfile on every run.


YA assumes:

  • You don't care about separating your preprocessed files from their compiled equivalents
  • YA compiles a file like mydir/styles.scss into mydir/styles.css
  • You don't care about maintaining a Gruntfile
  • YA overwrites an existing Gruntfile (or creates one) in the directory being watched
  • You want all grunt-specific plugins installed as devDependencies
  • You'll take care of generating an index.html file that references any scripts/stylesheets you've created

Ignored Files and Directories

YA should only process/manage files relevant to your application, not its dependencies (or totally unrelated resources). Hence, the following files and folders are not processed by YA:

  • Gruntfile.js
  • node_modules/
  • vendor/
  • bower_components/
  • .git/
  • .sass-cache/
  • *-b-bundle.js and *-r-bundle.js (the YA-built bundles)


Here are some walkthroughs of using YA

Starting a new project

  • Make a new directory and cd into it
  • Set up the directory however you like (add subfolders, use a Yeoman generator)
  • Run npm install ya.js to install YA
  • Run ya in the root of that directory (or specify a particular directory ya app/assets)
  • YA will detect the lack of a package.json file and mock one up for you
  • YA will download grunt, grunt-cli, and any other startup modules (as devDependencies)
  • Create a new file like styles.scss anywhere within that directory or a subfolder
  • YA will detect the use of the .scss preprocessor and do the following:
  • install grunt-contrib-sass
  • generate the Gruntfile.js that has the configuration to compile and watch .scss files
  • compile styles.scss into styles.css (in the same location)
  • initiate grunt watch
  • Create files that use any of YA's supported preprocessors and YA will take care of it.

YA an existing project

  • cd into your project's directory
  • Run ya (or ya [directory] for ya to manage a subfolder)
  • YA will scan the directory's files for preprocessor extensions (like .scss, .coffee, etc)
  • For each preprocessor, YA will:
  • download the grunt-contrib-* package to compile the preprocessor
  • generate the Grunt config to compile and watch files using the preprocessor
  • YA will generate Gruntfile.js into the directory it's managing
  • YA will recompile any files using preprocessors
  • YA will run grunt watch to watch for new preprocessors being used and for file changes

Note: If you have an existing Gruntfile, YA will overwrite it.

Using YA only for preprocessor compilation

You can set the preprocess flag when running ya to avoid the JS processing and only handle the automatic Grunt configuration for the preprocessors that you use.

ya [directory] --preprocess=1

This is helpful if, for example, you're building a Node.js app that doesn't need browserify capability.

Preprocessors Supported


  • sass
  • less
  • stylus
  • compass
  • YA expects Compass and/or SASS to be installed.
  • If Compass is not installed, YA will only use a sass compilation.
  • YA also respects projects created using compass create and will modify the settings to use the sass/ and stylesheets/ directories.


  • coffee
  • jsx
  • typescript


  • slim
  • jade

Adding support for a new preprocessor involves creating a new -settings.js files in ya/settings/ and adding the details about the grunt plugin that should be used for compiling that preprocessor.

Future Work

  • Make the build engine choice configurable. You should be able to say ya [build-engine] [directory].
  • Grunt: ya grunt .
  • Gulp: ya gulp .
  • Broccoli: ya broccoli .
  • Allow for custom grunt tasks/plugins to get mixed in to allow for custom usage without abandoning YA.
  • Automatic Image compression
  • SASS Sourcemaps
  • Live Reload
  • Automatic test running
  • Automatically fetch your vendor dependencies (like Backbone, Underscore, etc)


  • You may need to have grunt and grunt-cli installed globally. Known Issue

  • Beware of errors stemming from your preprocessor files. If you have errors in your SASS files, for example, it will kill YA and you'll need to restart it.


  • v0.6.0 Added Browerify, R.js, and JSHint support
  • v0.5.0 Typescript
  • v0.4.0 Stylus
  • v0.3.0 Added JSX Support
  • v0.2.0 Added Slim Support
  • v0.1.0 Added Compass Support
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