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npm-developers(1) -- Developer Guide


So, you've decided to use npm to publish your project.


There are a few things that you need to do above the simple steps that your users will do to install your program.

About These Documents

These are man pages. If you install npm, you should be able to then do man npm-thing to get the documentation on a particular topic.

Any time you see "see npm-whatever(1)", you can do man npm-whatever to get at the docs.

The package.json File

You need to have a package.json file in the root of your project.

See npm-json(1) for details about what goes in that file. At the very least, you need:

  • name: This should be a string that identifies your project. Please do not use the name to specify that it runs on node, or is in JavaScript. You can use the "engines" field to explicitly state the versions of node (or whatever else) that your program requires, and it's pretty well assumed that it's javascript.

    It does not necessarily need to match your github repository name.

    So, node-foo and bar-js are bad names. foo or bar are better.

  • version: A semver-compatible version.

  • engines: Specify the versions of node (or whatever else) that your program runs on. The node API changes a lot, and there may be bugs or new functionality that you depend on. Be explicit.

  • author: Take some credit.

  • scripts: If you have a special compilation or installation script, then you should put it in the scripts hash. See npm-scripts(1).

  • main: If you have a single module that serves as the entry point to your program (like what the "foo" package gives you at require("foo")), then you need to specify that in the "main" field.

Make Sure Your Package Installs and Works

This is important.

If you can not install it locally, you'll have problems trying to publish it. Or, worse yet, you'll be able to publish it, but you'll be publishing a broken or pointless package. So don't do that.

In the root of your package, do this:

npm install .

That'll show you that it's working. If you'd rather just create a symlink package that points to your working directory, then do this:

npm link .

Use npm ls installed to see if it's there.

Then go into the node-repl, and try using require() to bring in your module's main and libs things. Assuming that you have a package like this:


and you define your package.json with this in it:

{ "name" : "foo"
, "directories" : { "lib" : "./lib" }
, "main" : "./lib/foo"

then you'd want to make sure that require("foo") and require("foo/bar") both work and bring in the appropriate modules.

Create a User Account

Create a user with the adduser command. It works like this:

npm adduser

and then follow the prompts.

This is documented better in npm-adduser(1). So do this to get the details:

npm help adduser

Publish your package

This part's easy.

npm publish /path/to/my-package

You can give publish a url to a tarball, or a filename of a tarball, or a path to a folder.

If you're in the root of your folder, then you can just do:

npm publish

since the default argument is ".".

Brag about it

Send emails, write blogs, blab in IRC.

Tell the world how easy it is to install your program!

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