A build tool for node.js that supports sub-project building and watching
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pliers - A buildy, watchy type tool

build status


  npm install -g pliers


Pliers allows you to use JavaScript to write your build tasks like you would your applications. It has three key features include/exclude filesets, dependency resolution, and file watching.


Why bother making a new build tool, what is wrong with make?

make is an great tool, but sometimes you need to do more that just run scripts and create folders. Sometimes it is handy to have a little project context when doing build tasks. pliers is all JavaScript so you can use your existing code and npm modules.

Why not just make a node.js script for build tasks that need then and call them from make?

That is a good method and will work for many projects. But you are splitting an activity over two languages as soon there is a little bit of complexity it makes maintenance, debugging and knowledge transfer harder. Having a structured build system with a minimal but useful feature set certainly solves problems for us at Clock.

Is there a plugin system?

Yes it's called require()

CLI Usage

Usage: pliers [options] [task]

  -h, --help                                          output usage information
  -V, --version                                       output the version number
  -t, --tasks [file]                                  A file with user defined tasks (Default: ./pliers.js)
  -l, --list                                          List all available tasks with descriptions
  -b, --bare                                          List task names only
  -a, --all                                           Run all named tasks with in the current tree
  -L, --logLevel [trace|debug|info|warn|error|fatal]  Set the level of logs to output


Running pliers will look for a pliers.js in the current working directory.


module.exports = function (pliers) {

  pliers('hello', function (done) {
    pliers.logger.info('Hello world')


To run the hello task from the command line:

 pliers hello


Pliers will resolve and run all dependencies before executing the task

pliers('test', function (done) {
  pliers.exec('npm test', done)

pliers('lint', { description: 'Run jshint all on project JavaScript' }, function (done) {
  pliers.exec('jshint lib test', done)

pliers('qa', 'test', 'lint')

This will run test task and then the lint task.

 pliers qa


Pliers is not very opinionated and has very little API surface area. That said there are a few built in functions.


Executes command using require('child_process').spawn and returns the ChildProcess.

pliers('list', function (done) {
  pliers.exec('ls', done)


Run another pliers task.

pliers('runner', function (done) {
  pliers.run('list', done)


Load another pliers project into a parent. This is useful if you have standalone sub projects.


You can then run sub project tasks from the parent using the -A option.


Run all pliers task for any loaded sub pliers project.

pliers('build', function (done) {
  pliers.runAll('build', done)
 pliers build

This will build all the sub project build tasks

filesets(id, includePatterns[, excludePatterns])

Create a fileset that can be used to perform tasks on. The following fileset example would return all .js files in the current directory, excluding those that end in .test.js.

pliers.filesets('js', __dirname + '/*.js', __dirname + '/*.test.js')

includePatterns & excludePatterns can be either a string or an Array if you need multiple glob conditions.

Filesets are calculated using the node-glob module. The filesets are first generated when they are accessed, this is done using the id property as follows:

console.log(pliers.filesets.js) // Will output the fileset with the id 'js'


// Run the unit tests whenever a JavaScript file changes
pliers('watchCss', function (done) {

  pliers.filesets('js', __dirname + '/*.js', __dirname + '/*.test.js')

  pliers('test', function (done) {
    pliers.exec('npm test', done)

  pliers.watch(pliers.filesets.js, function() {



Licensed under the New BSD License