Why Gulp.js is awesome, and how to use it with Sails.js  

A few months ago, the folks over at Fractal, decided to reinvent Grunt. After identifying and fixing the problems with Grunt, they ended up with Gulp.js

And how do you think the internet responded? You’re right, it immediately turned into a flame war. No one wanted to enjoy the fact there was now more choice. Immediately people started parsing Gulp or rejecting it outright.

I’m not going to spoil all the fun. When, lives are not at stake, wars can be fun! I’m here to praise Gulp and tell you why you should probably switch.

Let me start with what isn’t great about Gulp. It can all be attributed to its newness –

On the other hand, there are a bunch of things that are great about it.

Some people may argue the readability of Gulp.js. Well let me just show you –

var gulp = require('gulp');  
var browserify = require('gulp-browserify');  
var concat = require('gulp-concat');  
var styl = require('gulp-styl');  
var refresh = require('gulp-livereload');  
var lr = require('tiny-lr');  
var server = lr();

gulp.task('scripts', function() {  
    gulp.src(['src/**/*.js'])
        .pipe(browserify())
        .pipe(concat('dest.js'))
        .pipe(gulp.dest('build'))
        .pipe(refresh(server))
})

gulp.task('styles', function() {  
    gulp.src(['css/**/*.css'])
        .pipe(styl({compress : true}))
        .pipe(gulp.dest('build'))
        .pipe(refresh(server))
})

gulp.task('lr-server', function() {  
    server.listen(35729, function(err) {
        if(err) return console.log(err);
    });
})

gulp.task('default', function() {  
    gulp.run('lr-server', 'scripts', 'styles');

    gulp.watch('src/**', function(event) {
        gulp.run('scripts');
    })

    gulp.watch('css/**', function(event) {
        gulp.run('styles');
    })
})

If you’re at all familiar with Grunt, you’ll know how awesome that is. While in Grunt you always need to keep checking the docs, plug-ins work differently etc, Gulp is usually predictable.

But the real win, comes with the way gulp works behind the scenes. Take, for example, preprocessing and minifying sass files.

In grunt, you’d have to find a sass plug-in and hope it also has an option to minify your CSS. (You may or may not have that option.) When you don’t have that option, you’re left making temporary files. You first generate a compiled file, and then in a second task, you have to minify it. This is slow, stupid, and can get very annoying very often. Just recently, it was driving me crazy when I found out that the browserify plug-in didn’t let me minify my js.

Gulp is super-easy. You take a file (or files), and run it through a bunch of filters and then output to another file. Simple.

Now, you say you want to use Gulp, but your framework of choice comes with Grunt. What should you do? Well, even that is quite easy.

In most cases, you should just be able
npm install gulp –g
And start creating gulpfiles instead of grunt files.

But sometimes things can be a little hard. Take Sails.js for example. Sails is very deeply integrated with Grunt. In fact, grunt is run every time you do sails lift.

So getting rid of your gruntfile is probably not going to be easy. The best thing I could think of was to use Grunt to run Gulp. Now that’s pretty meta.

All I had to use was super simple plug-in called bgShell. And run the command ‘gulp’ in the background.

And just like that you can start using Gulp instead of grunt, with no further problems.

 
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