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Yohan Lasorsa
Yohan Lasorsa

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One simple command to improve your JavaScript workflow

I don't know about you, but as a JavaScript developer, there's something I do hundreds of times a day: running NPM scripts to test, lint, build, serve, release and more.

And because I'm a CLI guy, that involves a lot of typing, which as a result involves a lot of typing mistakes. npm start or npm run build may seems short enough, but typing it hundreds of times is not.

bored dog typing

That's why almost 4 years ago I've decided to find a better workflow. Ultimately, my goal have been to type the minimum amount of characters to run my scripts.

I've found a way to do that with fuzzy matching. I also found two existing tools that explored the same idea, fuzzy-npm-run and fuzzy-run. Both relied on the same library fuse.js which is not great for matching commands, as it doesn't weight properly specific features like subcommands separation (using characters like -, _, :) or first character of words. This led me to run the wrong scripts too many times to count...

Introducing fuzz-run

That's about when I've decided to spin my own runner tool. I benchmarked many fuzzy matching libraries, and kept the best one I found suited for the job, fuzzysort, as it solved all the issues I had with existing runners.

And this is what I've been using every day for the last years, running all my scripts with only a few characters:

demo gif

You can install it with npm install -g fuzz-run, then its usage is dead simple:

  • If no arguments are provided, it will list all available scripts (no more digging in package.json).

  • Type nr <fuzzy_script_name> to run a script. You can even add options to the script, like nr b --watch. And no need for silly extra -- like with npm to pass those options.

The name of the script is fuzzy matched, this means that you either type only some letters of the script name, regardless of their position (first letters weights more), like t for the test script. For compound script names like test:ci, you can just type the first letters of each word, like tc. It will even match if you do simple typos, like ets for test.

Note that it will autodetect which package manager you're using in a project, and will run the script with the right commands whether you're using npm, yarn or pnpm.

That's it, you can now run your scripts with only a few characters, and you'll be as happy as I was when I started using it.

To be honest, I almost forgot about this tool, because well, it quickly become part of my dev habits, and I only think about it when I'm on a new setup and it's not there. That's also why I'm only writing this post now, almost 4 years later ๐Ÿ˜…



My most frequent task being taken care of, I recently decided to think about how I could improve some other very common (and boring) tasks I do in almost every project I work on.

Updates, updates, updates

One of these tasks is updating dependencies. It often involves running npm outdated to check if there are any outdated dependencies, and then running npm update to update them within the allowed ranges in my package.json. Then most of the time, running npm outdated --long again to see the remaining ones with a link to their repository, so I can look at changelogs for possible breaking changes and decide if I want to update them, one npm install <package>@latest at a time.

When I remember the command, sometimes I use npm-check or npm-check-updates to save some time, but I most often don't remember which is the one I usually use and what's the syntax. Yarn has definitely an edge here with its yarn upgrade-interactive command.

So here comes a scripted action to tackle this task in a more automated way: nr --update or simply nr -u (because you know, the less characters to type the better ๐Ÿ˜‰).

It will run this sequence of actions:

  • Run npm outdated to check for any outdated dependencies.

  • If there are any, ask if you want to run npm update to update them within the allowed ranges in package.json.

  • Finally, perform an interactive upgrade for packages outside your allowed ranges, with npx npm-check -u. You'll be able to choose which packages to upgrade, with a link to their repository to see the changelogs.

Of course, if you're within a Yarn or PNPM project, the commands will change accordingly.

With that, I won't have to remember the exact syntax of the commands, and I'll be able to run this task whatever package manager used for the project.

Fixing those install issues...

Another task I've been doing a lot more that I would like, is trying to fix those install issues that sometimes occur with npm install (and that includes Yarn, too).

You know, when the install fails or breaks for no apparent reason, and most often it's because the dependency tree could not be resolved properly after adding or updating a package. Which often results in rm -rf node_modules package-lock.json and npm install to try to fix the issue.

The nr --refresh or nr -r scripted action comes to the rescue, well doing exactly just that for you, with included adaptations for Yarn and PNPM. Again, less typing for me.

Final words

This is a very small tool that I've been using for a long time, and I hope it's useful to you even though I initially created it to scratch my own itch.

It's also completly open source, so you can contribute to it or fork it to make it your own.

Follow me on Twitter for more content, I would be happy to discuss about it and take your suggestions!

Discussion (1)

fhinkel profile image
Franziska Hinkelmann, Ph.D.

Finding something like test:ci from test is nice!