Yet another packager for node
There are so many packaging systems for node already, or maybe not as many, so here I am presenting another way to package your applications into an self extracting executable that has no dependencies. Ah well, a few dependencies, like the processor architecture, and Linux operating system may be, but that is all.
What is it?
It is a modified shell script originally used to create self-extracting and installing applications for Linux platforms. What it does is, it creates a tarball which includes your code, the modules it depends on, the specific node binary it uses, and appends it to a script with the command to execute your code. It is essentially a binary merge of the files, the shell script and the tar.This is not something new, people have used such a system in the past to deliver applications for Linux, every time you see an obscenely large ‘.sh’ file (for being that, a shell file) that can install or execute an application without requiring any other files, know that this is the packaging system being used.This script is merely an adaptation of it for delivering node.js programs. And to give where credit is due, is pulled and compiled from a few sources.
What all can it do?
- I have been hoping you would ask that, it is interesting:
- Creates a single file that starts your code when executed.
- Does so without requiring even node or node_modules installed on the target system.
- No knowledge of any framework required, develop your code just as you normally would.
- Allows you to name the process it starts. Well, it at least helps you to do so.
- Allows you to have environment specific overrides for any configuration you might want.
What can it not do?
- It requires to be bundled for the target platform, but this is expected, is it not?
- Does not work well when if module has binary/native dependencies, for when things like node-gyp or build-essential come into picture.
- Cannot make you fly (but it can make you look smart!)
Where is it? How do I use it?
Here. It is a simple command. To package, run:
./selfXpackager.sh -s node-bin/launcher.sh -n selfExeSample -b node-bin/node -m mymodule/ -o dist/
And to run the package:
That easy. The repository also has a sample project to try it out.
Where should I use it?
Well, how can I comment on that, it would be for you to decide! But I can tell how we use it. The company I work for, is primarily a java shop. Our system is quite distributed, composed of many services (I dare not say microservices, it is easy to start flame wars these days) that talk to each other. But ever since we realized the power of node especially in quick new developments that we do, we have leveraged it. We have much code in the form of monitoring and mock servers, automation and code generation tools and fault injection systems built in node. These systems are delivered, they do their job and are removed when no longer required.This is where the script comes in, a no dependency delivery of a tool wherever we need it. Instead of requiring node installed on all servers, we bundle our tool with this script and deliver to the servers we need them on, when the job is done they disappear without a trace. Well almost without a trace, it’s not some stealth tool anyway.