Before we go into the specifics of NPM, it is critical to understand how packages should be handled. Packagecloud is a frequently used service for managing NPM packages.
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Getting Started with NPM
NPM is an abbreviation for Node Package Manager. It is a package manager for Node.js. NPM is widely regarded as the world’s biggest software repository. NPM is used by open-source developers worldwide to publish and distribute their source code.
NPM is composed of the following three components:
- The website enables you to search for third-party packages, create profiles, and manage your existing ones.
- The command-line interface, or NPM CLI, allows you to communicate with NPM from a terminal.
To locate the NPM CLI on your machine, execute the following command from a terminal window:
For instance, the following command will show your system’s current NPM version:
Why do we need NPM?
As previously stated, NPM is used for a variety of reasons. The following list includes the most basic ones:
- It facilitates the integration of pre-built packages into your project.
- It enables the download of many independent tools that may be utilized immediately.
- You can even execute packages without downloading them using NPX, which is a package executor for the NPM package management system. NPX was first introduced in July 2017. NPX was just another NPM package that could be installed in the same manner as other NPM packages. NPX is now included with NPM versions 5.2.0 and above.
- Developers frequently use NPM to collaborate with other NPM users from across the world.
- It establishes several entities to manage package management, developers, and code.
- Additionally, it assists in confining code to particular developers and creating virtual teams.
- It assists in the management and maintenance of many versions of code and its dependencies.
- NPM updates the application automatically in response to changes in the underlying code.
- It functions similarly to a community, allowing you to connect with other developers working on similar projects or activities.
Now that you understand why NPM is required for a Node.js project, let’s take a closer look at what NPM can accomplish. To begin, let’s define what NPM packages or modules are.
What can you do with NPM?
NPM enables the installation of new packages from the registry. This is the main reason for using NPM. Additionally, NPM enables the discovery and publication of new node packages.
By default, each NPM project includes a file named package.json in the root directory. The package.json file is a simple text file that provides critical information about the project that NPM uses to detect and manage dependencies.
To generate the package.json file, go to the project’s root directory and run the following command:
When you execute the NPM init command, you will be prompted for project information, which includes the following:
- Package name
- Test command
- Git repo
If you press Return or Enter, the default settings will be accepted, and you will be sent to the next step.
To utilize the default settings, use the following command:
npm init --yes
You may later modify the default settings in package.json.
Create a new package
To install the new package, use the NPM install command as follows:
npm install <package_name>
You must include the package name after the NPM install keywords in this command.
To locate packages, go to the NPM homepage and search.
For instance, you may use the following command to install the express package:
npm install express
Note that express is a fast Node.js web framework.
Once the installation is complete, a new directory titled /node modules will be created beneath the project’s root folder. This directory will include all newly installed modules.
If you open the /node modules directory, you’ll see that NPM installed along with express, its dependents, their dependencies, and so on.
If you open the package.json file in the project’s root directory, you’ll see that the dependencies section has been changed to include the express package, as follows:
"express": "^4.17.1" }
By default, any newly installed package will be displayed in the dependencies section. The express package with version 4.17.1 is included as a dependency in this example. Take note of the fact that NPM adheres to the semantic versioning standard.
To save time, you may use the following abbreviation for the NPM install command:
npm i <package_name>
The symbol i stands for install in this command.
Install a package as a development dependency
Sometimes, you may wish to install a package only available for use in the development environment.
For instance, you may want to install a package such as a morgan package that records HTTP requests.
To do this, use the NPM install command with the --save-dev option as follows:
npm install <package_name> --save-dev
Consider the following:
npm install morgan --save-dev
The morgan package will be downloaded and installed using this command. Additionally, it expands the package by adding a new package.json file named devDependencies in the following format:
In general, the devDependencies directory should include packages used during development. These packages are required primarily during the development phase of your application.
On the other side, the dependencies section should include any packages that your application will need. In other words, your program will not run without these necessary packages.
Additionally, you can run npm install to download and install all packages mentioned in the dependencies and devDependencies sections:
Globally install a package on your system
You may use the following command to install a package globally on your system:
npm install <package_name> --global
Alternatively, you may use:
npm i <package_name> -g
In general, you install a package globally if you want to use it from the command line or shell.
If you wish to incorporate a package in your application, you need first install it locally.
To remove packages using NPM, use the following command:
Type the following command to remove global packages:
npm uninstall package_name -g
Management of NPM Packages
Although there are many systems for managing NPM, one of the most well-known and commonly used is packagecloud. It is a cloud-based solution that automates the process of delivering software to your computers and settings.
Packagecloud allows customers to store all of their organization’s necessary packages, independent of operating system or programming language, and to deliver them repeatedly to their target computers. This allows users to quickly, reliably, and securely configure and upgrade computers without requiring them to own any of the infrastructure usually needed.
Consider signing up for a free packagecloud trial to discover how simple it is to distribute packages across your company. Never again will you have to worry about the scalability, consistency, or security of your packages.
While packages can make development more accessible, they also introduce a dependence between your project and the packages you use. As a result, it is suggested that you consider your options carefully before installing different packages.
Instead of significantly customizing the existing packages, you can build your own and publish them free on NPM. With the correct design flow, you can build packages for you and your team to utilize in future projects, thus reusing your code.