Utility for packaging, manipulating and delivering JS and CSS source to the browser

npm install air-drop
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AirDrop is a Node.js Connect middleware for compiling, concatenating and minimizing your JS/Coffee source files and delivering them to the browser on-the-fly. Personally I think this approach is preferable to using build scripts, file watchers, etc.


Install with npm:

npm install air-drop

Including JS Files

All the following examples assume you have some kind of a Connect-compatible server:

var server = require("connect").createServer();

AirDrop objects are instantiated with a package name that will be used in the package's URL. To include JS files, use the include method. Files will be added to the package in the order you include them.

var package = AirDrop("my-package").include("public/js/jquery.js")

In your client-side code, you can load your JS package with a script tag:

<script type="text/javascript" src="/air-drop/my-package.js"></script>

Globbing Paths

Rather than including paths one by one, you can use glob wildcards:

var package = AirDrop("my-package").include("public/js/jquery.js")

This will first add jquery.js, then any other JS files nested inside public/js. NOTE: Because jquery.js has already been included, it will not be included a second time by the glob include.

Requiring JS Modules

Sharing JS source files between Node and the browser is difficult because the browser does not natively implement Node's file loading system using require and exports. This is easy with AirDrop, though -- just use the require method instead of include and AirDrop will wrap your modules in an AMD define block for use in the browser:

// in lib/my-module.js
exports.helloWorld = function() { return "Hello World!"; };

// in public/js/demo.js
var MyModule = require("lib/my-module");
MyModule.helloWorld(); // "Hello World!"

// in your Node script
var package = AirDrop("my-package").require("lib/my-module.js")

Packaging Your Code

By default, AirDrop does not package your code, as this makes debugging difficult in development. Rather, /air-drop/my-package.js will dynamically add a script tag for each of your included scripts so that they will be loaded individually.

When you are ready for your code to be packaged, use the package method:

var package = AirDrop("my-package").require("lib/my-module.js")

The package method accepts an optional boolean so that you can package conditionally. For example, you may only want to package your code if the NODE_ENV environment variable is set to production:

var package = AirDrop("my-package").require("lib/my-module.js")
                                   .package(process.env.NODE_ENV === "production");

Minimizing Your Code

Minimizing your client code is a good way to reducing file size as well as obfuscating it from prying eyes. Like the package method, the minimize method can be called without an argument, or with a boolean:

var package = AirDrop("my-package").require("lib/my-module.js")
                                   .package(process.env.NODE_ENV === "production")
                                   .minimize(process.env.NODE_ENV === "production");
                                   // or just .minimize()

Caching Your Packages

Since building these packages can be an expensive operation, you will probably want to cache the built packages in memory so they are only built once while your process is running. You can do this using the cache method, which takes an optional boolean like package and minimize:

var package = AirDrop("my-package").require("lib/my-module.js")
                                   .package(process.env.NODE_ENV === "production")
                                   .minimize(process.env.NODE_ENV === "production")
                                   .cache(process.env.NODE_ENV === "production");
                                   // or just .cache()


Using CoffeeScript? No problem, any CoffeeScripts will be automatically compiled for you!


  • Specs!
  • More flexibility in naming AMD modules other than by path
  • Ability to slice out "server-only" code from shared files
  • Improve caching mechanism to integrate storage outside of memory (flat files, memcached)
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