Node.js native addon binary install tool

npm install node-pre-gyp
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node-pre-gyp makes it easy to publish and install Node.js C++ addons from binaries


Build Status Dependencies

node-pre-gyp stands between npm and node-gyp and offers a cross-platform method of binary deployment.


  • A command line tool called node-pre-gyp that can install your package's c++ module from a binary.
  • A variety of developer targeted commands for packaging, testing, and publishing binaries.
  • A Javascript module that can dynamically require your installed binary: require('node-pre-gyp').find

For a hello world example of a module packaged with node-pre-gyp see and the wiki for real world examples.



  • Node.js 0.10.x or 0.8.x


node-pre-gyp is designed to be installed as a local dependency of your Node.js C++ addon and accessed like:

./node_modules/.bin/node-pre-gyp --help

But you can also install it globally:

npm install node-pre-gyp -g



View all possible commands:

node-pre-gyp --help
  • clean - Removes the entire folder containing the compiled .node module
  • install - Attempts to install pre-built binary for module
  • reinstall - Runs "clean" and "install" at once
  • build - Attempts to compile the module by dispatching to node-gyp or nw-gyp
  • rebuild - Runs "clean" and "build" at once
  • package - Packs binary into tarball
  • testpackage - Tests that the staged package is valid
  • publish - Publishes pre-built binary
  • unpublish - Unpublishes pre-built binary
  • info - Fetches info on published binaries

You can also chain commands:

node-pre-gyp clean build unpublish publish info


Options include:

  • -C/--directory: run the command in this directory
  • --build-from-source: build from source instead of using pre-built binary
  • --runtime=node-webkit: customize the runtime: node and node-webkit are the valid options
  • --fallback-to-build: fallback to building from source if pre-built binary is not available
  • --target=0.10.25: Pass the target node or node-webkit version to compile against
  • --target_arch=ia32: Pass the target arch (will override the host arch)

Both --build-from-source and --fallback-to-build can be passed alone or they can provide values. You can pass --fallback-to-build=false to override the option as declared in package.json. In addition to being able to pass --build-from-source you can also pass --build-from-source=myapp where myapp is the name of your module.

For example: npm install --build-from-source=myapp. This is useful if:

  • myapp is referenced in the package.json of a larger app and therefore myapp is being installed as a dependent with npm install.
  • The larger app also depends on other modules installed with node-pre-gyp
  • You only want to trigger a source compile for myapp and the other modules.


This is a guide to configuring your module to use node-pre-gyp.

1) Add new entries to your package.json

  • Add node-pre-gyp as a bundled dependency
  • Add a custom install script
  • Declare a binary object

This looks like:

    "dependencies"  : {
      "node-pre-gyp": "0.5.x"
    "scripts": {
        "install": "node-pre-gyp install --fallback-to-build",
    "binary": {
        "module_name": "your_module",
        "module_path": "./lib/binding/",
        "host": "",

For a full example see node-addon-examples's package.json.

The binary object has three required properties

The name of your native node module. This value must:

  • Match the name passed to the NODE_MODULE macro
  • Must be a valid C variable name (e.g. it cannot contain -)
  • Should not include the .node extension.

The location your native module is placed after a build. This should be an empty directory without other javascript files. This entire directory will be packaged in the binary tarball. When installing from a remote package this directory will be overwritten with the contents of the tarball.

Note: This property supports variables based on Versioning.


A url to the remote location where you've published tarball binaries (must be https not http).

The binary object has two optional properties

It is recommended that you customize this property. This is an extra path to use for publishing and finding remote tarballs. The default value for remote_path is "" meaning that if you do not provide it then all packages will be published at the base of the host. It is recommended to provide a value like ./{name}/v{version} to help organize remote packages in the case that you choose to publish multiple node addons to the same host.

Note: This property supports variables based on Versioning.


It is not recommended to override this property unless you are also overriding the remote_path. This is the versioned name of the remote tarball containing the binary .node module and any supporting files you've placed inside the module_path directory. Unless you specify package_name in your package.json then it defaults to {module_name}-v{version}-{node_abi}-{platform}-{arch}.tar.gz which allows your binary to work across node versions, platforms, and architectures. If you are using remote_path that is also versioned by ./{module_name}/v{version} then you could remove these variables from the package_name and just use: {node_abi}-{platform}-{arch}.tar.gz. Then your remote tarball will be looked up at, for example,

Note: This property supports variables based on Versioning.

2) Add a new target to binding.gyp

node-pre-gyp calls out to node-gyp to compile the module and passes variables along like module_name and module_path.

A new target must be added to binding.gyp that moves the compiled .node module from ./build/Release/module_name.node into the directory specified by module_path.

Add a target like this at the end of your targets list:

      "target_name": "action_after_build",
      "type": "none",
      "dependencies": [ "<(module_name)" ],
      "copies": [
          "files": [ "<(PRODUCT_DIR)/<(module_name).node" ],
          "destination": "<(module_path)"

For a full example see node-addon-example's binding.gyp.

3) Dynamically require your .node

Inside the main js file that requires your addon module you are likely currently doing:

var binding = require('../build/Release/binding.node');


var bindings = require('./bindings')

Change those lines to:

var binary = require('node-pre-gyp');
var path = require('path');
var binding_path = binary.find(path.resolve(path.join(__dirname,'./package.json')));
var binding = require(binding_path);

For a full example see node-addon-example's index.js

4) Build and package your app

Now build your module from source:

npm install --build-from-source

The --build-from-source tells node-pre-gyp to not look for a remote package and instead dispatch to node-gyp to build.

Now node-pre-gyp should now also be installed as a local dependency so the command line tool it offers can be found at ./node_modules/.bin/node-pre-gyp.

5) Test

Now npm test should work just as it did before.

6) Publish the tarball

Then package your app:

./node_modules/.bin/node-pre-gyp package

Once packaged, now you can publish:

./node_modules/.bin/node-pre-gyp publish

Currently the publish command pushes your binary to S3. This requires:

  • You have installed aws-sdk with npm install aws-sdk
  • You have created a bucket already.
  • The host points to an S3 http or https endpoint.
  • You have configured node-pre-gyp to read your S3 credentials (see S3 hosting for details).

You can also host your binaries elsewhere. To do this requires:

  • You manually publish the binary created by the package command to an https endpoint
  • Ensure that the host value points to your custom https endpoint.

7) Automate builds

Now you need to publish builds for all the platforms and node versions you wish to support. This is best automated. See Travis Automation for how to auto-publish builds on OS X and Linux. On windows consider using a script like this to quickly create and publish binaries and check out

8) You're done!

Now publish your package to the npm registry. Users will now be able to install your module from a binary.

What will happen is this:

  1. npm install <your package> will pull from the npm registry
  2. npm will run the install script which will call out to node-pre-gyp
  3. node-pre-gyp will fetch the binary .node module and unpack in the right place
  4. Assuming that all worked, you are done

If a a binary was not available for a given platform and --fallback-to-build was used then node-gyp rebuild will be called to try to source compile the module.

S3 Hosting

You can host wherever you choose but S3 is cheap, node-pre-gyp publish expects it, and S3 can be integrated well with to automate builds for OS X and Ubuntu. Here is an approach to do this:

First, get setup locally and test the workflow:

1) Create an S3 bucket

And have your key and secret key ready for writing to the bucket.

It is recommended to create a IAM user with a policy that only gives permissions to the specific bucket you plan to publish to. This can be done in the IAM console by: 1) adding a new user, 2) choosing Attach User Policy, 3) Using the Policy Generator, 4) selecting Amazon S3 for the service, 5) adding the actions: DeleteObject, GetObject, GetObjectAcl, ListBucket, PutObject, PutObjectAcl, 6) adding an ARN of arn:aws:s3:::bucket/* (replacing bucket with your bucket name), and finally 7) clicking Add Statement and saving the policy. It should generate a policy like:

  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
      "Sid": "Stmt1394587197000",
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Action": [
      "Resource": [

2) Install node-pre-gyp

Either install it globally:

npm install node-pre-gyp -g

Or put the local version on your PATH

export PATH=`pwd`/node_modules/.bin/:$PATH

3) Create ~/.node_pre_gyprc

Or pass options in any way supported by RC

A ~/.node_pre_gyprc looks like:

    "accessKeyId": "xxx",
    "secretAccessKey": "xxx"

Another way is to use your environment:

export node_pre_gyp_accessKeyId=xxx
export node_pre_gyp_secretAccessKey=xxx

You may also need to specify the region if it is not explicit in the host value you use. The bucket can also be specified but it is optional because node-pre-gyp will detect it from the host value.

4) Package and publish your build

Install the aws-sdk:

npm install aws-sdk

Then publish:

node-pre-gyp package publish

Note: if you hit an error like Hostname/IP doesn't match certificate's altnames it may mean that you need to provide the region option in your config.

Travis Automation

Travis can push to S3 after a successful build and supports both:

  • Ubuntu Precise and OS X
  • Multiple Node.js versions

This enables you to cheaply auto-build and auto-publish binaries for (likely) the majority of your users.

For an example of doing this see node-add-example's .travis.yml.

Below is a guide to getting set up:

1) Install the travis gem

gem install travis

2) Create secure global variables

Make sure you run this command from within the directory of your module.

Use travis-encrypt like:

travis encrypt node_pre_gyp_accessKeyId=${node_pre_gyp_accessKeyId}
travis encrypt node_pre_gyp_secretAccessKey=${node_pre_gyp_secretAccessKey}

Then put those values in your .travis.yml like:

    - secure: F+sEL/v56CzHqmCSSES4pEyC9NeQlkoR0Gs/ZuZxX1ytrj8SKtp3MKqBj7zhIclSdXBz4Ev966Da5ctmcTd410p0b240MV6BVOkLUtkjZJyErMBOkeb8n8yVfSoeMx8RiIhBmIvEn+rlQq+bSFis61/JkE9rxsjkGRZi14hHr4M=
    - secure: o2nkUQIiABD139XS6L8pxq3XO5gch27hvm/gOdV+dzNKc/s2KomVPWcOyXNxtJGhtecAkABzaW8KHDDi5QL1kNEFx6BxFVMLO8rjFPsMVaBG9Ks6JiDQkkmrGNcnVdxI/6EKTLHTH5WLsz8+J7caDBzvKbEfTux5EamEhxIWgrI=

More details on travis encryption at

3) Hook up publishing

Just put node-pre-gyp package publish in your .travis.yml after npm install.

If you want binaries for OS X change your .travis.yml to use:

language: objective-c

Keep that change in a different git branch and sync that when you want binaries published. This little hack will hopefully become obsolete when travis adds proper support for different operating systems.

Note: using language: objective-c instead of language: nodejs looses node.js specific travis sugar like a matrix for multiple node.js versions.

But you can replicate the lost behavior by replacing:

  - "0.8"
  - "0.10"


    - export NODE_VERSION="0.8"
    - export NODE_VERSION="0.10"

 - git clone ./.nvm
 - source ./.nvm/
 - nvm install $NODE_VERSION
 - nvm use $NODE_VERSION

4) Publish when you want

You might wish to publish binaries only on a specific commit. To do this you could borrow from the idea of commit keywords and add special handling for commit messages with [publish binary]:

COMMIT_MESSAGE=$(git show -s --format=%B $TRAVIS_COMMIT | tr -d '\n')
if test "${COMMIT_MESSAGE#*'[publish binary]'}" != "$COMMIT_MESSAGE"; then node-pre-gyp publish; fi;

Or you could automatically detect if the git branch is a tag:

if [[ $TRAVIS_BRANCH == `git describe --tags --always HEAD` ]] ; then node-pre-gyp publish; fi

Remember this publishing is not the same as npm publish. We're just talking about the binary module here and not your entire npm package. To automate the publishing of your entire package to npm on travis see


The binary properties of module_path, remote_path, and package_name support variable substitution. The strings are evaluated by node-pre-gyp depending on your system and any custom build flags you passed.

  • configuration - Either 'Release' or 'Debug' depending on if --debug is passed during the build.
  • module_name - the binary.module_name attribute from package.json.
  • version - the semver version value for your module from package.json.
  • major, minor, patch, and prelease match the individual semver values for your module's version
  • node_abi: The node C++ ABI number. This value is available in javascript as process.versions.modules as of >= v0.10.4 >= v0.11.7 and in C++ as the NODE_MODULE_VERSION define much earlier. For versions of Node before this was available we fallback to the V8 major and minor version.
  • platform matches node's process.platform like linux, darwin, and win32
  • arch matches node's process.arch like x64 or ia32 unless the user passes the --target_arch option to override.

The options are visible in the code at

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