Bringing CommonJS-style requires to the browser and more.

npm install webant
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Bringing CommonJS-style requires to the browser and more.

Require javascript

 * path/to/foo.js
 * Export a simple function
module.exports.sayHello = function() {
 * 'foo' contains the exports from ./path/to/foo.js
var foo = require("./path/to/foo.js");
foo.sayHello(); // alerts "Hello!"

Require javascript asynchronously

 * 'foo' contains the exports from ./path/to/foo.js
 * Webant also attempts to place './path/to/foo.js' in a separate file and load it only when necessary.

Require multiple javascripts asynchronously

 * 'foo' and 'bar' contain the exports from ./path/to/foo.js and ./path/to/bar.js respectively

Require HTML, CSS, handlebars templates, JSON, stylus, LESS, SCSS...

 * A <style> tag is automatically injected into the DOM and populated with the contents from ../path/to/styles.css

 * 'tmpl' is a pre-compiled Handlebars template ready to be passed a data object.
var tmpl = require("../path/to/handlebars/template.hbs");

 * 'html' is now a string
var html = tmpl({name:"Alan"});

 * 'json' now contains the contents of 'data.json' parsed as a javascript object
var json = require("data.json");

NB: the appropriate handlers must be installed to require files other than javascript. Handlers are described below.

Require files synchronously and asynchronously

if (rareCondition) {
        var html = tmpl({foo:"bar"});
        var data = require("../the/data.json");

NB: the appropriate handlers must be installed to require files other than javascript. Handlers are described below.


$ npm install webant -g


Command line

  webant --useConfig [options]
  webant --useConfig [path to config file] [options]
  webant --entry [path to entry script] [options]

  webant --entry src/js/main.js --dest build/js/main.js

  --entry, -e             Path to entry script relative to current directory.
                          [Required, unless --useConfig flag is set].
  --dest, -d              Path to where compiled output will be written.
  --urlDest, -u           URL at which the path specified for '--dest' can be
  --postProcess, -p       Post-processing to apply to compiled javascript. Can
                          be either 'compress' (compresses output), 'debug'
                          (adds file and line numbers to output) or 'none' (no
  --requireBase, -r       Resolve require paths relative to the supplied
                          directory instead of relative to the file containing
                          the require.
  --defaultExtension, -D  Default extension to append to a require path when no
                          extension is provided. Include the starting period
                          (i.e. '.js').
  --handlers, -H          Additional handlers to use. Can be set multiple
                          times. Example: -H coffee -H scss -H json
  --useConfig, -c         Path to a JSON configuration file which sets default
                          options. If this option is set but no path is
                          provided, the path is assumed to be
                          './webant-config.json'. [Required, unless --entry
                          option is provided]. [Additional options override
                          those found in the configuration file].
  --version, -v           Show version.
  --help, -h              Show help.

Configuration file settings

If you pass the --useConfig option via the CLI, webant will assume the configuration file is a JSON file which looks something like this:


The keys are the same as those provided by the CLI, except paths are relative to the configuration file as opposed to the current working directory.


Install webant locally:

$ npm install webant

Then use webant as follows:

var webant = require("webant");

    if (err) {
        // webant has encountered an error
    } else {
        // webant has written the compiled javascript successfully
        console.log(data.numModules + " modules encountered and " + data.numFiles + " files were written.");

The opts parameter is an object that takes the same keys as the JSON configuration file mentioned above.


By default, webant only allows you to require javascript files. You have to install the appropriate handler to require additional types of files.

Handlers are NodeJS modules which take care of requiring different types of files. For example, the JSON handler allows you to require JSON files.

A wide variety of handlers are officially being maintained:



  • CoffeeScript (coming soon)
  • TypeScript (coming soon)



Using Handlers

Handlers can be assigned to the handlers configuration key in three ways:

         * As a string.
         * Webant calls `require("webant-handler-less")`.

         * As a two-element array.
         * Webant calls `require("webant-handler-scss")` and sets the `compress` setting on the handler to `true`.  

         * Inline, as an object containing an `extensions` property and a `handle` method.
         * Webant will call the `handle` method on this object every time it encounters a `require` call to a file with the `.hbs` extension.
                    if (err) {
                    done(null,'module.exports = ' + Handlebars.compile(contents.toString()));

Creating Custom Handlers

A webant handler is an object with an extensions property and a handle method defined.

Here is an example of a handler that allows you to require JSON files.

var fs = require("fs");

module.exports = {
     * A string or array of strings indicating the file extensions this handler is responsible for.

     * Called for every `require` call that this handler is responsible for.
     * @param string filePath - The absolute file path of the require call.
     * @param function done(error,javascript) - A callback to be called once ready. The first parameter of the callback is reserved for errors, and the second should be a string of javascript.
            if (e) {
            done(null,"module.exports = "+c.toString().trim()+";");

Why webant?

There are already plenty of NodeJS modules available such as webpack, webmake and browserify that bundle javascript files for the web. Why another one?

Synchronous and asynchronous

Unlike webmake (v0.3) and browserify (v2.35), webant permits the use of both synchronous require calls (var foo = require('foo.js');) and asynchronous require calls (require('foo.js',function(foo) { /* do something with foo */ });).

When you require a module asynchronously, webant intelligently tries to include the module in a separate file so it isn't included in the initial javascript loaded on the page - perfect for large modules that are only infrequently needed.

Well tested

Webant is thoroughly tested with 180+ unit tests, most of which use a headless browser (PhantomJS) to ensure the module works in a browser environment as intended.

Dynamic requires

Webant only supports require calls where the first parameter is either a string literal or an array literal where every element is a string literal. For example, the following are all supported:

var foo = require('foo.js');
require('bar.js',function(bar){ bar.sayHello(); });
var items = require(['foo.js','bar.js']);

If webant encounters a require call where the first parameter is not a string literal or an array literal containing only string literals, an error will be thrown. This means require calls like these will throw errors:

var foo = require('foo' + '.js'); // not allowed - will throw error

var name = "foo.js";
var foo = require(name); // not allowed - will throw error

function getTemplate(tmplName,callback) {
    require("../path/to/templates/" + tmplName + ".hbs",callback); // not allowed - will throw error

var item1 = "foo.js";
var item2 = "bar.js";

require([item1,item2]); // not allowed - will throw error

Webant may be augmented to support dynamic requires in future.

Tests Build Status

Ensure phantomjs is installed and in your PATH, then run:

$ npm test


medikoo, creator of webmake

For the inspiration behind this module.

mishoo, creator of UglifyJS2

The excellent javascript parser, minifier, compressor and beautifier that webant depends on for much of its functionality.

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