Automate Web Development With GulpJS

GulpJS is the task runner of JavaScript which lets one automate various tasks involved in development. All these tasks minify JavaScript as well as CSS files. They automatically refresh the browser as soon as a file gets edited. They compile CSS pre-processors, compressing images, running tests, and others. Briefly, Gulp.JS helps to solve the problem of repetition. Thus, it is a trending tool that is being used by web design and development companies.

GulpJS can be defined as a building tool which helps a developer to get rid of any manually running task during the development of each and every project. As soon as one is finished with setting up GulpJS, GulpJS starts automating the most frustrating tasks, and supercharging the performance, and helps him/her to focus on building the app logic.

To create a build process takes time. Building a process is more complex than performing every task manually. But gradually, as one starts using GulpJS, one can save lots of effort, as well as reduce the human error. This is because GulpJS has a pragmatic approach.

  • Automating the most frustrating tasks first.
  • Trying not to complex the build process. The initial setup takes only a couple of hours.
  • Choosing the task runner software and then stick with it. No need to switch to any other option.

Features of Gulp.JS

  • Automation
    GulpJS is the toolkit which helps one in automating painful or the time-consuming tasks in the development workflow.

  • Platform-agnostic
    The integrations can be built into all the major IDEs. Today, people use GulpJS with Node.js, PHP, Java, .NET, and other such platforms.

  • Strong Ecosystem
    One should use the npm modules to do whatever he/she wants with over 2000 plugins for streaming the file transformations

  • Simple
    By providing only a minimal API surface, GulpJS is easy and simple to learn and use by providing only API surface.

Requirements of GulpJS

GulpJS requires the Node.js. The knowledge of JavaScript is beneficial along with it. Thus, developers from the web design and development company find it very useful. For using GulpJS, one needs to have the following tools pre-installed on that machine.

  • GulpJS
    Installing GulpJS globally in the terminal so that the GulpJS command can run from any directory.

  • Node.js
    Navigating to Node.js website and installing the latest version on the machine.

The simple GulpJS API

Using GulpJS is super simple because you don’t have to figure out how a complex API works in order to be productive with it. There are only 4 APIs in GulpJS!

GulpJS.taskDefine a task
GulpJS.srcRead files in
GulpJS.destWrite files out
GulpJS.watchWatch files for changes

Installing GulpJS via npm

The npm package manager comes installed with Node.js. While node.js isn’t a requirement to use GulpJS, it does make demonstrating it a lot easier. I will be installing GulpJS from npm locally into my project. Make sure that you’re in your project’s root folder before running the command, otherwise, your node modules will be downloaded into the wrong folder.

This will install the GulpJS node module locally to the project (as opposed to globally). The --save-dev argument lets npm know to update its package.json file with a new devDependencies record. devDependencies will need to be resolved at development time, whereas dependencies will need to be resolved at runtime. Because GulpJS is a tool to aid us in development, it needs to be resolved at development time.

What’s an automated workflow?

An automated workflow is a set of pre-programmed commands. It aims to help you simplify the tasks you do on a daily basis. These tasks can be things, like:

  1. Updating a file whenever it is changed so you don’t have to run a command to update it.
  2. Refreshing the browser automatically when needed so you don’t have to alt-tab and hit the refresh button manually.
  3. Letting you know what errors you made in your code so you don’t have to spend hours in frustration trying to find out what went wrong.
  4. Letting you write modular code (even HTML) so you don’t have to update that god damned navigation five times whenever something needs to change.
  5. Testing code whenever a developer merges the code to a central repository to make sure that everything works well. If it’s doesn’t, you’ll know it before any of your customers does, and you can make the necessary changes before they even know it.
  6. Optimizing your CSS, JavaScript, images and running every optimization you need to make sure your website is wicked fast.
  7. Deploying your website with a single command so you can remove the anxiety from being afraid that you’ll mess up the deployment process you can in place.

Below is a common workflow for performing certain build operations.

  • We start by defining a task that we would like to accomplish.
  • Within that task, a desired set of files are loaded into the GulpJS stream to be processed. (Optional) Once files are in the stream, one or more modifications can be made to the files. Because the streams are processed in memory, no file - system writes to temporary directories between modifications are required.
  • Send the new (possibly modified) files to a specified destination

So first, the original files go in, we optionally process modifications to the input files, then we copy the result of our stream to a destination directory.

What Are the Benefits of GulpJS?

The first and most appealing benefit of GulpJS is how easy to use it is. Truth to be told, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. However, when you take a minute or two and go through the code, it’s really simple and easy to use. Next benefit, according to the website, is GulpJS’s efficiency: “Using the power of node streams, GulpJS gives you fast builds that don’t write intermediary files to disk.” Next benefit featured is high-quality standard. This is in reference to the catalog of plugins that are available to use in GulpJS. In short, every plugin created must follow specific guidelines.

Otherwise, it will not be approved. One of the requirements is that plugins stay simple. What this means is that every plugin should do only one thing. It also shouldn’t do things that other plugins are responsible for. You can find more information in official guideline documentation. The last benefit is that GulpJS is easy to learn. Well, yes it is easy to learn unless you will take its website as your starting point. If you want to learn about GulpJS, third-party tutorial, like the one you are reading right now, is a much better option to choose.


Since GulpJS as well as its plugins, both, are node packages, GulpJS requires the Node and its package manager, npm. These are the global tools so one only needs to install all of them only once on the machine, and not every time one creates some project. The Node Version Manager (nvm) needs to install the Node as well as npm. Also, these could be installed directly. GulpJS runs from the command line. Therefore, it needs to install a command line tool. It is a global tool, thus, needs to be installed on the machine.

When one wants to use GulpJS in any project, one starts by initializing that project with “npm init”. It creates a file called package.json. This package.json file monitors the Node packages which have been installed for the project. Each time a new package is installed, such as the GulpJS-uglify plugin, package.json is updated with the --save-dev flag. If the project is stored in version control or transferred without including all of the packages (a best practice), the packages can be quickly re-installed with npm install. This reads package.json and installs all required packages.

Once plugins are installed, they need to be included in the GulpJSfile.js file. This file is where all GulpJS code belongs. This file is also where GulpJS tasks are defined. GulpJS tasks use JavaScript code and the imported functions from plugins to perform various tasks on files.

With everything installed and tasks defined, GulpJS tasks can be run by executing command line commands (such as GulpJS uglify).

Many issues were addressed in later editions, but GulpJS had already arrived and offered a number of improvements,

  1. Features such as file watching were built in.
  2. GulpJS plugins were (mostly) designed to do a single job.
  3. GulpJS used JavaScript configuration code that was less verbose, easier to read, simpler to modify, and provided better flexibility.
  4. GulpJS was faster because it uses Node.js streams to pass data through a series of piped plugins. Files were only written at the end of the task.

Of course, GulpJS itself isn’t perfect, and new task runners such as Broccoli.js, Brunch, and webpack have also been competing for developer attention. More recently, npm itself has been touted as a simpler option. All have their pros and cons, but GulpJS remains the favorite and is currently used by more than 40% of web developers.