NPM easily has the best project file out of any other package manager. Its package.json combines exceptional readability with great dependency management and project detailing. I promise I’m not fanboying; NPM is that much better than other project files.
Take a look at that. The JSON file format makes it easy for us to find out the name, version, dependencies, and build scripts for the project, while still making it readable by the machine. That’s because JSON was designed to be easily read by humans while still being easy to parse by machines(what a beautiful compromise). And, let’s not forget that it’s lightyears ahead of project files for other languages like Java, Python, or C/C++.
Apache’s Maven project management tool for Java relies on a complex, impossible-to-read pom.xml. This is extremely difficult for humans to read and slows down development for projects with a lot of contributors.
The Python Packaging Authority‘s pip uses a requirements.txt, but it’s so primitive that it’s only used to list required dependencies. At times simplicity is the best approach, but the requirements.txt becomes useless, since it doesn’t contain other project-specific information such as the official name or necessary build scripts.
Don’t even get me started on the GNU’s Makefile. It doesn’t even look like a project management file. It looks like just another source file (although variables are an interesting feature). It’s basically just a file for build scripts, and it’s missing the project’s name and dependencies. Package.json proves to be the ultimate project management file.
Another thing that makes NPM unique is its package registry system. All packages built with NPM can be quickly deployed to a shared registry system from which anybody can install them. This package registry system, found at npmjs.com, makes all packages searchable, so you can quickly locate packages that perform any action you wish before installing them for your own project. NPM’s package registry is also pretty social, as you can search for other users and keep an eye on new releases from your favorite developers and organizations. Plus, the command line interface lets you build and publish a new package in seconds…as long as you have an account, of course.
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