gulp simple workflow

Gulp is just a way to automate workflow. I like to use it to compile and minify resources. Not every framework can be like Rails and have this functionality built in.

installing gulp is easy, you will need NodeJS, NodeJS has a complete installer for all the major OS out there. It comes with NPM already installed.

Run the following command to update your npm version

sudo npm install npm -g

Now you are ready to install gulp.

sudo npm install --global gulp

here are some of the official gulp docs for more details on how to get started.

once you are inside your project directory, you can install gulp local to your project as well. it will download gulp to nodes_modules folder, and the –save-dev will keep track of your packages in dev. ideally for production should have pre-compiled resources, making gulp a dev tool.

npm init
npm install --save-dev gulp

In MAC I ran into some errors, after installing packages as global, it affected the local permissions, the quick fix, is this command

sudo chown -R $(whoami) ~/.npm

We are going to save locally into Projectdir/nodes_modules all the modules required for our automation tasks. we will be compiling sass via the module gulp-ruby-sass (this needs ruby and sass to work). we are doing other tasks such as concat, minify, uglify, rename and are installing their respective required modules. Also working with BOWER, see “laravel 5 additional resources”. we briefly talk about bower and how it helps us in our workflow.

I tend to run these individually, to track errors.

npm install gulp --save-dev
npm install gulp-minify-css --save-dev
npm install gulp-concat --save-dev
npm install gulp-uglify --save-dev
npm install gulp-rename --save-dev
npm install gulp-phpunit --save-dev
npm install gulp-ruby-sass --save-dev
npm install gulp-notify --save-dev
npm install gulp-bower --save-dev

The file reads well and verbosely, I tried to add comments explaining each function.

I start by declaring variables, and paths to my folders

var gulp = require('gulp'),
    sass = require('gulp-ruby-sass'),           // compiles sass to CSS
    minify = require('gulp-minify-css'),        // minifies CSS
    var paths = {
        'resources': {
            'sass'  : './public/sass/',
            'scss'  : './public/scss/',

Bower task just runs bower update, and icons task copies fonts and icons from a folder to another. /**/*.* copies all the items in the folder and subfolders.


phpunit is a very laravel centric task, it runs the phpunit test command on some items in a given location.

the sass, js and css are similar tasks

.pipe(sourcemaps.init()) //sourcemaps
.pipe(gulp.dest(paths.resources.js)) //destination
.pipe(concat('app.js')) // concat
.pipe(rename({suffix: '.min'})) // minify
.pipe(uglify()) // uglify

I also use live reload plugin. it monitors changes in the file system. As soon as you save a file browser reload. I’m currently working on refining this process, for now, including .pipe(livereload()) and adding the browser plugin will refresh your pages.

Live reload is tagged on, one of the most useful gulp tasks, watch. running the command gulp watch inside your project directory, listens to changes in the specified tasks, and will run a task update

gulp.task('watch', function() {

  // watch scss files, function() {'bootstrap-sass');

  // watch js files, function() {'js');

and of course, it is worth mentioning the default task, while running gulp you can trigger synchronously tasks to be ran, one after the other. I’ve seen some workflows that tag on watch to the default, I use, the simple command gulp to prepare for deployment.

gulp.task('default',['bower', 'icons', 'js', 'css' , 'bootstrap-sass']);

Things to improve on:

  • plugin free refresh in browser
  • custom sass and bootstrap compiled to same css
  • better notification on task completion, by using growl