Category Archives: Yeoman

Start a dev server to preview your work without Yeoman

I published these notes on GitHub as a Gist recently, but I’ll go ahead and post them here too. It pertains to starting a dev server to preview your work quickly without using Yeoman. Yeoman is nice for doing this, especially using LiveReload, but you may need this and not always have the ability to use Yeoman or may not think it’s worth installing it just for that. Regardless, here’s how to preview your work on a dev server without Yeoman, using Ruby, Python or Node.js.


Mac OS: Ruby and Python are pre-installed. Install Node.js.

Windows: First install Ruby, Python or Node.js


Install the asdf gem.

gem install asdf

Change to the directory you want to host and type asdf from the terminal or command prompt.

Navigate to http://localhost:9292/ in your browser to preview your site.


Change to the directory you want to host and type python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8080 from the terminal or command prompt.

Navigate to http://localhost:8080/ in your browser to preview your site.


From the terminal or command prompt, type npm init and answer the questions from the prompts to create a package.json file.

Type npm install --save express to install express as a dependency and update your package.json file.

Create a JavaScript file called server.js and save it with the following contents.

var express = require('express'),
app = express();

app.use( express.static( __dirname + '/public' ) );

var server = app.listen(3000, function() {
console.log('Listening on port %d', server.address().port);

Put the files you wish to preview in a directory called public, and type node server.js from your parent directory.

Navigate to http://localhost:3000/ in your browser to preview your site.

Setting up a Backbone.js Webapp with Yeoman, Grunt and Bower – Part 2

This is part 2 on how to set up a Backbone.js webapp with Yeoman, Grunt and Bower. You can find part 1 here. In part 2, I will discuss using generators to set up your Backbone app.

As I mentioned in part 1, there are 2 officially maintained generators for Backbone, Backbone.js generator and Backbone Boilerplate generator. I will quickly walk through what you get when using either one.

To use Backbone.js generator, first you install the package via npm. Then, create a new directory for your app and run the yo command while in the new directory.

npm install -g generator-backbone
yo backbone

This generator uses Bower to install its components including jquery, backbone, modernizr and underscore. Bootstrap for Sass can also be installed when prompted. It also updates your bower.json file for you. The other thing it does is add some boilerplate code to main.js, which is very minimal. It’s very similar to doing it the way that I did in part 1, except it saves you the steps of downloading backbone and underscore, updating bower.json and adding them to your index.html file.

The second example, Backbone Boilerplate generator, goes further than the previous one, using Backbone Boilerplate and require.js for the boilerplate code. To use this, first you install the package via npm. Then, create a new directory for your app and run the yo command while in the new directory.

npm install -g generator-bbb
yo bbb

This installs backbone, jquery and lodash (an underscore alternative) for you, among others, but does not use Bower to manage components. It also installs a lot of boilerplate code which is found in app.js, main.js and router.js. If you like require.js and plan on using it, then great. If not, then you would have to delete those files as well as the boilerplate code which uses it.

Personally, I prefer Backbone.js generator due to the fact that it uses Bower to install components, is much less opinionated on how you set up the app and doesn’t care if you use require.js or not. If you already plan on using Backbone Boilerplate and require.js, then you will probably prefer the Backbone Boilerplate generator.

Setting up a Backbone.js Webapp with Yeoman, Grunt and Bower

A lot of things have changed in the JavaScript developer’s workflow over the past year. There are some new tools out there that make things a lot easier, so I thought I would dust off the old blog and do a write up on one of these tools called Yeoman.

Yeoman is “a robust and opinionated client-side stack, comprising tools and frameworks that can help developers quickly build beautiful web applications”. I find that not only is Yeoman awesome for helping you build webapps, it is a great way to build mock applications as well.

Yeoman requires node.js and can be installed via npm. You can find the installation details in the documentation, not to mention the homepage, so I won’t go into that here. Installing Yeoman gives you a set of tools which will give you the ability to scaffold out a new web application, build, preview and test your project, and easily manage dependencies.

To set up a new webapp with Yeoman, I make sure I have the latest version of node.js by going to the homepage and getting the most recent install package. I then make sure all the npm packages I have installed are up to date by running the update command: npm update -g. The -g tells npm to update all the globally installed packages. This is a good time to mention all the tools mentioned in this article are command line. If you are a developer or an aspiring one, I suggest getting as familiar with command line as much as possible, if you aren’t already.

I create a new directory for the app called webapp and cd into the new directory. To scaffold out a new webapp with Yeoman, run the command yo webapp. This actually uses a Yeoman generator called generator-webapp to install the webapp scaffolding in addition to Bower dependencies, npm dependencies and Grunt tasks. If you don’t have the webapp generator installed, you can install it by running npm install -g generator-webapp. Once you answer a few set up questions you are ready to go. Bootstrap from Twitter is a good way to easily scaffold webapps, so I always let Yeoman install that as well.

If I look in the bower_components folder of my new app, I can see that Yeoman installed jQuery, Modernizr and Bootstrap already. I want to use Backbone.js in my new webapp as well. Yeoman makes it easy to manage these dependencies and install new ones via Bower. To install Backbone.js with Bower, simply run the command bower install backbone --save. The --save on the end automatically updates the bower.json file. This file shows you what dependencies have been installed in your app via Bower. You should be aware that Underscore.js is a dependency of Backbone, so we can install that via Bower as well by running bower install underscore --save.

That’s it! Once you have everything in place, you can test your new app with Grunt by running grunt server. Just make sure that you include your new dependencies in your app so that they are available. If you want them to be minified via the build tasks available with Grunt, you need to include them inside the special build comments.

If you want to go further with Backbone.js in Yeoman, there are 2 officially maintained generators for Backbone. One is generator-backbone and the other one is called generator-bbb and uses Backbone Boilerplate.

Here is a recap of all the commands I used above to set up my new webapp.

npm update -g
cd webapp
npm install -g generator-webapp
yo webapp
grunt server
bower install backbone --save
bower install underscore --save