I recently mastered using Grunt to handle automation.
And then I was handed some Bower code by Carrie Dils. I’m up for a challenge, I muttered under my breath. I already have Node and NPM and Git, so this shouldn’t be too terrible.
Turns out I didn’t need to change a damn thing!
First off, Carrie and I are on the same wavelength, having named our files nearly the same and separated them the same. Second, I had been incredibly brilliant and put all of my code in separate files (my.css, my-config.php, etc etc). Third, I had documented everything that I had changed in all of my files in a my-readme.txt file.
But if I’m using Grunt, what am I going to get out of Bower?
Bower is a ‘front end’ package manager.
To install packages, I make a folder for my work and I go there in a command line, I type this:
$ bower install jquery
That would install bower into my folder. It’s dependency aware as well, so if I install Bourbon, it will include Neat. This is much the same as Grunt, which can install its plugins and dependencies, but where Grunt is for installing Node modules, Bower is for js and CSS and html as well.
Grunt is for running tasks. Bower is for managing components. They’re friends.
Bower lets me set up all the required components for my site (jquery for example). Grunt lets me compress, join, minify, and automate the deployment of those components.
I tell Bower to get the files and what versions they could be. I tell Grunt to combine all my mini-js files into one, combine them, compress them, and put them in another location. That means I tell Bower to bring in jquery, but it puts it in a development folder. Grunt takes that and copies it to the js folder.
Personally I take it a step further and, when I use Git to push my code, I tell it to delete the development folder off the server. I also do as Chase Adams does, and I don’t version control my dev packages. I may define jquery’s version, but I dont worry about capturing that in my repositories.
You don’t have to use Grunt. You could use Gulp. I had a sticker for Grunt on my laptop from a friend, so I tried it first and found I liked it.
Taking all this a step further, there are tools like Yeoman that will let you kickstart a project by saying ‘yo’ and telling it what kind of project you want to make. Yes, there’s a WordPress project called YeoPress.
The point of all this is that automation is the queen of development. Don’t do manually what you can safely, reliably, and responsibly automate. Like the Queen on the chessboard, strike out in all directions and control the board. Use the tools to repeat the hard work, to keep dependencies up to date, and to automate the annoying work.