When frontend project get larger, It’s hard to do task by bare hand - execute task by yourself. I first came across Jake. Like Make in c and Rake in ruby, Jake is used as build tool in javascript.

I use Jake to handle these tasks:

  • temporary directory and file cleanup
  • deps generator (I use closure library)
  • less, soy compilation
  • javascript compilation, minification and deps management


Jake is good at task dependence management (which another build tool grunt I’m going to mention lack of), while it’s ecosystem is horrible.

When project get larger, I reconstruct main Jakefile into several files into jakelib.

At this moment, project task is a little be different

  • enhanced cleanup
  • enhanced deps generator & compilation
  • subtask require cleanup & deps & compilation

Because Jakefile invoke a lot of shell command and I have to write almost all these function by myself, there are string concatenation all over the place. It’s hard to maintain Jakefile anymore.

I was trying to use Makefile to replace Jakefile, while there were other problems:

  • Makefile is less expressive compared with Jakefile
  • parallel task

I came across Grunt to figure out a better solution.

It’s really amazoning that I don’t have to write any tool to implement a build task because every task I need always already have a plugin there. Grunt’s ecosystem is greate and it was the first time I really how ecosystem is important to a single tool.

As a result, almost 500 line of string concatenation were replaced by 100 line of grunt configurations.

Through, when project became event larger, the config object is hard to maintain. I have to <c-f> several times to find the entry I want to modify, so I split Gruntfile into several configuration file by load-grunt-config and use load-grunt-tasks to load grunt plugin automatically.


yeoman, unlike Jake and Grunt, is a scaffolding tool. When project growth and modulize, I abstract the pattern of writing module and tests, use yeoman generator to generate module and test automatically.


Gulp is another build tool popular these days in github. I’m going to figure out what it is and why it’s better before I came back and write something.