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Publishing a Vue component plugin on npm

January 4, 2020

The last step in creating a Vue component library plugin is to publish it as a package. Most packages are published on npm if the intention is to distribute to an external audience. Other registry options include GitHub Package Registry and Artifactory. It is also possible to run your own private registry.

In this post, I’ll explain the process to publish to npm. Similar steps can be taken to use a different registry if it also utilizes the npm (or yarn) CLI API conventions.

npm

First, create an account on npm - and set up multi-factor authentication!

This is where you will need to choose your package name and permissions. It makes sense to make sure that the package name that you want, or coincides with your library’s functionality, is available before solidifying the name within the library references itself.

Check for package name availability before buying a domain name!

The name field in the package.json file will be used to determine the package name. So, do a bit of investigating on npm first to make sure that the package name is available.

A note on semantics: The Vue component library will be published as a package on npm.

Publishing

To publish our library, we’ll need to make some additions to the package.json file.

I’ll be using the vue-example-pkg as the name. Make sure to swap any references to your own package name when you see vue-example-pkg.

package.json

Below is an example package.json as a reference when crafting your own based on your package’s functionality and assets. This file should look familiar - it’s an extension of the same package.json file that’s been used throughout the series.

A full reference of all available options with explanations is available in the npm documentation.

{
 // name of the library on npm!
 "name": "vue-example-pkg",
 "version": "0.1.0",
 // If you set "private": true in your package.json, then npm will refuse to publish it.
 "private": false,
 "main": "dist/vue-example-pkg.umd.min.js",

 // this makes sure that library is distributed to a CDN
 "unpkg": "dist/vue-example-pkg.umd.min.js",
 "jsdelivr": "dist/vue-example-pkg.umd.min.js",

 "author": "Your name",
 "license": "MIT", // or whatever you decide
 "description": "",
 "files": [
   "dist/*",
   "src/*"
 ],
 "homepage": "",
 "repository": {
   "type": "git",
   "url": "https://github.com/siegerts/vue-example-pkg.git"
 },
 "bugs": {
   "url": "https://github.com/siegerts/vue-example-pkg/issues"
 },
 "scripts": {
   "serve": "vue-cli-service serve",

   // tell Vue CLI that you want this project built as a library
   "build": "vue-cli-service build --target lib --name vue-example-pkg src/main.js",
   "lint": "vue-cli-service lint",

   // builds the library before publishing to npm; points to `build` script above
   "prepublishOnly": "$npm_execpath build",

   // builds documentation; for use with doc deploy (i.e. Netlify or other)
   "docs:dev": "vuepress dev docs",
   "docs:build": "vuepress build docs"
 },
 "dependencies": {
   ...
 },
 "devDependencies": {
   "@vue/cli-plugin-babel": "^3.3.0",
   "@vue/cli-plugin-eslint": "^3.3.0",
   "@vue/cli-service": "^3.3.0",
   "@vue/eslint-config-prettier": "^4.0.1",
   "babel-eslint": "^10.0.1",
   "eslint": "^5.8.0",
   "eslint-plugin-vue": "^5.0.0",
   "style-resources-loader": "^1.2.1",
   "stylus": "^0.54.5",
   "stylus-loader": "^3.0.2",
   "vue-cli-plugin-style-resources-loader": "^0.1.3",
   "vue-template-compiler": "^2.5.21",
   "vuepress": "^1.0.0-alpha.32"
   ...
 },
 "peerDependencies": {
   "vue": "^2.5.21"
 },

 // once again, SEO
 "keywords": [
   "vue",
   "vuejs"
   ...
 ]
}

build

It’s important to review the Vue CLI build target. Specifically, we’ll be building this package as a Vue library. This will bundle the library in the same way that we’ve been referencing it previously but with the new package name instead of the previous path reference.

import ComponentLibrary from 'vue-example-pkg'

Vue.use(ComponentLibrary)

prepublishOnly

The above incantation is pretty bare-bones. Other commands can be run at this point such as tests and linting depending on your workflow. Just be aware that prepublishOnly is used as the last set of commands before publishing when running yarn publish (or npm publish).

It’s important to note the $npm_execpath reference in this command. This is an environment variable that determines what npm to use. This may sound a bit strange at first 😄. It comes in handy when the yarn package manager is used instead of npm. This doesn’t make assumptions about package manager to use and instead uses what is currently set (i.e invoked). If you’re using Windows machine, then you will need to swap this out for %npm_execpath%.

For reference:

Distributing to a CDN

The lines referencing the CDNs will chose a file to distribute, and make available on each CDN, respectively. This is nice if you want your package to be available to those not using a local package manager in their projects.

"unpkg": "dist/vue-example-pkg.umd.min.js",
"jsdelivr": "dist/vue-example-pkg.umd.min.js",

For more information regarding jsdelivr setup:

Wrapping up

Now running your publish command (below) should initialize the publishing process to npm.

$ yarn publish  # or npm publish

I’m a realist 😇. There will be hang ups going through this process to get it exactly right for your project. That’s okay. Remember to have fun. There are a lot of commands and options. The important thing is to get a solid foundation working and then iterate and tweak from that point 👍.

Hope that the series has been helpful! If so (or not!), let me know - @siegerts.

👋 Related posts in the Vue Component Library series...