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Grunt vs npm: What are the differences?

Developers describe Grunt as "The JavaScript Task Runner". The less work you have to do when performing repetitive tasks like minification, compilation, unit testing, linting, etc, the easier your job becomes. After you've configured it, a task runner can do most of that mundane work for you—and your team—with basically zero effort. On the other hand, npm is detailed as "The package manager for JavaScript". npm is the command-line interface to the npm ecosystem. It is battle-tested, surprisingly flexible, and used by hundreds of thousands of JavaScript developers every day.

Grunt can be classified as a tool in the "JS Build Tools / JS Task Runners" category, while npm is grouped under "Front End Package Manager".

"Configuration ", "Open source" and "Automation of minification and live reload" are the key factors why developers consider Grunt; whereas "Best package management system for javascript", "Open-source" and "Great community" are the primary reasons why npm is favored.

Grunt and npm are both open source tools. npm with 17.2K GitHub stars and 3.17K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Grunt with 11.9K GitHub stars and 1.55K GitHub forks.

According to the StackShare community, npm has a broader approval, being mentioned in 2642 company stacks & 2666 developers stacks; compared to Grunt, which is listed in 796 company stacks and 429 developer stacks.

Advice on Grunt and npm
Needs advice
on
npmnpm
and
YarnYarn

From a StackShare Community member: “I’m a freelance web developer (I mostly use Node.js) and for future projects I’m debating between npm or Yarn as my default package manager. I’m a minimalist so I hate installing software if I don’t need to- in this case that would be Yarn. For those who made the switch from npm to Yarn, what benefits have you noticed? For those who stuck with npm, are you happy you with it?"

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Replies (14)
Julian Sanchez
Lead Developer at Chore Champion · | 11 upvotes · 120.9K views
Recommends
YarnYarn
at

We use Yarn because it allows us to more simply manage our node_modules. It also simplifies commands and increases speed when installing modules. Our teams module download time was cut in half after switching from NPM to Yarn. We now require all employees to use Yarn (to prevent errors with package-lock.json and yarn.lock).

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Recommends
npmnpm

I use npm since new version is pretty fast as well (Yarn may be still faster a bit but the difference isn't huge). No need for other dependency and mainly Yarn sometimes do not work. Sometimes when I want to install project dependencies I got error using Yarn but with npm everything is installed correctly.

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Mark Nelissen
Recommends
npmnpmnpmnpm

I use npm because I also mainly use React and TypeScript. Since several typings (from DefinitelyTyped) depend on the React typings, Yarn tends to mess up which leads to duplicate libraries present (different versions of the same type definition), which hinders the Typescript compiler. Npm always resolves to a single version per transitive dependency. At least that's my experience with both.

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Recommends
YarnYarn

p.s.

I am not sure about the performance of the latest version of npm, whether it is different from my understanding of it below. Because I use npm very rarely when I had the following knowledge.

------⏬

I use Yarn because, first, yarn is the first tool to lock the version. Second, although npm also supports the lock version, when you use npm to lock the version, and then use package-lock.json on other systems, package-lock.json Will be modified. You understand what I mean, when you deploy projects based on Git...

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Recommends
YarnYarn

As far as I know Yarn is a super module of NPM. But it still needs npm to run.

Yarn was developed by Facebook's guys to fix some npm issues and performance.

If you use the last version of npm most of this problem does not exist anymore.

You can choose the option which makes you more confortable. I like using yarn because I'm used to it.

In the end the packages will be the same. Just try both and choose the one you feel more confortable. :)

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Digital All
Recommends
npmnpm

I use npm because its packaged with node installation and handles npm tokens in CI/CD tools for private packages/libraries.

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Shuuji TAKAHASHI
Recommends
YarnYarn

I use Yarn because it outputs nice progress messages with cute emoji and installs packages quickly if the package is cached. Also, Yarn creates yarn.lock file which makes the developer use the consistent environment.

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Izzur Zuhri
Recommends
npmnpm

I use npm because it has a lot of community support and the performance difference with alternative tool is not so significant for me.

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tataata
Frontend designer and developer · | 3 upvotes · 108.7K views
Recommends
YarnYarn

Yarn made it painless for the team to sync on versions of packages that we use on the project <3

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Tor Hagemann
Principal Software Engineer at Socotra · | 3 upvotes · 9K views
Recommends
YarnYarnnpmnpm

You should use whichever had the best DX (developer experience) for your team. If you are doing a massive front-end project, consider yarn if not only because it makes it a snap to go from zero to ready. What some people say about npm being more stable or easier for smaller projects is highly true as well. (not to mention, you sometimes have to install yarn) But, note that official NodeJS Docker images ship with both npm and yarn. If you want to use yarn, put package-lock=false and optionally save-exact=true in your project's .npmrc file. Compare whether you prefer the ergonomics of yarn global add over npm install -g or see fewer meaningless warnings for the specific set of dependencies you leverage.

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Recommends
npmnpm

I use npm because its the official package manager for Node. It's reliability, security and speed has increased over time so the battle is over!

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Recommends
YarnYarn

I am a minimalist too. I once had issues with installing Nuxt.js using NPM so I had to install Yarn but I also found that the Dev experience was much better

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Francois Leurent
Recommends
npmnpm
at

We tend to stick to npm, yarn is only a fancy alternative, not 10x better. Using a self -hosted private repository (via sinopia/npm-mirror) make package locking (mostly) pointless.

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Denys Slipetskyy
Recommends
YarnYarn
at

I use Yarn because it process my dependencies way faster, predictable deps resolution order, upgrade-interactive is very handy + some Yarn specific features (workspaces, Plug’n’Play alternative installation strategy) ...

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Decisions about Grunt and npm
Oleksandr Fedotov
Senior Software Engineer at joyn · | 3 upvotes · 133.1K views

As we have to build the application for many different TV platforms we want to split the application logic from the device/platform specific code. Previously we had different repositories and it was very hard to keep the development process when changes were done in multiple repositories, as we had to synchronize code reviews as well as merging and then updating the dependencies of projects. This issues would be even more critical when building the project from scratch what we did at Joyn. Therefor to keep all code in one place, at the same time keeping in separated in different modules we decided to give a try to monorepo. First we tried out lerna which was fine at the beginning, but later along the way we had issues with adding new dependencies which came out of the blue and were not easy to fix. Next round of evolution was yarn workspaces, we are still using it and are pretty happy with dev experience it provides. And one more advantage we got when switched to yarn workspaces that we also switched from npm to yarn what improved the state of the lock file a lot, because with npm package-lock file was updated every time you run npm install, frequent updates of package-lock file were causing very often merge conflicts. So right now we not just having faster dependencies installation time but also no conflicts coming from lock file.

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Petr Bambušek
Head of Frontend at Mews · | 2 upvotes · 143K views
Chose
YarnYarn
over
npmnpm
at
()

This was no real choice - we switched the moment Yarn was available, and never looked back. Yarn is the only reasonable frontend package manager that's actually being developed. They even aim to heal the node_modules madness with v2! Npm is just copying its ideas on top of introducing massive bugs with every change.

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Pros of Grunt
Pros of npm
  • 288
    Configuration
  • 176
    Open source
  • 166
    Automation of minification and live reload
  • 60
    Great community
  • 7
    SASS compilation
  • 649
    Best package management system for javascript
  • 383
    Open-source
  • 327
    Great community
  • 148
    More packages than rubygems, pypi, or packagist
  • 112
    Nice people matter
  • 6
    Audit feature
  • 5
    As fast as yarn but really free of facebook
  • 4
    Good following
  • 1
    Super fast
  • 1
    Stability

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Cons of Grunt
Cons of npm
  • 1
    Poor mindshare/community support
  • 5
    Problems with lockfiles
  • 5
    Bad at package versioning and being deterministic
  • 3
    Node-gyp takes forever
  • 1
    Super slow

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What is Grunt?

The less work you have to do when performing repetitive tasks like minification, compilation, unit testing, linting, etc, the easier your job becomes. After you've configured it, a task runner can do most of that mundane work for you—and your team—with basically zero effort.

What is npm?

npm is the command-line interface to the npm ecosystem. It is battle-tested, surprisingly flexible, and used by hundreds of thousands of JavaScript developers every day.

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What are some alternatives to Grunt and npm?
gulp
Build system automating tasks: minification and copying of all JavaScript files, static images. More capable of watching files to automatically rerun the task when a file changes.
Webpack
A bundler for javascript and friends. Packs many modules into a few bundled assets. Code Splitting allows to load parts for the application on demand. Through "loaders" modules can be CommonJs, AMD, ES6 modules, CSS, Images, JSON, Coffeescript, LESS, ... and your custom stuff.
Yarn
Yarn caches every package it downloads so it never needs to again. It also parallelizes operations to maximize resource utilization so install times are faster than ever.
Gradle
Gradle is a build tool with a focus on build automation and support for multi-language development. If you are building, testing, publishing, and deploying software on any platform, Gradle offers a flexible model that can support the entire development lifecycle from compiling and packaging code to publishing web sites.
Apache Maven
Maven allows a project to build using its project object model (POM) and a set of plugins that are shared by all projects using Maven, providing a uniform build system. Once you familiarize yourself with how one Maven project builds you automatically know how all Maven projects build saving you immense amounts of time when trying to navigate many projects.
See all alternatives