Update: this method is outdated again. The new solution is presented here Using Gulp with Browserify and Watchify - Update Nov 2015

Old method

In my previous 2014-08-06-using-watchify-with-gulp-for-fast-browserify-build.md, I have demonstrated how to use Browserify and Watchify in Gulp to automate the build process. The steps are to create a browserify bundle and return that bundle with a bunch of pipe inside a gulp task like this

var b = browserify({
  cache: {},
  packageCache: {},
  fullPaths: true
b = watchify(b);
return b.bundle()

We have to manually add the main.js file into Browserify so it will become ugly and complex when you have multiple bundles to build, not just one main.js file. It would be much better if we can do something like this, passing the source files as a glob as we usually do with Gulp

return gulp.src(source)

In this post, I will illustrate how to create that buildBrowserify function.


In my project, I will have to folder named js for containing all the source .js files and another folder called dist for outputing all the bundles after built.

├─┬ js
│ ├─┬ page1
│ │ ├── display.js
│ │ └── model.js
│ ├─┬ page2
│ │ └── controller.js
│ ├─┬ util
│ │ ├── validation.js
│ │ └── notification.js
│ └── page1.js
│ └── page2.js
├── dist
└── gulpfile.js

The build function will bundle all the *.js file inside js folder (page1.js and page2.js in this case). Other files in the sub-folders will not be built unless they are required by page1.js or page2.js. For example

  • page1.js
var display = require('page1/display.js');
var model = require('page1/model.js');
var validation = require('util/validation.js');
var notification = require('util/notification.js');

// do something here
  • page2.js
var controller = require('page2/controller.js');
var validation = require('util/validation.js');
var notification = require('util/notification.js');

// do something here

NPM packages

Here are all the npm packages needed for running this gulpfile

var _ = require('lodash');
var gulp = require('gulp');
var browserify = require('browserify');
var watchify = require('watchify');
var transform = require('vinyl-transform');
var shimify = require('browserify-shim');
var plumber = require('gulp-plumber');
var uglify = require('gulp-uglify');
var notifier = require('node-notifier');
var util = require('gulp-util');
var gulpif = require('gulp-if');

Browserify Config

In order to use the short path page1/display.js instead of the ./page1/display.js, we need to specify the Browserify path config in gulpfile.js like this

// browserify config
var browserifyConfig = {
  basedir: '.',
  paths: './js'

Bundle function

Usually, the gulpfile will contain 3 tasks for building js files (build-dev, watch, build-prod), so we need a bundle function to avoid repetitive tasks

// bundle
function bundle(source, bundler, mode) {
  return gulp.src(source)
    .pipe(plumber({errorHandler: browserifyError}))
    .pipe(gulpif(mode === "prod", uglify({mangle: false})))

source is the Gulp blob, mode is one of the three [dev, watch, prod], bundler will be explained in the next section.

Create Bundler function

Now the most interesting thing is the buildBrowserify I mentioned in the beginning. I will name it createBundler here. Please read the comment in the code for explanation

// caching for the next build (in watch task) instead of create new bundle
var cached = {};

// create browserify transform
function createBundler(mode) {
  var bundler = transform(function(filename){
    // create browserify instance
    var b;
    if(mode === "dev") {
      // debug: true for creating source map
      b = browserify(filename, _.extend(browserifyConfig, {debug: true}));
    } else if(mode === 'prod') {
      b = browserify(filename, browserifyConfig);
    } else if(mode === 'watch') {
      // for the next build of watchify, get the watchify instance out from
      // cached and build
      if(cached[filename]) return cached[filename].bundle();
      // create new watchify instance for the first build only
      b = watchify(browserify(filename, _.extend(browserifyConfig, watchify.args, {debug: true})));
      cached[filename] = b; // store it in cached

    // event
    b.on('error', browserifyError);
    if(mode === 'watch') {
      b.on('time', function(time){util.log(util.colors.green('Browserify'), filename, util.colors.blue('in ' + time + ' ms'));});
      b.on('update', function(){
        // on file changed, run the bundle again
        bundle(filename, createBundler('watch'), 'watch');

    // transform (add more if you want)

    return b.bundle();

  return bundler;

Error handler

In the above code, if there are any error occur in the build process, the function browserifyError will be triggered with an error object. Here is how to define that function

function browserifyError(err) {
  util.log(util.colors.red('Error: ' + err.message));

Gulp tasks

Now we have everything we need to build Browserify bundles, the final thing to do is to create some Gulp tasks for calling them

// browserify task
gulp.task('js-dev', function(){
  return bundle('./js/*.js', createBundler("dev"), "dev");

gulp.task('js-prod', function(){
  return bundle('./js/*.js', createBundler("prod"), "prod");

gulp.task('js-watch', function(){
  return bundle('./js/*.js', createBundler("watch"), 'watch');

Sample gulpfile

I made a sample gulpfile for this example at https://gist.github.com/tmtxt/7e48ec7a93d591216424, feel free to take if you like

Thank Hung Phan and Nghia Hoang for providing me the idea for this.