The functionality of these tools can be organized into 3 capabilities.
installer- tools that help with installing a monorepo's dependencies
task-runner- tools that help with running commands or scripts throughout the repo and possibly creating new packages within the repo
publisher- tools that help/enforce versioning for a monorepo
Some tools have multiple functions and can encompass multiple Capabilities.
Monorepo tooling is a sea of innovation right now and some best in class have emerged that enable you to build a monorepo with wonderful DX. With faster builds becoming the focus of many of these tool I'm excited to see what I can do with all my new free time 😉
Most of the tools in this article operate under the assumption that your project is structured like following:
scriptsfor the monorepo
scriptsfor the package
package.jsons form a dependency graph that describes how everything depends on each other. All of these tools in some way utilize the dependency graph in some way.
This is not a comprehensive list and some tools maybe left out. If you see one i've missed tell me about it on twitter.
From my experience
lerna and it's commands in your projects.
The first command
lerna comes with that most people probably attribute their
lerna experience to is the
bootstrap command. This is how it's described in the docs:
npm install but for monorepos. While not the fastest monorepo installer it gets the job done! It also set the stage for other tool to iterate and improve.
All of these command in some way facilitate running the various
scripts in your projects.
lerna exposes some flags that help you run these scripts in a monorepo-aware way:
lerna run --stream: Run a script in each package in order of the dependency graph
lerna run --parallel: Run a script in all matches packages in parallel processes
lerna run --since: Run a script in all changed packages since a specific commit or tag
lerna can also quickly scaffold a new package using
lerna create. Although this doesn't work off of templates, and created packages are don't conain many files.
In my opinion this is really where a
lerna really shines. Publishing in a monorepo is hard! You have many packages and lots of dependencies between them, so it's pretty hard to know what package to version and when.
To solve this problem
lerna can publish a project in two modes:
fixed(recommended) - All packages in the project have the same version
independent- All package in the project have independent version
In either mode
lerna will figure out what packages have changed, even taking into dependencies between packages, then update the
package.jsons as needed.
mode you can use the
flag to always publish each package on any change. This makes it simple to debug versions since they should all be the same!
The amount of time that these commands have saved me is immense! This is the
publish workflow to beat for monorepo tooling.
yarn is an alternative to
npm that came with the promise of faster install times. At the time of it's creation it really delivered! Installs were super fast, so fast even that
npm improved the performance of their install too.
yarn introduced the concept of
workspaces they brought that same speed to monorepo install times. Compared to
yarn is almost twice as fast for the projects I work on.
All of the monorepos I've set up both at my job and in open source utilize a combination of
yarn and it's been amazing! They go together like chocolate and peanut butter.
When declaring a dependency between packages in your monorepo use the
link:../path-to-package syntax. This will create a symlink in you
node_modules to the package in your repo so that any requires resolve to the current version of the code. These links will get resolved by
lerna during a publish for seamless developer experience.
The one caveat to this is that none of the tooling warns you when you created and invalid dependency
link:. If you mis-type a path, that path won't be resolved during a publish, it will make it's way into consuming projects and break their code!
To fix this my teammate Kendall Gassner forked
eslint-plugin-package-json and added a rule to create an error when an invalid
link: is found!
Check it out here.
npm add support for
workspaces. It works in the same manner as
yarn workspaces and makes
npm a monorepo aware
pnpm stands for
performant npm, it aims to be a fast
task-runner aspects of monorepo management.
These commands are the bread and butter of
pnpm. They facilitate managing the decencies for you project and work well for monorepos.
This functionality is a direct competitor to
npm, any pf these can be a good fit for a project.
run command you can use
pnpm run to run monorepo aware scripts in your project.
pnpm run --recursive: Run a script in each package in order of the dependency graph
pnpm run --parallel: Run a script in all matches packages in parallel processes
With this command you can edit a package version and then run
pnpm publish --recursive to publish the current package and it's dependencies.
Other than that
pnpm does not implement anything further to help you with publishing you monorepo. This is probably the place where
pnpm lacks the most, but they know that and recommend other tools in this post.
Rush aims to be a full featured tool set for managing monorepos much like
lerna, but takes a much different approach for each set of problems. A lot of it is very config driven and newly initiated project have a lot of files.
It supports plugins too!
Rush has it's own approach to monorepo structure. In a Rush project there is not root
package.json and only each individual package has a
pnpm), so you can choose whatever best fits your project.
Rush improves running build in your repo through a few methods.
The first is by being smart about execution using the dependency graph.
And the second is by only building the parts of the projects when you want to.
It even support incremental builds for even faster builds! Unfortunately this is where Rush's task running abilities end, it only does builds, so you'll have to figure out running other types of scripts on your own.
Keeping with the trend, Rush also has it's own custom publishing process.
When a developer is submitting a PR to a Rush based monorepo they need to run
rush change to tell Rush what the change is and how it should effect the package's version.
On a CI the build script will run
rush change -v to verify that a PR has a change from
rush change included. Once the PR is merged the CI run
rush publish to apply the version changes. This command will create a changelog for each effected package in the dependency graph and publish it to
A cool new feature they introduced recently is Version Policies. Version Policies are a lot like
independent mode but more powerful. Instead of saying all packages should be
independent you can group packages into a policy as you want. This means you could have multiple parts of your repo have different
fixed versioning and independently version the rest.
This tool focuses mainly on being a smart
task-runner. In the same vein as other tools in this list it will only run commands for code effected in your project's dependency graph. It can also use a
distributed computation cache, which stores the results of commands in a cache to speed up execution.
Nx changes the monorepo structure by only having a root
package.json. Instead of a
package.json for each project in the monorepo all of that is configured through the
workspace.json. This file describes all of the apps, libraries and tools in the monorepo and how they depend on each other. It also includes command and generator configuration.
Comparing it to
lerna can be summarized as:
lerna=> A tool for managing a monorepo of packages
nx=> A tool for managing a monorepo of applications, tools and services for an
Nx also has a plugin systems so you can easily add popular development tools in an easy way. These plugins range from test and linting tools to templates for new libraries, services and websites.
This project has the most full featured project templating/package creation of the tools in this list.
This tool comes with many of the same features as other task runner, supporting parallel, dependency graph sorted and git detected change builds.
This tool is super easy to use in any repo using the common monorepo structure. It parses scripts in your
package.json to intelligently run theme and only re-executes commands if the files have changes using a local build cache.
While not as full features as other tools on this list it does one things and does it well. One of it's biggest features for me is the ease with which you can add it to an existing monorepo.
This is the only tool on the list but it's the one I'm most excited about. From what I've read and seen,
turborepo seems to be like all the intelligent builds of
nx without all of the config or monorepo structure changes.
changesets operate in a very similar way to how
rush change works. They both produce a file that describes the change and how it should effect the version.
Once a PR is merged with a changeset file the CI can apply the version bumps described in those files with
changeset version. This command will create changelog file, apply version bump to the dependency graph, and delete the changeset files. The
changeset publish command is then called to publish the changes made by the
lerna awesome publishing features. Where it differs is that it automates the semantic versioning of you project though GitHub labels. It handles creating changelogs, versioning your packages, creating Github releases, publishing canary/prerelease versions, and a host of other things through its plugin system.
All of this is available of one context aware command that you just run at the end of each build:
- call from base branch -> latest version released
- call from prerelease branch -> prerelease version released
- call from PR in CI -> canary version released
- call locally when not on base/prerelease branch -> canary version released
The awesome thing about
auto is that you can bring its workflow to whatever platform you want! As of today
auto has 11 different package manager plugins that enable you to publish anything from a rust create to a gradle project.
At the company where I work (Intuit) we have hundreds of projects on various platforms using auto and have made 16,000+ release and saved thousands of developer hours.
Compared to just a few years ago the open source options for monorepo tooling have exploded with a lot of quality options. If you chose any of the tools mentioned in this article you would be in good hands.
The following details my personal "best" of each category. I have not used a few of these tools at all and my opinions are in now way facts.
While I have put
yarn as the best it's really because it's the only one I've used in the past few years. While researching this article I now have the itch to try out
pnpm on a project since the transition seems easy.
I haven't used either of these tools that I've deemed best, but given their features they have vastly improved build and task execution for monorepo projects. The one detractor for me is that both of those tools rely heavily on radically different monorepo configurations, and lots and lots of config.
This is what has me excited for
turborepo. Since it can easily fit to the common monorepo model it will be a no brainer for any project.It doesn't seem to rely on a bunch of new configuration either which is a huge plus, the less config the better. If it's plugin system can be extended to other languages and platforms I predict this tool will become popular
On this category I am a little biased. I maintain
auto but I truly believe that it's the best solution for publishing in any project. It's automated publishing system can be used with any package management system though it's plugin systems. It takes one of the most stress filled parts of managing a monorepo and makes it as easy as merging a pull request.
Rush's new Versioning Policy feature is pretty cool. It feels like the next generation of
independent modes. I'm excited to test it out, and probably will write and
auto plugin for it 🎉
I hope you found some useful information in this article and learned something! Feel free to hit me up on twitter to discuss the latest and greatest in monorepo tooling and automated publishing!