Organizing your library project with StealJS

With StealJS you can easily set up an open-source library that fits with the way you like to organize your code. A common directory structure might look like this:

- src
  - main.js
  - dep.js
- test
  - test.html
  - test.js

In order to keep a shallow folder structure we've divided the library's source code in src and its tests in test. The root directory only contains our package.json and a Gruntfile.js for builds.

With this structure you might try to install your module with NPM:

npm install my-module --save

And then load it in your project:

import myModule from "my-module";

However this will fail because your main is not pointing to right place. Imagine your main.js look like:

import dep from "my-module/dep";

Steal will look for dep.js in the project's root folder. To set an alternative root, correctly called the lib folder, set it in the package.json:

  "name": "my-module",
  "main": "dist/cjs/main.js",
  "system": {
    "main": "main",
    "directories": {
      "lib": "src"

This tells Steal that your library's code is nested under the src folder. This makes it easy to refer to your module by name in its internal code. With your test do the same thing:

import myModuleDep from "my-module/dep";

Will correctly load src/dep.js if that's the module you want to test.


If you're only target Steal you can go ahead and publish your module on NPM. But if you want to reach users of other module loaders you should set up a build script. steal-tools makes this easy. For example if using Grunt:

  "steal-export": {
    dist: {
      system: {
        config: "package.json!npm"
      outputs: {
        "+cjs": {},
        "+amd": {},
        "global-js": {]

Then by simply running grunt steal-export will produce dist/cjs, dist/amd, and dist/global folders containing code that will run in RequireJS, Browserify, and as a browser global. Read the full guide on setting up an export for your project for more.

See bit-tabs for a full example of this directory structure in action.