Web app build system using Browserify, React.js and Less

vitreum is a build tool for creating web applications; similar to webpack and parcel. It uses common tools: React, Browserify, LESS, and LiveReload. vitreum focuses on incredibly fast build times and tooling for tightly active development.

How it works

Vitreums goal is to take a webapp code, format it, and bundle it so it can be served and rendered client-side. Vitreum takes in a list of entrypoint files; For each file it walks down it's dependacies, transforming the file and then adding it to the various bundles.
It produces a bundle.js, bundle.css, and render.js for each entrypoint. And produces a shared libs.js and an /assets folder.

Produced Files

  • /build/[entrypoint]/bundle.js is a complete client-side ready bundle of all the code needed to run that single entrypoint. On require it exposes the top level export of the entrypoint.

  • /build/[entrypoint]/bundle.css is a complete bundle of all the required in style files (.css or .less) needed for that entrypoint.

  • /build/[entrypoint]/render.js is used for doing easy isomorphic rendering. It exports a syncronous function that takes a props object and an option opts object as parameters. It returns a sever-side rendered HTML string of the bundle given those props passed in.

Default options for opts are { render : true, cache : false }. When cache is set to true the function will return a cached result if provided identical props it has seen before.

Note: Vitreum will populate a global variable client-side called vitreum_props with a copy of the props passed in via the render.js. This is populated before any other code is loaded so it can be used immediately.

// Express Example
const app = require('express')();
const MainRender = require('./build/main/render.js');

app.get('/', (req, res)=>{
  res.send(MainRender({ url : req.url });
  • /build/libs.js is a bundling of all the libraries used by the entrpoints. As Vitreum is detecting dependacies, if a depedancy is located in the node_modules folder (and not defined in the bundle option), it's added to libs.js. This operation is expensive so dev-builds on Vitreum will not bundle libs.

  • /build/assets/... is a directory of all the copies of assets discovered during the build process. Each file path to the asset is the same as it is in the project.

Key Concepts

folder-based components

One of the core reason why Vitreum exists to to make it easy to use folder-based components. These components are self-contained within a folder with a JSX component, an associated LESS file with it, and any files or sub-compoennts that it needs.

This method keeps your components incredibly modular and then your file system reflects your component hierarchy.

  ├─ page.jsx
  ├─ page.less
  ├─ user.png
  └─ /widget
    ├─ widget.jsx
    └─ widget.less

Isomorphic Rendering

Isomorphic Rendering is the process of pre-rendering what your site should look like on a per request basis, rendering it to an HTML string on the server and sending that back on request.


Whenever Vitreum encounters a file it will check it's list of transforms and potentially modify the file (or do other operations) before it adds it to the bundle. These transforms allow you to require in assets, styles, or other various files.


When running a dev-build Vitreum will livereload any code and style changes that happen. By installing and using the LiveReload extension your browser will instantly switch up javscript and styles when they change.