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Digital wanderings @ Publicis

Diplomatic Cover project builder

By Lucas Mouilleron, Creative Technologist, on the 27/06/2014

Here at Diplomatic Cover, we want our webapps and websites to be tested, optimzed and maintainable.

To reach theses goals, we use battle tested technology stack, a normalized files tree, a custom project builder and multiple environments deployments.

##Files tree

  • build : our build module > dc-build
  • local : non vesionned files such as config file config.json, sass caches, etc.
  • db : db dumps
  • dev : JS (require) ans SASS sources
  • samples : sample files (automatically duplicated and configured)
  • web : final website or webapp directory

##Main tasks of our custom builder The builder is a collection of Grunt contrib and custom tasks

###Automatic project configuration :

  • grunt init
  • Copies and configures the sample files that lives in the samples folder
  • Files are copied from samples to web whilst keeping the original tree from samples
  • While copying, content that matches patterns {dc:*} are replaced with values defined in the main config file
  • For example :
    • Sample files samples/test/wp-config.php and samples/.htaccess are copied in web/test/wp-config.php and web/.htaccess
    • In file samples/test/wp-config.php, the string {dc:dbName} is replaced by the dbName parameter defined in local/config.json

###Database management and versionning :

  • The dump file db/project-name.sql is versionned
  • grunt db:restore : Loads data in the database from the dump file
  • grunt db:backup : Dumps the database to the dump file
  • When commiting changes, if some database modifications were done, run grunt db:backup before commiting
  • When checkouting or upating, run grunt db:restore the be up to date with the versionned database


  • SASS and JS (require) source watching and compilation
  • Browser syncing : grunt sync synces the browser and source files (css injection, live reload for the rest)

###The “build” task :

  • Compiles the project
  • By default, init then compile:styles and then compile:scripts
  • Is called when deploying the project on testings and production environments

##Automated deployments We use 3 environments : internal testing, (dev team, project management), external testing (clients) and production. We deploy projects on these environments from our svn server with tags.

###The deploying process :

  • Exporting the project in a tmp directory from its repository in /tmp/PROJECT_NAME
  • Running the project build task with the targeted environment config.json file
  • Moving the built project to its final destination : an Apache served folder
  • Then notifying dev team, project management and / or client a new version of the product is available for testing
  • And finally removing the folder /tmp/PROJECT_NAME

###Node modules optimization : Grunt requires to run npm install to download and install the Gruntfile dependencies. Because we do not want to version theses files (in node_modules), we’d have to run this long command on every deployment

And because we are a bit smart, here is what we do :

  • The package.json file is where we keep track of grunt external dependencies
  • If this file changes, dependencies have changed
  • We keep the svn version number within the file as so : "version": "$Id$"
  • Just before building the project, we look if the folder /tmp/node_modules/PROJECT_NAME/VERSION_NUMBER/node_modules exsits
  • If it doesn’t, we copy the project build folder in /tmp/node_modules/PROJECT_NAME/VERSION_NUMBER and perform the npm install
  • In all cases, we copy /tmp/node_modules/PROJECT_NAME/VERSION_NUMBER/node_modules files in /tmp/PROJECT_NAME/build/nodes_modules

##Builder maintainability and customization

  • The builder is kept in its own repository
  • The configuration is kept in the config folder of each projects
  • If specific tasks need to be added or modified, the builder is duplicated within the project

##Final thoughts

It is a good practice to use a common build process, whether working on local or testing on pre production environments

The sample files dedicated samples tree is great to setup evironment contextualized files as it avoids poluting the web folder with unused sample files