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How To Create and Use Private NPM Packages

Moein Hosseini
Senior Angular Developer
・3 min read

This post was originally published on my blog

Packages, packages everywhere, big or small pieces of code that make development way easier and fast. Sometimes we use a prepared package developed by other members of the community, and sometimes we create a package for ourselves. Maybe you are working in a company and want to create an npm package for your team or simply you are just trying to make a piece of code reusable in more than one project. It's a good choice but there's a question. How can I use and install that package without putting it up on the npm public registry? Let's figure it out.

Create your first NPM package

Starting a new package is just as easy as starting a new javascript project. we are going to call our package "legendary" Open your terminal and run this command to create a folder for our legendary package and go into that directory:

mkdir legendary && cd legendary
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Now we initialize a new package.json by running this command:

npm init
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You will be asked some questions like the package name, version, license and etc. Answer them and then go to the next step. The result will be a package.json with contents similar to this:

{
  "name": "legendary",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "A legendary package",
  "main": "index.js",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
  },
  "author": "Moein Hosseini",
  "license": "ISC"
}
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Write package code and add a private field

Now it's time to add some code to our library. As you saw on our package.json file, it will be named index.js because that's our main file. The code can be a simple function like this:

export default function () {
    console.log('Hello from legendary package.')
}
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Now we should remember to add the private field in package.json file. When you set it to true. Npm will refuse to publish it on npm and prevents your code from being published accidentally on the npm public registry.

{
    ...,
    "private": true,
    ...
}
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Private npm registry

If you have more than one packages and more than one user you might need to have a private npm registry. There are some options out there like the npm proxy registry that you can publish your private packages on a private server.

Publish package on a private registry

To publish your package in a private registry you must have a user on it and log in using the npm command-line interface

npm login --registry=https://mysecretregistry.com
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At this point you are logged into your private registry and can publish your package but what do we mean by our package? What files should be included in this library? You can specify them by adding a field named files in the package.json file. For my legendary package, I have index.js.

{
    ...,
    "files": [
        "index.js",
    ],
    ...
}
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Finally to publish your npm package use the below command. This command published the package with the specified version number in the package.json file.

npm publish --registry=https://mysecretregistry.com
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Install package from private registry

Installing a package from private is just like the regular ones with specifying the registry address:

npm install legendary --registry=https://mysecretregistry.com
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Static package files

You always don't need a private registry. It cost's a lot and also you don't want to put it on the registry while you are the only user for that package. So there is a better way. Just run the following command to generate a static compressed file that can be installed by npm:

npm pack
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The result will be a file named legendary-1.0.0.tgz. Take this file to any directory you want and install it by just giving the file address to npm:

npm install /some/dir/legendary-1.0.0.tgz
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Now import your legendary library and use it in as many projects as you want.

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