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It is OK to keep random things in a single monorepo

Zoltan Kochan
European. Developer. Maintainer of pnpm. a.k.a. 🇺🇦Кочан Золтан🇺🇦 and 🇭🇺Kocsán Zoltán🇭🇺
・2 min read

For a long time, I was an opponent of monorepos. There are many popular open source contributors that have hundreds of packages on npm and each of those packages have a dedicated GitHub repository. I thought everyone does it this way, so it should be the right way! No?

I started to publish some things to npm as well and after a few years, I have now almost 300 packages in the registry. It took me a long time but I realized, the majority of npm packages don't need dedicated repositories.

Most of the npm packages are almost never updated

Once a package is ready, you will probably never update it again. The only time you will need to update a package is when Renovate or Greenkeeper will open a PR to update dependencies that had major version changes.

So why create a dedicated repository for a package that will have less than 10 useful commits?

Most of the npm packages never get any contributions

Even popular packages get few contributions. Certainly, you will be the only contributor of your non-popular packages.

So why keeping a separate GitHub repository? There will be no other developers that will need admin permissions to a given npm package.

It is OK, use one repo!

You might think: "but those packages are completely unrelated". And that is true. But that is the only downside: keeping random packages in a single repository. Think about all the advantages:

  • fewer notifications from Greenkeeper/Renovate
  • less CI setup
  • less boilerplate

Additional advantages:

  • you can use services that limit the number of repositories you use.
  • you can easily migrate all your code to other git servers because there is only one repository to migrate

How to

My recipe is using the recursive commands of pnpm to install all dependencies of your packages and run their tests:

pnpm recursive install
pnpm recursive test --workspace-concurrency 1

But you may also use Rush, Lerna, or other monorepo managing tools.

To see how I moved some of my packages to a single repo, see zkochan/packages.

You can always create a dedicated repository later

If one of your packages will receive a lot of attention, you can always move it to a dedicated repository later.


Photo by Olav Ahrens Røtne on Unsplash

Discussion (4)

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qm3ster profile image
Mihail Malo

I was terrified of monorepos because they ruin VSCode tooling for me, namely:

  • TypeScript
  • Relative links in console (eg exceptions)
  • Opening console to the project dir

Then one day I added the individual module folders to a VSCode "workspace", and also added the monorepo root in case I want to tweak something there...
And it all just started working perfectly.

Monorepos here I come :v

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jvanbruegge profile image
Jan van Brügge

git subtree split is a very helpful command

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miku86 profile image
miku86

Hey Zoltan,

for me, one of the most annoying issues with one single repo is that I have to download all that unrelated stuff from that repo, that I'm not interested in.

I have one single monorepo for my code katas.
So everyone, who is interested in one specific kata, has to download all 50 katas. I am doing it anyway, because the katas are very small.

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zkochan profile image
Zoltan Kochan Author

If it makes you more productive then it is the right choice.