JavaScript 80 – Node.js – 2

Continuo da qui, copio qui.

Beyond the few variables I mentioned, such as console and process, Node puts little functionality in the global scope. If you want to access other built-in functionality, you have to ask the module system for it.

The CommonJS module system, based on the require function, was described in Chapter 10 [qui]. This system is built into Node and is used to load anything from built-in modules to downloaded libraries to files that are part of your own program.

When require is called, Node has to resolve the given string to an actual file to load. Pathnames that start with "/", "./", or "../" are resolved relative to the current module’s path, where "./" stands for the current directory, "../" for one directory up, and "/" for the root of the file system. So if you ask for "./world/world" from the file /home/marijn/elife/run.js, Node will try to load the file /home/marijn/elife/world/world.js. The .js extension may be omitted.

La realtà è più complessa e cambia in funzione del tipo di esecuzione (locale o Web) e del sistema operativo. Non ne parlo in questa serie di post introduttivi.

When a string that does not look like a relative or absolute path is given to require, it is assumed to refer to either a built-in module or a module installed in a node_modules directory. For example, require("fs") will give you Node’s built-in file system module, and require("elife") will try to load the library found in node_modules/elife/. A common way to install such libraries is by using NPM, which I will discuss in a moment. OOPS! ci dice (quasi tutto) Marijn 🚀

To illustrate the use of require, let’s set up a simple project consisting of two files. The first one is called main.js, which defines a script that can be called from the command line to garble a string.

var garble = require("./garble");

// Index 2 holds the first actual command-line argument
var argument = process.argv[2];


The file garble.js defines a library for garbling strings, which can be used both by the command-line tool defined earlier and by other scripts that need direct access to a garbling function.

module.exports = function(string) {
  return string.split("").map(function(ch) {
    return String.fromCharCode(ch.charCodeAt(0) + 5);

Remember that replacing module.exports, rather than adding properties to it, allows us to export a specific value from a module. In this case, we make the result of requiring our garble file the garbling function itself.

The function splits the string it is given into single characters by splitting on the empty string and then replaces each character with the character whose code is five points higher. Finally, it joins the result back into a string.

We can now call our tool like this:

Installare con NPM
NPM, which was briefly discussed in Chapter 10 [qui], is an online repository of JavaScript modules, many of which are specifically written for Node. When you install Node on your computer, you also get a program called npm, which provides a convenient interface to this repository.

For example, one module you will find on NPM is figlet, which can convert text into ASCII art—drawings made out of text characters. The following transcript shows how to install and use it:

OK, qualche warning e svela che uso una directory particolare (non conto di usare JavaScript oltre questi posts).

After running npm install, NPM will have created a directory called node_modules. Inside that directory will be a figlet directory, which contains the library. When we run node and call require("figlet"), this library is loaded, and we can call its text method to draw some big letters.

Somewhat unexpectedly perhaps, instead of simply returning the string that makes up the big letters, figlet.text takes a callback function that it passes its result to. It also passes the callback another argument, error, which will hold an error object when something goes wrong or null when everything is all right.

This is a common pattern in Node code. Rendering something with figlet requires the library to read a file that contains the letter shapes. Reading that file from disk is an asynchronous operation in Node, so figlet.text can’t immediately return its result. Asynchronicity is infectious, in a way—every function that calls an asynchronous function must itself become asynchronous.

There is much more to NPM than npm install. It reads package.json files, which contain JSON-encoded information about a program or library, such as which other libraries it depends on. Doing npm install in a directory that contains such a file will automatically install all dependencies, as well as their dependencies. The npm tool is also used to publish libraries to NPM’s online repository of packages so that other people can find, download, and use them.

This book won’t delve further into the details of NPM usage. Refer to for further documentation and for an easy way to search for libraries.


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