Introduction to Gulp.js 5: Bundling JavaScript with Browserify

Stefan Imhoff

This is the 5th part of my series Introduction to Gulp.js. Today I will show how to use Browserify to bundle your JavaScript and use CommonJS modules to run node modules in the Browser.

Ultimate Gulp and X-Treme Gulp
If Double Gulp isn’t enough, try Ultimate Gulp or Xtreme Gulp (Keegan Berry, DSCN8833)


This task is a little more complex, because I use Browserify to bundle my JavaScript. If this is too complex for your needs you may just use gulp-concat to concatenate all your JavaScript files into one file.

Browserify is an awesome tool, which allows you to use node modules in your browser. Over 70% of the node modules will run right away! And it will bundle up all of your dependencies. If you want to find out more about writing CommonJS modules for Browserify have a look into the documentation.

This task I saw in the gulp-starter blendid. It’s quite long but clever. It allows to create multiple files with Browserify. I create two files. One file is loaded in the head of my website containing Modernizr and one file with the rest of my JavaScript at the bottom.

Creating JavaScript files with Browserify

Install the node modules needed for this task:

$ npm install --save-dev browserify@11.2.0 vinyl-source-stream@1.0.0 watchify@3.4.0 gulp-util@3.0.1 pretty-hrtime@1.0.1 gulp-notify@2.0.0

Create the entry in the config.js file:


browserify: {
  // Enable source maps
  debug: true,
  // Additional file extensions to make optional
  extensions: ['.coffee', '.hbs'],
  // A separate bundle will be generated for each
  // bundle config in the list below
  bundleConfigs: [{
    entries:    './' + srcAssets + '/javascripts/application.js',
    dest:       developmentAssets + '/js',
    outputName: 'application.js'
  }, {
    entries:    './' + srcAssets + '/javascripts/head.js',
    dest:       developmentAssets + '/js',
    outputName: 'head.js'


var gulp         = require('gulp');
var browsersync  = require('browser-sync');
var browserify   = require('browserify');
var source       = require('vinyl-source-stream');
var watchify     = require('watchify');
var bundleLogger = require('../../util/bundleLogger');
var handleErrors = require('../../util/handleErrors');
var config       = require('../../config').browserify;

 * Run JavaScript through Browserify
gulp.task('scripts', function(callback) {

  browsersync.notify('Compiling JavaScript');

  var bundleQueue = config.bundleConfigs.length;

  var browserifyThis = function(bundleConfig) {

    var bundler = browserify({
      // Required watchify args
      cache: {}, packageCache: {}, fullPaths: false,
      // Specify the entry point of your app
      entries: bundleConfig.entries,
      // Add file extentions to make optional in your requires
      extensions: config.extensions,
      // Enable source maps!
      debug: config.debug

    var bundle = function() {
      // Log when bundling starts

      return bundler
        // Report compile errors
        .on('error', handleErrors)
        // Use vinyl-source-stream to make the
        // stream gulp compatible. Specifiy the
        // desired output filename here.
        // Specify the output destination
        .on('end', reportFinished);

    if(global.isWatching) {
      // Wrap with watchify and rebundle on changes
      bundler = watchify(bundler);
      // Rebundle on update
      bundler.on('update', bundle);

    var reportFinished = function() {
      // Log when bundling completes

      if(bundleQueue) {
        if(bundleQueue === 0) {
          // If queue is empty, tell gulp the task is complete.

    return bundle();

  // Start bundling with Browserify for each bundleConfig specified

This task has some additional utilities for handling errors and logging the bundling process. Put these into a util folder in your gulp folder:


/* bundleLogger
   Provides gulp style logs to the bundle method in browserify.js

var gutil        = require('gulp-util');
var prettyHrtime = require('pretty-hrtime');
var startTime;

module.exports = {
  start: function(filepath) {
    startTime = process.hrtime();

  end: function(filepath) {
    var taskTime = process.hrtime(startTime);
    var prettyTime = prettyHrtime(taskTime);
    gutil.log('Bundled',, 'in', gutil.colors.magenta(prettyTime));


var notify = require("gulp-notify");

module.exports = function() {

  var args =;

  // Send error to notification center with gulp-notify
    title: "Compile Error",
    message: "<%= error.message %>"
  }).apply(this, args);

  // Keep gulp from hanging on this task

Using CommonJS Modules

Writing CommonJS modules is quite nice. You just export your function, object, string, integer or whatever you like to export as a module or just individually:


exports.add = function() {
  var sum = 0, i = 0, args = arguments, 1 = args.length;
  while (i < 1) {
    sum += args[i++];
  return sum;


module.exports = {
  toggleNavigation: function() {

Later you import your modules and use them:


var add = require('./math').add;

exports.increment = function(val) {
  return add(val, 1);


var navigation = require('./navigation');
var triggerNavigation = document.querySelector('.toggle-navigation');

document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function() {
  triggerNavigation.addEventListener('click', navigation.toggleNavigation);

Loading non-CommonJS files

But one problem remains: How do I use JavaScript files, which aren’t written in CommonJS syntax? Like Modernizr or jQuery?

I need to install browserify-shim:

$ npm install --save-dev browserify-shim@3.8.0

I open my package.json file and need to add a few lines:


  "...": "...",
  "browser": {
    "modernizr": "./app/_bower_components/modernizr/modernizr.js",
    "jquery": "./app/_bower_components/jquery/dist/jquery.js"
  "browserify-shim": {
    "modernizr": "Modernizr",
    "jquery": "$"
  "browserify": {
    "transform": [
  "devDependencies": {
    "...": "..."

In the section "browser" you point browserify-shim to the asset you want to shim. I use Bower and have installed my packages into app/_bower_components/. The name you choose is the name you have to require later in your JavaScripts.

Within "browerify-shim" you decide where to map this require to. To include jQuery or Modernizr later you would write:





$(function() {
  console.log("jQuery and Modernizr loaded");

You have to run npm install once you added a new entry to your package.json file.


This concludes the 5th part of my series Introduction to Gulp.js. We learned how to use Browserify to bundle JavaScript files, how to use CommonJS modules to run node in your Browser, and how to use non-CommonJS JavaScript files.