Open UI: Grunt and JSHint

Previously we looked at how Grunt can improve your Open UI development experience, by automatically reloading the browser, every time a source file is changed. This time we take another step, and configure an automated code check using Grunt and JSHint.

Think of how Siebel Tools prevents you from compiling, or checking in poorly constructed eScript. JSHint will do the same (if not better) job of making sure your client side code is free from language errors, and potential problems.

Starting from where we left off in Open UI: Grunt and Livereload, we should have an operational grunt job that reloads our browser. To add JSHint to the mix, we need to modify the package.json file slightly, to include one new line to install this new dependency

  "name": "SiebelGrunt",
  "version": "0.0.1",
  "devDependencies": {
    "grunt": "~0.4.1",
    "grunt-contrib-watch": "^0.6.1",
    "grunt-contrib-jshint": "^0.10.0"

With your command prompt at the directory with this package.json file, type the following command to pull down this module

npm install

Now we need to configure the Grunt build process, to register this new task, and configure it so it only checks changed files.

module.exports = function(grunt) {
     var sJSPath = '../PUBLIC/enu/*/SCRIPTS/**/*.js';
        pkg: grunt.file.readJSON('package.json'),      
          jshint: {
               scripts: [sJSPath]

          watch: {
               scripts: {
                    files: [sJSPath],
                    tasks: ['jshint'],

                    options: {
                         nospawn: true,
                         livereload: true

     grunt.event.on('watch', function(action, filepath){
          grunt.config(['jshint', 'scripts'], filepath);

     grunt.registerTask('default', ['watch']);

To explain what I've done, this newly added block registers JSHint, and uses the file path that we defined previously
          jshint: {
               scripts: [sJSPath]

Next, I register the 'jshint' task with the 'watch' task, which will run JSHint every time a file is changed.
                    tasks: ['jshint'],

The only problem with this configuration is that, JSHint has no idea which file was modified under the watch task, so JSHint will run over all 1500+ files under Siebel scripts and lint them all. If this is run without a filter, your command prompt will hang, and after a while it will come back with a window similar to this.

JSHint reports 15K plus errors across all the files under the Siebel scripts folder, but its not all bad, some of the code under Siebel/scripts is 3rd Party which can raise some errors, and the rest will have been through Oracle's own lint process, and then minified before delivery to customers. We should only be concerned with the files that we have control over.

To make JSHint validate a single file, I added the following block.
     grunt.event.on('watch', function(action, filepath){
          grunt.config(['jshint', 'scripts'], filepath);

This configures a listener on the watch event, and passes in the name of the modified file to JSHint. Now we are ready to roll. Fire up the grunt process.


Switch back to your code editor, open up postload.js, and type in every body's favorite command "asdf"

Watch will automatically fire JSHint, and report back on the errors, with the line number and a description of the problem. Note that we lost our purple background because our script failed to parse.

Alright, now lets fix that bug

We see that JSHint has reported "1 file lint free", and our browser has automatically reloaded in the background with our purple background again. 

JSHint won't make your Siebel developers better web developers. It will only ensure that any code that is written is written with a consistent syntactic style, and that critical language errors are picked during build and unit test, but it will provide you with the coordinates of any errors that is picked up. 

JSHint is a great safety net, but remember its recommendations can be ignored. To enforce this on a broader scale JSHint can be configured to run against the entire code base on a regular basis, and its results can be enforced by a QA process.

In the case above, a small typo caused 12 errors resulting in missing background color, but in other scenarios, these kinds of errors could cause more serious issues, which illustrates the importance of a code quality tool like JSHint.

Hopefully this article has piqued your interest in Client side build automation. Are you using similar tools on your project, or have you adapted a build process that you would like to share with the Siebel community?.

Send in your comments.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice article and a great way to introduce the Siebel Open UI novices to JSHint.


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