Since the creation of Stitch by Sam Stephenson on 17 September 2010 and Browserify by James Halliday on 22 September 2010 (announced in 2011), a whole landscape of various CommonJS package managers has been built up. Articles like the Meet the New Stack, Same as the Old Stack and Confused About Components have been written. However, the relevant new options need to be summarized. This article should help one to decide whether there is an upgrade from Browserify.

Specifically, we will be comparing single script generators that use CommonJS module system, not loaders like Require.js, almond, uRequire or r.js.

Comparison table

  Stitch Ender Bower Browserify Component OneJS Grunt Jam
github 754, 66 103, 9 4240, 283 1566, 144 1101, 58 325, 12 5088, 491 1064, 66
npmjs 5, 115, 555 15, 129, 740 1098, 6236, - 143, 3997, 17493 156, 724, 2647 1, 178, 534 302, 10790, 41316 9, 409, -
license MIT MIT MIT MIT and 3-clause BSD MIT WTFPL MIT MIT
first commit 2010-09-17 2011-04-04 2012-09-06 2010-09-22 2012-08-01 2012-10-01 2011-09-21 2012-05-18
last commit 2012-11-02 2013-02-16 2013-02-14 2013-02-16 2013-02-15 2013-02-08 2013-02-13 2013-01-07
supports external dependencies no yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
takes external dependencies list from N/A arbitrary (default is ender.js) arbitrary (default is component.json) package.json component.json TODO depends on the plugin package.json (jam namespace)
name registry N/A TODO depends on the plugin
copies from git URL N/A yes yes yes no TODO yes, if using a plugin (Bower, etc.) no
copies from registry N/A yes yes yes yes TODO yes, if using a plugin (Bower, etc.) yes
copies from local directory N/A yes yes yes no TODO yes, if using a plugin (Bower, etc.) no
copies from archive URL N/A yes yes yes no TODO yes, if using a plugin (Bower, etc.) no
copies to N/A arbitrary (default is node_modules) arbitrary (default is components) node_modules components TODO yes, if using a plugin (Bower, etc.) jam
generates a single script yes yes no, needs a loader or a generator yes yes TODO yes, if using a plugin (simple concatenation, Component, Jam, Browserify, etc.) no (generates an Asynchronous Module Definition files for using with loaders)
generates a single stylesheet no no no no yes TODO yes, if using Component plugin no
exposes require to global scope yes yes no optionally (default is no) yes TODO depends on the plugin no
entry script type plain browser script plain browser script depends on a loader or a generator arbitrary local component TODO depends on the plugin plain browser script
defects none none none none home page is down,
component info component/tip is broken
npm install -g one is broken none none


There is also these monolithic by Brunch team, hem by Spine developers and volo by Dojo Foundation. They were excluded from this analysis, mainly because they try to do too many things and in a monolithic fashion.

Brunch has a word ‘lightweight’ in its tagline, and it’s really just the opposite - project initialization created 1365 files using 15 MB, it took 1.8s to build the empty project and the initialized source code was in CoffeeScript. Liars.

Hem failed on npm install -g hem; has a broken link in their page at npm registry; uses ‘awesome’ in its documentation; was originally made to complement the Spine framework; uses a file called slug.js for configurations; written in and endorsing CoffeeScript. ewww.

Volo is compatible solely with Asynchronous Module Definition scripts. It should not have been even mentioned (see the last sentence of introduction).


It is best to upgrade from Browserify to the Yeoman workflow. Use Yo for scaffolding, Grunt for integration, Bower for package management and grunt-component-build (or grunt-commonjs with commonjs loader) for concatenation.

Browserify still is most simple if just basic package management with concatenation is needed and the NodeJS polyfilling bloat is insignificant.


When creating a package to be used as an external dependency, use these Universal Module Definition templates to make your package usable in every type of environment - AMD, CommonJS require, simple global, etc.

Another category of weapons is being developed - scaffolding generators. Besides grunt-init, there is a new tool in development - Yo. Have a look at the skeletons its backend is offering - the Yeoman generator system.

Lastly, here is my “component” skeleton for grunt-init.