Brunch: Plugin API

Brunch plugins are plain JS classes which are initialized with Brunch configs.


Plugins work with so-called File entities:

  "data": "var hello = 42;\n",
  "path": "app/file.js"

As you can see, Files are bald JS Objects, which may contain fields like:

  • path - system path to the file
  • data - file data as JS String
  • map - source map
  • and anything else that could be consumed by next plugins.


The Brunch execution pipeline looks like this:

// [internal] Watch files with Chokidar.
// When any file is added or changed, start the pipeline.
// When any file is added or changed, start the pipeline.
// Check whether the file is correct.
lint(file): Boolean
// Extract file's dependants & dependencies
getDependencies(file): Array[Path]
// Transform file contents into js, css etc.
compile(file): File
// [internal] wrap file into a module definition
wrap(file): File
// [internal] concat many files into one
concat(files): File
// Transform the output JS / CSS into different JS / CSS.
optimize(file): File
// The compilation is finished.
onCompile(files, assets)

Method: getDependencies(file): Array[Path]

Given a file, this should return a list of file paths that depend on this one.

Method: lint(file): Promise(ok, Error)

Check whether the file is correct.

Method: compile(file): File

Compile a source file into JS or CSS.

CSS compilers can optionally produce the result with the exports key, which should be a string of JavaScript code (with module.exports), that will be added into the bundle if the project code requires a stylesheet.

Method: compileStatic(file): File

Compile a static asset.

Method: optimize(file): File

Transform the compiled js/css into optimized js/css.

Hook: preCompile

Called only before first compilation.

Hook: onCompile

Is called after every compilation pipeline is completed.

Hook: teardown

Allows to stop web-servers & other long-running entities. Executed before Brunch process is closed.

Property: type

String. Specifies the file type the plugin works on. Can be either of javascript, stylesheet, or template.

Property: include

Array. Specifies additional files which will be included into build.

Property: extension

String. Specifies the file extension that will be processed by this plugin.

Property: pattern

RegExp. Allows more flexibility than extension, e.g. to process several extensions. If this is specified, extension will be ignored. Either pattern or extension needs to be specified for compilers and linters. Optimizers don't need it.

Property: targetExtension

String. Convenience for making chains of compilers. Specifies the new extension of processed file. For example, less-brunch changes .less to .css so postcss-brunch matches file by extension.

Property: staticExtension

String. Optional. Same as extension but allow to pick a different extension when processing static assets. If this is not specified, it falls back to extension.

Property: staticPattern

String. Optional. Same as pattern but allow to pick a different extension when processing static assets. If this is not specified, it falls back to pattern.

Property: staticTargetExtension

String. Required for static compilers. Specifies the new extension of the processed static asset. In case extension was specified, this will just replace it. If pattern was specified, everything pattern matches will be replaced with staticTargetExtension.


Boilerplate plugin

Let's take a look at the boilerplate plugin. Feel free to use it to create your own plugins:

'use strict';

// Documentation for Brunch plugins:

// Remove everything your plugin doesn't need.
class BrunchPlugin {
  constructor(config) {
    // Replace 'plugin' with your plugin's name.
    // Don't include 'brunch' or 'plugin' words in configuration key.
    this.config = config.plugins.plugin || {};

  // Optional
  // Specifies additional files which will be included into build.
  // get include() { return ['path-to-file-1', 'path-to-file-2']; }

  // file: File => Promise[Boolean]
  // Called before every compilation. Stops it when the error is returned.
  // Examples: ESLint, JSHint, CSSCheck.
  // lint(file) { return Promise.resolve(true); }

  // file: File => Promise[File]
  // Transforms a file data to different data. Could change the source map etc.
  // Examples: JSX, CoffeeScript, Handlebars, SASS.
  // compile(file) { return Promise.resolve(file); }

  // file: File => Promise[Array: Path]
  // Allows Brunch to calculate dependants of the file and recompile them too.
  // Examples: SASS '@import's, Jade 'include'-s.
  // getDependencies(file) { return Promise.resolve(['dep.js']); }

  // file: File => Promise[File]
  // Usually called to minify or optimize the end-result.
  // Examples: UglifyJS, CSSMin.
  // optimize(file) { return Promise.resolve({data: minify(}); }

  // files: [File] => null
  // Executed when each compilation is finished.
  // Examples: Hot-reload (send a websocket push).
  // onCompile(files) {}

  // Allows to stop web-servers & other long-running entities.
  // Executed before Brunch process is closed.
  // teardown() {}

// Required for all Brunch plugins.
BrunchPlugin.prototype.brunchPlugin = true;

// Required for compilers, linters & optimizers.
// 'javascript', 'stylesheet' or 'template'
// BrunchPlugin.prototype.type = 'javascript';

// Required for compilers & linters.
// It would filter-out the list of files to operate on.
// BrunchPlugin.prototype.extension = 'js';
// BrunchPlugin.prototype.pattern = /\.jsx?$/;
// `pattern` is preferred over `extension` by Brunch.
// Please, specify only one of them.

// Indicates which environment a plugin should be applied to.
// The default value is '*' for usual plugins and
// 'production' for optimizers.
// BrunchPlugin.prototype.defaultEnv = 'production';

module.exports = BrunchPlugin;

CSS compiler example

The plugin would simply read the file and return its contents.

class CSSCompiler {
  compile(file) {
    return Promise.resolve(file);

CSSCompiler.prototype.brunchPlugin = true;
CSSCompiler.prototype.type = 'stylesheet';
CSSCompiler.prototype.extension = 'css';

module.exports = CSSCompiler;

Minifier example

An abstract minifier that consumes source maps.

class UglifyOptimizer {
  constructor(config) {
    this.config = config.plugins.uglify;
    this.isPretty = this.config.pretty;

  optimize(file) {
    try {
      const optimized = minifier(, {
        fromString: true,
        pretty: this.isPretty
      return Promise.resolve(optimized);
    } catch (error) {
      return Promise.reject(error);

UglifyOptimizer.prototype.brunchPlugin = true;
UglifyOptimizer.prototype.type = 'javascript';
UglifyOptimizer.prototype.extension = 'js';

module.exports = UglifyOptimizer;

See the plugins page for a list of plugins. Feel free to add new plugins by editing plugins.json and sending a Pull Request.

Exporting JS from stylesheets

Starting Brunch 2.6, it is possible for non-JS compilers to output JavaScript modules in addition to whatever they do.

A use case could be a styles compiler with CSS modules support that allows you to do something like this:

  margin: 0
const style = require('./button.styl');
// ...

// style.button will return the obfuscated class name (something like "_button_xkplk_42" perhaps)
<div className={style.button}>...</div>

All compiler needs to do is return exports in addition to {data, map}:

class MyCompiler {
  compile({data, path}) {
    const compiled = magic(data);
    const mapping = mappingMagic(data);
    const exports = `module.exports = ${JSON.stringify(mapping)};`;

    return Promise.resolve({ data: compiled, exports });

Note: exported JS will not be compiled or linted by any other plugin and its require statements will not be resolved. Make sure your exported JS is self-contained.

Static file compilers

Sometimes, you would want to process different kinds of files, to which the Brunch's general compile-join-write logic does not apply. Jade templates to HTML is one example. You want to have a .jade file compiled into .html. Previously, what you would do in this case was to hook into onCompile and look for jade files... and then compile them and write them manually. Sucks.

So starting Brunch 2.8.0, there is a better way.

class JadeCompiler {
  compileStatic({data, path}) {
    return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
      toHtml(path, data, (err, data) => {
        if (err) reject(err);
        else resolve(data);
JadeCompiler.prototype.brunchPlugin = true;
JadeCompiler.prototype.type = 'template';
JadeCompiler.prototype.extension = 'jade';
// alternatively, a static extension can be different from `extension`:
// JadeCompiler.prototype.staticExtension = 'static.jade';
// this is used to tell Brunch which extension to use after static compilation
JadeCompiler.prototype.staticTargetExtension = 'html';

A plugin can handle both compile and compileStatic.

Unlike usual compilers, static compilers process files from the assets folder (app/assets by default) instead of just copying. So, with the example plugin above, app/assets/index.jade will be transformed into public/index.html.

getDependencies will be called for both regular files and assets.


Making your plugin available to everyone is as simple as publishing a new NPM package.

After that, add the plugin to This will make more people aware of it.


Make Brunch plugins as simple as possible. Don't try to copy Grunt, Gulp or other task runners approaches.