Gulp: First Impressions

Grunt has long been my command line companion of choice. It has served me well. I have no complaints but I’ve read many obituaries so this week I sat down to test Gulp, its supposed successor. These are my first impressions.

My use case is very particular, see related articles:

Gulp is a build system that runs on Node like Grunt. While Grunt is an all-purpose task runner, Gulp is based around streaming — sending files through filters / pipes to do things like preprocessing, minification, and concatenation.


For a helpful guide see Mark Goodyear’s article: Getting started with gulp.

I found gulp easy to configure. It took me several hours to convert my entire Grunt build script. This included converting several of my own tasks to stream-based gulp plugins. (I need to brush-up on my understanding of Node streams.) Running a full build was noticeably faster than its Grunt predecessor, despite the likely poor optimisation and metaphorical duct tape.

In my case I’m not sure gulp reaches its full speed potential. I have a lot of bottlenecks: Sass can’t compile CSS without PNG / SVG for inline data URIs — images aren’t ready until compressed — some fallback images don’t exist until they’re generated from SVG sources — SVGs are first minimised.

This dependency chain results in a very linear build defeating the main benefit of gulp. My tasks for JavaScript and HTML preprocessing can run concurrently but these were almost instant in Grunt anyway. What I need to do is better configure multiple tasks for half-builds so I can skip bottlenecks, i.e. image related tasks that I don’t need to be repeating regularly.

I can definitely see a place for gulp but it won’t be taking over my Grunt set-up right now. My requirements just aren’t very big or demanding. I’d be replacing like for like.

Still, gulp gets my thumbs-up for whatever that’s worth. I’ll look at in again in the future if it doesn’t get usurped tomorrow (apparently Broccoli is the new hotness).

More from me…

Read more on my blog and follow @dbushell. If you like what I do:

Why not hire me!