Frontend Automation With Grunt

1. What is Grunt?

Grunt is a JavaScript task runner. Grunt lets you automate tasks like HTML minification, copying files, compiling CSS, deploying to AWS etc.

2. Download Node.js

Grunt and Grunt plugins are installed and managed via npm the Node.js package manager. First of all if you will need to download Node.js (npm will be installed with it).

3. Basic Command Line Commands

If you have not used command line terminal before you here are some basic commands:


Description: Lists the names of the files in the working directory. For more complete information use ls –alF

cd directoryname

Description: Changes the working directory to the one you named.

cd ..

Description: Brings you up one directory level.


Description: Returns you to your home directory.


Description: Displays the pathname of the current directory.

mkdir newdirectoryname

Description: Makes a new directory

4. Install Grunt

  1. Open your preferred terminal or install iTerm.
  2. Install Grunt globally: instructions below will install grunt client globally on your machine, if you already have Grunt installed skip this step. For a more detailed explanation see the official documentation.
  3. Install Grunt locally: Now we will install Grunt locally specifically for this project. Go to your project folder. Replace the path after cd with the path to your folder:
cd Documents/workshop/

In the terminal type out the below command to get to the project folder (if you have saved the workshop folder elsewhere adjust the path):

npm install grunt –save-dev

5. Configure

To configure the project, within your project folder type npm init in the terminal and follow the instructions:

6. Grunt AWS Plugin

We will now install Grunt AWS Plugin. Grunt uses different plugins to perform certain tasks, in order to deploy to Amazon S3 we will use the grunt-aws-s3 plugin.

In your project folder we can install this using the command below:

npm install grunt-aws-s3 –save-dev

We now have the plugin installed and we can configure grunt to use this task to deploy our project without having to manually upload the files every time.

In order for us to use this plugin and deploy to S3 in the command line we need to create a file called s3settings.json, here we will keep all the login details and bucket information. This file MUST be kept secret, do not commit it to github or any other version control system. It should be excluded in .gitignorefile if you are using git. It is important to take care as if these details are made public your account may be accessed and used by someone else, leaving you with a bill to pay:

The key and secret are available in the user credentials file you downloaded when creating an IAM user. Bucket must be exactly what you called the bucket on Amazon S3 and the same for region.

The second file we need to create is Gruntfile.js this is a default file Grunt will look for locally within the project folder. Here is where we configure the tasks.

Using your text editor or command line, create a new file within the workshop folder called Gruntfile.js, the content of it should be the following:

module.exports = function(grunt) {

  pkg: grunt.file.readJSON('package.json'),
  s3settings: grunt.file.readJSON('s3settings.json'),
      aws_s3: {
          options: {
              accessKeyId: '<%= s3settings.key %>',
              secretAccessKey: '<%= s3settings.secret %>',
              region: '<%= s3settings.region %>',
              uploadConcurrency: 5,
              downloadConcurrency: 5
      live: {
          options: {
              bucket: '<%= s3settings.bucket %>',
              differential: true //Only uploads the files that have changed
          files: [
              {expand: true, cwd: 'deploy/', src: ['**'], dest: ''},
  grunt.registerTask('deploy', ['aws_s3:live']);

Full code to copy is here.

Here we have configured the plugin to upload to Amazon S3 all files in the folder deploy, so we would now have to create this folder within the project and copy any files we want uploaded.

We have also created a task called deploy which can be run in command line within the project folder to upload all files within deploy folder to Amazon S3, to the bucket specified in the s3settings.json file.

7. Use Grunt to deploy to S3

Go to the project folder in the terminal. You can now run the deploy command by typing:

grunt deploy

And we are done!

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