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Drake is a make-like task runner for Deno.
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Drake — a task runner for Deno

Drake is a Make-like task runner for Deno inspired by Make, Rake and Jake.

  • Drakefiles (c.f. Makefiles) are Deno TypeScript modules.
  • Optional task prerequisites (dependencies).
  • File tasks and non-file tasks.
  • Drake API functions for defining, registering and running tasks.
  • drake CLI.

NOTE: This is a development release. A production release will follow once Deno has reached 1.0.

Tested with Deno 0.35.0 running on Ubuntu 18.04.


A drakefile is a TypeScript module that:

  1. Imports the Drake module.
  2. Defines and registers tasks.
  3. Runs tasks.

Example drakefile:

import { desc, run, task } from "";

desc("Minimal Drake task");
task("hello", [], function() {
  console.log("Hello World!");


The desc() and task() APIs define and register tasks. The run() API executes the tasks that were specified on the command-line along with their prerequisite tasks. run() is normally the last statement in the drakefile. Tasks are executed in the correct dependency order.

Here are a couple of real-world examples:


There are two types of task: Normal tasks and File tasks.

Task types are distinguished by their names. Normal task names can only contain alphanumeric, underscore and hyphen characters and cannot start with a hyphen e.g. test, hello-world. File task names are valid file paths. In cases of ambiguity a File task name should be prefixed with a period and a path separator e.g. ./hello-world.

A Normal task executes unconditionally. A File task is only executed if it is out of date i.e. either the task name file does not exist or one or more prerequisite files has a more recent modification time.

If a File task execution error occurs the following precautions are taken to ensure the task remains out of date:

  • If a new target file has been created then it is deleted.
  • If an existing target file modification date has changed then it is reverted to the prior date.

File path task names and file task prerequisite names are normalized at task registration.

Task properties

name: A unique task name.

prereqs: An array of prerequisite task names i.e. the names of tasks to be run prior to executing the task action function. Prerequisites can be Normal task names, File task names, file paths and globs (wildcards):

  • Normal task names must have a matching task.
  • File path prerequisites do not require a matching task.
  • Globs are expanded when the task is registered with the task() API.

desc: An optional task description that is set by the desc() API.

action: An optional function that is run if the task is selected for execution. The action function is bound to the parent task object i.e. the parent task properties are accessible inside the action function through the this object e.g. this.prereqs returns the task’s prerequisite names array.

Asynchronous task actions

Normally you will want tasks to execute sequentially i.e. the next task should not start until the current task has finished. To ensure this happens action functions that call asynchronous functions should:

  1. Be delared async.
  2. Call asynchronous functions with the await operator.

For example, the following task does not return until the shell command has successfully executed:

task("shell", [], async function() {
  await sh("echo Hello World");

Without the await operator sh("echo Hello World") will return immediately and the action function will exit before the shell command has even started.

Of course you are free to eschew await and use the promises returned by asynchronous functions in any way that makes sense.

drake CLI

The drake CLI is a thin wrapper for executing a drakefile.

To install the drake CLI executable:

deno install --force -A drake

Run it with e.g.

$HOME/.deno/bin/drake --help

The drake CLI is handy, but you can also run drakefiles directly with the deno run command.

drake man page

  drake - a make-like task runner for Deno.


  The Drake TypeScript library provides functions for defining and executing
  build TASKs on the Deno runtime.

  A DRAKEFILE is a TypeScript module file containing Drake task definitions.
  The 'drake' CLI is a thin wrapper for executing a DRAKEFILE.

  A Drake VARIABLE is a named string value e.g. 'vers=0.1.0'.  Variables are
  accessed via the Drake 'env' object e.g. 'env.vers' or 'env["vers"]'.

  -a, --always-make     Unconditionally execute tasks.
  -d, --directory DIR   Change to directory DIR before running drakefile.
  -f, --drakefile FILE  Use FILE as drakefile (default: './Drakefile.ts').
  -h, --help            Display this help message.
  -l, --list-tasks      Display task names, descriptions and prerequisites.
  -n, --dry-run         Skip task execution.
  -q, --quiet           Do not log drake messages to standard output.
  --version             Display the drake version.

  NO_COLOR              Set to disable color (see

  The Drake user guide:

Command-line variables

A Drake command-line variable is a named string value that is made available to the drakefile. Variables are formatted like <name>=<value> e.g. vers=0.1.0. Variables are accessed within a drakefile via the env object e.g. env.vers or env["vers"].

Variable names can only contain alphanumeric or underscore characters and must start with an alpha character.

Drake API

The Drake library module exports the following objects and functions:


function abort(message: string): void;

Print error message to to stdout and terminate execution.


function desc(description: string): void;

Set description of next registered task.


The Drake env object stores command-line options, task names and variables.

Options are keyed by their long option name e.g. env["--dry-run"]. Unspecified flag options are undefined; unspecified value options are assigned their default value.

Task names are stored in the env["--tasks"] string array. A default task can be specified by setting env["--default-task"] to the task name.

Command-line variable values are keyed by name. For example vers=1.0.1 on the command-line is available as env["vers"] and env.vers.


async function execute(names: string | string[]);

Unconditionally execute task action functions ignoring task prerequisites.

  • If names is a task name string execute the task action.
  • If names is an array of task names execute their actions asynchronously.
  • Silently skip tasks that have no action function.


function glob(...patterns: string[]): string[];

Return a sorted array of normalized file names matching the wildcard patterns. Wildcard patterns can include the ** (globstar) pattern. e.g. glob("tmp/*.ts", "lib/**/*.ts", "mod.ts");


function log(message: string): void;

Log a message to the console. Do not log the message if the --quiet command-line option is set.


function quote(values: string[], sep: string = " "): string;

Quote string array values with double-quotes then join them with a separator. Double-quote characters are escaped with a backspace. The separator defaults to a space character.


function readFile(filename: string): string;

Read the entire contents of a file synchronously to a UTF-8 string.


async function run(...names: string[]);

Execute named tasks along with their prerequisite tasks (direct and indirect). If no names are specified then the the command-line tasks are run. If no command-line tasks were specified the default task (set in env["--default-task"]) is run.

Task execution is ordered such that prerequisite tasks are executed prior to their parent task. The same task is never run twice.


async function sh(commands: string | string[]);

Execute commands in the command shell.

  • If commands is a string execute it.
  • If commands is an array of commands execute them asynchronously.
  • If any command fails throw an error.


function task(name: string, prereqs: string[] = [], action?: Action): void;

Create and register a task.

  • name is a unique task name.
  • prereqs is an array of prerequisite task names i.e. the names of tasks to be run prior to executing the task action function.
  • action is an optional function (type Action = (this: Task) => any;) that is run if the task is selected for execution.


function writeFile(filename: string, text: string): void;

Write text to a file synchronously. If the file exists it will be overwritten.


function updateFile(filename: string, find: RegExp, replace: string): void;

Find and replace in text file synchronously.


const vers: string;

The Drake version number.

Tips for using Drake

  • Use shell quoting and escapes to pass command-line variable values containing spaces or special characters e.g. "title=Foo & bar".

  • Don’t forget to use await when calling async functions.

  • Task path name prerequisites can be glob wildcards.

  • Path names can refer to any file type (not just regular files).

  • Use the Drake readFile, writeFile and updateFile APIs to synchronously read, write and update text files.

  • The Drake sh API can be used to run multiple shell commands asynchronously. The following example starts two shell commands then waits for both to finish before continuing:

      await sh(["echo foo", "echo bar"]);
  • The Drake sh API can be used to run multi-line template string bash scripts e.g.

    await sh(`set -e  # Exit immediately on error.
        echo Hello World
        if [ "$EUID" -eq 0 ]; then
            echo "Running as root"
            echo "Running as $USER"
        wc Drakefile.ts`);
  • The built-in Deno API has many useful functions e.g.

    const tempDir= Deno.makeTempDirSync();
    const modTime = Deno.statSync(filename).modified;
  • Escape backslash and backtick characters and placeholders in template string literals with a backslash:

    • \\ translates to \
    • \` translates to `
    • \${ translates to ${
  • You can use the utils.ts module in non-Drakefiles. The utility functions manifest errors by throwing DrakeError exceptions. Useable functions include: abort, glob, log, quote, readFile, sh, updateFile, writeFile. For example:

    import { glob, sh } from "";
  • A drakefile can be run directly with the deno run command and can also be installed as an executable using the deno install command.