How to keep a healthy package.json

Read Time:4 Minute, 10 Second

It is common for developers to add npm packages in their applications without knowing what is going on behind the curtains, while also following other bad package.json practices. It is understandable, most of us work in fast-paced environments where we have strict dates to deliver new functionality for our clients. However, as developers, we might face security concerns if we undermine the risk of adding a new npm package, and we should also at the same time keep a healthy package.json. In this article you will learn about the main concerns about npm package management and what we can do to avoid them.

1. Avoid trivial packages
 
A trivial package is a package that does functionality that a developer can easily code themselves. Trivial packages are common, a study found that trivial packages make up 16.8% of their studied npm packages. Trivial packages are used because they are perceived to be well tested implementations of code, however only 45.2% of trivial packages even have tests.
 
This data is concerning considering the risk one takes when adding a new package who can be exploited. One example where adding a trivial package went wrong is the left-pad package. On 22 March 2016 its creator, Azer Koçulu, decided to unpublish several of his packages in npm, including left-pad. This led to thousands of applications breaking - even high-profile applications like React, Babel and Node. This package consisted of roughly 11 lines of code.

Tip: When adding a new package to your project, analyze the cost-benefit and evaluate if you can develop the same functionality yourself without impacting the timeline of the project. Each new package is a new potential point of failure, so it is wise to minimize failures as much as possible.

2. Use SemVer
 
To keep a healthy package.json, first we need to take a look at Semantic Versioning, or SemVer. Below is a chart given by npm explaining how SemVer works:

How to keep a healthy package.json

Basically, we start our product release version with 1.0.0. Then, the next release version number depends on the type of changes that we introduce. 
 
Tip: It’s recommended to use caret (^) to accept minor and patch updates, and tilde (~) to accept patch releases only. Depending on your project’s needs, you may use these restrictions to limit the version of the package your project will use. Check SemVer cheatsheet for more information.
 
If we follow SemVer, we can handle major updates manually which are more likely to break our code. If you’re not sure if you’re following SemVer ranges correctly check the SemVer calculator.

3. Avoid pinning dependencies
 
Pinned dependencies are packages which are fixed package versions. This is not recommended since the package will not get latest updates.

Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

 
4. Avoid adding git repositories as packages
 
There is a way of adding git repositories as packages, but this should be mostly used as a last resort (for example, when the package doesn’t exist in npm). If this repository is deleted or updated, you might face major issues.

Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

5. Look up the package overall health
 
A package health can be defined by three questions: 
 
 - Is this package actively maintained?
 - How many developers use it?
 - Which are the known security issues?
 
All this information can be found in GitHub, you can also look at the npm weekly downloads of the particular package you have chosen to see how frequently it is used among the dev community. There is also the Snyk Advisor tool, which shows all this information in a very friendly UI: https://snyk.io/advisor/

Snyk Advisor package health score

Package management sounds a bit complex, and every team approaches it differently. I hope these points have given you an insight on the most important things to keep in mind to maintain a healthy package.json. There is no perfect way of handling it, but when we know the most common points of failure, we can avoid security risks and keep our application working.

In this article my goal was to give an overview of the most common tasks we can do to manage our npm packages, if you wish to go more in depth I recommend reading Karen De Graaf’s article “Guide to managing npm packages in your package.json”

References: 
Rabe Abdalkareem, Olivier Nourry, Sultan Wehaibi, Suhaib Mujahid, and Emad Shihab. 2017. Why do developers use trivial packages? an empirical case study on npm. In Proceedings of the 2017 11th Joint Meeting on Foundations of Software Engineering (ESEC/FSE 2017). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 385–395. https://doi.org/10.1145/3106237.3106267

How one programmer broke the internet by deleting a tiny piece of code

How one developer just broke Node, Babel and thousands of projects in 11 lines of JavaScript

Source: https://dev.to/mayruiz27/how-to-keep-a-healthy-packagejson-55pe

Tag Cloud

Java Java Logical Programs OTP Generation in Java python Recursion youtube video ASCII Upper and Lower Case blockchain javascript graph learn to code software development Successful Software Engineers breadth first search Java Array Programs Java Programs Uncategorized android ios programming kotlin web-development django data sql cybersecurity database swiftui serverless aws swift rust react background-position gradients loader mask grid nth-child pseudo elements indieweb WordPress Print Array without brackets C++ factorial Java String Programs Final Keyword Static Variable Axie Infinity Cryptokitties NFT games tool inserting MISC Tips Codes python code python projects python3 system info python project Bigginers How to Do Integrations Payment Gateways PHP checkout page in php Implement stripe payment gateway in Step by step in PHP integrate stripe gatway in php mysql payment gateway integration in php step by step payment gateway integration in php step by step with source code payment gateway integration in website PHP Integrate Stripe Payment Gateway Tutorial PHP shopping cart checkout code shopping cart in php stripe php checkout PHP/MySQL/JSON best international payment gateway does google pay accept international payments how to accept international payments in india paytm payment gateway razorpay codeigniter github razorpay custom checkout github razorpay get payment details razorpay integration in codeigniter github razorpay international payments Razorpay payment gateway integration in CodeIgniter razorpay payment gateway integration in php code Razorpay payment gateway integration with PHP and CodeIgniter Razorpay payment gateway setup in CodeIgniter Library & Frameworks Tips & Tricks UI/UX & Front-end coding birds online html code for google sign in login with google account in PHP login with google account using javascript login with google account using javascript codeigniter login with google account using php login with google account using php source code
8 React Projects to Build in 2023 Previous post 8 React Projects to Build in 2023
Implementing Microservice Architecture In Node JS Next post Implementing Microservice Architecture In Node JS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.