Tom Vincent

Essays on hacking, travel and self-improvement

Composable Yeoman Generators

Yeoman generator v0.17.0 included a useful new feature dubbed composability. If you’ve ever wanted to reuse generators by calling one from another, this is the feature you’ve been waiting for. Here’s a quick overview of how you might use it.

Creating a generator

Lets begin by creating a new generator. The Yeoman team have made it trivial to get started via generator-generator, so lets fire it up:

npm install -g yo generator-generator
mkdir my-generator && cd my-generator
yo generator
cd generator-my-generator

Note, as of generator-generator v0.4.4, an older version of yeoman-generator without composability support is used. So first confirm that "yeoman-generator": "~0.17.0" is listed in package.json or update accordingly.

generator-generator produces commonly used templates such as .jshintrc and .editorconfig for us, but wouldn’t it be nice if these were maintained elsewhere? That’s where generator-common comes in.


Here we’ll use composeWith to programmatically call generator-common from our new generator. Lets remove the pre-generated templates and methods:

rm -rf app/templates


'use strict';

var yeoman = require('yeoman-generator');

var MyGeneratorGenerator = yeoman.generators.Base.extend({
 // Prototype methods

module.exports = MyGeneratorGenerator;

By default, Yeoman calls every method in the generator’s prototype in sequence. So lets add a new method — templates — that calls generator-common:

var MyGeneratorGenerator = yeoman.generators.Base.extend({
  templates: function() {
    this.composeWith('common', {});

Lets give it a try:

npm link
yo my-generator

If you haven’t previously installed generator-common, you’ll likely be shown an error similar to:

You don’t seem to have a generator with the name common installed.

By default, composeWith hooks into npm’s peerDependencies to resolve a generator. (If you’re not familiar, a peer dependency is one that is installed as a sibling).

So lets indicate generator-common is a peer by appending it to package.json’s peerDependencies block:

"peerDependencies": {
  "yo": ">=1.0.0",
  "generator-common": ">=0.2.0"

Note, I’ve followed Yeoman’s recommendation of using a higher or equal to version qualifier to prevent conflicts.

Lets install generator-common and give our generator another spin:

npm install -g generator-common
yo my-generator

All being well, you’ll see Yeoman’s noble face and your generated templates.

    |       |    .--------------------------.
    |--(o)--|    |   Welcome to the Yeoman  |
   `---------´   |     Common generator!    |
    ( _´U`_ )    '--------------------------'
     |  ~  |
 ´   `  |° ´ Y `


We’ve barely scratched the surface of composeWith’s potential, but have covered just enough to get you started. See Yeoman’s composability documentation for further information and tlvince/generator-my-generator for this tutorial’s source.