Publishing a Node-RED package to NPM with GitHub Actions

This article walks through how I created and published my Node-RED module “node-red-contrib-flatter” to NPM. Using the flat NPM package, it consists of two nodes to flatten and unflatten JavaScript objects.

Starting the node

Following the Node RED documentation to create a node that converts msg.payload to lowercase, I was able to create the foundation of my package.

The main differences from the starter node:

In the Node-RED documentation, you create a lower-case.js file. For my package, I created a flatter.js & unflatter.js file, one for each node.
I needed to require the “flat” NPM package, so I saved this as a dependency:
npm i --save flat

I can now require this in my flatter.js and unflatter.js files:
var flatten = require('flat');
var unflatten = require('flat');

And instead of this line in the example lower-case.js file:
msg.payload = msg.payload.toLowerCase();
I replaced it with:
msg.payload = flatten(msg.payload); in flatter.js, and
msg.payload = unflatten(msg.payload); in unflatter.js

Unit tests

Following the Node-RED documentation, I created a folder called “test” with a flatter_spec.js file. I only added a simple test for flattening and unflattening a payload and then checking the output matches the expected output.

Below are the dependencies I saved to my package for developing, mocha and node-red-node-test-helper. Dependencies saved to “devDependencies” with
--save-dev aren’t installed when someone installs your package from NPM.
npm i --save-dev mocha node-red node-red-node-test-helper

Package.json

Add “node-red” as a keyword to package.json when you are ready and it should show up on the Node-RED library flows.nodered.org within a few hours. It can then be searched in the Node-RED palette manager. Only do this when your package is ready!
Also, add other keywords that relate to your package so that it can be searched for on NPM.

"keywords": [
"node-red"
],

Add your nodes:

"node-red": {    
"nodes": {
"flat": "flatter.js",
"unflat": "unflatter.js"
}
},

Add a test command under scripts:

"scripts": {
"test": "mocha \"test/**/*_spec.js\""
},

To run your unit tests, try npm test in the console.

GitHub Actions

There are already many templates to choose from. I added the node.js test (which runs on every push) and node.js package actions (which runs on every release created). Personally, I removed the part that publishes to GitHub Packages.

Create an account with NPM at https://www.npmjs.com/.
Create a token under “Auth Tokens” with type “Publish”, add it as a secret to your repo with the name “npm_token”, stick it in the GitHub action as an environment variable NODE_AUTH_TOKEN:${{secrets.npm_token}}This should already be in the node.js package template. Create a release in GitHub, (click on “releases” in the top bar and then “Draft a new release”) voila, the GitHub Action will check that it passes the uni tests and then publish the package to NPM.

Top bar on your GitHub repo’s front page.

If this helped you out, please slap that clap button. Chur

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