Dependency resolution approach - comparing NPM to Homebrew?

I recently got confused and almost installed a tool via brew install when in fact it was an npm package and all I needed to do was npm install -g.

So these tools are strangely similar yet obviously different.

What's the difference in crystal clarity?

1 answer

  • answered 2017-06-17 19:36 mwal

    NPM exists to resolve dependencies for application code, on a per app basis, allowing an app to be self-contained and portable. This means that (in its default mode of operation) it will install the same stuff many times, uniquely, repeatedly, and separately, for every app on your system that needs the same package, inside of that apps own directory and isolated from everything else.

    Homebrew is not like this. The reason is it serves the system itself, not individual apps, so is more comparable to just the npm -g part of npm.

    There is one extra bit to understand about homebrew, though - some system packages have specific dependencies and could even have conflicts. This means that for the global installs that homebrew provies, it also has to solve some nesting and conflict issues. It's a kind of magic?