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Lerna vs npm: What are the differences?

Introduction

Lerna and npm are both popular tools in the JavaScript ecosystem that assist in managing multi-package JavaScript projects. However, there are some key differences between the two.

  1. Package Management: Lerna is primarily focused on optimizing the management of multiple packages within a single repository. It provides commands to bootstrap, publish, and version packages together. On the other hand, npm is a package manager that allows you to install and manage packages and their dependencies within a project.

  2. Monorepo Support: Lerna is specifically designed to work with monorepos, which are repositories that contain multiple packages. It enables you to perform operations like linking dependencies between packages, running commands across multiple packages, and versioning packages together. On the contrary, npm does not have built-in support for managing monorepos, and additional tools like npm workspaces or manual setups are often used.

  3. Versioning: Lerna provides a versioning system that allows you to handle the versioning of packages within a monorepo. It ensures that the version numbers of packages are synchronized and provides tools for releasing and publishing new versions. npm, on the other hand, manages versioning at the package level. Each package has its own distinct version number independent of other packages in the project.

  4. Dependency Management: Lerna allows you to link dependencies between packages in a monorepo, enabling you to use packages from other packages within the same repository. This can be particularly useful in scenarios where you are developing multiple interdependent packages. npm manages dependencies at the package level, resolving and installing dependencies for each package individually.

  5. Command Line Interface: Lerna provides a command line interface (CLI) that offers various commands for managing packages in a monorepo. These commands include bootstrapping packages, running scripts across packages, publishing packages, and more. npm, being a package manager, also offers a CLI with commands for installing, updating, and publishing packages, among others.

  6. Community and Ecosystem: npm has a larger and more extensive community and ecosystem compared to Lerna. As a result, npm has a wider range of packages and tools available, making it easier to find solutions to common problems. Lerna, being more specialized for monorepo management, has a smaller community, but still provides valuable support and documentation.

In summary, the key differences between Lerna and npm lie in their focus on monorepo management, package versioning, dependency handling, and the available CLI commands. Lerna is specifically designed for managing packages within a monorepo, while npm is a more general-purpose package manager.

Advice on Lerna and npm
Needs advice
on
npmnpm
and
YarnYarn

From a StackShare Community member: “I’m a freelance web developer (I mostly use Node.js) and for future projects I’m debating between npm or Yarn as my default package manager. I’m a minimalist so I hate installing software if I don’t need to- in this case that would be Yarn. For those who made the switch from npm to Yarn, what benefits have you noticed? For those who stuck with npm, are you happy you with it?"

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Replies (14)
Julian Sanchez
Lead Developer at Chore Champion · | 11 upvotes · 243.3K views
Recommends
on
YarnYarn
at

We use Yarn because it allows us to more simply manage our node_modules. It also simplifies commands and increases speed when installing modules. Our teams module download time was cut in half after switching from NPM to Yarn. We now require all employees to use Yarn (to prevent errors with package-lock.json and yarn.lock).

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Recommends
on
npmnpm

I use npm since new version is pretty fast as well (Yarn may be still faster a bit but the difference isn't huge). No need for other dependency and mainly Yarn sometimes do not work. Sometimes when I want to install project dependencies I got error using Yarn but with npm everything is installed correctly.

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Recommends
on
YarnYarn

p.s.

I am not sure about the performance of the latest version of npm, whether it is different from my understanding of it below. Because I use npm very rarely when I had the following knowledge.

------⏬

I use Yarn because, first, yarn is the first tool to lock the version. Second, although npm also supports the lock version, when you use npm to lock the version, and then use package-lock.json on other systems, package-lock.json Will be modified. You understand what I mean, when you deploy projects based on Git...

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Mark Nelissen
Recommends
on
npmnpmnpmnpm

I use npm because I also mainly use React and TypeScript. Since several typings (from DefinitelyTyped) depend on the React typings, Yarn tends to mess up which leads to duplicate libraries present (different versions of the same type definition), which hinders the Typescript compiler. Npm always resolves to a single version per transitive dependency. At least that's my experience with both.

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Recommends
on
YarnYarn

As far as I know Yarn is a super module of NPM. But it still needs npm to run.

Yarn was developed by Facebook's guys to fix some npm issues and performance.

If you use the last version of npm most of this problem does not exist anymore.

You can choose the option which makes you more confortable. I like using yarn because I'm used to it.

In the end the packages will be the same. Just try both and choose the one you feel more confortable. :)

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tataata
Frontend designer and developer · | 3 upvotes · 228.7K views
Recommends
on
YarnYarn

Yarn made it painless for the team to sync on versions of packages that we use on the project <3

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Shuuji TAKAHASHI
Recommends
on
YarnYarn

I use Yarn because it outputs nice progress messages with cute emoji and installs packages quickly if the package is cached. Also, Yarn creates yarn.lock file which makes the developer use the consistent environment.

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Tor Hagemann
Principal Software Engineer at Socotra · | 3 upvotes · 128.9K views
Recommends
on
npmnpmYarnYarn

You should use whichever had the best DX (developer experience) for your team. If you are doing a massive front-end project, consider yarn if not only because it makes it a snap to go from zero to ready. What some people say about npm being more stable or easier for smaller projects is highly true as well. (not to mention, you sometimes have to install yarn) But, note that official NodeJS Docker images ship with both npm and yarn. If you want to use yarn, put package-lock=false and optionally save-exact=true in your project's .npmrc file. Compare whether you prefer the ergonomics of yarn global add over npm install -g or see fewer meaningless warnings for the specific set of dependencies you leverage.

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Recommends
on
npmnpm

I use npm because its the official package manager for Node. It's reliability, security and speed has increased over time so the battle is over!

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Digital All
Recommends
on
npmnpm

I use npm because its packaged with node installation and handles npm tokens in CI/CD tools for private packages/libraries.

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Denys Slipetskyy
Recommends
on
YarnYarn
at

I use Yarn because it process my dependencies way faster, predictable deps resolution order, upgrade-interactive is very handy + some Yarn specific features (workspaces, Plug’n’Play alternative installation strategy) ...

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Francois Leurent
Recommends
on
npmnpm
at

We tend to stick to npm, yarn is only a fancy alternative, not 10x better. Using a self -hosted private repository (via sinopia/npm-mirror) make package locking (mostly) pointless.

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Recommends
on
YarnYarn

I am a minimalist too. I once had issues with installing Nuxt.js using NPM so I had to install Yarn but I also found that the Dev experience was much better

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Izzur Zuhri
Recommends
on
npmnpm

I use npm because it has a lot of community support and the performance difference with alternative tool is not so significant for me.

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Decisions about Lerna and npm
Oleksandr Fedotov
Senior Software Engineer at joyn · | 3 upvotes · 269.5K views

As we have to build the application for many different TV platforms we want to split the application logic from the device/platform specific code. Previously we had different repositories and it was very hard to keep the development process when changes were done in multiple repositories, as we had to synchronize code reviews as well as merging and then updating the dependencies of projects. This issues would be even more critical when building the project from scratch what we did at Joyn. Therefor to keep all code in one place, at the same time keeping in separated in different modules we decided to give a try to monorepo. First we tried out lerna which was fine at the beginning, but later along the way we had issues with adding new dependencies which came out of the blue and were not easy to fix. Next round of evolution was yarn workspaces, we are still using it and are pretty happy with dev experience it provides. And one more advantage we got when switched to yarn workspaces that we also switched from npm to yarn what improved the state of the lock file a lot, because with npm package-lock file was updated every time you run npm install, frequent updates of package-lock file were causing very often merge conflicts. So right now we not just having faster dependencies installation time but also no conflicts coming from lock file.

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Petr Bambušek
Head of Frontend at Mews · | 2 upvotes · 280.4K views
Chose
YarnYarn
over
npmnpm
at
()

This was no real choice - we switched the moment Yarn was available, and never looked back. Yarn is the only reasonable frontend package manager that's actually being developed. They even aim to heal the node_modules madness with v2! Npm is just copying its ideas on top of introducing massive bugs with every change.

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Pros of Lerna
Pros of npm
    Be the first to leave a pro
    • 647
      Best package management system for javascript
    • 382
      Open-source
    • 327
      Great community
    • 148
      More packages than rubygems, pypi, or packagist
    • 112
      Nice people matter
    • 6
      As fast as yarn but really free of facebook
    • 6
      Audit feature
    • 4
      Good following
    • 1
      Super fast
    • 1
      Stability

    Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

    Cons of Lerna
    Cons of npm
      Be the first to leave a con
      • 5
        Problems with lockfiles
      • 5
        Bad at package versioning and being deterministic
      • 3
        Node-gyp takes forever
      • 1
        Super slow

      Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

      What is Lerna?

      It is a popular and widely used package written in JavaScript. It optimizes the workflow around managing multi-package repositories with git and npm.

      What is npm?

      npm is the command-line interface to the npm ecosystem. It is battle-tested, surprisingly flexible, and used by hundreds of thousands of JavaScript developers every day.

      Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

      What companies use Lerna?
      What companies use npm?
      See which teams inside your own company are using Lerna or npm.
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      What tools integrate with npm?

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