What is dizmoGen?

dizmoGen helps you to write, build, test and deploy dizmos. Based on Yeoman and gulp, it extends those tools to speed up and automate your dizmo development workflow. DizmoGen is an open-source project, hosted at Github.


How does dizmoGen work?

DizmoGen is a generator to create a project folder that contains a skeleton for a new dizmo. Further, the build scripts needed to turn the source code into a packed and installable dizmo artifact (*.dzm) are present as well. The generator itself is based on the Yeoman generator toolkit (which in turn is based on Node.js). After the initial generation of a project, neither dizmoGen nor Yeoman are required anymore to build your dizmo.

Use any text editor or IDE to edit the generated source code. Once ready you can use the build scripts to turn your project into a correctly formatted and packed dizmo: Invoking npm run <script> uses internally a Node.js based tool named gulp, which orchestrates the entire build process to turn your source code into a dizmo. Possible <script> commands are build, lint, clean etc.

As the totality of all build scripts with their dependencies account for more than 100 MBytes, the dependencies are excluded when pushing a source folder to a remote Git repository. So, if you get a dizmo project from an external origin it is necessary to install them first. This is done within the build process automatically or can be triggered manually by invoking npm install from within the project folder, which will create a folder named node_modules, which should never be included in the Git repository!

The options and commands available to build, test and deploy dizmos will be upgraded from time to time. In such a case it may become necessary to update the relevant build scripts using dizmoGen (and Yeoman) again. Check the «Upgrading the Build System» section below about how to actualize your version of dizmoGen and the build scripts in your own dizmo project.


First, install Yeoman and generator-dizmo using npm (we assume you have Node.js pre-installed):

(sudo) npm install -g yo
(sudo) npm install -g @dizmo/generator-dizmo

On most operating systems the -g option (shortcut for --global) requires super user (administrator) rights: Therefore, on Unix like systems you might be required to run the above commands using either sudo (i.e. sudo npm install -g yo and sudo npm install -g generator-dizmo), or run them directly from your super user account of your operating system.

Quick start

Invoke the dizmo generator with a name of your choice, for example my-dizmo and answer a few questions:

yo @dizmo/dizmo my-dizmo

After a successful build, drag and drop the ./build/MyDizmo-0.0.0.dzm file onto dizmoViewer: You should see the front side of the dizmo with Hello World! written on it. The name parameter is optional and can be changed at the prompt. Further, calling yo @dizmo/dizmo is equivalent to invoking the default generator with yo @dizmo/dizmo:app.

To list all possible arguments and options of the generator, enter:

 yo @dizmo/dizmo --help


Npm uses a built in cache mechanism to accelerate package installation. There are various configuration options to control the behaviour of the cache. Here, we are interested in cache-min:

The minimum time (in seconds) to keep items in the registry cache before re-checking against the registry. [default: 10]

The provided default of 10 seconds is too short, to efficiently make use of caching. Therefore, we recommend setting it to for example a week by running the configuration command:

npm config set cache-min 604800

By setting chache-min to 604800, you ensure that no package with a timestamp younger than a week is checked against the central registry for a possible update. This significantly improves your npm experience.

Further, we suggest to clear the cache initially by running npm cache clean, but this is not necessarily required: It will simply wipe out your cached packages, and ensure that no corrupted cache exists. However, this also means that your very first dizmo skeleton generation (and corresponding installation of npm packages) will take longer than later invocations. By running npm cache ls you can determine, which npm packages have already been cached.

Note: It’s recommended to clean the cache also before an update of the generator-dizmo generator itself, by running npm cache clean.


At the start, you will be asked a few questions, after which the terminal should look similar to:

~/my-dizmos $ yo @dizmo/dizmo

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

? Name your dizmo: MyDizmo
? Describe it: My Dizmo
? And its bundle ID? com.example.my_dizmo
? What's your name? Name Surname
? And your email? name.surname@mail.net

The dizmo generator asks you some questions — let’s have a look at them:

? Name your dizmo: MyDizmo

If no dizmoName argument is provided then by default MyDizmo will be suggested: accept or change it as desired. This name will be used to create a project folder in the current director. For example, for the MyDizmo name the folder will be my-dizmo/.

? Describe it: My Dizmo

You should provide a short succinct description of your project. By default the name of the current dizmo will be taken as a base for a suggestion.

? And its bundle ID? com.example.my_dizmo

Each dizmo is required to have a unique bundle.identifier, which is a name of the bundle each dizmo instance will belong to: For example, each sticky-note dizmo would have the same com.dizmo.stickynote bundle ID (but with different dizmo IDs). Choose as a prefix the domain of your company (in reverse notation with top level domain names like com or org preceding the rest), and then append a name related to the dizmo.

? What's your name? Full Name

Provide your full name, to designate yourself as the author of the project. By default, the current GIT user name – if available – or OS login will be used directly without actually prompting for the name. Otherwise, anything you enter here will be remembered and automatically used as the default on your next invocation of yo @dizmo/dizmo.

The entry will be stored once the project skeleton is setup in package.json under person.name. For multiple contributors, see the npm:package.json documentation, section people-fields-author-contributors.

? And your email? my@email.net

Provide your email, so people can reach out to you for feedback, bug reports etc. By default the generator uses the GIT user email – if available – or the MAIL environment variable.

The entry will be stored in package.json under person.email. For multiple contributors, see again people-fields-author-contributors.

Upgrading the Build System

Since the build system of each dizmo is saved directly within a project, we need an upgrade mechanism of the former for an existing latter. But first, we have to upgrade generator-dizmo by running:

npm upgrade -g @dizmo/generator-dizmo

Then within an existing project’s main folder, we can execute:

yo @dizmo/dizmo --upgrade

It’s also possible to only invoke yo @dizmo/dizmo, in which case each and every conflict between the existing and new files and folders need to be manually signed-off by the user. Since all conflicts need to be decided on, instead of just the conflicts w.r.t. the build system, this manual upgrading can be onerous.

However, with the yo @dizmo/dizmo --upgrade command, only the build system of the actual project is upgraded, while the none-build related files and folders remain untouched.


After you have answered the last question, the generator will create the project’s skeleton. If you have the tree command installed on your operating system, then you can visualize the directory structure:

my-dizmo $ tree
├── .eslintrc.json
├── assets
│   ├── Icon-dark.svg
│   ├── Icon.svg
│   ├── locales
│   │   ├── translation.de.json
│   │   └── translation.en.json
│   └── Preview.png
├── gulp
│   ├── package.js
│   └── tasks
│       └── *
├── gulpfile.js
├── help
│   └── en
│       ├── help.md
│       └── placeholder-400x275.png
├── package.json
├── README.md
└── src
    ├── index.html
    ├── index.js
    ├── lib
    │   └── i18n-*.min.js
    └── style
        └── style.scss

Let’s have a look at each ot the top level files and directories:

  • .eslintrc.json: a JSON file, which can be used to configure the linting process for the JavaScript code; see eslint.org/docs/user-guide/configuring for further information.

  • assets: A folder containing asset files like images, which can be accessed from within the dizmo using a relative path like assets/Preview.png. Put any such files (or media) which are not directly related to styling into this folder. You can also create sub-folders or any nested directory structure according to your needs. One such folder is assets/locales where JSON files for translation purposes can be found.

  • gulp: A folder containing a build system based on gulp. If you are familiar with gulp, then you can change the build mechanism according to your needs; otherwise, just use it as it is.

  • gulpfile.js: The main script driving the gulp build system; usually you can leave this file as it is.

  • help: Once you have developed your dizmo, you might want to provide user documentation, which can be placed in this folder.

  • LICENCE: By default an ISC (Internet Software Consortium) license is generated, which is functionally equivalent to the simplified BSD and MIT licenses, but with a simpler language. Leave or change this according to your needs.

  • package.json: This is an important file! It is consumed by the npm package manager, provides run scripts for the build system (like lint, clean, build, install etc.), and allows to change the dizmo settings. Have a look below at the corresponding section for further information.

  • README.md: A simple shortened version of this README.md; it is meant to provide a quick overview, and can then be replaced with a project specific content.

  • src: A folder containing your own scripts for your dizmo, like index.html and index.js plus style sheets under style/, which use by default SASS. Further, in the src/lib/ folder you can put third party libraries, which you can then directly reference via a <script> tag in the index.html markup.

Package manager: package.json

Dizmos use npm as a package manager; to thoroughly understand its functionality, please consult "What is npm?" and work through the 15 small video based tutorials in the Getting Started section.

Dizmo section

In addition to the default entries of npm the package.json file contains a dizmo section:

"dizmo": {
    "settings": {
        "attributes": {
            "settings/usercontrols/allowresize": true
        "bundle-identifier": "com.example.my_project",
        "bundle-name": "My Project",
        "category": "",
        "height": 360,
        "tags": [
        "width": 480
    "store": {
        "host": "https://store-api.dizmo.com"
    "build": {
        "lint": true,
        "minify": {
            "markups": {
                "htmlmin": true
            "scripts": {
                "sourcemaps": false,
                "obfuscate": true,
                "uglify": true
            "styles": {
                "sourcemaps": true,
                "sass": true

And here is a list of available options:

  • settings: any entry provided here will be translated to an entry in build/Info.plist, which is the main control file defining the properties of a dizmo.

  • store: configuration entries required by npm run upload, which needs store/host (by default pointing to https://store-api.dizmo.com), store/user and store/pass. The latter two should not be directly set in package.json but instead via the default configuration (see below), to avoid the store credentials to be accidentally committed to a version control system.

  • build/lint: switches ESLint based linting on or off — edit the .eslintrc.json configuration file to have a detailed control over the linting process; see also gulp-eslint for additional information.

  • build/minify: switches the minification of the markup (*.html), scripts (*.js) and styles (*.[s]css) on or off — but each sub-process can also be toggled separately. Further, they also can be tweaked in detail by providing a configuration object; see the corresponding gulp-htmlmin, javascript-obfuscator, gulp-uglify and gulp-sass pages for more information. Source map generation can be controlled as well, and is off by default. Further, to keep package.json simple, the build/minify flag is set upon project generation directly to false.

It is not recommended to obfuscate vendor scripts and polyfills, since the obfuscated code can be 15-80% slower (depending on the options) and the files are significantly larger. Hence, when possible (large) third party libraries like jquery.min.js should be embedded into a dizmo under e.g. the src/lib/ directory, and then they should be referenced with a <script href="lib/jquery.min.js"> tag directly from within your HTML markup: This will avoid the libraries being obfuscated and hence, there won’t be any performance penalty.

Any library however, that is installed into a dizmo project via e.g. npm install --save jquery and then referenced as var $ = require('jquery') from your source code, will be collected by the build system and subsequently also obfuscated! This might actually be desirable, if the third party library is maybe company internal code, and you wish to use it in your dizmo: This arrangement will protect your company’s intellectual property while offering you the desired functionality.

Default Configuration

The dizmo section in package.json can be extended with default values, which have to reside in .generator-dizmo/config.json (in any of the parent directories):

    "dizmo": {
        "deploy-path": "..", "store": {
            "host": "https://store-api.dizmo.com",
            "user": "..",
            "pass": ".."

The configuration is hierarchical and recursive, meaning that a .generator-dizmo/config.json file can be saved in any parent directory of the current project, all of which are then merged during the build dynamically into package.json, where configuration values from files in the lower levels (meaning closer to package.json) have precedence.

Yeoman: Managing Configuration

As alternative to .generator-dizmo/config.json the .yo-rc.json file can be used to store default configuration values; see managing configuration for further information.

NPM scripts

Before running any script, please ensure that npm install has been executed, and that the dependencies beneath node_modules are up to date!

Please read first npm#scripts — in each package.json the following scripts are available:

  • clean: completely removes the ./build sub-directory.

    npm run clean
  • deploy: builds and installs the dizmo to a installation path given by the dizmo/deploy-path configuration entry in package.json (or better in .generator-dizmo/config.json):

    npm run deploy
  • deploy: ..or if the DZM_DEPLOY_PATH environment variable has been defined, then the dizmo is copied to the corresponding location.

    DZM_DEPLOY_PATH=/path/to/my/dizmos npm run deploy
  • lint: applies linting to your source code using ESLint, which can be configured via .eslintrc.json.

    npm run lint
  • build: builds the dizmo (including the *.dzm artifact) from scratch and puts it into the ./build sub-directory.

    npm run build
  • test: ensures to run tests — by default no tests nor a test framework are pre-defined, hence no such script is predefined either! It is up to the dizmo developer to decide how tests shall be implemented. The only condition is, that the main test script should provide an exit value of 0 in case of success.

    npm run test
  • watch: watches your source code, and incrementally (and quickly!) rebuilds the dizmo on any change.

    npm run watch
  • watch: ..further, it copies the build to the installation path, if either the dizmo/deploy-path configuration has been set in package.json (or better in .generator-dizmo/config.json) or DZM_DEPLOY_PATH environment variable has been provided.

    DZM_DEPLOY_PATH=/path/to/my/dizmos npm run watch
  • upload: uploads a *.dzm artifact to the dizmoStore requiring a host and user name plus a valid password. They can be set via the store/host, store/user and store/pass configuration in package.json (or better in .generator-dizmo/config.json) or the DZM_STORE_HOST, DZM_STORE_USER and DZM_STORE_PASS environment variables.

    DZM_STORE_HOST=https://store-api.dizmo.com npm run upload

CLI options

The build process supports command line arguments to quickly override some of the the configuration in package.json. It’s important to realize that this CLI support is directly integrated via the underlying primitives, i.e. linting can be enabled or disabled via --lint or via --no-lint, and this argument can be provided to any script which depends on the linting step.

In many cases the arguments are boolean flags which can enable or disable a certain build step (like linting or minification). But many can also accept specific configuration objects — like JSON: For example, the linting of JavaScript is controlled via an eslint specific configuration object.

However, for the daily usage the default settings should be more than enough! Simply using the CLI arguments as boolean flags to enable or disable a particular step will do the job. Further, please notice that when you e.g disable linting then during the build the corresponding step will still be shown, but it won’t perform any actual linting!

Linting: --lint or --no-lint

On the command line linting can be enabled by providing --lint, and it can be disabled by providing --no-lint. These flags will override (or merged with) the configuration from package.json:

    "dizmo": {
        "build": {
            "lint": true

Above it’s specifies, that the linting step should be executed by default for the given project. Hence, the following will lint and build the dizmo:

npm run build

To stop the build engine from linting, either the lint entry in package.json can be set to false, or it can directly be overridden on the CLI:

npm run build -- --no-lint

The double hyphen after npm run build is necessary, since it tells NPM to forward the --no-lint argument to each build step, which together will build (i.e. build) the dizmo. If you don’t like the four consecutive hyphens, you can provide the script name also after the initial double hyphen:

npm run -- build --no-lint

Or more verbosely below you see in its clearest form, how the build script is run with the additional argument --no-lint:

npm run-script -- build --no-lint

Conversely, if you explicitly want to enforce linting then you can execute:

npm run -- build --lint

As mentioned, this is in general not required since package.json should by default have linting enabled. However, if you are not sure if this is the case — for example when your putting together a build environment, and want enforce linting — then providing the --lint flag explicitly makes sense.

The specific configuration objects for controlling eslint, coffeelint and tslint can be looked up via their respective documentation. Below some very simple examples have been provided, to demonstrate the corresponding capability, to override the defaults (and/or the configuration object in package.json — if any).

  • Enforce for a JavaScript based dizmo project linting, but ignore unused variable names:
npm run build -- --lint='{"rules":{"no-unused-vars":0}}'
  • Enforce linting, but provide a warning w.r.t. unused variable names:
npm run build -- --lint='{"rules":{"no-unused-vars":1}}'
  • Enforce linting, but provide an error w.r.t. unused variable names:
npm run build -- --lint='{"rules":{"no-unused-vars":1}}'

Above, in case of an error the build process will not fail, effectively making it equivalent to a warning. If such behaviour is not desired, then the lint.js Gulp task should be modified to stop the build process upon a linting error.

Minification: --minify or --no-minify

Providing the --minify option on the CLI will ensure that the scripts, styles and markup are automatically minified and obfuscated, where obfuscation operates only on the scripts:

npm run build -- --minify

Please notice, that by default source maps are not created, to avoid accidental leaks of potential intellectual property. However by appending the --sourcemaps flag they can be enabled:

npm run build -- --minify --sourcemaps

It’s also possible to suppress a minification (e.g. in case it should be enabled via package.json):

npm run build -- --no-minify

Further, since minification consists of five sub-steps, namely (a) markup minification, (b) styles minification, (c1) scripts obfuscation plus (c2) minification and also (d) source maps generation — where the latter however needs to be explicitly enabled — it’s possible to control them independently of the general --minify flag:

npm run build -- --htmlmin --sass --obfuscate --uglify --no-sourcemap

The above set of arguments is (given default package.json build settings) equivalent to the --minify flag. Further, each of them can be negated as well:

npm run build -- --no-htmlmin --no-sass --no-obfuscate --no-uglify

Further, each flag can accept an optional configuration object to control in detail the corresponding minification, obfuscation and/or source map generation step:

  • Minimize the markup; see gulp-htmlmin for further information w.r.t. to the configuration:
npm run build -- --minify --htmlmin='{"collapseWhitespace":true}'
  • Minimize the styles; see gulp-sass for further information w.r.t. to the configuration:
npm run build -- --minify --sass='{"outputStyle":"compressed"}'
npm run build -- --minify --obfuscate='{"compact":true}'
  • Minify the scripts; see gulp-uglify for further information w.r.t. to the configuration:
npm run build -- --minify --uglify='{"mangle":true}'
  • Create source maps for the scripts and the styles (in package.json each source map generation can be configured separately, however on the CLI there is only a single flag to control both); see gulp-sourcemaps for further information w.r.t. to the configuration:
npm run build -- --minify --sourcemaps='{"loadMaps":true}

In general, using --minify (or --no-minify) combined with the --sourcemaps (or --no-sourcemaps) CLI options should be enough. Only if explicit control is required, using the --htmlmin, --sass, --obfuscate or --uglify flags is be necessary. Further, providing configuration objects to these flags should only be done, when you know what you are doing (or are not happy with the provided defaults).


Dizmo offers a dizmoStore where dizmos can be uploaded to: Besides package.json (or .generator-dizmo/config.json) or environment variables, upload arguments like the host and user name plus password can also be provided via the CLI:

npm run upload -- --host=https://store-api.dizmo.com --user='..' --pass='..'

By default npm run upload tries to upload and publish an uploaded dizmo. However, it is possible to skip the publication step by running:

npm run upload -- --no-publish

And then only in a subsequent step to publish it:

npm run upload -- --publish

However the command above assume, that the actual upload has already been performed! Hence, executing it without having previous uploaded a dizmo will fail, since there would be no uploaded dizmo to publish.


Once your dizmo is build, a build/ folder with the following structure is created:

my-dizmo $ tree build/
├── MyDizmo
│   ├── Icon-dark.svg
│   ├── Icon.svg
│   ├── Info.plist
│   ├── Preview.png
│   ├── assets
│   │   ├── Icon-dark.svg
│   │   ├── Icon.svg
│   │   └── Preview.png
│   ├── help.zip
│   ├── index.html
│   ├── index.js
│   ├── lib
│   │   └── i18n-*.min.js
│   └── style
│       └── style.css
└── MyDizmo-0.0.0.dzm
  • MyDizmo-0.0.0.dzm: A ZIP archive of the MyDizmo folder with a version suffix, which has been defined in package.json. Please see semantic versioning and npm for further information.

In dizmoViewer only the dizmo bundle with the highest version number is cached! Therefore, it is important to increase the version, when releasing a dizmo to your audience. However, simply changing the version suffix in the *.dzm file name will not work: The version is required to be set in MyDizmo/Info.plist (which happens automatically based on the version information in package.json).

  • MyDizmo/Info.plist: a list of properties (in XML notation) defining a dizmo. This file is derived from the original .info.plist template, which has been enriched with information from package.json.

  • MyDizmo/assets: a copy of the original assets folder;
  • MyDizmo/help.zip: a ZIP archive of the original help folder;
  • MyDizmo/index.html: the main HTML script;
  • MyDizmo/index.js: the main JavaScript;
  • MyDizmo/lib/i18n-*.min.js: i18next internationalization wrapper;
  • MyDizmo/style/style.css: Cascading Style Sheets.

Dizmo instantiation

By dragging and dropping the MyDizmo-0.0.0.dzm artifact onto dizmoViewer a corresponding dizmo can be instantiated. If it has not been already installed, it will get installed to the default location as well.

Extended sub-generators

Once you have accommodated yourself with some dizmo development, you can go further and try out the dizmo:sub-coffeescript and dizmo:sub-typescript sub-generators.


GIT initialization

Invoke a generator combined with the --git option:

yo @dizmo/dizmo my-dizmo --git

The created project folder will now be named my-dizmo.git, and it will be initialized as a GIT repository — no commits will be performed though. Further, this only will work if the git command is accessible.

Dependency management

All (sub-)generators support dependency management using Node modules: You can structure your dizmo code using require, exports and module.exports objects. Further, you can install external third party libraries and reference them directly with require. For example, to use jQuery run:

npm install --save jquery

Then in your code you can get a reference with:

var $ = require('jquery');

If you want to remove an installed library just run:

npm remove --save jquery

This approach works well, as long as the external libraries are not too large, since otherwise the build process may take longer. In such cases you should use the incremental builder using the watcher:

npm run watch

Or you can simply drop a library into the src/lib/ sub-directory and reference it accordingly via a corresponding <script> tag in the index.html markup.


The generator-dizmo package seems to be deprecated?

Yes! It has been migrated to @dizmo/generator-dizmo, which means to continue to receive updates for the generator a re-installation is required:

(sudo) npm uninstall -g generator-dizmo
(sudo) npm install -g @dizmo/generator-dizmo

Further, any yo dizmo invocation needs to be changed to yo @dizmo/dizmo, e.g. to upgrade older projects run the command below (with the @dizmo scope):

yo @dizmo/dizmo --upgrade

Did I forget to run npm install?

If npm install is not run before attempting to build a dizmo, then a message similar to the one below might be produced:

error argv "/usr/local/bin/node" "/usr/local/bin/npm" "run" "build"
error code ELIFECYCLE
error MyDizmo@0.0.0 build: `node ./node_modules/gulp/bin/gulp.js`
error Exit status 1
error Failed at the MyDizmo@0.0.0 build script 'node ./node_modules/gulp/bin/gulp.js'.

In such a case, just run npm install to ensure that all the required dependencies get installed locally.

Can I run yo @dizmo/dizmo as root?

The Yeoman toolkit very strongly discourages the usage of any generator based on it to be run as root. Hence, you will get the following error:

$ sudo yo @dizmo/dizmo --help
                throw err;

Error: EACCES: permission denied, open '/root/.config/configstore/insight-yo.json'.
You don't have access to this file.

The same error is thrown, when you run sudo yo -h as well. Also, the behaviour is independent of the usage of sudo or directly being logged in as root.

The recommended approach is to create a non-root user account and then run the generator under that account: If you are manually generating a dizmo project, this should be the case anyway, since you would most probably be logged in under your own user name. However, when running in the context of e.g. an automated build environment, this might not be the case: Hence, the need for a special purpose user account.

Does dizmoGen support ES6?

Browsers and the libraries, which the former are built upon (like Webkit), usually lag behind the latest standard, and hence fail to provide up-to-date language support. The Babel transpiler however, can take a script written in a modern standard and translate it into backwards compatible JavaScript. DizmoGen includes Babel and thus supports ES6.

Note: If you have older projects and update dizmoGen, ensure that you add ES6 support to .eslintrc.json as following:

  "env": {
    "browser": true,
    "node": true,
    "es6": true

How to create a .generator-dizmo folder on Windows?

The graphical user interface of Windows does not allow to create a folder named .generator-dizmo: However it is possible to create one via the command line interface. For example using the Windows PowerShell one can run:

PS C:Usersuser> mkdir .generator-dizmo

How to ignore .DS_Store files on Mac OS X?

Such files are device dependent and hence should be ignored globally on the developer’s device, instead on a per project basis. See How to Remove .DS_Store File from a Git Repo on Mac OS X for an excellent discussion of the issue. Also at GitHub Help, see ignoring files to learn about setting up a global ignore list.

© 2018 dizmo AG, Switzerland