Publishing Node.js packages

You can publish Node.js packages to a registry as part of your continuous integration (CI) workflow.

Introduction

This guide shows you how to create a workflow that publishes Node.js packages to the GitHub Packages and npm registries after continuous integration (CI) tests pass.

Prerequisites

We recommend that you have a basic understanding of workflow configuration options and how to create a workflow file. For more information, see "Learn GitHub Actions."

For more information about creating a CI workflow for your Node.js project, see "Using Node.js with GitHub Actions."

You may also find it helpful to have a basic understanding of the following:

About package configuration

The name and version fields in the package.json file create a unique identifier that registries use to link your package to a registry. You can add a summary for the package listing page by including a description field in the package.json file. For more information, see "Creating a package.json file" and "Creating Node.js modules" in the npm documentation.

When a local .npmrc file exists and has a registry value specified, the npm publish command uses the registry configured in the .npmrc file. You can use the setup-node action to create a local .npmrc file on the runner that configures the default registry and scope. The setup-node action also accepts an authentication token as input, used to access private registries or publish node packages. For more information, see setup-node.

You can specify the Node.js version installed on the runner using the setup-node action.

If you add steps in your workflow to configure the publishConfig fields in your package.json file, you don't need to specify the registry-url using the setup-node action, but you will be limited to publishing the package to one registry. For more information, see "publishConfig" in the npm documentation.

Publishing packages to the npm registry

Each time you create a new release, you can trigger a workflow to publish your package. The workflow in the example below runs when the release event triggers with type created. The workflow publishes the package to the npm registry if CI tests pass.

To perform authenticated operations against the npm registry in your workflow, you'll need to store your npm authentication token as a secret. For example, create a repository secret called NPM_TOKEN. For more information, see "Creating and using encrypted secrets."

By default, npm uses the name field of the package.json file to determine the name of your published package. When publishing to a global namespace, you only need to include the package name. For example, you would publish a package named npm-hello-world-test to https://www.npmjs.com/package/npm-hello-world-test.

If you're publishing a package that includes a scope prefix, include the scope in the name of your package.json file. For example, if your npm scope prefix is octocat and the package name is hello-world, the name in your package.json file should be @octocat/hello-world. If your npm package uses a scope prefix and the package is public, you need to use the option npm publish --access public. This is an option that npm requires to prevent someone from publishing a private package unintentionally.

This example stores the NPM_TOKEN secret in the NODE_AUTH_TOKEN environment variable. When the setup-node action creates an .npmrc file, it references the token from the NODE_AUTH_TOKEN environment variable.

YAML
name: Publish Package to npmjs
on:
  release:
    types: [created]
jobs:
  build:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      # Setup .npmrc file to publish to npm
      - uses: actions/setup-node@v2
        with:
          node-version: '16.x'
          registry-url: 'https://registry.npmjs.org'
      - run: npm ci
      - run: npm publish
        env:
          NODE_AUTH_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.NPM_TOKEN }}

In the example above, the setup-node action creates an .npmrc file on the runner with the following contents:

//registry.npmjs.org/:_authToken=${NODE_AUTH_TOKEN}
registry=https://registry.npmjs.org/
always-auth=true

Please note that you need to set the registry-url to https://registry.npmjs.org/ in setup-node to properly configure your credentials.

Publishing packages to GitHub Packages

Each time you create a new release, you can trigger a workflow to publish your package. The workflow in the example below runs anytime the release event with type created occurs. The workflow publishes the package to GitHub Packages if CI tests pass.

Configuring the destination repository

If you don't provide the repository key in your package.json file, then GitHub Packages publishes a package in the GitHub repository you specify in the name field of the package.json file. For example, a package named @my-org/test is published to the my-org/test GitHub repository.

However, if you do provide the repository key, then the repository in that key is used as the destination npm registry for GitHub Packages. For example, publishing the below package.json results in a package named my-amazing-package published to the octocat/my-other-repo GitHub repository.

{
  "name": "@octocat/my-amazing-package",
  "repository": {
    "type": "git",
    "url": "https://github.com/octocat/my-other-repo.git"
  },

Authenticating to the destination repository

To perform authenticated operations against the GitHub Packages registry in your workflow, you can use the GITHUB_TOKEN. The GITHUB_TOKEN secret is set to an access token for the repository each time a job in a workflow begins. You should set the permissions for this access token in the workflow file to grant read access for the contents scope and write access for the packages scope. For more information, see "Authenticating with the GITHUB_TOKEN."

If you want to publish your package to a different repository, you must use a personal access token (PAT) that has permission to write to packages in the destination repository. For more information, see "Creating a personal access token" and "Encrypted secrets."

Example workflow

This example stores the GITHUB_TOKEN secret in the NODE_AUTH_TOKEN environment variable. When the setup-node action creates an .npmrc file, it references the token from the NODE_AUTH_TOKEN environment variable.

YAML
name: Publish package to GitHub Packages
on:
  release:
    types: [created]
jobs:
  build:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest 
    permissions: 
      contents: read
      packages: write 
    steps:
      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      # Setup .npmrc file to publish to GitHub Packages
      - uses: actions/setup-node@v2
        with:
          node-version: '16.x'
          registry-url: 'https://npm.pkg.github.com'
          # Defaults to the user or organization that owns the workflow file
          scope: '@octocat'
      - run: npm ci
      - run: npm publish
        env:
          NODE_AUTH_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}

The setup-node action creates an .npmrc file on the runner. When you use the scope input to the setup-node action, the .npmrc file includes the scope prefix. By default, the setup-node action sets the scope in the .npmrc file to the account that contains that workflow file.

//npm.pkg.github.com/:_authToken=${NODE_AUTH_TOKEN}
@octocat:registry=https://npm.pkg.github.com
always-auth=true

Publishing packages using yarn

If you use the Yarn package manager, you can install and publish packages using Yarn.

YAML
name: Publish Package to npmjs
on:
  release:
    types: [created]
jobs:
  build:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      # Setup .npmrc file to publish to npm
      - uses: actions/setup-node@v2
        with:
          node-version: '16.x'
          registry-url: 'https://registry.npmjs.org'
          # Defaults to the user or organization that owns the workflow file
          scope: '@octocat'
      - run: yarn
      - run: yarn publish
        env:
          NODE_AUTH_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.NPM_TOKEN }}

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