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Using Gulp to Bundle, Minify, and Cache-bust

Last week I discussed how to setup Node.js and Gulp in Visual Studio 2015.  During that discussion, I mentioned that I’m using gulp to bundle, minify and cache-bust my HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files.

This week, my intent is to walk you through exactly how I do that.

So, if you don’t already have Node.js and Gulp installed, you may want to go back and read the article I wrote last week.

Since most of the people who read this blog are ASP.NET developers, there may be a few .NET specific tips along the way.  But the Gulp file I am going to walk you through is technology agnostic.  So if you are using some other technology, you’ll still benefit from this article.

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Using Node.js and Gulp with ASP.NET in Visual Studio 2015

As I’ve written before, I’m using Angular a lot recently to write the client side of my web applications.  As I’ve gotten to the end of my current project, I found myself needing to implement cache busting and while I am at it compression.  But because I’m using a regular HTML page to serve up the shell for my single page application, using the regular ASP.NET on the fly compression wasn’t going to work for this application.

But there are a lot of tools in the Node.js space that will work.  Would it be possible to wire node.js and Gulp with ASP.NET in my existing web project?

It turns out you can. Although, at this point, it isn’t as straightforward as most other things in Visual Studio.

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Node.js Tools For Visual Studio

NodeJsInVisualStudioProjectListSeveral weeks ago now, I started learning Node.js.  Why?  Well, for a couple of reasons.  First, all the cool kids are using Node.js.  Second, I wanted to use Istanbul to get an idea of how well my javascript code is covered by test and that runs under Node.js.  Third, Node.js is going to show up in the next version of Visual Studio.  And finally, I just like to learn new stuff.

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So, I started by installing node and just working in Visual Studio as though my node project was a web site.  It works, but it isn’t pretty.  But it did get me familiar with some basic concepts like using the node package manager (npm) to install what I needed to get Istanbul running.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with npm, it is basically NuGet for node.js.

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