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deno task

deno task provides a cross-platform way to define and execute custom commands specific to a codebase.

To get started, define your commands in your codebase's Deno configuration file under a "tasks" key.

For example:

  "tasks": {
    "data": "deno task collect && deno task analyze",
    "collect": "deno run --allow-read=. --allow-write=. scripts/collect.js",
    "analyze": "deno run --allow-read=. scripts/analyze.js"

Listing tasks Jump to heading

To get an output showing all the defined tasks, run:

deno task

Executing a task Jump to heading

To execute a specific task, run:

deno task task-name [additional args]...

In the example above, to run the data task we would do:

deno task data

Specifying the current working directory Jump to heading

By default, deno task executes commands with the directory of the Deno configuration file (ex. deno.json) as the current working directory. This allows tasks to use relative paths and continue to work regardless of where in the directory tree you happen to execute the deno task from. In some scenarios, this may not be desired and this behavior can be overridden with the INIT_CWD environment variable.

INIT_CWD will be set with the full path to the directory the task was run in, if not already set. This aligns with the same behavior as npm run.

For example, the following task will change the current working directory of the task to be in the same directory the user ran the task from and then output the current working directory which is now that directory (remember, this works on Windows too because deno task is cross-platform).

  "tasks": {
    "my_task": "cd $INIT_CWD && pwd"

Getting directory deno task was run from Jump to heading

Since tasks are run using the directory of the Deno configuration file as the current working directory, it may be useful to know the directory the deno task was executed from instead. This is possible by using the INIT_CWD environment variable in a task or script launched from deno task (works the same way as in npm run, but in a cross-platform way).

For example, to provide this directory to a script in a task, do the following (note the directory is surrounded in double quotes to keep it as a single argument in case it contains spaces):

  "tasks": {
    "start": "deno run main.ts \"$INIT_CWD\""

Syntax Jump to heading

deno task uses a cross-platform shell that's a subset of sh/bash to execute defined tasks.

Boolean lists Jump to heading

Boolean lists provide a way to execute additional commands based on the exit code of the initial command. They separate commands using the && and || operators.

The && operator provides a way to execute a command and if it succeeds (has an exit code of 0) it will execute the next command:

deno run --allow-read=. --allow-write=. collect.ts && deno run --allow-read=. analyze.ts

The || operator is the opposite. It provides a way to execute a command and only if it fails (has a non-zero exit code) it will execute the next command:

deno run --allow-read=. --allow-write=. collect.ts || deno run play_sad_music.ts

Sequential lists Jump to heading

Sequential lists are similar to boolean lists, but execute regardless of whether the previous command in the list passed or failed. Commands are separated with a semi-colon (;).

deno run output_data.ts ; deno run --allow-net server.ts

Async commands Jump to heading

Async commands provide a way to make a command execute asynchronously. This can be useful when starting multiple processes. To make a command asynchronous, add an & to the end of it. For example the following would execute sleep 1 && deno run --allow-net client.ts and deno run --allow-net server.ts at the same time:

sleep 1 && deno run --allow-net client.ts & deno run --allow-net server.ts

Unlike in most shells, the first async command to fail will cause all the other commands to fail immediately. In the example above, this would mean that if the client command fails then the server command will also fail and exit. You can opt out of this behavior by adding || true to the end of a command, which will force a 0 exit code. For example:

deno run --allow-net client.ts || true & deno run --allow-net server.ts || true

Environment variables Jump to heading

Environment variables are defined like the following:

export VAR_NAME=value

Here's an example of using one in a task with shell variable substitution and then with it being exported as part of the environment of the spawned Deno process (note that in the JSON configuration file the double quotes would need to be escaped with backslashes):

export VAR=hello && echo $VAR && deno eval "console.log('Deno: ' + Deno.env.get('VAR'))"

Would output:

Deno: hello

Setting environment variables for a command Jump to heading

To specify environment variable(s) before a command, list them like so:

VAR=hello VAR2=bye deno run main.ts

This will use those environment variables specifically for the following command.

Shell variables Jump to heading

Shell variables are similar to environment variables, but won't be exported to spawned commands. They are defined with the following syntax:


If we use a shell variable instead of an environment variable in a similar example to what's shown in the previous "Environment variables" section:

VAR=hello && echo $VAR && deno eval "console.log('Deno: ' + Deno.env.get('VAR'))"

We will get the following output:

Deno: undefined

Shell variables can be useful when we want to re-use a value, but don't want it available in any spawned processes.

Exit status variable Jump to heading

The exit code of the previously run command is available in the $? variable.

# outputs 10
deno eval 'Deno.exit(10)' || echo $?

Pipelines Jump to heading

Pipelines provide a way to pipe the output of one command to another.

The following command pipes the stdout output "Hello" to the stdin of the spawned Deno process:

echo Hello | deno run main.ts

To pipe stdout and stderr, use |& instead:

deno eval 'console.log(1); console.error(2);' |& deno run main.ts

Command substitution Jump to heading

The $(command) syntax provides a way to use the output of a command in other commands that get executed.

For example, to provide the output of getting the latest git revision to another command you could do the following:

deno run main.ts $(git rev-parse HEAD)

Another example using a shell variable:

REV=$(git rev-parse HEAD) && deno run main.ts $REV && echo $REV

Negate exit code Jump to heading

To negate the exit code, add an exclamation point and space before a command:

# change the exit code from 1 to 0
! deno eval 'Deno.exit(1);'

Redirects Jump to heading

Redirects provide a way to pipe stdout and/or stderr to a file.

For example, the following redirects stdout of deno run main.ts to a file called file.txt on the file system:

deno run main.ts > file.txt

To instead redirect stderr, use 2>:

deno run main.ts 2> file.txt

To redirect both stdout and stderr, use &>:

deno run main.ts &> file.txt

To append to a file, instead of overwriting an existing one, use two right angle brackets instead of one:

deno run main.ts >> file.txt

Suppressing either stdout, stderr, or both of a command is possible by redirecting to /dev/null. This works in a cross-platform way including on Windows.

# suppress stdout
deno run main.ts > /dev/null
# suppress stderr
deno run main.ts 2> /dev/null
# suppress both stdout and stderr
deno run main.ts &> /dev/null

Or redirecting stdout to stderr and vice-versa:

# redirect stdout to stderr
deno run main.ts >&2
# redirect stderr to stdout
deno run main.ts 2>&1

Input redirects are also supported:

# redirect file.txt to the stdin of gzip
gzip < file.txt

Note that redirecting multiple redirects is currently not supported.

Cross-platform shebang Jump to heading

Starting in Deno 1.42, deno task will execute scripts that start with #!/usr/bin/env -S the same way on all platforms.

For example:

#!/usr/bin/env -S deno run
console.log("Hello there!");
  "tasks": {
    "hi": "./script.ts"

Then on a Windows machine:

> pwd
> deno task hi
Hello there!

Glob expansion Jump to heading

Glob expansion is supported in Deno 1.34 and above. This allows for specifying globs to match files in a cross-platform way.

# match .ts files in the current and descendant directories
echo **/*.ts
# match .ts files in the current directory
echo *.ts
# match files that start with "data", have a single number, then end with .csv
echo data[0-9].csv

The supported glob characters are *, ?, and [/].

Built-in commands Jump to heading

deno task ships with several built-in commands that work the same out of the box on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

  • cp - Copies files.
  • mv - Moves files.
  • rm - Remove files or directories.
    • Ex: rm -rf [FILE]... - Commonly used to recursively delete files or directories.
  • mkdir - Makes directories.
    • Ex. mkdir -p DIRECTORY... - Commonly used to make a directory and all its parents with no error if it exists.
  • pwd - Prints the name of the current/working directory.
  • sleep - Delays for a specified amount of time.
    • Ex. sleep 1 to sleep for 1 second, sleep 0.5 to sleep for half a second, or sleep 1m to sleep a minute
  • echo - Displays a line of text.
  • cat - Concatenates files and outputs them on stdout. When no arguments are provided it reads and outputs stdin.
  • exit - Causes the shell to exit.
  • head - Output the first part of a file.
  • unset - Unsets environment variables.
  • xargs - Builds arguments from stdin and executes a command.

If you find a useful flag missing on a command or have any suggestions for additional commands that should be supported out of the box, then please open an issue on the deno_task_shell repo.

Note that if you wish to execute any of these commands in a non-cross-platform way on Mac or Linux, then you may do so by running it through sh: sh -c <command> (ex. sh -c cp source destination).

package.json support Jump to heading

deno task falls back to reading from the "scripts" entries in a package.json file if it is discovered. Note that Deno does not respect or support any npm life cycle events like preinstall or postinstall—you must explicitly run the script entries you want to run (ex. deno cache main.ts && deno task postinstall).