Core Nx Tutorial - Step 5: Automatically Detect Dependencies

Manually telling Nx about the dependencies between your projects is helpful, but as your repo grows it becomes difficult for a person to keep track of all the dependencies that are introduced. If you miss a dependency, the guarantees of the affected command are voided.

Luckily, Nx core can automatically detect dependencies that are created in .ts or .js files.

Side note 1: If you want to disable detecting dependencies from source code and want to only use the dependencies as defined in package.json (the same way yarn does), you can add the following configuration to your nx.json file:

2  "pluginsConfig": {
3    "@nrwl/js": {
4      "analyzeSourceFiles": false
5    }
6  }

Side note 2: If you want Nx to automatically detect dependencies for other languages, you can install a plugin for that language. There is a list of Nrwl maintained and third party plugins on the community page.

Create Messages Library

Make two files.


2  "name": "messages"


1const message = 'Welcome to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe';
3module.exports = { message };

This library is exporting a single message string.

Create Cow Application

Install the cowsay npm package at the root of the workspace.

yarn add -W cowsay@1.5.0

Make an application that uses the messages library. Note that you won't specify the dependency manually in the package.json file.


2  "name": "cow",
3  "version": "0.0.1",
4  "scripts": {
5    "serve": "node index.js"
6  }


1var cowsay = require('cowsay');
2var { message } = require('../messages');
5  cowsay.say({
6    text: message,
7  })

Now if you run nx serve cow, you'll see this:

$ node index.js
< Welcome to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe >
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||
Done in 0.14s.


 >  NX   Successfully ran target serve for project cow

   See Nx Cloud run details at

View the Project Graph

Run nx graph to view the new project graph. You'll see a dependency line has been drawn between cow and messages because Nx recognises that cow is referencing code inside the messages project.

This line tells Nx about the dependency:

1var { message } = require('../messages');

If at some point in the future the code is refactored so that cow no longer references messages, the project graph will automatically update accordingly.

More Tooling

If you want Nx to do more for you, you can install the @nrwl/js plugin to help with typescript or javascript tooling. This plugin provides out of the box:

  • Typescript alias paths
  • Build with tsc or swc
  • Jest and ESLint configuration

What's Next