bpkg Package Guidelines

Package details

Here we lay down some info on the structure of a package.


Every package must have a file called bpkg.json; it specifies package metadata on the JSON format. (For legacy reasons, this file may also be called package.json).

Here’s an example of a well-formed bpkg.json:

  "name": "term",
  "version": "0.0.1",
  "description": "Terminal utility functions",
  "scripts": [ "term.sh" ],
  "install": "make install"

All fields are mandatory except when noted. Here’s a detailed explanation on all fields:


The name attribute is required as it is used to tell bpkg where to put it in the deps/ directory in you project.

  "name": "my-script"

version (optional)

The version attribute is not required but can be useful. It should correspond to the version that is associated with the installed package.

  "version": "0.0.1"


A human readable description of what the package offers for functionality.

  "description": "This script makes monkeys jump out of your keyboard"


Indicates that the package is only intended to be installed as a script. This allows the omission of the -g or --global flag during installation.

  "global": "true"


Shell script used to invoke in the install script. This is required if the global attribute is set to true or if the -g or --global flags are provided.

  "install": "make install"


This is an array of scripts that will be installed into a project.

  "scripts": ["script.sh"]

files (optional)

This is an array of non-script files that will be installed into a project.

  "files": ["bar.txt", "foo.txt"]

dependencies (optional)

This is a hash of dependencies. The keys are the package names, and the values are the version specifiers. If you want the latest code use 'master' in the version specifier. Otherwise, use a tagged release identifier. This works the same as bpkg install’s package/version specifiers.

  "dependencies": {
    "term": "0.0.1"

dependencies-dev (optional)

This is a hash of dependencies only needed during development. Like the dependencies array, the keys are the package names, and the values are the version specifiers; 'master' or a tagged release can be used as the identifier. These development dependencies are installed by adding the -d or --dev flags to the bpkg install command.

  "dependencies-dev": {
    "term": "0.0.1"

commands (optional)

This is a hash of commands. The keys are the names of the commands and the values are the commands to execute in a shell. The commands can be called from the command line with bpkg run followed by the command name.

  "commands": {
    "say-hello": "echo \"Hello $1\""

The commands are run with eval, which runs the command as if on the command line. Commands can contain environment variables, and supports shell features (including special parameters and shell expansions). Passed parameters (on the command line after the command name) can be accessed in the command by using $@ or $1.

$ bpkg run say-hello "Bash Package Manager"
Hello Bash Package Manager

Packaging best practices

These are guidelines that we strongly encourage developers to follow.

Package exports

It’s nice to have a bash package that can be used in the terminal and also be invoked as a command line function. To achieve this the exporting of your functionality should follow this pattern:

if [[ ${BASH_SOURCE[0]} != $0 ]]; then
  export -f my_script
  my_script "${@}"
  exit $?

This allows a user to source your script or invoke as a script.

# Running as a script
$ ./my_script.sh some args --blah
# Sourcing the script
$ source my_script.sh
$ my_script some more args --blah