Ah Grunt, the JavaScript task runner and automator, dead set on a path to make our lives easy, and take care of all of our grunt work. The cool kids are using it with their eyes closed, the rest are catching up and realising its extreme value, and if you're not using it, there's no better time to start than now. Here are 5 reasons why Grunt is awesome, and why you should be using it.

1) Code Linting

Grunt allows you to lint CSS and JS files via the two respective plugins. Linting basically analyses your code and warns of potential errors. For JavaScript in particular, this can be pretty useful because of oft-ambiguous errors in the console. Linting also suggests better practices in code structure, and picks up on silly mistakes like poor spacing and missing semicolons. It can be a lifesaver!

2) JavaScript Testing

JavaScript testing may seem like stuff of the new ages, but it's actually been around for quite some time. Nonetheless, Grunt makes it highly accessible and efficient today with plugins for testing frameworks like Jasmine. These testing frameworks allow us to set up tests for our JS code, and run the tests getting some sweet pass/fail action and notices in the browser. Here's an example of some testing code in Jasmine:

describe('Sum of two numbers', function () {
    it('finds the sum of two numbers', function () {
        expect(3 + 5).toEqual(8);

The above might be a very simple case, but knowing what you want your output to be is half the challenge. With JS testing, you can actually test your functions with multiple cases, and get a detailed report on whether tests have passed or failed. You can indeed download starter kits and get it set up manually, but grunt can take care of all of that for you easily.

3) CSS Postprocessing

You probably know about CSS pre-processing, with extensions like Sass and LESS. They allow us to include variables, functions, and the likes to our code, and it gets pre-processed before output. These days, CSS post-processing is also highly beneficial. Post-processing works on the other side of pre-processing. After your CSS is saved or compiled, you can run it through various post-processors to handle some dirty work for you.

The top one that comes to mind is Autoprefixer. Autoprefixer vendor prefixes may haunt you in your sleep, but no longer. Even if you're using mixins from pre-processors or authoring frameworks like Compass, post-processing is more reliable. Autoprefixer is updated regularly, and parses CSS and add vendor prefixes to CSS rules using values from Can I Use (everyone's favourite site). From animations to flexbox syntax, it's all covered. And Grunt handles it with a breeze.

4) File Compression & Concatenation

This point can't be stressed enough. Separation of concerns is a term that is being driven into us these days, and rightfully so. The web is a rapidly changing place, and proper distinction of functionality is increasingly important. With that in mind, it's highly likely that during development, your project will contain multiple files that are concerned with their own purpose. It's also likely that all of these files will be expanded, properly commented, spaced, and indented for readability and development. If this is your project directory during development, then good.

When production time rolls around though, and it's time to crunch those kilobytes to boost performance and reduce requests, nothing beats file compression and concatenation. Guess what? Grunt can handle all of that for us easily. There are plugins for compression of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, as well as file concatenation plugins, and they are all very performant. Get on it!

5) Task Automation

I saved this one for last, but it's by far and wide the number one reason that you should be using Grunt in your projects today. I speak of task automation. The fact that you can automate all of the tasks I mentioned above (plus more) while you work makes life so easy for you. Take some time to set up once, watch your project every time you're going to work on it, and never have to worry about any of the grunt work again. Writing some CSS but testing in a prefix-required browser? Just hit save on your file, and head over to the browser while it reads your post-processed, prefixed CSS. Creating some new expectations for your Jasmine test because you had some doubts? Make that change in your file, and Grunt will be watching. You'll be able to view your revised test results. And that is just plain old cool.

Wrap Up

So there you have it, five reasons (out of many more) that you should be implementing Grunt in your projects right this second. If you're having any trouble getting your head around Grunt, I encourage you to check out my getting started tutorial. I hope this article struck some chords with you, and you're now encouraged to get to the next level with your projects. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, feel free to write it below, and thanks for reading.