I work on a project where we have microservices and some of them use a different version of node.

This creates a lot of problems because few developers install only one version of node and use it everywhere.
Some install multiple versions but forget to switch to the right version for that microservice.

Over the years, I’ve found nvm to be very helpful in managing multiple node versions. It also automates switching to the right node version in the terminal.

Installing nvm

Open the terminal and run the command below.

$ curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nvm-sh/nvm/v0.39.1/install.sh | bash

You can read the latest installation instructions here.

Using nvm

Installing specific node versions

$ nvm install 16

$ nvm install 12.22.11

Switching node version

$ nvm use 16

List installed node versions

$ nvm ls

At this point, you can manually change to whichever version of node you want.
Whichever version you pick, that version of node will be used across all the terminals you open or whichever repo you are in.

Automating nvm use command

I use the terminal for almost all the npm scripts that I need to run. And I’m too lazy to check which version of node does a repo use. Neither do I want to run nvm use command every time I change the repo I’m working in.

To automate this we will create a .nvmrc file at the root of the repository. You can use any one of the below commands. Remember to change the command to the right version you use.

$ echo "16.14" > .nvmrc

$ echo "16" > .nvmrc

$ echo "lts/*" > .nvmrc # to default to the latest LTS version

$ echo "node" > .nvmrc # to default to the latest version

Now that the .nvmrc file is present, we don’t need to remember which node to use.
We can simply run the command nvm use.
nvm will search for the version in .nvmrc and based on that file it will switch to the right node.

The next step is to automatically run the nvm use command when I enter a repo.
To make this work there are multiple ways, but the easiest is to copy-paste the following in .zshrc

# place this after nvm initialization!
autoload -U add-zsh-hook
load-nvmrc() {
  local node_version="$(nvm version)"
  local nvmrc_path="$(nvm_find_nvmrc)"

  if [ -n "$nvmrc_path" ]; then
    local nvmrc_node_version=$(nvm version "$(cat "${nvmrc_path}")")

    if [ "$nvmrc_node_version" = "N/A" ]; then
      nvm install
    elif [ "$nvmrc_node_version" != "$node_version" ]; then
      nvm use
  elif [ "$node_version" != "$(nvm version default)" ]; then
    echo "Reverting to nvm default version"
    nvm use default
add-zsh-hook chpwd load-nvmrc

For bash, follow this link to find the code snippet to paste in .bashrc

Now, commit and push the .nvmrc files into repositories.

If everyone in your team uses nvm with the bash/zsh integration then you shouldn’t have issues like package-lock.json being modified without making any changes to package.json

That’s all you need to do. Happy Coding!

Photo Credits

Cover image - Computer programmer photo created by rawpixel.com - www.freepik.com