Code Quality Rank: L2
Programming language: JavaScript
License: MIT License
Tags: Ast     Syntax     Source     Esprima     Tree     Burrito     Falafel     Traversal     Walk    
Latest version: v0.8.0

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Recursively walk and add extra information/helpers to Esprima / Mozilla SpiderMonkey Parser API compatible AST.

The main difference between other tools is that it also keeps information about tokens and white spaces and it is meant to be used to transform the tokens and not the string values itself.

This library is specially useful for non-destructive AST manipulation.


This module was heavily inspired by node-falafel and node-burrito but I needed more information than what is currently available on falafel (specially about tokens, empty lines and white spaces) and also needed to do the node traversing on the opposite order (start from leaf nodes). The amount of changes required to introduce the new features and the differences on the concept behind the tool justified a new project.

It was created mainly to be used on esformatter.

Extra Tokens

Besides all the regular tokens returned by esprima we also add a few more that are important for non-destructive transformations:

  • WhiteSpace
    • Can store multiple white spaces (tabs are considered white space, line breaks not). Important if you want to do non-destructive replacements that are white-space sensitive.
    • Multiple subsequent white spaces are treated as a single token.
  • LineBreak
  • LineComment
  • BlockComment

It's way easier to rebuild the JS string if the tokens already have line breaks and comments. It's also easier to identify if previous/next/current token is a LineBreak or Comment (sometimes needed for non-destructive transformations).

Rocambole structure might change in the future to keep the extraneous tokens outside the tokens array and also add an option to toggle the behavior. (issue #7)

Extra Properties

Each Node have the following extra properties/methods:

  • parent : Node|undefined
  • toString() : string
  • next : Node|undefined
  • prev : Node|undefined
  • depth : Number
  • startToken : Token
  • endToken : Token

Each token also have:

  • prev : Token|undefined
  • next : Token|undefined

BlockComment also have:

  • originalIndent: String|undefined

To get a better idea of the generated AST structure try out rocambole-visualize.

Linked List

You should treat the tokens as a linked list instead of reading the ast.tokens array (inserting/removing items from a linked list is very cheap and won't break the loop). You should grab a reference to the node.startToken and get token.next until you find the desired token or reach the end of the program. To loop between all tokens inside a node you can do like this:

var token = node.startToken;
while (token !== node.endToken.next) {
    token = token.next;

The method toString loops through all tokens between node.startToken and node.endToken grabbing the token.raw (used by comments) or token.value properties. To implement a method similar to falafel update() you can do this:

function update(node, str){
    var newToken = {
        type : 'Custom', // can be anything (not used internally)
        value : str
    // update linked list references
    if ( node.startToken.prev ) {
        node.startToken.prev.next = newToken;
        newToken.prev = node.startToken.prev;
    if ( node.endToken.next ) {
        node.endToken.next.prev = newToken;
        newToken.next = node.endToken.next;
    node.startToken = node.endToken = newToken;


I plan to create helpers as separate projects when possible.


rocambole.parse(source, [opts])

Parses a string and instrument the AST with extra properties/methods.

var rocambole = require('rocambole');
var ast = rocambole.parse(string);
console.log( ast.startToken );
// to get a string representation of all tokens call toString()
console.log( ast.toString() );

You can pass custom options as the second argument:

rocambole.parse(source, {
    loc: true,
    // custom options are forwarded to the rocambole.parseFn
    ecmaFeatures: {
        arrowFunctions: true

IMPORTANT: rocambole needs the range, tokens and comment info to build the token linked list, so these options will always be set to true.


Allows you to override the function used to parse the program. Defaults to esprima.parse.

// espree is compatible with esprima AST so things should work as expected
var espree = require('espree');
rocambole.parseFn = espree.parse;
rocambole.parseContext = espree;


Sets the context (this value) of the parseFn. Defaults to esprima.


Sets the default options passed to parseFn.

// default values
rocambole.parseOptions = {
    // we need range/tokens/comment info to build the tokens linked list!
    range: true,
    tokens: true,
    comment: true

rocambole.moonwalk(ast, callback)

The moonwalk() starts at the leaf nodes and go down the tree until it reaches the root node (Program). Each node will be traversed only once.

rocambole.moonwalk(ast, function(node){
    if (node.type == 'ArrayExpression'){
        console.log( node.depth +': '+ node.toString() );

Traverse order:

 Program [#18]
 `-FunctionDeclaration [#16]
   |-BlockStatement [#14]
   | |-IfStatement [#12]
   | | |-BynaryExpression [#9]
   | | | |-Identifier [#4]
   | | | `-Literal [#5]
   | | `-BlockStatement [#10]
   | |   `-ExpressionStatement [#6]
   | |     `-AssignmentExpression [#3]
   | |       |-Identifier [#1 walk starts here]
   | |       `-Literal [#2]
   | `-VariableDeclaration [#13]
   |   `-VariableDeclarator [#11]
   |     |-Identifier [#7]
   |     `-Literal [#8]
   `-ReturnStatement [#17]
     `-Identifier [#15]

This behavior is very different from node-falafel and node-burrito.

rocambole.walk(ast, callback)

It loops through all nodes on the AST starting from the root node (Program), similar to node-falafel.

rocambole.walk(ast, function(node){

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Unit Tests

Besides the regular unit tests we also use istanbul to generate code coverage reports, tests should have at least 95% code coverage for statements, branches and lines and 100% code coverage for functions or travis build will fail.

We do not run the coverage test at each call since it slows down the performnace of the tests and it also makes it harder to see the test results. To execute tests and generate coverage report call npm test --coverage, for regular tests just do npm test.

Coverage reports are not committed to the repository since they will change at each npm test --coverage call.



*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the Rocambole README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.