Emmanuel John I'm a full-stack software developer, mentor, and writer. I am an open source enthusiast. In my spare time, I enjoy watching sci-fi movies and cheering for Arsenal FC.

How Turbowatch compares to Nodemon

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How Turbowatch Compares To Nodemon

When it comes to automating file monitoring and application restarting in the development workflow of the Node.js environment, tools like Nodemon have been the go-to options for developers.

However, there are instances where developers may seek alternatives to Nodemon due to specific requirements or preferences. In such cases, Turbowatch emerges as a promising alternative that offers a more capable and extremely fast file change detector and task orchestrator for Node.js.

While both Turbowatch and Nodemon serve similar purposes, there are distinct differences in their features, performance, and user experiences.

In this article, we will explore the value Nodemon provides, the reasons why you may want a Nodemon alternative, and how Turbowatch compares to Nodemon in practice. We’ll provide developers with insights into the strengths and weaknesses of each tool, helping them make informed decisions based on their specific needs and preferences.

Jump ahead:

Why Nodemon?

Nodemon is a popular tool in the JavaScript ecosystem that offers an automatic restart of the server when it detects file changes in the application directory. Nodemon is widely adopted and appreciated for its simplicity and ease of use, especially in Node.js applications.

In order to use Nodemon, your code and development process do not need to be altered in any way. It brings significant value to the development process with notable features:

Community support

Nodemon boasts an active community, offering extensive documentation, tutorials, and support channels that empower developers with the resources they need.

Automatic restart

Nodemon was initially developed to automatically restart unresponsive processes, such as web servers. However, it has evolved to support applications that gracefully exit as well. When your script terminates cleanly, Nodemon continues to monitor the designated directory or directories, ready to restart the script upon detecting any changes.

Easy manual restart

While Nodemon is running, if you find the need to manually restart your application, you don’t have to stop and restart Nodemon itself. Simply enter the command rs, followed by pressing the enter key, and Nodemon will promptly initiate the restart of your process, providing a convenient and efficient way to restart without interrupting your workflow.

Running non-node scripts

Nodemon goes beyond executing and monitoring Node.js scripts. It also supports the execution and monitoring of scripts written in other programming languages. By intelligently identifying the file extension of the script being executed, Nodemon dynamically adjusts its monitoring behavior to match that specific extension, eliminating the need for manual configuration files like nodemon.json:

nodemon --exec "python -v" ./app.py

Now, Nodemon will run app.py using Python in verbose mode. It’ll automatically detect new or modified files with the .py extension. It’s important to note that if you’re not passing any arguments to the execution program, there is no need to include quotes.

Default executables

To customize the default executables in Nodemon, you can use the execMap property within the nodemon.json configuration file. This feature becomes especially valuable when you’re working with a programming language that is not inherently supported by Nodemon.

For instance, if you want to enable Nodemon to recognize the .pl extension for Perl scripts, you can simply add the following entry to your nodemon.json file:

  "execMap": {
    "pl": "perl"

Now, run the following code. Nodemon will know to use perl as the executable:

nodemon script.pl

Delaying restarting

In certain scenarios, it may be necessary to introduce a delay before Nodemon checks for new file changes. By default, Nodemon has a timeout of one second. However, if you’re dealing with a situation where multiple files are being uploaded and it takes a significant amount of time, this could potentially result in unnecessary app restarts.

To address this, you can use the --delay command to incorporate an additional throttle or delay before restarting:

nodemon --delay 10 server.js

This allows you to configure a specific delay period that suits your requirements, ensuring that Nodemon waits for the desired duration before triggering a restart.

Reasons to use a Nodemon alternative

While Nodemon is a popular choice, developers may want alternatives for various reasons:

  • Flexibility: Some developers may require greater flexibility in terms of configuration options or compatibility with specific frameworks or languages not fully supported by Nodemon
  • Performance optimization: In certain cases, developers may prioritize performance optimization and seek alternatives that offer improved efficiency and faster response times
  • User experience: Developers have unique preferences for user interface, ease of use, and integration with their preferred development tools and IDEs. Exploring alternatives allows them to find a tool that better aligns with their workflow

Before diving into Turbowatch, let’s understand Turborepo, the tool that inspired the creation of Turbowatch.

What is Turborepo?

Turborepo is a groundbreaking solution that leverages the build system techniques pioneered by industry giants like Facebook and Google. Its primary mission is to remove the maintenance burden and overhead, revolutionizing the way we approach build systems.

Embracing the power of incremental builds, Turborepo spares developers from the excruciating process of repetitive builds. Once a build is completed, Turborepo remembers the outcome and intelligently skips reprocessing the parts that have already been computed. This feature saves valuable time and effort, allowing developers to focus on more important tasks.

Content-aware hashing

Gone are the days of relying solely on timestamps. Turborepo introduces content-aware hashing, a sophisticated approach that analyzes the actual contents of your files. By doing so, it accurately determines which components require rebuilding, eliminating unnecessary recompilations and ensuring optimal efficiency.

Remote caching

Turborepo’s remote caching capabilities allow for effective collaboration. Now, you can effortlessly share a remote build cache with your teammates and integrate it seamlessly into your CI/CD workflow. This shared cache accelerates build times even further, enabling swift iterations and faster development cycles.

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In-browser build profile generation

Turborepo empowers developers with comprehensive insights through its browser-based profiling feature. Generate detailed build profiles, which can be conveniently imported into popular browsers like Chrome or Edge. By visualizing the tasks that consume the most time, developers gain a deeper understanding of performance bottlenecks, enabling them to optimize their workflows.

As powerful as the Turborepo is, it does not support file-watching operations. This missing feature is the reason Turbowatch was created.

What is Turbowatch?

Turbowatch serves as a versatile toolbox for managing and debugging file watching operations. Its development stemmed from the absence of a “watch” mode in Turborepo. Turbowatch simplifies the coordination of file watching activities, abstracting away the intricacies involved.

Turbowatch is designed specifically for monorepos or complex workspaces, and it proves valuable when dealing with numerous interconnected build steps. Whether it involves building and rebuilding dependencies, managing Docker containers, populating data, or triggering notifications, Turbowatch streamlines these operations within your project.

However, it’s worth noting that if you’re working on a straightforward project that only entails a single build step or watch operation, the use of Turbowatch may not be necessary. Its benefits are most prominent in scenarios with multiple interdependent processes and a more intricate workspace configuration.

Turbowatch vs. Nodemon in practice

Turbowatch and Nodemon are both widely used tools for automatic code reloading in development environments. While they serve a similar purpose, there are some notable differences between them in terms of features and functionality.

File monitoring and restarting

Turbowatch monitors file changes by using a combination of file system event monitoring and intelligent event processing.

First, during initialization, Turbowatch scans the specified directories and files to create an initial snapshot of their states, capturing metadata such as file paths, sizes, and modification timestamps.

Then, it enters a continuous monitoring loop where it listens for file system events using system-level APIs provided by the operating system. These APIs, like fs.watch in Node.js, notify Turbowatch when changes occur in the monitored directories or files.

Upon receiving an event, Turbowatch processes it by comparing the event details with the initial snapshot. It determines the specific changes that have occurred, such as file modifications, deletions, or creations.

Based on the type of change detected, Turbowatch triggers appropriate actions. For example, in the case of a file modification, it initiates code reloading to reflect the updated changes. For file deletions, it handles code removal or cleanup, and for file creations, it manages the addition of new code.

On the other hand,Nodemon monitors file changes by using file system event listeners. When Nodemon is running, it continuously observes the specified directories and files for modifications. Once a file change is detected, Nodemon triggers an action, such as restarting the server or executing a specified command. This allows developers to see the effects of their code changes without manually stopping and restarting the server.

Nodemon achieves this by leveraging file system APIs provided by the underlying operating system, such as fs.watch in Node.js. These APIs notify Nodemon whenever there are changes in the monitored files or directories.

Watching multiple scripts

By default, Nodemon monitors the current working directory. However, if you want more control over this behavior, you can use the --watch option to specify paths:

nodemon --watch app --watch libs app/server.js

With this command, Nodemon will only restart if there are changes in the ./app or ./libs directories. Nodemon automatically traverses sub-directories, so there’s no need to explicitly include them.

Similarly, Turbowatch defaults to looking for a turbowatch.ts script in the current working directory. However, you have the flexibility to run multiple scripts concurrently by providing them as arguments to Turbowatch:

turbowatch ./foo.ts ./bar.ts

You can also use glob patterns to specify multiple scripts:

turbowatch '**/turbowatch.ts'

By using Turbowatch, you can ensure consistency and efficiency in your watch operations, enabling seamless monitoring and execution of your scripts.

Features and functionalities

When it comes to incremental builds, Turbowatch takes the lead over Nodemon. It intelligently remembers the previously built code and only recompiles the necessary parts, saving valuable time and resources. This feature greatly enhances development efficiency, particularly in larger projects with complex dependencies.

In terms of content-aware hashing, Turbowatch shines again. By analyzing the file contents rather than relying on timestamps, it accurately determines which files need to be rebuilt. This ensures that the code reloading process is precise and avoids unnecessary recompilation.

Remote caching is another area where Turbowatch demonstrates its superiority. With the ability to share a remote build cache with teammates and integrate it into CI/CD workflows, Turbowatch significantly speeds up build times. This collaborative feature promotes seamless collaboration and enables faster iterations.

On the other hand, Nodemon focuses primarily on automatic server restarting. It excels in simplicity and ease of use.

Performance and efficiency

With its Rust-based technology and advanced features, Turbowatch prioritizes high performance and optimization. It uses intelligent file monitoring techniques like content-aware hashing and incremental builds to minimize unnecessary recompilations and reduce build times. By efficiently detecting file changes and selectively rebuilding only the necessary parts, Turbowatch offers excellent performance and helps streamline the development process.

On the other hand, Nodemon focuses primarily on automatic server restarting in JavaScript-based development environments. While Nodemon offers simplicity and ease of use, it may not provide the same level of performance optimization as Turbowatch. Nodemon typically relies on file system event listeners provided by the operating system, which may have limitations in terms of fine-grained change detection and optimization.

Therefore, if performance and efficiency are top priorities, Turbowatch would be a compelling choice. Its advanced features and tailored approach make it suitable for large projects or scenarios where build times and incremental updates are critical. On the other hand, Nodemon remains a popular choice for rapid development cycles where simplicity and ease of use take precedence over performance optimizations.

Ease of use and integration

While Nodemon lacks some of the advanced features of Turbowatch, it remains a reliable choice for developers who prioritize simplicity and ease of setup. It offers a straightforward configuration process and can be quickly integrated into existing projects, allowing developers to focus on their code without unnecessary distractions.

On the other hand, Turbowatch requires more initial setup and configuration. It might involve installing additional dependencies or modifying build processes to take advantage of Turbowatch’s capabilities fully.

Community and support

Nodemon, being a widely adopted and established tool, has a larger and more established community than Turbowatch. It has been around for a longer time, and as a result, there are extensive online resources, forums, and community discussions available. Developers can find a wealth of tutorials, examples, and troubleshooting guides related to Nodemon, making it easier to seek help and find solutions to common issues.

Turbowatch, being a relatively newer tool, has a smaller community. As a result, finding specific resources or community support for Turbowatch is limited. However, its growing popularity and advancements in its ecosystem may lead to an expanding community and increased support in the future.

It’s also worth noting that both Turbowatch and Nodemon have active open source repositories where developers can raise issues, contribute code, and seek assistance directly from the maintainers and contributors of the projects.


Turbowatch and Nodemon serve similar purposes but cater to different needs. Turbowatch stands out with advanced features such as incremental builds, content-aware hashing, and remote caching, making it an excellent choice for larger projects and teams.

Meanwhile, Nodemon’s simplicity and ease of use make it a popular option for smaller projects or rapid prototyping. Ultimately, the selection between Turbowatch and Nodemon depends on the specific requirements of the project and the developer’s priorities.

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Emmanuel John I'm a full-stack software developer, mentor, and writer. I am an open source enthusiast. In my spare time, I enjoy watching sci-fi movies and cheering for Arsenal FC.

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