Brewfile: a Gemfile, but for Homebrew

Bundler users define dependencies for Ruby applications in a Gemfile and install those dependencies by running bundle install.

Homebrew users can define dependencies for their OS X operating system with a Brewfile, like this:

# Brewfile
brew "openssl"
# a comment
tap "homebrew/dupes"

To use the Brewfile, tap homebrew/bundle (one time) to install the command, then run it in a directory with a Brewfile in it:

brew tap homebrew/bundle
brew bundle

Note that Homebrew will treat lines that start with # as comments. To install a package, use brew, and to tap a repository, use tap. So this:

brew "openssl"
# a comment
tap "homebrew/dupes"

is equivalent as these commands:

brew install openssl
brew tap homebrew/dupes

Usage

I can think of a few places where a Brewfile would be welcome:

  • In dotfiles, either yours or your company’s. For example, we use it in our excellent dotfiles repo.
  • A setup script for your app (bundle install && brew bundle)
  • A setup script for a new machine. I often forget to install one of them (like rbenv-gem-rehash).

It’s a neat encapsulation for non-programming-language dependencies like phantomjs.

What’s next

If you found this useful, I recommend checking out the source of the brew bundle command. For more Homebrew tricks, read through our OSX-related posts.