Vanilla CLI

  • Available in Vanilla 2.4.2

Vanilla provides a command line tool to make various tasks easier for developers working on Vanilla Forums core or addons.

Current functionalities include:

  • Building frontend assets (scripts, stylesheets, and images).
  • Generating cache files for addons.
  • Converting addons’ PluginInfo/ThemeInfo to the addon.json format.
  • Validate addons in a Vanilla installation.

Getting Started

Follow the setup guide.

Build Tools

The Vanilla CLI bundles it’s own build tool to make starting and mainting your Vanilla Forums addons easier.

Many Vanilla addons often have their own tools to build their frontend dependencies. Normally these tools bundle, concatenate, and/or minify the javascript and styles, compress images and other assets, and may include a CSS authoring tool such as Sass or Less. Many of these build toolchains accomplish the same objective but in different ways.

The Vanilla Build Tool aims to provide a consistant experience to building frontend assets for Vanilla. If you specify a build process in your addon.json it will use that process automatically, but falls back to legacy build process for older projects. This is to try to smooth the edges of working with older addons, but is not as simple as using one of the built in processes.


vanilla build [<options>]



Run the build process in watch mode. This will listen for changes in your code and recompile the parts that have changed. It spawns a local server meant to hook into the livereload browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. This is officially supported by the 1.0 build process only. It may also work with the legacy build process if the addon supports it.


Log additional output to stdout. This is helpful for finding out what might be wrong in your build process and outlines each step as they occur.


This tool has its own javascript dependencies that it relies on to function properly. Some of these are native modules and may require recompilation if your OS or Node.js installation get upgraded. This flags clears all cached modules and reinstall/recompiles them. The tool will attempt to do this automatically if necessary, but this command can be useful for fixing dependency related issues.

Addon Utilities

The Vanilla CLI offers a few utilities to make managing your addons easier. They only work with addons currently installed in a Vanilla installation and function by using Vanilla’s built in addon manager to do the heavy lifting. As a result, these commands require you to point them to the vanilla directory with the --vanillasrc parameter.

Alternatively you can set the the environmental variable VANILLACLI_VANILLA_SRC_DIR to the installation path.

vanilla addon-cache [<options>]

Reads the vanilla’s addon-cache.



You vanilla installation’s source directory.


Will clear the addon-cache and regenerate it. This is useful for priming the cache without needing to load a page.

vanilla addon-doctor [<options>]

Scans for issues in your addons.



You vanilla installation’s source directory.

vanilla addon-json [<options>]

Convert addons from using $PluginInfo / $ThemeInfo / about.php metadata declaration to the newer addon.json format. This will convert all addons linked to you vanilla installation.



You vanilla installation’s source directory.

Common Issues

There are a few common issues that people run into.

I’m having trouble getting the parameters right.

The CLI tool has some help baked right into the tool! By appending --help to any command you can list subcommands or parameters right in your console.

$ vanilla build --help
$ vanilla addon-json --help

I’m trying to resolve an issue with my build myself but there is not enough output to figure out what’s going on.

The CLI tool has a verbose mode which can output additional information to the console. Use it by adding the --verbose flag.

vanilla build --verbose

I’m having an issue with the CLI’s own node_module dependancies.

Try running your command with the --reinitialize flag. This will force-reinstall the node_modules required for your particular command.

vanilla build --reinitialize

This applies only to manual installations of vanilla-cli. Navigate to your vanilla-cli directory and run composer install.

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