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Navigating Frontend Monorepos - A Comprehensive Guide

Posted on:November 15, 2023 at 11:11 AM

In the ever-evolving world of software development, the monorepo approach has gained significant traction, particularly among frontend developers. A monorepo, short for “monolithic repository,” refers to a development strategy where multiple projects are housed in a single repository. This approach contrasts with the more traditional multi-repo approach, where each project has its own repository.

Use Cases for Frontend Monorepos

Monorepos are particularly beneficial in certain scenarios:

  1. Large Teams and Projects: They allow for better coordination among large teams working on different parts of a project.
  2. Shared Components: When multiple projects share common components, a monorepo ensures consistency and ease of maintenance.
  3. Atomic Commits: Developers can make cross-project changes in a single commit, enhancing traceability and rollback capabilities.
  4. Unified Tooling: A single setup for build, test, and deployment processes improves efficiency.

Alternative Approaches

The primary alternative to a monorepo is the multi-repo approach. In this setup, each project or module is kept in a separate repository. This strategy is often preferred for its simplicity and for scenarios where projects are highly independent.

Pros, Cons, and Challenges









Tooling Options for Implementing Monorepo

Several tools have emerged to effectively manage monorepos:

  1. Lerna: Optimized for managing JavaScript projects, Lerna simplifies publishing, testing, and managing dependencies. The project was not maintained for a long time, but is now been revived by Nx.
  2. Nx: Known for its smart, extensible build system, Nx is particularly useful for Angular projects but works with others too.
  3. Rush: Offers scalable build, test, and release automation for large monorepos from Microsoft.
  4. Turborepo: A high-performance build system that excels in caching and parallel processing.

Comparison of Tooling Options

Implementing a Monorepo with Turborepo

TurboRepo, known for its efficiency in managing monorepos, offers a variety of commands to facilitate various development tasks. Here are some of the basic commands you might frequently use:

  1. npm install turbo --save-dev: This command sets up a new TurboRepo project. It’s a starting point for creating a monorepo with TurboRepo.

  2. turbo run [task]: This is one of the most used commands. It allows you to run a specific task (like build, test, lint, etc.) across all packages in the monorepo that have that task defined.

  3. turbo run [task] --filter=[package]: This command runs a specific task on a specific package. It’s useful when you want to focus on a single package within your monorepo.

  4. turbo run [task] --parallel: Executes the specified task in parallel across packages, which can significantly speed up the process in a multi-package monorepo.

  5. turbo run [task] --no-cache: Runs the specified task without using TurboRepo’s caching mechanism, ensuring a fresh execution.

  6. turbo add [package-name]: This command is used to add new packages or dependencies to your monorepo.

  7. turbo prune: Cleans up the TurboRepo cache, which can sometimes be necessary to resolve issues or reclaim disk space.

  8. turbo build: Specifically for building all the packages in the monorepo. It respects the dependency graph to build in the correct order.

  9. turbo dev: Used to start the development environment for your projects, watching for changes and rebuilding as needed.

These commands provide a robust framework for managing tasks across multiple packages in a monorepo, streamlining development workflows and enhancing productivity.

Challenges in Adopting Monorepo

From my personal experience, the monorepo approach shines when it comes to managing shared packages, but it presents notable challenges for applications, particularly when these applications are independent products with distinct business priorities.

In a diverse project environment where each app evolves at its own pace, synchronizing core dependencies like React or a specific UI framework across different apps can be quite demanding. This complexity is primarily due to the differing rates of evolution and the unique requirements of each app. For instance, an update in a shared library or a major version bump in a framework like React might be beneficial for one app but could potentially disrupt or require significant refactoring in another.

This dichotomy often necessitates a careful, strategic approach to dependency management and versioning within the monorepo, ensuring that updates enhance functionality without compromising the individual integrity and development timelines of each application.


Monorepos offer a compelling approach to managing large-scale frontend projects, fostering better collaboration, consistency, and efficiency. While there are challenges in adopting this strategy, the availability of specialized tools like Lerna, Rush, Nx, and Turborepo can significantly mitigate some of these issues.

Ultimately, the choice between a monorepo and a multi-repo setup depends on the specific needs and scale of the projects involved.

For a deeper dive into frontend monorepos, consider exploring the official documentation of these tools and community forums for real-world implementation stories and best practices.


Official Documentation: