A bundling of the well-known debug module with ordered shutdown logic and an auto-launching repl

debug, repl, shutdown, service, callsite
npm install debug-repl@3.0.1



A combination of the well-known debug module with ordered shutdown logic, a useful callsite getter and conditional auto-spawning of REPL

#! /usr/bin/env node
// require the debug-repl module, providing this module to the initialiser
var debug = require('debug-repl')(module);

// set a module variable to be exported to the GLOBAL object for user inspection
exports.foo = 'bar';

// set a timer of 5 secs
exports.timeout = setTimeout(debug.bind(null, exports.foo), 5000);

// setup a function to be called on SIGTERM, SIGINT and repl-exit
debug.shutdown['50timeout'] = function timeout(done) {
    debug(debug.callsite); // test Array { file: 'test.js', line: 13, colm: 16, func: 'timeout' } +2s
    exports.timeout = clearTimeout(exports.timeout);
    done(); // this is required for subsequent shutdown functions to be called

Version Differences

  • v2-v3
    • switched to using the PIDFILE environment variable for enabling and locating the pidfile
    • added the callsite getter
  • v1-v2
    • eliminated a 2nd copy of the module.exports to the global object
    • added a means to log arguments to the shutdown-done callbacks
    • now explicitly testing whether the passed module is the process.mainModule
    • added a means to change the location of the PID file


$ npm install debug-repl --save


  • Creates a debug function using the name of the current module
  • Spawns a REPL if the current-module is the main-module
  • Registers a shutdown function with SIGTERM, SIGINT and REPL-exit
  • Protects against SIGHUP by registering a null-function
  • Exposes the shutdown dictionary-object as an attribute on every debug function
  • Exposes the callsite getter on every debug function to fetch the calling file, line, column and function-name as attributes of a callsite-array


This module provides four elements that are often useful together:

  1. Automatic naming of debug functions that cope with code refactoring
  2. Activation of REPL in a NodeJS application under Development, but not in Production.
  3. Ordered clean shutdown of application components.
  4. A callsite getter for generically identifying a file/line and call-stack.


var debug = require('debug-repl')(module[, name][, norepl]);

Yields the same function-object that would return from require('debug')(name); with the addition of shutdown and callstate atttributes.

A REPL is spawned only if the following conditions are met:

  • norepl is falsy (or absent)
  • STDIN is a TTY
  • STDOUT is a TTY
  • the supplied module is the process.mainModule

The debug.shutdown attribute is an dictionary-object to which functions can be added by name. Application shutdown is triggered by any one of the following:

  1. quitting the REPL
  2. receipt of SIGTERM
  3. receipt of SIGINT

When the shutdown is triggered, all dictionary-keys are harvested from the shutdown dictionary-object, sorted alpha-numerically and then executed in turn. Each supplied shutdown function is given a done callback parameter to call when complete. Any parameters passed to the done callback are discarded and the next shutdown function is called.

For example, consider a webservice connected to a backend database. On shutdown, the HTTP server would be closed first, then once all HTTP clients have disconnected, the database connection would be closed. To this end, HTTP and Database shutdown functions might be set as follows:

debug.shutdown['30httpserver'] = function (done) {
debug.shutdown['60database'] = function (done) {

If a function is assigned to the debug attribute on the debug-repl module-object, then any parameters passed to the done callbacks are passed as arguments to this function for possible logging.

Once all shutdown functions have been called, the NodeJS event-engine should be free to exit. If any timer or i/o handles remain, the application will persist.

Usage with Linux systemd

A systemd.service unit-file of the following general form can start/stop/reload a NodeJS application as a Service:

# file: /etc/systemd/system/example.service
Description=An Example NodeJS Service Application

ExecReload=/usr/sbin/fuser -HUP -ks $PIDFILE


Defining the PIDFILE environment variable causes this module to write process.pid to the specified filename and to retain the open file-handle allowing fuser to signal the process as required.