A reusable, extendable, updatable Gulp workflow for WordPress themes & plugins

wordpress, theme, gulp, workflow, webpack, babel, es6, sass, postcss, browsersync
npm install gulp-wp@0.4.2


Gulp WP

Gulp WP is a single-dependency Gulp-based workflow script for WordPress themes and plugins. See the Rationale section for why we've built this, but here's a summary:

Gulp WP is:

  • 🔃 Reusable: It's a collection of workflow scripts that you can drop into any project without having to untangle it from other setups.
  • ↔️ Extendable: It's built with Gulp 4 and can be used as-is or hooked into to customize or add new workflows for your specific project.
  • ⬆️ Updatable: One single NPM dependency to update when needed!
  • 🆗 Sensible: It comes with "sensible defaults", and uses the official @wordpress/scripts package for JS with some conveniences added for multiple entrypoints.

It is also 🆒 , 🆕 , & 🆓 !

Getting Started


  • Node.js v14.6+
  • NPM v7+


Install directly from NPM into your project:

npm install gulp-wp


You can start running the workflow immediately with this command in your project folder:

npx gulp-wp

This will run the default task, which watches and compiles your files and runs BrowserSync.

Note that any argument that you can pass to the standard gulp command you can pass with gulp-wp, with the exception of --gulpfile and --cwd, since those are used internally to run the appropriate gulpfile. For isntance, you can also use the -LLLL flag to see debug messages from Gulp WP.

If you'd prefer, you can canonize the tasks as npm scripts in your project's package.json:


	"scripts": {
		"start": "gulp-wp",
		"build": "gulp-wp build",

The above allows you to run the default task via npm start and the build task via npm run build.

Note that usage is different if you want to customize the tasks or add your own. See Customization for details.

Main Tasks

There are several tasks available for individual aspects of development. Generally speaking, you probably shouldn't need to run them individually, since they are run as needed during the watch and build tasks.

Running a task in your project is as simple as calling npx gulp-wp foo where "foo" is the task name:

Task Description
dev Default task that runs when no task is specified (i.e. npx gulp-wp). Runs everything that build does, but also watches your files for changes and sends real-time updates via BrowserSync to your browser.
build Runs all of the various tasks to build your project for deployment.
scripts Runs @wordpress/scripts to package your JavaScript and generate asset files with a version hash and dependency array.
styles Compiles your Sass or Post CSS.
translate Runs wp-pot to create translation files.
version Copies version number updates from package.json to your theme's style.css file or your plugin's main php file.

See the Tasks section below for additional tasks and more details.

Project Structure

If you want to use this workflow with zero configuration, your project must be set up with the files located where the default configuration expects:

project (root)
  ├╴gulp-wp.config.js // optional
  ├╴gulpfile.js // optional
  ├╴index.php // required for themes
  ├╴style.css // required for themes, theme info only (no styles)
  ├╴dist // processed files only
  │ ├╴css
  │ │ ├╴*.css
  │ │ └╴*.css.map
  │ └╴js
  │   ├╴*.js
  │   └╴*.js.map
	│ └╴{textdomain}.pot
    │ ├╴*.[css|scss|sass]
    │ └╴{subfolders}

Only files within the root of the styles and scripts folders in src will be treated as separate entrypoints to transform, meaning they will be processed by the workflow and output to the appropriate folders in dist, including their sourcemap files. Subfolders in styles and scripts are not processed directly. Use subfolders to organize your partials or modules and import them where necessary into an entrypoint file in the root of the folder. Note that it is still best practice to prepend Sass partial file names with "_".

Yes, sourcemaps are output in development as well as production. It doesn't hurt performance and is helpful for production debuging and fellow developers learning our craft.

Theme or Plugin

Gulp WP can be used for themes and plugins. It will assume your project is a theme if there is a style.css file in the root, as WordPress requires this file with theme info in the header. Otherwise, it will look for your main plugin PHP file. The translate task uses the theme or plugin header info to set the package and text-domain.


While this package can be used with "zero configuration", your project may require that some defaults are changed.

Environment Configuration

There are certain configurations that may be unique to each developer or environment, such as the local development URL or what browser BrowserSync should open, if any, so this package supports Dotenv for the options listed below. Just add a file to the root of your project named ".env", add any of the below options, and don't forget to add the file to your gitignore.

Option Default Type Description
DEV_URL "http://localhost" string Local development URL for Browsersync. HTTPS and paths are accepted: "https://devdomain.local/foo".
NOTIFY true boolean|string Either a boolean to turn notifications on/off, or a string specifying what sound should be used (Mac only). See https://github.com/mikaelbr/node-notifier for sound name options.
BROWSERSYNC_OPEN true boolean See https://browsersync.io/docs/options#option-open
BROWSERSYNC_BROWSER N/A string Must be either a single string value or an array in JSON format as a string. See https://browsersync.io/docs/options#option-browser
BROWSERSYNC_NOTIFY true boolean See https://browsersync.io/docs/options#option-notify

Example Dotenv file

file: .env

BROWSERSYNC_BROWSER='["firefox", "google chrome"]'

The BROWSERSYNC_BROWSER option takes a JSON-parsable string, so it must be surrounded by single-quotes with double-quotes used within. It can be an array like the example above or a single browser name string (='firefox') or path (='/Applications/FirefoxDeveloperEdition.app')).

Note that you can also set other environment variables for tools used by this workflow. For instance, you can set DISABLE_NOTIFIER=true to turn off gulp-notify directly instead of using the NOTIFY option.

Project Configuration

If it's really necessary, you can provide a configuration object to Gulp WP, either via a gulp-wp.config.js file in the root of your project, or as the second parameter when requiring gulp-wp in a custom gulpfile.js (See Gulpfile Config).

There are very few options, and most are geared towards individual task config. Each task file contains it's own default configuration in its export object. See Tasks for default task config.

file: gulp-wp.config.js

module.exports = {
	plugin: 'plugin-file.php', // Optional: explicitly specify your main plugin file that contains header info
	tasks: {
		scripts: {
			src: 'foo/styles',
			dest: 'bar/styles',
		styles: {
			src: 'foo/scripts',
			dest: 'bar/scripts',
		translate: {
			dest: 'translations',


Dev (Default)



gulp-wp dev

Runs build, then watches your files for changes, incimentally recompiles, and streams updates to or reloads your browser via BrowserSync.


gulp-wp build

Runs a series of parallel tasks in three groups: preBuild, build, and postBuild. The tasks that run by default for each of these groups are part of the default config for the build task and can be extended or overridden by your project config.

You can import the default task if your intention is to extend instead of override.

const { config } = require( 'gulp-wp/tasks/build' );

module.exports = {
	tasks: {
		build: {
			preBuild: [ ...config.preBuild, 'example' ],

Default config:

	preBuild: [ 'clean' ],
	build: [ 'styles', 'scripts', 'translate', 'version' ],
	postBuild: [],


gulp-wp clean

Cleans the dest folders of specified tasks.

Default config:

	cleanDest: [ 'scripts', 'styles' ],


gulp-wp scripts

Transforms your script source files (.js, .jsx, .ts, .tsx, etc) into JS for the browser.


  • @wordpress/scripts: Scripts are transformed via Webpack and the official @wordpress/scripts config. This provides many benefits, most notably that "asset" files are generated that include a version hash and a dependencies array for enqueuing based on imports of core @wordpress/* modules.
  • gulp-dependents: While this is by default a Sass tool, it has been configured to also handle JavaScript ES6 imports. Only entrypoint files that import the module you just edited will be recompiled.

Default config:

	src: 'src/scripts/**/*.*', // all script source files for dependency tree
	srcBase: 'src/scripts', // for watch task to mirror deletions
	dest: 'dist/js',
	entries: 'src/scripts/*.*', // files that are entrypoints
	includePaths: [ 'node_modules' ],


gulp-wp styles

Transforms your style source files (.css, .scss, .sass) into CSS for the browser.


  • gulp-sass: Implements Dart Sass and sets the node_modules folder as an includePath (so you can do @import 'foo/bar' instead of @import '../../node_modules/foo/bar').
  • gulp-sass-glob: Import sass files using glob patterns, great for importing styles for components that don't depend on each other.
  • node-sass-json-importer: Import .json & .js files into Sass. JS files must export via the module.exports object. Note that camelCase property names will be transformed into kebab-case for compatibility with CSS/Sass.
  • gulp-postcss: Currently the only PostCSS plugin in use by default is Autoprefixer.
  • gulp-clean-css: Minifies CSS inteligently. Set to level 2 optimizations by default.
  • gulp-dependents: Only recompile the entry files that import/use the partial you just edited.

Using Sass is optional--If you prefer to use PostCSS plugins, refer to this documentation for how to load them via postcss config: https://www.npmjs.com/package/postcss-load-config

Note that if you use your own local PostCSS config file, the default Gulp WP plugins (autoprefixer) will not be applied. Make sure your local config includes the autoprefixer plugin if you need it.

Default config:

	src: 'src/styles/**/*.*', // all style source files for dependency tree
	srcBase: 'src/styles', // for watch task to mirror deletions
	dest: 'dist/css',
	entries: 'src/styles/*.*', // files that are entrypoints
	includePaths: [ 'node_modules' ],


gulp-wp translate

Generate a .pot file for your project.


  • gulp-wp-pot Pot file generator
  • Gets package and text-domain from your project's theme/plugin header

This task does not translate your project into other languages. It simply sets up the translation file which can then be used to translate your project with a tool like Poedit!

Default config:

	src: [ '**/*.php', '!node_modules/**/*', '!**/*.asset.php' ],
	dest: 'languages',


gulp-wp version

Copies the version number from package.json to your theme's style.css header or your plugin's main PHP file header. This allows for using npm version to manage version changes, though it requires some additional setup in your package.json to be useful:

	"scripts": {
		"version": "gulp-wp build && git add --all",

Note that if you are using a custom gulpfile.js, replace "gulp-wp" with "gulp".

Now you can run npm version patch to bump the patch number from eg. 1.0.0 to 1.0.1, after which the build task will run and modified files will be added to your git index (the version script above), and then the commit will be tagged.

If you'd rather control the version number via the style.css or main plugin PHP file, you can pass that file as the src config parameter. This will reverse the direction so that the version number is injected into package.json, but the npm version command will not work.

Default config:

	src: 'package.json',


gulp-wp watch

Not meant to be run directly. This task is run by dev to watch the src of specified tasks. You can include a watch config parameter in any of those tasks to influence what files this task watches.

If your task only compiles changed files and doesn't clean it's own dest folder on every run, you probably want the watch task to remove files from dest when you delete the src file. This API is subject to change, but for now, you can specify an object instead of a task name string and set the mirrorDeletion property to an array of file extensions to attemtp to delete (see config example below). If the specified task has a srcBase config property, that will be used to determine the relative path of the dest file to delete (see scripts and styles).

Default config:

	tasks: [
			task: 'scripts',
			mirrorDeletion: [ '.js', '.js.map' ],
			task: 'styles',
			mirrorDeletion: [ '.css', '.css.map' ],


Default config:

	src: [
		'**/*', // all project files
		'!**/.*', // ignore dotfiles
		'!**/_*', // ignore partial files
		'!{node_modules,node_modules/**/*}', // ignore node_modules
		'!{package.json,package-lock.json,yarn.lock}', // ignore npm/yarn files
		'!{gulp*,gulp**/*}', // ignore anything that starts with gulp
	dest: '../',

Custom Tasks

So, you've installed gulp-wp and it's working well for you, except you'd rather it did one of the tasks differently, or you need to add your own task to run with the dev and build tasks.

This module uses a custom Gulp registry to load tasks in a special format. Without having to create a gulpfile.js, you can define self-contained tasks by adding JS files to a folder named gulp-wp in the root of your project. You can even override default Gulp WP tasks by providing a task the same name, just be aware that you will need to rebuild the full task yourself. These JS modules must export an object with a specific interface:

file: gulp-wp/example.js

 * Note that Gulp WP currently uses CommonJS module format.
 * You should `require` any node modules necessary that you have installed as
 * a `dependency` in your `package.json`.
module.exports = {
	 * The task property is a function that returns your gulp task function.
	 * Note that it should only `return` a single function; multiple are shown
	 * below as examples only.
	task: ( gulp, config, registry ) => {
		 * Example using a task config value and the gulp `done` callback.
		const { who } = config;
		return function example( done ) {
			console.log( 'hello', who );

		 * Example using task config values and gulp pipes.
		const { src, dest } = config;
		return function example() {
			return gulp.src( src )
				.pipe(/* do pipe things */)
				.pipe( gulp.dest( dest ) );

		 * Example using series/parallel and dependent tasks
		 * Note that the gulp.series or gulp.parallel must be returned directly.
		const example = gulp.series(
		return example;

		 * Example using config props of dependent tasks.
		 * Only the configs of tasks listed in `dependencies` can be relied on to
		 * exist in `registry.config.tasks`.
		const { scripts, styles } = registry.config.tasks;
		return function example(done) {
			console.log( 'scripts src', scripts.src );
			console.log( 'styles src', styles.src );
	 * Default config is defined with the task and is overridable in the project
	 * level config. In this case, it would be located at `config.tasks.example`.
	config: {
		who: 'world',
		src: 'foo/*',
		dest: 'bar',
		someTask: 'zip',
	 * List all tasks that are used or referenced in this task, even if it's just
	 * for a config property, and even if the dependent task already has its own
	 * dependency on another referenced task.
	 * Also accepts a function that returns an array.
	dependencies: [ 'clean', 'scripts', 'styles' ],
	dependencies: ( config ) => {
		// Build dependencies array with resolved config as input
		return [ 'clean', 'scripts', 'styles', config.someTask ];

You can change the folder from which local tasks should be loaded via the config property taskFolder. This should be a path string relative to your project root, though it can instead be an absolute path.

When overriding a Gulp WP task, you can import the default task directly to access it's properties if needed:

const { config, dependencies } = require( 'gulp-wp/tasks/example' );
module.exports = {
	task: // your override task wrapper here
	config: {
		foo: 'bar',
	dependencies: [ ...dependencies, 'baz' ],

There is currently no way to insert custom functionality into a default task, so it needs to be rebuilt the way you want it to work. It could be helpful to copy the task file from the Gulp WP tasks folder as a starting point.

Using Gulp Directly

Instead of running gulp-wp, you can instead add your own gulpfile.js in the root of your project and require() this module, then export your custom tasks and even override ones provided by gulp-wp:

const gulp = require('gulp');

// Require GulpWP and pass your local `gulp` instance to it
const gulpWP = require('gulp-wp')(gulp);

// Run this custom task via `gulp custom`
exports.custom = (done) => {
	// ... do custom task

// Run this custom build task via `gulp build`
exports.build = gulp.series( 'clean', gulp.parallel( 'scripts', 'styles', 'translate', custom ) );

Note that you will have to rebuild the build task manually by re-adding all of the tasks you want to run. This new recomposed build will be used in the dev/default task.

Now, instead of running gulp-wp, you can run gulp directly (as long as you've also installed the gulp-cli package globally, otherwise you can run npx gulp).

Note that you really shouldn't need gulpfile.babel.js anymore if you're using a recent Node.js version. The only thing you can't currently do is use import and export. Just use require and module.exports.

You can still use the task files as described in Custom Tasks.

Gulpfile Config

If you are providing a custom gulpfile.js, you can pass a custom config object as the second parameter when require-ing gulp-wp:

const gulp = require('gulp');

const config = {
	// your config here

// Require GulpWP and pass your custom config
const gulpWP = require('gulp-wp')(gulp, config);


There are plenty of WordPress-oriented wokflow scripts to choose from out there, and they seem to come in two flavors: A gulpfile that you drop into your project with a giant config object, or a scripts package like the official @wordpress/scripts that uses Webpack under the hood. Neither of these are ideal.

Putting someone else's gulpfile into your project does grant you the ability to modify it as you see fit, but it also means installing all of the gulp plugins necessary, and then maintaining the workflow yourself over the project's lifetime. Some provide a handy installer script that can update the workflow, but any customizations you've made are overwritten.

Single-dependency, zero-configuration scripts packages like @wordpress/scripts are ok, until you need additional functionality that is not included--like a special way of handling certain assets specific to your project. You can, of course, extend the Webpack config file, but, let's be honest, it's a pain. Webpack is a JavaScript app packager, but developing WordPress themes and plugins involves more than just JS (have you tried putting just Sass files through Webpack?). And many of us are already used to Gulp, but maintaining the workflow is not what we want to be spending our time doing.

But Gulp is a task runner. It was born to run workflows. Why should we abandon it?

Enter gulp-wp, a reusable scripts package built with Gulp. All of the convenience of a single-dependency, zero-config workflow script package without the hassle of bending Webpack to the breaking point just to compile some Sass. Install it and get up-and-running immediately, or extend it using Gulp the way you're used to.

About Blackbird

Blackbird Digital is a digital marketing agency located near Cleveland, Ohio, USA. We've been building custom WordPress websites since 2012 and mobile apps for nearly as long. We want to make our own work better and more productive, and, in the spirit of WordPress and open source, yours too.