LiveReload with BrowserSync and Gulp

In my previous blog post, I have written about how to use LiveReload Chrome extension, with Guard and some Ruby gems to make a web page automatically reload in a browser, Chrome browser to be specific. Just by reading this sentence, it already sounds like a complicated task. And indeed it is. Luckily, I have found a better solution: BrowserSync.

With LiveReload, you have to install browser extension, but BrowserSync uses, so it can supports more than one browser at once. This is great for working with responsive design, where screens with different sizes are needed to be tested.

No need to install extension and support more than one browser are really big plus.

The following is a short instruction and some examples on how to use both BrowserSync and Gulp to automatically reload a web documentation page generated by Docco in any connected browser.

Live Browser Reload and Command Execution on File Change

Execute Command

When I am editting comments in my code, I would like to use Docco to generate a pretty print source code documentation and review it in web browser. However, every time I made a change, I had to issue docco command again, even I could use the up arrow key, but still a pain. Lucky, there is a way to eliminate this step. One way is to use grunt-contrib-watch, but the limitation is that this is not for an individual file on the command line, it is more for a build process. A better alternative is to use nodemon:

For use during development of a node.js based application. nodemon will watch the files in the directory that nodemon was started, and if they change, it will automatically restart your node application.

It does not have to be limited to Node and JavaScript files. We can use it with any command:

nodemon -x docco /path/to/

With this command, docco will be executed upon any change to the file.

Reload Browser

Making live reload in browser is a little bit trickier, it involves using some Ruby gems.

TODO: Need to find a way to avoid using Ruby and its gems.

I have followed some of the steps from the post: Auto-refresh your browser when saving files or restarting node.js.

First install LiveReload Chrome extension, and then install Guard and Guard::LiveReload gems:

sudo gem install guard guard-livereload

You need to have a web server to make the livereload work, live reload does not work on files directly served from the file system:


Therefore, an easy way is to set up a web server, such as Nginx, and configure a directory for this usage, such as:


Add the following Guardfile into the directory:

guard 'livereload' do

Launch Guard:

cd /usr/share/nginx/www/livereload && guard

Enable the live reload by clicking the menu icon. You should see the dot in the middle becomes solid.

Now you need to make sure set the generated files into the correct directory:

nodemon -x 'docco -o /usr/share/nginx/www/livereload' /path/to/

Another way is to create a soft link to the directory, since the docs in the current execution directory is the default output directory:

ln -s /usr/share/nginx/www/livereload docs

Then, you can use nodemon as you normally do:

nodemon -x docco /path/to/

Having live browser reload is a bit complicated. I wish there is a method as easy as using nodemon via a single command. But in the meantime, I just need to have two panes open and have both monitoring tools running independently. No more browser fresh and command re-issuing.