Build your first LiveScript web app

LiveScript is an amazing programming language with expressive syntax that compiles to JavaScript.

In this article we will see how to structure and build a basic web app using LiveScript, Express and Pug in just a few minutes.

This web app will display a Hello from LiveScript! message, but it will be structured in order to be extended easily. Also we will make use of the following elements to get the complete picture of building LiveScript web apps:

  • storing routes in separate modules
  • rendering templates with variables
  • serving stylesheets as static files

So let's get it started!

Getting started

The easiest way to get started is from our LiveScript starter Blueprint at This way you will get instantly a new SourceLair project with Node 6.2 and LiveScript pre-installed.

Afterwards we need to install Express and Pug, by running the following command in our terminal:

npm install --save express pug

Now we are ready to start structuring our project.

Setting project structure

The first thing we have to do here is tell Node, how to run our LiveScript web application. To do this we will open the package.json file of our project and set the value of the start script to lsc Afterwards it should look like this:

  "private": true,
  "scripts": {
    "preinstall": "npm install -g [email protected]^1.5.0",
    "start": "lsc"
  "dependencies": {
    "express": "^4.14.0",
    "pug": "^2.0.0-beta6"

Last we have to create the following directories:

  • public/stylesheets to put our CSS code
  • routes to put the Express view routers
  • views to put the Pug templates

To create these directories, we run the following command in the terminal:

mkdir -p public/stylesheets routes views

Now we are ready to start writing code for our app!

Building the app


First, we will create our templates using the amazing templating language Pug. For this example we need only two template files:

  1. a layout.pug file to set the overall structure for all pages for our web app
  2. an index.pug file to set the content for the page that we will create

Let's create a file called layout.pug in the views directory. This file will be a very simple page that just loads our CSS stylesheet and places all content into the body:

doctype html
    title= title
    link(rel='stylesheet', href='/stylesheets/style.css')
    block content

Then, we will create an index.pug file in the views directory, that will just say "Hello" and render the title variable:

extends layout

block content
  h1= title
  p Hello from #{title}!


Next, let's create a style.css file in the public/stylesheets directory, in order to serve our website's CSS code. While you can put whatever CSS rules you would like in this file, it can be as simple as the following:

body {
  padding: 50px;
  font: 14px "Lucida Grande", Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;

a {
  color: #00B7FF;


Now we have to create the main logic of our application. It's time to write our first LiveScript file!

Let's create a file called in the routes directory. This file will just instruct our application to render the index.pug template, when a user visits our page:

require! express
router = express.Router();

router.get '/', (req, res, next) ->
  res.render 'index', { title: 'LiveScript' };

module.exports = router;

Last, we have to create our file, which will serve our application. What we need to do in this file is:

  1. serve all static files included in the public directory with the /public/ URL prefix
  2. dispatch the rest of the URLs to
  3. expose our app server, by listening to a port

This can be written in extremely expressive syntax using LiveScript piping and cascading:

require! express
require! path

require! './routes/index': routes

port = parseInt process.env.PORT || 3000

absolutePath = (relativePath) ->
  path.join(__dirname, relativePath);

app = express!
  ..set 'views', ('views' |> absolutePath)
  ..set 'view engine', 'pug'
  ..use '/', routes
  ..use ('public' |> absolutePath |> express.static)
  ..listen port

So that was it! You are all set.

Now restart your server by opening the Command Palette, typing restart server and hitting Enter to run the following command:

Server: Restart server

Last open your Public URL to view your app! This is what you should be seeing :

LiveScript example screenshot

If you would like to see how the full app should look like after completing this tutorial, take a look at this GitHub repo.

Now we can also extend our application easily at any time. We can add new stylesheets in the public/stylesheets directory, add more routes either in routes/index.lsor in a separate file or add more templates in the views directory.

So lose no more time! Open the LiveScript starter Blueprint and build your first LiveScript web application.

Where you can get

Updates and contact us

You can check out product updates at the SourceLair blog, or learn more about us at State of Progress, where we share our thoughts on software development and management.

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