The source_map gem provides an API for parsing, and an API for generating source maps in ruby.

Source maps?

Source maps are Javascripts equivalent of the C #line functionality. They allow you to combine multiple javascript files into one, or minify your javascript yet still debug it as though you had done neither of these things.

To do this you attach a SourceMap to a given generated javascript file, which contains a list of mappings between points in the generated file and points in the original files.

This gem helps you create or parse those mapping files according to the SourceMaps version 3 spec.


gem install source_map

Generating a source map

Let's say you have a directory full of javascript files, but you'd prefer them to be lumped together to avoid latency.

    require 'source_map'

    file ="public/combined.js", "w")

    map = => file,
                        :file => "combined.js",
                        :source_root => "http://localhost:3000/")

    Dir["js/*"].each do |filename|
      map.add_generated, :source => filename.sub('public/', '')

This snippet will create two files for you. combined.js which contains all your javascripts lumped together, and which explains which bits of the file came from where.

(Using the :generated_output feature to automatically write the combined.js file is totally optional if you don't need that feature).

If you want more flexibility, there's an alternative API that requires you to do a bit more manual work:

    require 'source_map'

    map = => 'combined.js',
                        :source_root => 'http://localhost:3000/')

    my_crazy_process.each_fragment do |x|
        :generated_line => x.generated_line,
        :generated_col => 0,
        :source_line => x.source_line,
        :source_col => 0
        :source => "foo.js"

If you use this API, you'll probably need to read the Spec.

Using a source map

You'll need Chrome version 19 or greater. Go to the developer console, and click on the settings cog; and then click "Enable source maps".

Now, ensure that when you load combined.js, you also need to send an extra HTTP header: X-SourceMap: /

Finally ensure that eah of the source files can be reached by appending the value you provided to :source, to the value you provided for :source_root.

NOTE: in theory you can (instead of using the X-SourceMap header) add a comment to the end of your generated file (combined.js) which looks like:

//@ sourceMappingURL=/

however I haven't had much luck with this.

NOTE2: In theory you could use the Closure Inspector Firefox extension instead of Chrome 19, but I couldn't get it to work either (even when I tried in Firefox 3.6 which is the most recent version it supports).

Sorry this is a bit rubbish :(.

Future work

  • An API to look up the position in the original source from a given position in the generated file.

  • I'd like to write a tool that given two source maps, composes them. Once that is done, then we could pipe combined.js through a minifier which generates a combined.js.min and a And then we could combine and so that we can use our concatenated and minified code with the debugger with impunity. (The only such minifier that exists at the moment is the closure compier, maybe that will change...)

  • Supporting the index-file mode of SourceMaps (an alternative to the previous suggestion in some circumstances)


This stuff is all available under the MIT license, bug-reports and feature suggestions welcome.

Further Reading

This stuff is quite new so there's not exactly a lot of information about it: