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Node.js is a runtime environment which can execute JavaScript code outside a web browser. It is used widely for web development. Its package manager, npm, makes it easy to install virtually any JavaScript library.

Rhino uses Node.js to provide state of the art tools for working with JavaScript and Sass. The following functions require Node.js to work:

  1. build_js()
  2. build_sass() (with sass: node configuration in rhino.yml)
  3. lint_js()
  4. lint_sass()
  5. test_e2e()

Node directory

Under the hood Rhino will create a .rhino/node directory in your project to store the specific libraries needed by these tools. This directory is git-ignored by default and safe to remove.

Node installation via nvm

Node can be installed in various ways. One of them relies on nvm (Node Version Manager).

There’s a known issue when using multiple versions of Node that were installed with nvm that causes RStudio to not recognize properly the chosen version. It’s caused by nvm and RStudio and can be easily mitigated by starting the RStudio through the terminal:

Ubuntu/Debian Open your terminal of choice (i.e. Bash) and run


Windows Open your Windows terminal of choice (i.e. Terminal, PowerShell, Git Bash) and run:


Mac Open your Mac terminal of choice (i.e. default Terminal) and run:

open -na Rstudio

build_sass() function

The build_sass() function is worth an additional comment. Depending on the configuration in rhino.yml it can use either the sass Node.js package or the sass R package. We recommend the Node.js version, as it is the primary, actively developed implementation of Sass. In contrast, the R package uses the deprecated LibSass implementation.