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Providence Analytics: Overview

Providence is the 'All Seeing Eye' that generates usage statistics by analyzing code. It measures the effectivity and popularity of your software. With just a few commands you can measure the impact for (breaking) changes, making your release process more stable and predictable.

Providence can be used as a dev dependency in a project for which metrics can be generated via analyzers (see below). For instance for a repo "lion-based-ui" that extends @lion/* we can answer questions like:

  • Which subsets of my product are popular? Which exports of reference project @lion/form-core are consumed by target project "lion-based-ui"?

  • How do sub classers consume/override my product? Which classes / webcomponents inside target project "lion-based-ui" extend from reference project @lion/\*? Which of the methods within those classes are overridden?

  • etc...

All the above results can be shown in a dashboard (see below), which allows to sort exports from reference project (@lion) based on popularity, category, consumer etc. The dashboard allows to aggregate data from many target projects as well and will show you on a detailed (file) level how those components are being consumed by which projects.


Install providence

npm i --save-dev providence-analytics

Add a providence script to package.json

"scripts": {
  "providence": "providence analyze match-imports -r 'node_modules/@lion/*'",

The example above illustrates how to run the "match-imports" analyzer for reference project 'lion-based-ui'. Note that it is possible to run other analyzers and configurations supported by providence as well. For a full overview of cli options, run providence --help. All supported analyzers will be viewed when running providence analyze

You are now ready to use providence in your project. All data will be stored in json files in the folder ./providence-output


Setup: Dashboard

Add "providence:dashboard" script to package.json

"scripts": {
    "providence:dashboard": "node node_modules/providence/dashboard/src/server.js"

Add providence.conf.js

const providenceConfig = {
  referenceCollections: {
    'lion-based-ui collection': ['./node_modules/lion-based-ui'],

module.exports = providenceConfig;

Run npm run providence:dashboard


Setup: about result output

All output files will be stored in ./providence-output. This means they will be committed to git, so your colleagues don't have to rerun the analysis (for large projects with many dependencies this can be time consuming) and can directly start the dashboard usage metrics. Also, note that the files serve as cache (they are stored with hashes based on project version and analyzer configuration). This means that an interrupted analysis can be resumed later on.

Conceptual overview

Providence performs queries on one or more search targets. These search targets consist of one or more software projects (javascript/html repositories)

The diagram below shows how providenceMain function can be used from an external context.

Flow inside providence

The diagram below depicts the flow inside the providenceMain function. It uses:

  • InputDataService Used to create a data structure based on a folder (for instance the search target or the references root). The structure creates entries for every file, which get enriched with code, ast results, query results etc. Returns InputData object.
  • QueryService Requires a queryConfig and InputData object. It will perform a query (grep search or ast analysis) and returns a QueryResult. It also contains helpers for the creation of a queryConfig
  • ReportService The result gets outputted to the user. Currently, a log to the console and/or a dump to a json file are available as output formats.


Providence requires a queries as input. Queries are defined as objects and can be of two types:

  • feature-query
  • analyzer

A queryConfig is required as input to run the providenceMain function. This object specifies the type of query and contains the relevant meta information that will later be outputted in the QueryResult (the JSON object that the providenceMain function returns.)

Analyzer Query

Analyzers queries are also created via queryConfigs.

Analyzers can be described as predefined queries that use AST traversal.


providence analyze

Now you will get a list of all predefined analyzers:

  • find-imports
  • find-exports
  • match-imports
  • find-subclasses
  • etc...

Analyzer query

Running providence from its own repo

How to add a new search target project

git submodule add <git-url> ./providence-input-data/search-targets/<project-name>

How to add a reference project

By adding a reference project, you can automatically see how code in your reference project is used across the search target projects. Under the hood, this automatically creates a set of queries for you.

git submodule add <git-url> ./providence-input-data/references/<project-name>

Updating submodules

Please run:

git submodule update --init --recursive

Removing submodules

Please run:

sh ./ <path/to/submodule>