Combine the shards and crystal commands

I would love to see the shards functionality merged into the main crystal executable.

When someone gets started with Crystal, they usually write crystal and crystal build as they work through tutorials. After initializing a project and creating a shards.yml file though, the pattern changes to shards build along with running specs via crystal spec. It feels like the experience would be improved by using crystal for everything. It would also help Google searches for compiler flags.

Now that Crystal has reached 1.0 and has a regular release cadence, I think any issues we need to address with shards can probably be done via a minor or patch release.

What do you think?

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Others can probably expand on this more, but shards used to a part of crystal in the form of crystal deps, but was removed in favor of shards.

In the end it comes down to shards and crystal being different projects with different goals. Technically speaking shards build is the only command that directly ties shards to crystal and it’s just a light wrapper around crystal build for each of the defined targets. Other than that there is no reason you couldn’t use shards as a dependency manager for other languages, which would be weird if you needed to install a programming language just to install your project’s dependencies. Granted this is unlikely to happen/be used for that, but the point still stands. They are separate projects severing different and separate use cases.

I think it’s fine that they’re separate. Plus you don’t really have to use shards build, especially if you only have one target.


Yes, dependency resolution is an entirely different task and should be handled independently.

I’d rather remove shards build than merge shards into the compiler.

Maybe we could consider to merge shards build into crystal build. That means just make the compiler read targets from shard.yml and have them available as aliases for the file paths.
I don’t think this would be a huge improvement though. So it’s probably not worth it.
Using shards build is easy. And of course, there are actual build systems as alternatives.


It makes sense from a Crystal developer’s standpoint that these two concerns are separated. I would push back though that users of Crystal really appreciate those differences.

In Go, that functionality is tucked under go mod. So you would go mod verify or go mod tidy. That allows the main functionality of go build to stay unchanged.

Same for Elixir’s mix command.

If it were to happen though, it would probably need to be an all or nothing affair so that crystal build can perform dependency resolution transparently like shards build does today. It may seem like a trivial little thing, but these things really stand out for newcomers to the language.

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