Speedy project environments

October 2020(Updated)2 minutes

Do you know your Password Manager can (probably) do a lot more than store passwords?

I tend to try to keep as much free-space on my computer as possible. I'm not quite sure why, but if development on a project I'm working on has stalled I'll make sure that source-control is up-to-date and delete the entire folder.

Fast forward a few weeks and, "I wonder if I can use X library with this project?", or, "I should probably tweak this bit of UI...". So I dive into the terminal, clone the project to my computer and begin working away.

Except I can't begin working right away. Like a good developer practicing 12factor I'm not storing my secrets in source control, so there's always a good 5-10 minute round trip of all the websites I need to retrieve my secrets from. Suddenly that quick thing I wanted to do just doesn't seem worth it, and inevitably it can stop productivity in it's tracks.

But there's a piece of software you're probably (hopefully) using right now which can make this a breeze. Your password manager!

A lot of password managers (LastPass, BitWarden, 1Password etc.) all have command line interfaces (CLI) which can be used to interact with your password vault. These are usually hosted on Homebrew and are free to download. I use BitWarden, so the following command installs the CLI to my computer:

brew install bitwarden-cli

Once installed, I can use the bw to interface with BitWarden. Great! Obviously most (if not all) commands require me to input my master password so it's super secure. Armed with the bw binary, I can then add the following to the scripts section of a Node project's package.json:

{
  "get-env": "bw get item mikefrancis.github.io | jq -r '.notes' > .env" 
}

This uses the popular jq CLI (also installed through Homebrew) to dump a BitWarden note with the name mikefrancis.github.io into a .env file, by running the following command:

yarn get-env

So now rather than running around to different websites, grabbing API keys, I can just keep all these in a secure note in BitWarden. These API keys have no expiry so I only have to update these in one place.

This won't work for everyone but it's a pretty nice way of getting up and running quickly.

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