Adding Software To Homebrew

Is your favorite software missing from Homebrew? Then you’re the perfect person to resolve this problem.

If you want to add software that is either closed source or a GUI-only program, you will want to follow the guide for Casks. Otherwise follow the guide for Formulae. See also: Homebrew Terminology

Before you start, please check the open pull requests for Homebrew/homebrew-core or Homebrew/homebrew-cask to make sure no one else beat you to the punch.

Next, you will want to go through the Acceptable Formulae or Acceptable Casks documentation to determine if the software is an appropriate addition to Homebrew. If you are creating a formula for an alternative version of software already in Homebrew (e.g. a major/minor version that differs significantly from the existing version), be sure to read the Versions documentation to understand versioned formulae requirements.

If everything checks out, you’re ready to get started on a new formula!

Formulae

Writing the formula

  1. It’s a good idea to find existing formulae in Homebrew that have similarities to the software you want to add. This will help you to understand how specific languages, build methods, etc. are typically handled.

  2. If you’re starting from scratch, you can use the brew create command to produce a basic version of your formula. This command accepts a number of options and you may be able to save yourself some work by using an appropriate template option like --python.

  3. You will now have to develop the boilerplate code from brew create into a full-fledged formula. Your main references will be the Formula Cookbook, similar formulae in Homebrew, and the upstream documentation for your chosen software. Be sure to also take note of the Homebrew documentation for writing Python and Node formulae, if applicable.

  4. Make sure you write a good test as part of your formula. Refer to the Add a test to the formula section of the Cookbook for help with this.

  5. Try installing your formula using brew install --build-from-source <formula>, where <formula> is the name of your formula. If any errors occur, correct your formula and attempt to install it again. The formula installation should finish without errors by the end of this step.

If you’re stuck, ask for help on GitHub or Homebrew/discussions. The maintainers are very happy to help but we also like to see that you’ve put effort into trying to find a solution first.

Testing and auditing the formula

  1. Run brew audit --strict --new-formula --online <formula> with your formula. If any errors occur, correct your formula and run the audit again. The audit should finish without any errors by the end of this step.

  2. Run your formula’s test using brew test <formula>. The test should finish without any errors.

Submitting the formula

You’re finally ready to submit your formula to the homebrew-core repository. If you haven’t done this before, you can refer to the How to Open a Pull Request documentation for help. Maintainers will review the pull request and provide feedback about any areas that need to be addressed before the formula can be added to Homebrew.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations on submitting a Homebrew formula! We appreciate the hard work you put into this and you can take satisfaction in knowing that your work may benefit other Homebrew users as well.

Casks

Note: Before taking the time to craft a new cask:

Writing the cask

Making a new cask is easy. Follow the directions in Getting Set Up To Contribute to begin.

Examples

Here’s a cask for shuttle as an example. Note the verified parameter below the url, which is needed when the url and homepage hostnames differ.

cask "shuttle" do
  version "1.2.9"
  sha256 "0b80bf62922291da391098f979683e69cc7b65c4bdb986a431e3f1d9175fba20"

  url "https://github.com/fitztrev/shuttle/releases/download/v#{version}/Shuttle.zip",
      verified: "github.com/fitztrev/shuttle/"
  name "Shuttle"
  desc "Simple shortcut menu"
  homepage "https://fitztrev.github.io/shuttle/"

  app "Shuttle.app"

  zap trash: "~/.shuttle.json"
end

And here is one for noisy. Note that it has an unversioned download (the download url does not contain the version number, unlike the example above). It also suppresses the checksum with sha256 :no_check, which is necessary because since the download url does not contain the version number, its checksum will change when a new version is made available.

cask "noisy" do
  version "1.3"
  sha256 :no_check

  url "https://github.com/downloads/jonshea/Noisy/Noisy.zip"
  name "Noisy"
  desc "White noise generator"
  homepage "https://github.com/jonshea/Noisy"

  app "Noisy.app"
end

Here is a last example for airdisplay, which uses a pkg installer to install the application instead of a stand-alone application bundle (.app). Note the uninstall pkgutil stanza, which is needed to uninstall all files that were installed using the installer.

You will also see how to adapt version to the download url. Use our custom version methods to do so, resorting to the standard Ruby String methods when they don’t suffice.

cask "airdisplay" do
  version "3.4.2,26581"
  sha256 "272d14f33b3a4a16e5e0e1ebb2d519db4e0e3da17f95f77c91455b354bee7ee7"

  url "https://www.avatron.com/updates/software/airdisplay/ad#{version.before_comma.no_dots}.zip"
  name "Air Display"
  desc "Utility for using a tablet as a second monitor"
  homepage "https://avatron.com/applications/air-display/"

  livecheck do
    url "https://www.avatron.com/updates/software/airdisplay/appcast.xml"
    strategy :sparkle
  end

  depends_on macos: ">= :mojave"

  pkg "Air Display Installer.pkg"

  uninstall pkgutil: [
    "com.avatron.pkg.AirDisplay",
    "com.avatron.pkg.AirDisplayHost2",
  ]
end

Generating a token for the cask

The cask token is the mnemonic string people will use to interact with the cask via brew install, etc. The name of the cask file is simply the token with the extension .rb appended.

The easiest way to generate a token for a cask is to run this command:

$(brew --repository homebrew/cask)/developer/bin/generate_cask_token "/full/path/to/new/software.app"

If the software you wish to create a cask for is not installed, or does not have an associated App bundle, just give the full proper name of the software instead of a pathname:

$(brew --repository homebrew/cask)/developer/bin/generate_cask_token "Google Chrome"

If the generate_cask_token script does not work for you, see Cask Token Details.

Creating the cask file

Once you know the token, create your cask with the handy-dandy brew create --cask command:

brew create --cask download-url --set-name my-new-cask

This will open $EDITOR with a template for your new cask, to be stored in the file my-new-cask.rb. Running the create command above will get you a template that looks like this:

cask "my-new-cask" do
  version ""
  sha256 ""

  url "download-url"
  name ""
  desc ""
  homepage ""

  app ""
end

Cask stanzas

Fill in the following stanzas for your cask:

name value
version application version
sha256 SHA-256 checksum of the file downloaded from url, calculated by the command shasum -a 256 <file>. Can be suppressed by using the special value :no_check. (see sha256 Stanza Details)
url URL to the .dmg/.zip/.tgz/.tbz2 file that contains the application.
A verified parameter must be added if the hostnames in the url and homepage stanzas differ. Block syntax is available for URLs that change on every visit
name the full and proper name defined by the vendor, and any useful alternate names (see name Stanza Details)
desc one-line description of the software (see desc Stanza Details)
homepage application homepage; used for the brew home command
app relative path to an .app bundle that should be moved into the /Applications folder on installation (see app Stanza Details)

Other commonly used stanzas are:

name value
livecheck Ruby block describing how to find updates for this cask (see livecheck Stanza Details)
pkg relative path to a .pkg file containing the distribution (see pkg Stanza Details)
caveats a string or Ruby block providing the user with cask-specific information at install time (see caveats Stanza Details)
uninstall procedures to uninstall a cask. Optional unless the pkg stanza is used. (see uninstall Stanza Details)
zap additional procedures for a more complete uninstall, including configuration files and shared resources (see zap Stanza Details)

Additional artifact stanzas may be needed for special use cases. Even more special-use stanzas are listed at Optional Stanzas.

Cask token details

If a token conflicts with an already-existing cask, authors should manually make the new token unique by prepending the vendor name. Example: unison.rb and panic-unison.rb.

If possible, avoid creating tokens that differ only by the placement of hyphens.

To generate a token manually, or to learn about exceptions for unusual cases, see the Token Reference.

Archives with subfolders

When a downloaded archive expands to a subfolder, the subfolder name must be included in the app value.

Example:

  1. Texmaker is downloaded to the file TexmakerMacosxLion.zip.
  2. TexmakerMacosxLion.zip unzips to a folder called TexmakerMacosxLion.
  3. The folder TexmakerMacosxLion contains the application texmaker.app.
  4. So, the app stanza should include the subfolder as a relative path:
  app "TexmakerMacosxLion/texmaker.app"

Testing and auditing the cask

Give it a shot with:

export HOMEBREW_NO_AUTO_UPDATE=1
brew install my-new-cask

Did it install? If something went wrong, edit your cask with brew edit my-new-cask to fix it.

Test also if the uninstall works successfully:

brew uninstall my-new-cask

If everything looks good, you’ll also want to make sure your cask passes audit with:

brew audit --new-cask my-new-cask

You should also check stylistic details with brew style:

brew style --fix my-new-cask

Keep in mind that all these checks will be made when you submit your PR, so by doing them in advance you’re saving everyone a lot of time and trouble.

If your application and Homebrew Cask do not work well together, feel free to file an issue after checking out open issues.

Submitting the cask

Finding a home for your cask

See the Acceptable Casks documentation.

Hop into your Tap and check to make sure your new cask is there:

$ cd "$(brew --repository)"/Library/Taps/homebrew/homebrew-cask
$ git status
# On branch master
# Untracked files:
#   (use "git add <file>..." to include in what will be committed)
#
#       Casks/my-new-cask.rb

So far, so good. Now make a feature branch my-new-cask-branch that you’ll use in your pull request:

$ git checkout -b my-new-cask-branch
Switched to a new branch 'my-new-cask-branch'

Stage your cask with:

git add Casks/my-new-cask.rb

You can view the changes that are to be committed with:

git diff --cached

Commit your changes with:

git commit -v

Commit messages

For any Git project, some good rules for commit messages are:

See A Note About Git Commit Messages for more.

The first line of a commit message becomes the title of a pull request on GitHub, like the subject line of an email. Including the key info in the first line will help us respond faster to your pull request.

For cask commits in the Homebrew Cask project, we like to include the application name, version number, and purpose of the commit in the first line.

Examples of good, clear commit summaries:

Examples of difficult, unclear commit summaries:

Pushing

Push your changes on the branch my-new-cask-branch to your GitHub account:

git push  my-new-cask-branch

If you are using GitHub two-factor authentication and have set your remote repository as HTTPS you will need to set up a personal access token and use that instead of your password.

Filing a pull request on GitHub

a) use suggestion from git push

The git push command prints a suggestion for how to create a pull request:

remote: Create a pull request for 'new-cask-cask' on GitHub by visiting:
remote:      https://github.com//homebrew-cask/pull/new/my-new-cask-branch
b) use suggestion from GitHub’s website

Now go to the homebrew-cask GitHub repository. GitHub will often show your my-new-cask-branch branch with a handy button to Compare & pull request.

c) manually create a pull request on GitHub

Otherwise, click the Contribute > Open pull request button and choose to compare across forks. The base fork should be Homebrew/homebrew-cask @ master, and the head fork should be my-github-username/homebrew-cask @ my-new-cask-branch. You can also add any further comments to your pull request at this stage.

Congratulations!

You are done now, and your cask should be pulled in or otherwise noticed in a while. If a maintainer suggests some changes, just make them on the my-new-cask-branch branch locally and push.

Cleaning up

After your pull request is submitted, you should get yourself back onto master, so that brew update will pull down new casks properly:

cd "$(brew --repository)"/Library/Taps/homebrew/homebrew-cask
git checkout master

If earlier you set the variable HOMEBREW_NO_AUTO_UPDATE then clean it up with:

unset HOMEBREW_NO_AUTO_UPDATE
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