Recently, I ported this website to Gatsby.js. As part of it, I wanted to make sure that I tied up any loose ends and cleaned up all of my accessibility and technical issues. One great way to do that is to run a tool called Webhint over your website and get “hints” as to what you need to change. These hints are installed through NPM, and if you’re familiar with NPM, you probably know the node_packages folder ends up with hundreds of package dependencies. One of these dependencies ended up needing node-gyp, which is a build tool that requires a few build tools (like VC++ and python) installed on your machine, particularly if you’re on Windows. This article will explain the how to fix the error both quickly and permanently.

Here’s what I ran from the command line and the error message that I received. You’ll see that it’s attempting to run node-gyp and then gives an error that it can’t find VBuild.exe.

[email protected] MINGW64 /c/git/personal/ryanhayes.net (master)
$ npm install

> [email protected] install C:\git\ryanhayes.net\node_modules\iltorb
> node ./scripts/install.js || node-gyp rebuild

info looking for cached prebuild @ C:\Users\RyannosaurusRex\AppData\Roaming\npm-cache\_prebuilds\ff68b8-iltorb-v2.4.2-node-v67-win32-x64.tar.gz
http request GET https://github.com/MayhemYDG/iltorb/releases/download/v2.4.2/iltorb-v2.4.2-node-v67-win32-x64.tar.gz
http 404 https://github.com/MayhemYDG/iltorb/releases/download/v2.4.2/iltorb-v2.4.2-node-v67-win32-x64.tar.gz
WARN install No prebuilt binaries found (target=11.11.0 runtime=node arch=x64 libc= platform=win32)

C:\git\ryanhayes.net\node_modules\iltorb>if not defined npm_config_node_gyp (node "C:\Program Files\nodejs\node_modules\npm\node_modules\npm-lifecycle\node-gyp-bin\\..\..\node_modules\node-gyp\bin\node-gyp.js" rebuild )  else (node "C:\Program Files\nodejs\node_modules\npm\node_modules\node-gyp\bin\node-gyp.js" rebuild )
Warning: unrecognized setting VCCLCompilerTool/MultiProcessorCompilation
Warning: unrecognized setting VCCLCompilerTool/MultiProcessorCompilation
Warning: unrecognized setting VCCLCompilerTool/MultiProcessorCompilation
Warning: unrecognized setting VCCLCompilerTool/MultiProcessorCompilation
Building the projects in this solution one at a time. To enable parallel build, please add the "/m" switch.
MSBUILD : error MSB3428: Could not load the Visual C++ component "VCBuild.exe". To fix this, 1) install the .NET Framework 2.0 SDK, 2) install 
Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 or 3) add the location of the component to the system path if it is installed elsewhere.  [C:\git\ryanhay
es.net\node_modules\iltorb\build\binding.sln]
gyp ERR! build error
gyp ERR! stack Error: `C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\14.0\bin\msbuild.exe` failed with exit code: 1
gyp ERR! stack     at ChildProcess.onExit (C:\Program Files\nodejs\node_modules\npm\node_modules\node-gyp\lib\build.js:262:23)
gyp ERR! stack     at ChildProcess.emit (events.js:197:13)
gyp ERR! stack     at Process.ChildProcess._handle.onexit (internal/child_process.js:254:12)
gyp ERR! System Windows_NT 10.0.17134
gyp ERR! command "C:\\Program Files\\nodejs\\node.exe" "C:\\Program Files\\nodejs\\node_modules\\npm\\node_modules\\node-gyp\\bin\\node-gyp.js"
"rebuild"
gyp ERR! cwd C:\git\ryanhayes.net\node_modules\iltorb
gyp ERR! node -v v11.11.0
gyp ERR! node-gyp -v v3.8.0
gyp ERR! not ok
npm WARN [email protected] requires a peer of [email protected]>= 2 but none is installed. You must install peer dependencies yourself.
npm WARN optional SKIPPING OPTIONAL DEPENDENCY: [email protected] (node_modules\fsevents):
npm WARN notsup SKIPPING OPTIONAL DEPENDENCY: Unsupported platform for [email protected]: wanted {"os":"darwin","arch":"any"} (current: {"os":"win32","arch":"x64"})

npm ERR! code ELIFECYCLE
npm ERR! errno 1
npm ERR! [email protected] install: `node ./scripts/install.js || node-gyp rebuild`
npm ERR! Exit status 1
npm ERR!
npm ERR! Failed at the [email protected] install script.
npm ERR! This is probably not a problem with npm. There is likely additional logging output above.

npm ERR! A complete log of this run can be found in:
npm ERR!     C:\Users\RyannosaurusRex\AppData\Roaming\npm-cache\_logs\2019-04-22T03_31_15_972Z-debug.log

The ‘Could not load the Visual C++ component “VCBuild.exe”’ solution

The error message mentions that you need to install MSBuild or Visual Studio. That works, of course, and is one solution. If you don’t need all of Visual Studio, that’s a very large footprint (7+ GB of storage) just to satisfy a small dependency like VCBuild.exe.

If you already have Visual Studio or the necessary tools installed, make sure you are using powershell. To swith to powershell on the linux/WSL command line, just run $ powershell to switch and try again.

Installing Windows Build Tools

To fix the issue without having to install Visual Studio, Microsoft has created a great npm package called windows-build-tools. This package allows you to compile Native Node modules, which is required by some npm packages, particularly packages that deal with Chromium and canvas.

You can read the full documentation on windows-build-tools on the NPM registry page.

To install the tools, you can use NPM

npm install --global windows-build-tools

If you prefer yarn, here’s the install for that.

yarn global add windows-build-tools

Here’s the output from the run on my machine. You’ll see that it installs VCBuild.exe and related tools, but also Python as well, which is necessary for a lot of other npm packages.

PS C:\windows\system32> npm install --global windows-build-tools

> windows-build-[email protected].1.0 postinstall C:\Users\RyannosaurusRex\AppData\Roaming\npm\node_modules\windows-build-tools
> node ./dist/index.js



Downloading python-2.7.15.amd64.msi
[>                                            ] 0.0% (0 B/s)
Downloaded python-2.7.15.amd64.msi. Saved to C:\Users\RyannosaurusRex\.windows-build-tools\python-2.7.15.amd64.msi.
Downloading vs_BuildTools.exe
[>                                            ] 0.0% (0 B/s)
Downloaded vs_BuildTools.exe. Saved to C:\Users\RyannosaurusRex\.windows-build-tools\vs_BuildTools.exe.

Starting installation...
Launched installers, now waiting for them to finish.
This will likely take some time - please be patient!

Status from the installers:
---------- Visual Studio Build Tools ----------
2019-04-21T23:32:57 : Verbose : [InstalledProductsProviderImpl]: Stream was closed
2019-04-21T23:32:57 : Verbose : [InstallerImpl]: Rpc connection was closed.
2019-04-21T23:32:57 : Verbose : [InstallerImpl]: Stream was closed
2019-04-21T23:32:57 : Verbose : Completed notifying all clients that the update is starting
2019-04-21T23:32:57 : Verbose : Updating installer [bootstrapperArguments: /finalizeInstall install --in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\VisualStudio\Packages\_bootstrapper\vs_setup_bootstrapper_201904212332293329.json --norestart --quiet --includeRecommended --add Microsoft.VisualStudio.Workload.VCTools --locale en-US --activityId 56083b59-412f-473c-bdae-1976d5623e0d]
------------------- Python --------------------
Successfully installed Python 2.7

Wrapping up

While the error message is fairly clear, the solution it proposed was not a great one. Visual Studio is a very large dependency to take, particularly for a lightweight Gatsby site. Thankfully, windows-build-tools allowed me to install just the dependencies that I needed without the extra bloat.

Hope this helped you!