In some cases, you want to express the compatibility of your package with a host tool or library, while not necessarily doing a require of this host. This is usually referred to as a plugin. Notably, your module may be exposing a specific interface, expected and specified by the host documentation.

For example:

  "name": "tea-latte",
  "version": "1.3.5",
  "peerDependencies": {
    "tea": "2.x"

This ensures your package tea-latte can be installed along with the second major version of the host package tea only. npm install tea-latte could possibly yield the following dependency graph:

├── tea-latte@1.3.5
└── tea@2.2.0

NOTE: npm versions 1 and 2 will automatically install peerDependencies if they are not explicitly depended upon higher in the dependency tree. In the next major version of npm (npm@3), this will no longer be the case. You will receive a warning that the peerDependency is not installed instead. The behavior in npms 1 & 2 was frequently confusing and could easily put you into dependency hell, a situation that npm is designed to avoid as much as possible.

Trying to install another plugin with a conflicting requirement will cause an error. For this reason, make sure your plugin requirement is as broad as possible, and not to lock it down to specific patch versions.

Assuming the host complies with semver, only changes in the host package's major version will break your plugin. Thus, if you've worked with every 1.x version of the host package, use "^1.0" or "1.x" to express this. If you depend on features introduced in 1.5.2, use ">= 1.5.2 < 2".