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Create new Node.js application with Express, TypeScript, Nodemon and ESLint - Part 1

admirnisic
Updated on ・5 min read

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Node.js is an open-source and cross-platform runtime environment and a very popular tool for building applications. It runs on V8 JavaScript engine which makes it highly performant. It was released in 2009 and since then it is getting more and more popular. One of the advantages is that it uses JavaScript programming language which means that the same programming language can be used for server-side and client-side applications. There are few popular frameworks which run on Node.js platform and most popular is Express. In this tutorial I am going to use Express framework.

A big positive change emerged when the TypeScript language was released. TypeScript is a language which builds on JavaScript and some of the advantages using TypeScript are:

  • Type checking.
  • Find bugs more easily while writing code.
  • Extraordinary tooling with IntelliSense.
  • TypeScript upholds interfaces.
  • Fully supported SOLID principles.

It is not hard to migrate your code from JavaScript to TypeScript and I strongly recommend using TypeScript in Node.js projects.

Creating an express project.

We are going to start with a new project. Initialize npm with command:

npm init -y
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The above command will generate package.json file which is required for npm to install packages. Then install dependencies for Express and TypeScript.

npm install --save express
npm install --save-dev typescript ts-node @types/node @types/express
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These are all the dependencies that needs to be installed in order to run an Express application with TypeScript. After the installation completes package.json file should look like this.

{
  "name": "nodejs-typescript",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "description": "",
  "main": "index.js",
  "scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1"
  },
  "keywords": [],
  "author": "",
  "license": "ISC",
  "dependencies": {
    "express": "^4.17.1"
  },
  "devDependencies": {
    "@types/express": "^4.17.12",
    "@types/node": "^15.6.2",
    "ts-node": "^10.0.0",
    "typescript": "^4.3.2"
  }
}

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There is one additional step that needs to be done in order to run TypeScript code. Typescript requires a configuration file. We need to create a file called tsconfig.json which will be placed inside root directory. Generate a tsconfig.json file with command:

npx tsc --init
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A file called tsconfig.json will be created which holds the configuration for TypeScript. Newly created file contains a lot of configuration but we will consider only few of them.

{
  "compilerOptions": {
    "target": "es5",
    "module": "commonjs",
    "outDir": "./dist",
    "rootDir": "./",
    "baseUrl": "./",
    "esModuleInterop": true
  }
}

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target: specifies which ECMAScript version should be used in the project. The available versions are ES3 (default), ES5, ES2015, ES2016, ES2017, ES2018, ES2019, ES2020, or ESNEXT.

module: specifies which module manager to use in the generated JavaScript code. Available options are none, commonjs, amd, system, umd, es2015, es2020, or ESNext. The most common module manager and the default one is commonjs.

outDir: specifies where to output JavaScript code after build.

rootDir: specifies where the TypeScript files are located.

baseUrl: specifies what is the relative path when including files in the application.

esModuleInterop: this option is true by default; it controls interoperability between CommonJS and ES modules. It does this by creating namespace objects for all imports.

Create application files

Create a folder called src where the application files will be placed and then inside that folder create a file called server.ts. File server.ts will be the starting point of the application.

import express from 'express';
import { Request, Response } from 'express';

const app = express();

app.get('/', (req: Request, res: Response) => {
  res.send('Application works!');
});

app.listen(3000, () => {
  console.log('Application started on port 3000!');
});
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Now we are ready to start and build our project. We are going to add scripts for starting and building the application inside package.json file. Change your package.json script object to look like:

"scripts": {
  "start": "ts-node ./src/server.ts",
  "start:prod": "npm run build && node ./dist/src/server.js",
  "build": "npx tsc"
},
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Building the application is pretty simple. We need to run command npm run build. TypeScript will consider tsconfig.json file for configuration. Earlier we set "outDir": "./dist", in configuration which means that TypeScript will build application inside dist folder.

We can run the application with commands:

  • npm run start or just npm start (development)
  • npm run start:prod (production)

After we start the application we can visit http://localhost:3000 in any browser and except that we see Application works!.

Nodemon

Nodemon is a tool which is widely used and which tracks changes and automatically restarts the application. If we do not use Nodemon then after each change we have to stop the application and run it again.

We can install Nodemon with command:

npm install --save-dev nodemon
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Create nodemon.json configuration file inside root directory.

{
  "ignore": [".git", "node_modules", "dist"],
  "watch": ["./src"], // <- files inside folder to watch
  "exec": "npm start", // <- command that will be executed when nodemon starts
  "ext": "ts" // <- files to watch
}
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Remove the comments of course. Add additional script for nodemon inside package.json scripts.

"start:nodemon": "./node_modules/nodemon/bin/nodemon.js",
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Now we can start watching the application with command npm run start:nodemon. Application will be restarted after we change any TypeScript file inside src folder.

Using ESLint with prettier

Eslint is a linter for JavaScript/TypeScript which finds problems inside your code. I cannot imagine writing TypeScript code without using ESLint. Previously I was using TSLint for TypeScript but now it is deprecated and ESLint should be used instead. Additional package which I would recommend to use is prettier together with ESLint.
NOTE: Prettier can be used also to automatically format your code (which I prefer) but we will not cover it in this tutorial.

Install dependencies:

npm install --save-dev eslint eslint-config-prettier eslint-plugin-prettier @typescript-eslint/parser @typescript-eslint/eslint-plugin prettier
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ESLint also uses configuration file. For this purpose create .eslintrc.json file in root directory. We can arrange rules to our needs.

{
  "root": true,
  "ignorePatterns": [],
  "overrides": [
    {
      "files": ["*.ts"],
      "parserOptions": {
        "project": ["tsconfig.json"],
        "createDefaultProgram": true
      },
      "extends": ["plugin:@typescript-eslint/recommended", "plugin:prettier/recommended"],
      "rules": {
        "max-len": "off",
        "no-underscore-dangle": "off",
        "arrow-body-style": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/no-explicit-any": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/no-unsafe-assignment": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/no-unsafe-member-access": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/no-unsafe-call": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/unbound-method": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/no-floating-promises": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/explicit-module-boundary-types": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/no-unused-vars": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/naming-convention": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/no-unsafe-return": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/no-empty-function": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/no-inferrable-types": "off",
        "@typescript-eslint/restrict-template-expressions": "warn",
        "jsdoc/newline-after-description": "off"
      }
    }
  ]
}
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If we need to ignore any folder/file for ESLint then add .eslintignore file inside root directory with configuration. For demonstration purpose I added the file with content.

/dist
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Now ESLint will ignore all files inside dist folder.

We added plugin for prettier as well so the linter will tell us when something is not formatted by the prettier configuration. Add .pretterrc file inside root directory and adjust it to your needs. My config looks like:

{
  "singleQuote": true,
  "trailingComma": "es5",
  "printWidth": 130
}

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Now we are able to see if there is any error/warning inside our code. Restart your IDE if needed.

Wrapping up

In this tutorial we covered how to use Node.js project with TypeScript language from scratch. We also covered how to build and run the application. Nodemon is used to restart the application whenever a change in code happens. And finally we enabled linter with ESLint and configured it to our needs together with prettier.

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