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Tushar Choudhari
Tushar Choudhari

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Typescript setup for express applications


Typescript is a superset of JavaScript that means all of the JavaScript code is valid in Typescript. The most important reason why developers like to develop their applications in Typescript is because of its strong static typing which JavaScript lacks. Typescript makes code much more easier to read as well as understand.

In this writing, I'll demonstrate how to setup a Express.js and Node.js application with Typescript support.

Initialize Project

Firstly, we will make the directory where in we will store our project files. Let's call it my-node-app, you can call it whatever you want.

mkdir my-node-app
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Next, we will initialize a node app by running following command

yarn init -y
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-y sets all the values in package.json to default, you can choose not type -y and set all values manually.

Now, let's install typescript and other devDependencies.

yarn add -D typescript ts-node nodemon @types/node @types/express
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-D flag is the shorthand for --save-dev, it is used to install devDependencies, package managers(yarn or npm) do not install these dependencies when in production.

Now, let us understand what each of these installed dependencies do

  1. typescript - Helps compile .ts files to JavaScript.
  2. ts-node - Creates Typescript execution environment for Node.js.
  3. nodemon - Restarts node application when changes are detected in project files.
  4. @types/node - Type definition for Node.js modules.
  5. @types/express - Type definition for express package.

Installing express,

yarn add express
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Now that we have installed packages we will do some configuration to run our project.

Configure Typescript

In this section, we will configure Typescript for our project. Typescript uses tsconfig.json to configure compiler. We have to create tsconfig.json in our root directory, you can either manually create this file or run following command.

tsc --init
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This will create tsconfig.json file for you, now just uncomment the following options

  "compilerOptions": {
    "target": "ESNEXT",
    "module": "commonjs",
    "outDir": "./dist",
    "rootDir": "./src",
    "strict": true,
    "moduleResolution": "node",
    "esModuleInterop": true,
    "skipLibCheck": true,
    "forceConsistentCasingInFileNames": true
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Here, rootDir i.e root directory is set to src. In src all of our scripts will sit. outDir i.e output directory is set to dist, here all of the compiled JavaScript will be stored.

Now, we have tsconfig.json set up, let's test things out.

Setup basic express server

Create a new file called index.ts in src directory. This will be our entry point. Write the following code in index.ts to test out if typescript compiler is working alright.

// src/index.ts
const greet = (name: string): string => {
  return `Hello ${name}!`;

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Let's compile it by running following command

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If you notice there would be a new directory called dist was added in the root directory, inside this directory you can find a file called index.js, this is our compiled javascript. You can find following javascript code in the file.

// dist/index.js
'use strict';

const greet = (name) => {
  return `Hello ${name}!`;
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Now, we have checked that our compiler is running fine. Let us now add express server. Replace everything in index.ts with following code to setup basic express server.

// src/index.ts

import express from 'express';

const app = express();

const server = app.listen(5555, () => {
  console.log(`⚡[server] Server listening at http://localhost:5555`);
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Now, to run the code let's use nodemon, nodemon will watch for changes in files and restart server everytime we save a change.

nodemon src/index.ts
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You can see server running in the terminal!

Add scripts to package.json

We will be adding scripts to our package.json for building, starting dev server and starting the application when it is in production.

// package.json
"scripts" : {
  "dev": "nodemon src/index.ts",
  "start": "node dist/index.js",
  "build": "tsc --project ./"
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Congratulations! We have now setup a basic express setup with typescript support. Don't forget to checkout Typescript website for more info on Typescript. Also, make sure to checkout different Typed Definitions.

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