Create a NodeJS Boilerplate with Typescript

How to create NodeJS project from scratch with hot-reloading support

Creating a NodeJS project from scratch is often something we don't do that much. But how everything works on the backend is critical to know as a senior software engineer.

Let's learn by creating a boilerplate NodeJS project with Typescript. And also, know how we can add development mode with Typescript!

And we will do it in two ways.

Step 1: Create a new project

First, create a new directory for your project.

mkdir nodejs-typescript-skeleton
cd nodejs-typescript-skeleton

Step 2: Initialize an npm project

Then run the following command to initialize the project with yarn. You can use npm if you want. That is not that different.

yarn init -y

Step 3: Create an entry to our project

Then create a new folder named src, and inside that, create a new file named index.js

Paste the following code directly into that.

const name = 'faisal'
console.log('this is working');

Now run the project from the console to see if it's working or not.

node src/index.js

It will print the message, which means our project is up and running.

Step 4: Let's introduce Typescript

But we are not living in the past anymore, right? And we don't want javascript anymore. So let's convert the file into Typescript.

Rename our index.js file into index.ts . Then install Typescript locally (as a dev dependency).

yarn add -D typescript

Now we have Typescript, which is great, but it doesn't know how to work properly. For that, we need a configuration file.

Let's create a typescript configuration file in the root folder named tsconfig.json. And paste the following code there.

{
  "extends": "@tsconfig/node16/tsconfig.json",
  "compilerOptions": {
    "outDir": "dist"
  },
  "include": ["src"],
  "exclude": ["node_modules"]
}

A few things to notice here,

  1. We are extending a default configuration for nodejs 16 in the first line. So you have to install that as well.
yarn add -D @tsconfig/node16

The same configuration is also available for other nodejs versions like 14 and 12.

  1. we are configuring outDir as dist, which means our bundled files will go into a new directory named dist
  2. We only specify the src folder to be compiled. So all our typescript files will go there.
  3. We are excluding the node_modules folder from the compilation to avoid issues and improve the build time.

Lastly, let's include the type definition for NodeJS by running the command.

yarn add -D @types/node

Step 5: Let's compile

So now we have set up the Typescript. But our browser or NodeJS doesn't know anything about Typescript. They only understand Javascript right?

So what we need to do is convert our Typescript files into Javascript. The process is called Compiling.

Let's do that.

yarn tsc

Now go inside your dist folder to see the compiled files. You will see a Javascript version of the index.ts file there!

Then execute your code by running the following

node dist/index.js

And boom! Your code is working just fine.

Step 6: Executing a Typescript file directly

It's not practical to run the tsc command before running our application. We need a way to automate the process.

And there is a package to solve this problem! Let's add that!

yarn add -D ts-node

Now ts-node is a package that can be used to run any typescript file directly. So let's try first.

ts-node src/index.ts

It will directly execute the typescript nodejs file. No compilation is required! It will all happen automatically.

Step 7: Development Mode

Now we can run a typescript file directly without compiling to javascript. Let's take it a bit further. We need hot reloading support for the project during development.

Let's add a popular package to solve that.

yarn add -D nodemon

nodemon is a package that can watch the file changes and compile them when you save them so that you don't have to run the file again and again.

Let's try to run that.

yarn nodemon src/index.ts

Now go ahead and make a change inside your index.ts file to see the real-time changes.

Bonus Step: Make development even more pleasant

There is another package that is specifically made for a typescript project. its ts-node-dev package.

Let's add that to the project and see what we can do.

yarn remove nodemon ts-node  // ->remove the previous 2 packages

yarn add -D ts-node-dev // -> add the new one!

Now let's run the following command and see if that works as expected.

yarn ts-node-dev --respawn src/index.ts

Note that the --respawn flag is given to ensure that the files are re-compiled when changed.

ts-node-dev is better than nodemon, and it's faster as well.

Final Improvement: Add script

Now go to your package.json file and add the following script to make it easier.

 "scripts": {
    "dev": "ts-node-dev --respawn src/index.ts",
    "build": "tsc"
  },

Then you can just run the following command to get it running in development mode.

yarn dev

And to build the project, just run the following command.

yarn build

Now you have a working nodejs skeleton project! You can use this any way you like.

Github Repo:

https://github.com/Mohammad-Faisal/nodejs-typescript-skeleton

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Who I am

Hi, I amMohammad Faisal, A full-stack software engineer @Cruise , working remotely from a small but beautiful country named Bangladesh.

I am most experienced inReactJS,NodeJS andAWS

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