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README.md

Using TypeScript with JSX

You can now use JSX syntax (https://facebook.github.io/jsx/) in TypeScript. JSX is a popular syntactic extension to JavaScript that lets you write blocks of expressions similar to XML or HTML.

In this walkthrough, we'll be using React (https://facebook.github.io/react/docs/getting-started.html) to show off how using JSX in TypeScript works.

React, JSX, and TypeScript: A Full Walkthrough

In this walkthrough, we're going to make a small application that shows some data from GitHub using React. We'll write some React components using JSX and also use some useful tools to get our development set up.

Getting Library Files

First, we'll need react.js. We can use bower (http://bower.io/) to install it to a local directory. jQuery is also useful, so let's install it as well.

npm install -g bower

bower init <- Accept defaults other than 'mark as private'

bower install react jquery --save

Our First HTML page

Next, we need an HTML page. Since we're going to be doing most of our rendering in code, this can be very simple. This file won't change in the course of this walkthrough:

index.html

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
  	<title>JSX and TypeScript</title>
    <script src="bower_components/react/react.js"></script>
    <script src="bower_components/jquery/dist/jquery.min.js"></script>
    <script src="app.js"></script>
  </head>
  <body>
  	<div id="output"></div>
  </body>
</html>

Getting Definition Files

The TypeScript compiler needs definition files (.d.ts) to understand the shapes of third-party libraries. The tsd tool (http://definitelytyped.org/tsd/) makes it easy to find and install .d.ts files. We'll create a config file with tsd init and then get the definition files for the two libraries we'll be using:

npm install -g tsd

tsd init

tsd query react --save --action install

tsd query jquery --save --action install

Our First tsconfig file

We could manually provide a list of files to tsc, but providing a tsconfig.json file makes it easier to see what the compiler settings are. Let's write a basic config file that specifies our implementation file (app.tsx), the definition file (tsd.d.ts), and configures our JSX output to be React-compatible:

tsconfig.json

{
	"files": ["app.tsx", "typings/tsd.d.ts"],
	"compilerOptions": {
		"jsx": "react"
	}
}

Our First TypeScript file

app.tsx

It's time to write some code. We start with the basic Hello World:

var content = <div>Hello, world!</div>;

$(() => {
	let target = document.getElementById('output');
	React.render(content, target);
});

Running the Compiler

Let's run the compiler in "watch" mode. This will monitor for changes, recompile automatically, and notify us of any errors. Once we start this, we won't need to explicitly invoke the compiler again. It's a fire-and-forget service.

npm install -g typescript

tsc -w

Developing Locally

Now we have an app.js on disk and we can see our webpage. The http-server npm package provides a simple static HTTP server.

npm install -g http-server

http-server

Now we open a browser to http://localhost:8080 and see our text rendered. Not terribly exciting, but now we're all set up to do more interesting things.

Error Checking in TypeScript

Let's take a brief tour of how TypeScript is helping out here. Because we have a React JSX definition file, TypeScript knows what kind of tag names and attribute names are valid, and can issue errors when we make mistakes. Here are some examples of things that TypeScript will warn you about:

// Error, attribute "class-name" does not exist (it's "className")
var span = <span class-name="bold">!</span>;

// Error, attribute "rowspan" does not exist (it's "rowSpan")
var table = <table><tr rowspan={2} /></table>;

// Error, function is not compatible with boolean (forgot parentheses to invoke)
function shouldAutoComplete(): boolean { /* ... */ }
var input = <input autoComplete={shouldAutoComplete} />;

// Error, no property 'timestamp' on MouseEvent (it's "timeStamp")
var test = <div onClick={e => console.log('Was clicked at time = ' + e.timestamp) }  />;

// Error, no element 'blockQuote' exists (it's "blockquote")
var quot = <blockQuote />;

// Error, no element 'radialgradient' exists (it's "radialGradient")
var background = <radialgradient />;

Reusable Components

Let's write a React component using an ES6 class. The end goal is to display a flat list of GitHub repositories, so we'll start with a component that displays a single repo.

Definition

interface RepoProps extends React.Props<any> {
	name: string;
	url: string;
	description: string;
}
class RepoDisplay extends React.Component<RepoProps, {}> {
	render() {
		return <div>
			<span style={{'fontWeight': 'bold'}}><a href={this.props.url}>{this.props.name}</a>: </span>
			<span>{this.props.description}</span>
		</div>;
	}
}

Here we started by defining the shape of props. This lets TypeScript know what properties are supported and required by the class. If we wanted to forgo checking of this object, we could have specified the base type as React.Component<any, {}> instead (the second {} refers to the shape of state, which we're not using in this example).

The class definition is simple - we consume the properties provided via this.props and return a JSX element that will later be rendered into HTML.

Consumption

To consume the class, we just use it as part of a JSX tag:

var content = <RepoDisplay
	name="TypeScript"
	url="https://github.com/Microsoft/Typescript"
	description="TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript that compiles to clean JavaScript output."/>;

Take a few minutes to play with the code and see how TypeScript is providing type safety in these expressions. What happens if you misspell description, or forget to provide a name? If you're using an editor like Sublime Text, Atom, or VS Code, try using the "Rename" command to rename one of the properties like name and see how it gets updated everywhere in the file automatically.

Pulling Live Data

Let's get some live data from GitHub to show what it looks like to display a list of items. We'll use the list of repos under the Microsoft organization, which is available at https://api.github.com/users/microsoft/repos?sort=updated.

let settings = { url: 'https://api.github.com/users/microsoft/repos?sort=updated' };
$.ajax(settings).then((data) => {
	let content = <div>{data.map((entry, i) => <RepoDisplay key={i} {...entry} url={entry.html_url} />) }</div>;
	let target = document.getElementById('output');
	React.render(content, target);
});

In this code, we get the data from the website, then display it in a div. Note that we need to provide a key property to React, and that we want to use the html_url field instead of the url field. Because the other property names the RepoDisplay component are the same as in the JSON data we get, we can spread in ({...entry}) the entry.

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