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A starter using ExpressJS Mongoose Typescript
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Nisanth Sojan
Latest commit 24d48da Oct 2, 2019

TypeScript Node Starter ( EMBT Starter)

The main purpose of this repository is to show a good starter template in TypeScript using ExpressJS Mongoose Bootstrap v4. I will try to keep this as up-to-date as possible, but community contributions and recommendations for improvements are encouraged and will be most welcome.

  • Only the production required dependencies are installed in server.
  • PUG templates are compiled on build. This makes it very fast.

Live demo:


To build and run this app locally you will need a few things:

Getting started

  • Clone the repository
git clone --depth=1 <project_name>
  • Install dependencies
cd <project_name>
npm install
  • Configure your mongoDB server
  • Start your mongoDB server (you'll probably want another command prompt)
  • Build and run the project
npm run debug

Finally, navigate to http://localhost:5001 and you should see the template being served and rendered locally!

Deploying the app

There are many ways to deploy an Node app, and in general, nothing about the deployment process changes because you're using TypeScript.

All the required front-end and server js code is compiled into the folder '/dist'. All you need to do is copy this folder to your server and run npm install. The repo contains the configuration files for deploying the app to Heroku. It is using the CircleCI. Both of which are free to try out.

Troubleshooting failed deployments

Deployment can fail for various reasons, if you get stuck with a page that says Service Unavailable or some other error, open an issue and I'll try to help you resolve the problems.

TypeScript + Node

In the next few sections I will call out everything that changes when adding TypeScript to an Express project. Note that all of this has already been setup for this project, but feel free to use this as a reference for converting other Node.js project to TypeScript.

Getting TypeScript

TypeScript itself is simple to add to any project with npm.

npm install -D typescript

If you're using VS Code then you're good to go! VS Code will detect and use the TypeScript version you have installed in your node_modules folder. For Editors, make sure you have the corresponding TypeScript plugin.

Project Structure

The most obvious difference in a TypeScript + Node project is the folder structure. In a TypeScript project, it's best to have separate source and distributable files. TypeScript (.ts) files live in your src-server and src-public folder and after compilation are output as JavaScript (.js) in the dist folder. The test and views folders remain top level as expected.

The full folder structure of this app is explained below:

Note! Make sure you have already built the app using npm run build

Name Description
.vscode Contains VS Code specific settings
dist Contains the distributable (or output) from your TypeScript build. This is the code you ship
node_modules Contains all your npm dependencies
src-server Contains your source code that will be compiled to the dist dir
src-server/config Passport authentication strategies and login middleware. Add other complex config code here
src-server/controllers Controllers define functions that respond to various http requests
src-server/models Models define Mongoose schemas that will be used in storing and retrieving data from MongoDB
src-public Static assets that will be used client side
src/types Holds .d.ts files not found on DefinitelyTyped. Covered more in this section
src/server.ts Entry point to your express app
test Contains your tests. Seperate from source because there is a different build process.
views Views define how your app renders on the client. In this case we're using pug
.env.example API keys, tokens, passwords, database URI. Clone this, but don't check it in to public repos.
.travis.yml Used to configure Travis CI build
.copyStaticAssets.ts Build script that copies images, fonts, and JS libs to the dist folder
jest.config.js Used to configure Jest
package.json File that contains npm dependencies as well as build scripts
tsconfig.json Config settings for compiling server code written in TypeScript
tsconfig.tests.json Config settings for compiling tests written in TypeScript
tslint.json Config settings for TSLint code style checking

Building the project

It is rare for JavaScript projects not to have some kind of build pipeline these days, however Node projects typically have the least amount build configuration. Because of this I've tried to keep the build as simple as possible. If you're concerned about compile time, the main watch task takes ~2s to refresh.

Configuring TypeScript compilation

TypeScript uses the file tsconfig.json to adjust project compile options. Let's dissect this project's tsconfig.json, starting with the compilerOptions which details how your project is compiled.

    "compilerOptions": {
        "module": "commonjs",
        "esModuleInterop": true,
        "target": "es6",
        "noImplicitAny": true,
        "moduleResolution": "node",
        "sourceMap": true,
        "outDir": "dist",
        "baseUrl": ".",
        "paths": {
            "*": [
compilerOptions Description
"module": "commonjs" The output module type (in your .js files). Node uses commonjs, so that is what we use
"esModuleInterop": true, Allows usage of an alternate module import syntax: import foo from 'foo';
"target": "es6" The output language level. Node supports ES6, so we can target that here
"noImplicitAny": true Enables a stricter setting which throws errors when something has a default any value
"moduleResolution": "node" TypeScript attempts to mimic Node's module resolution strategy. Read more here
"sourceMap": true We want source maps to be output along side our JavaScript. See the debugging section
"outDir": "dist" Location to output .js files after compilation
"baseUrl": "." Part of configuring module resolution. See path mapping section
paths: {...} Part of configuring module resolution. See path mapping section

The rest of the file define the TypeScript project context. The project context is basically a set of options that determine which files are compiled when the compiler is invoked with a specific tsconfig.json. In this case, we use the following to define our project context:

    "include": [

include takes an array of glob patterns of files to include in the compilation. This project is fairly simple and all of our .ts files are under the src folder. For more complex setups, you can include an exclude array of glob patterns that removes specific files from the set defined with include. There is also a files option which takes an array of individual file names which overrides both include and exclude.

Running the build

All the different build steps are orchestrated via npm scripts. Npm scripts basically allow us to call (and chain) terminal commands via npm. This is nice because most JavaScript tools have easy to use command line utilities allowing us to not need grunt or gulp to manage our builds. If you open package.json, you will see a scripts section with all the different scripts you can call. To call a script, simply run npm run <script-name> from the command line. You'll notice that npm scripts can call each other which makes it easy to compose complex builds out of simple individual build scripts. Below is a list of all the scripts this template has available:

Npm Script Description
start Does the same as 'npm run serve'. Can be invoked with npm start
build Full build. Runs ALL build tasks (build-sass, build-ts, tslint, copy-static-assets)
serve Runs node on dist/server.js which is the apps entry point
watch-node Runs node with nodemon so the process restarts if it crashes. Used in the main watch task
watch Runs all watch tasks (TypeScript, Sass, Node). Use this if you're not touching static assets.
test Runs tests using Jest test runner
watch-test Runs tests in watch mode
build-ts Compiles all source .ts files to .js files in the dist folder
watch-ts Same as build-ts but continuously watches .ts files and re-compiles when needed
build-sass Compiles all .scss files to .css files
watch-sass Same as build-sass but continuously watches .scss files and re-compiles when needed
tslint Runs TSLint on project files
copy-static-assets Calls script that copies JS libs, fonts, and images to dist directory
debug Performs a full build and then serves the app in watch mode
serve-debug Runs the app with the --inspect flag
watch-debug The same as watch but includes the --inspect flag so you can attach a debugger

Source maps

Source maps allow you to drop break points in your TypeScript source code and have that break point be hit by the JavaScript that is being executed at runtime.

Note! - Source maps aren't specific to TypeScript. Anytime JavaScript is transformed (transpiled, compiled, optimized, minified, etc) you need source maps so that the code that is executed at runtime can be mapped back to the source that generated it.

The best part of source maps is when configured correctly, you don't even know they exist! So let's take a look at how we do that in this project.

Configuring source maps

First you need to make sure your tsconfig.json has source map generation enabled:

"compilerOptions" {
    "sourceMap": true

With this option enabled, next to every .js file that the TypeScript compiler outputs there will be a .map.js file as well. This .map.js file provides the information necessary to map back to the source .ts file while debugging.

Note! - It is also possible to generate "inline" source maps using "inlineSourceMap": true. This is more common when writing client side code because some bundlers need inline source maps to preserve the mapping through the bundle. Because we are writing Node.js code, we don't have to worry about this.


For this project, I chose Jest as our test framework. While Mocha is probably more common, Mocha seems to be looking for a new maintainer and setting up TypeScript testing in Jest is wicked simple.

Install the components

To add TypeScript + Jest support, first install a few npm packages:

npm install -D jest ts-jest

jest is the testing framework itself, and ts-jest is just a simple function to make running TypeScript tests a little easier.

Configure Jest

Jest's configuration lives in jest.config.js, so let's open it up and add the following code:

module.exports = {
	globals: {
		'ts-jest': {
			tsConfigFile: 'tsconfig.json'
	moduleFileExtensions: [
	transform: {
		'^.+\\.(ts|tsx)$': './node_modules/ts-jest/preprocessor.js'
	testMatch: [
	testEnvironment: 'node'

Basically we are telling Jest that we want it to consume all files that match the pattern "**/test/**/*.test.(ts|js)" (all .test.ts/.test.js files in the test folder), but we want to preprocess the .ts files first. This preprocess step is very flexible, but in our case, we just want to compile our TypeScript to JavaScript using our tsconfig.json. This all happens in memory when you run the tests, so there are no output .js test files for you to manage.

Running tests

Simply run npm run test. Note this will also generate a coverage report.

Writing tests

Writing tests for web apps has entire books dedicated to it and best practices are strongly influenced by personal style, so I'm deliberately avoiding discussing how or when to write tests in this guide. However, if prescriptive guidance on testing is something that you're interested in, let me know, I'll do some homework and get back to you.


TSLint is a code linter which mainly helps catch minor code quality and style issues. TSLint is very similar to ESLint or JSLint but is built with TypeScript in mind.

TSLint rules

Like most linters, TSLint has a wide set of configurable rules as well as support for custom rule sets. All rules are configured through tslint.json. In this project, we are using a fairly basic set of rules with no additional custom rules. The settings are largely based off the TSLint settings that we use to develop TypeScript itself.

Running TSLint

Like the rest of our build steps, we use npm scripts to invoke TSLint. To run TSLint you can call the main build script or just the TSLint task.

npm run build   // runs full build including TSLint
npm run tslint  // runs only TSLint

Notice that TSLint is not a part of the main watch task. It can be annoying for TSLint to clutter the output window while in the middle of writing a function, so I elected to only run it only during the full build. If you are interesting in seeing TSLint feedback as soon as possible, I strongly recommend the TSLint extension in VS Code.


Dependencies are managed through package.json. In that file you'll find two sections:


Package Description
async Utility library that provides asynchronous control flow.
bcrypt-nodejs Library for hashing and salting user passwords.
bluebird Promise library
body-parser Express 4 middleware.
compression Express 4 middleware.
connect-mongo MongoDB session store for Express.
dotenv Loads environment variables from .env file.
errorhandler Express 4 middleware.
express Node.js web framework.
express-flash Provides flash messages for Express.
express-session Express 4 middleware.
express-validator Easy form validation for Express.
lodash General utility library.
csurf CSRF middleware.
mongoose MongoDB ODM.
nodemailer Node.js library for sending emails.
passport Simple and elegant authentication library for node.js
passport-local Sign-in with Username and Password plugin.
pug (jade) Template engine for Express.
request Simplified HTTP request library.
request-promise Promisified HTTP request library. Let's us use async/await
winston Logging library


Package Description
@types Dependencies in this folder are .d.ts files used to provide types
chai Testing utility library that makes it easier to write tests
concurrently Utility that manages multiple concurrent tasks. Used with npm scripts
jest Testing library for JavaScript.
node-sass Allows to compile .scss files to .css
nodemon Utility that automatically restarts node process when it crashes
supertest HTTP assertion library.
ts-jest A preprocessor with sourcemap support to help use TypeScript wit Jest.
ts-node Enables directly running TS files. Used to run copy-static-assets.ts
tslint Linter (similar to ESLint) for TypeScript files
typescript JavaScript compiler/type checker that boosts JavaScript productivity

To install or update these dependencies you can use npm install or npm update.

Hackathon Starter Project

A majority of this quick start's content was inspired or adapted from Sahat's excellent Hackathon Starter project.

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