🔙 All posts

Getting setup with Express and TypeScript

A quick walk through of getting setup up with Node, Express and TypeScript

Planted October 21, 2023

Last tended November 17, 2023

Setting up a Node.js and Express backend with TypeScript can seem intimidating, but it’s quite straightforward once you break it down. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started:

  1. Initialize a New Node Project:
   mkdir node-ts-backend
   cd node-ts-backend
   npm init -y
  1. Install Required Packages:
   npm install express
   npm install --save-dev typescript @types/node @types/express ts-node nodemon
  • typescript is the TypeScript compiler.

  • @types/node and @types/express provide TypeScript type definitions for Node.js and Express, respectively.

  • ts-node lets you run TypeScript directly without compiling it to JavaScript first.

  • nodemon watches for file changes and restarts your server. You can use Node’s built in watch mode flag (--watch) but check your version of Node first.

3. Initialize TypeScript Configuration:

   tsc --init

This will create a tsconfig.json file. Adjust the following settings in this file:

     "target": "es6",
     "module": "commonjs",
     "outDir": "./dist",
     "rootDir": "./src",
     "strict": true,
     "esModuleInterop": true,
     "skipLibCheck": true,
     "forceConsistentCasingInFileNames": true

These settings specify that:

  • Your TypeScript code uses ES6 features and CommonJS modules.

  • The compiled JavaScript will be output to a dist directory.

  • Your source TypeScript files will be inside a src directory.

4. Setup Nodemon for Development:
In your package.json, add the following scripts:

   "scripts": {
     "start": "nodemon --watch 'src/**/*' -e ts,tsx --exec ts-node src/index.ts"
  1. Write Your TypeScript Express App: Create a src directory and inside it, create index.ts:
   import express, { Request, Response } from 'express';

   const app = express();
   const PORT = 3000;

   app.get('/', (req: Request, res: Response) => {
       res.send('Hello from TypeScript backend!');

   app.listen(PORT, () => {
       console.log(`Server is running on http://localhost:${PORT}`);
  1. Run Your App:
   npm start

Now, if you visit http://localhost:3000/, you should see the message “Hello from TypeScript backend!“.

  1. Production Build:
    If you want to compile your TypeScript code for production, you can add a build script to your package.json:
   "scripts": {
     "build": "tsc",
     "start": "nodemon --watch 'src/**/*' -e ts,tsx --exec ts-node src/index.ts"

Running npm run build will now compile your TypeScript code to JavaScript in the dist directory.

With these steps, you should have a basic setup for a Node.js, Express, and TypeScript backend. As your application grows, you might want to add additional tooling, middleware, and types to further enhance your development experience.

Like what you see?

I send out a (semi) regular newsletter which shares the latest from here and my reading from around the web. Sign up below.

    Your next read?