In this article, we will find something out about how to debuggin Node.js with typescript, no using webpack, babel, or ts-node, ts-node-dev to deploy in a server. It is useful when we want to demo some small functionalities for our project.

Let’s get started.

Table of contents

Create Node.js project

We will use npm to initialize our project:

npm init -y

It will create package.json file in our project. Then, we can install some necessary packages that we want.

Some packages that need to install

  1. Use typescript package

    Node.js is an engine that runs Javascript and not Typescript. The node Typescript package allows us to transpile our .ts file to .js scripts. Babel can also be used to transpile Typescript, however the market standard is to use the official Microsoft package.

     npm install typescript --save-dev

    Inside our package.json, we will put a script called tsc:

     "scripts": {
       "tsc": "tsc"

    This modification allows us to call typescript functions from the command line in the project’s folder. So, we can use the following command:

     npm run tsc -- --init

    This command initializes the typescript project by creating the tsconfig.json file. Within this file, we will uncomment the outDir option and choose a location for the transpiled .js files to be delivered.


    • Typescript handles all of the ES6 and a lot of the ES7 syntax but the runtime operations. So things like Object.assign(), Symbol(), etc. are not polyfilled by TypeScript.
  2. Use @types/node package

    @types/node package is an type declaration package for Node.js, it has the same name as the package on npm, but prefixed with @types/, but if we need, we can check out to find the package for our favorite library.

     npm install @types/node --save-dev
  3. Use tslint package

    TSLint is an extensible static analysis tool that checks Typescript code for readability, maintainability, and functionality errors. It is widely supported across modern editors & build systems and can be customized with our own lint rules, configurations, and formatters.

     npm install tslint typescript --save-dev
     // then, create tslint.json
     tslint --init

So, in our package.json file will include information:

"devDependencies": {
    "@types/node": "^12.7.12",
    "typescript": "^3.6.4"

Setting debug mode in Visual studio code

  1. Settings in tsconfig.json file

    The presence of a tsconfig.json file in a directory indicates that the directory is the root of a TypeScript project. The tsconfig.json file specifies the root files and the compiler options required to compile the project. A project is compiled in one of the following ways:

    • By invoking tsc with no input files, in which case the compiler searches for the tsconfig.json file starting in the current directory and continuing up the parent directory chain.

    • By invoking tsc with no input files and a –project (or just -p) command line option that specifies the path of a directory containing a tsconfig.json file, or a path to a valid .json file containing the configurations.

    When input files are specified on the command line, tsconfig.json files are ignored.

         "compilerOptions": {
             "target": "es5",
             "module": "commonjs",
             "outDir": "dist",
             "strict": true,
             "sourceMap": true
         "files": [
         "include": [
         "exclude": [

    The meaning of some above settings:

    • target - specify ECMAScript target version: ES3 (default), ES5, ES2015, ES2016, ES2017, ES2018, ES2019 or ESNEXT.

    • sourceMap - generates corresponding .map file to help us easily debug our project.

    • strict - we should include this option into our tsconfig.json file because project that use typescript means we want to get the benefits of static type checking.

      The most important one is the strict flag, which covers four other flags that you can add independently:

      • --noImplicitThis: Complains if the type of this isn’t clear.

      • --noImplicitAny: With this setting, we have to define every single type in our application. This mainly applies to parameters of functions and methods.

        const fn = ( worker ) =>;

        If you don’t turn on noImplicit, any worker will implicitly be of any type.

      • --strictNullChecks: null is not part of any type (other than its own type, null) and must be explicitly mentioned if it is an acceptable value.

          interface Worker {
              name: string;
          const getName = (worker?: Worker) =>

        This code snippet won’t compile because worker is an optional parameter and can be undefined.

      • --alwaysStrict: Use JavaScript’s strict mode whenever possible.

        For further compiler options please find them here:

    • module - specify module code generation: none, commonjs, amd, system, umd, es2015, or ESNext.

    • outDir - where all of built files will be placed.

    • files - takes a list of relative or absolute file paths.

    • include - take a list of glob-like file patterns

      If the files and include are both left unspecified, the compiler defaults to including all TypeScript .ts, .d.ts and .tsx files in the containing directory and subdirectories except those excluded using the exclude property. JS files such as .js and .jsx are also included if allowJs is set to true.

      If the files or include properties are specified, the compiler will instead include the union of the files included by those two properties. Files in the directory specified using the outDir compiler option are excluded as long as exclude property is not specified.

      Files included using include can be filtered using the exclude property. However, files included explicitly using the files property are always included regardless of exclude.

    • exclude - defaults to excluding the node_modules, bower_components, jspm_packages and <outDir> directories when not specified.

  2. Settings in Visual studio code

    • In launch.json file

            "version": "0.2.0",
            "configurations": [
                    "type": "node",
                    "request": "launch",
                    "name": "Launch Program",
                    "program": "${workspaceFolder}/src/index.ts",   // our main file
                    "sourceMaps": true,
                    "preLaunchTask": "npm: debug",
                    "outFiles": [

      We also set sourceMaps property to true to support debugging. And preLaunchTask property will be referred to npm: debug in script property of package.json.

      preLaunchTaskwill be performed all other tasks.

    • In package.json file

        "scripts": {
            "tsc": "tsc",
            "prod": "tsc && node ./build/index.js",
            "debug": "tsc --sourcemap"

Wrapping up

  • Understand some important options in tsconfig.json file.
  • Understand how to install some typescript packages for our project.