Announcing TypeScript support in Electron

The electron npm package now includes a TypeScript definition file that provides detailed annotations of the entire Electron API. These annotations can improve your Electron development experience even if you're writing vanilla JavaScript. Just npm install electron to get up-to-date Electron typings in your project.


TypeScript is an open-source programming language created by Microsoft. It's a superset of JavaScript that extends the language by adding support for static types. The TypeScript community has grown quickly in recent years, and TypeScript was ranked among the most loved programming languages in a recent Stack Overflow developer survey. TypeScript is described as "JavaScript that scales", and teams at GitHub, Slack, and Microsoft are all using it to write scalable Electron apps that are used by millions of people.

TypeScript supports many of the newer language features in JavaScript like classes, object destructuring, and async/await, but its real differentiating feature is type annotations. Declaring the input and output datatypes expected by your program can reduce bugs by helping you find errors at compile time, and the annotations can also serve as a formal declaration of how your program works.

When libraries are written in vanilla Javascript, the types are often vaguely defined as an afterthought when writing documentation. Functions can often accept more types than what was documented, or a function can have invisible constraints that are not documented, which can lead to runtime errors.

TypeScript solves this problem with definition files. A TypeScript definition file describes all the functions of a library and its expected input and output types. When library authors bundle a TypeScript definition file with their published library, consumers of that library can explore its API right inside their editor and start using it right away, often without needing to consult the library's documentation.

Many popular projects like Angular, Vue.js, node-github (and now Electron!) compile their own definition file and bundle it with their published npm package. For projects that don't bundle their own definition file, there is DefinitelyTyped, a third-party ecosystem of community-maintained definition files.

Installation

Starting at version 1.6.10, every release of Electron includes its own TypeScript definition file. When you install the electron package from npm, the electron.d.ts file is bundled automatically with the installed package.

The safest way to install Electron is using an exact version number:

npm install electron --save-dev --save-exact

Or if you're using yarn:

yarn add electron --dev --exact

If you were already using third-party definitions like @types/electron and @types/node, you should remove them from your Electron project to prevent any collisions.

The definition file is derived from our structured API documentation, so it will always be consistent with Electron's API documentation. Just install electron and you'll always get TypeScript definitions that are up to date with the version of Electron you're using.

Usage

For a summary of how to install and use Electron's new TypeScript annotations, watch this short demo screencast:

If you're using Visual Studio Code, you've already got TypeScript support built in. There are also community-maintained plugins for Atom, Sublime, vim, and other editors.

Once your editor is configured for TypeScript, you'll start to see more context-aware behavior like autocomplete suggestions, inline method reference, argument checking, and more.

Method autocompletion
Method autcompletion
Method reference
Inline method reference
Argument checking
Argument checking

Getting started with TypeScript

If you're new to TypeScript and want to learn more, this introductory video from Microsoft provides a nice overview of why the language was created, how it works, how to use it, and where it's headed.

There's also a handbook and a playground on the official TypeScript website.

Because TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript, your existing JavaScript code is already valid TypeScript. This means you can gradually transition an existing JavaScript project to TypeScript, sprinkling in new language features as needed.

Thanks

This project would not have been possible without the help of Electron's community of open-source maintainers. Thanks to Samuel Attard, Felix Rieseberg, Birunthan Mohanathas, Milan Burda, Brendan Forster, and many others for their bug fixes, documentation improvements, and technical guidance.

Support

If you encounter any issues using Electron's new TypeScript definition files, please file an issue on the electron-typescript-definitions repository.

Happy TypeScripting!

Have feedback on this post? Let @electronjs know on Twitter.

Need help or found a bug? Contact us.