TypeScript Webpack Setup (with CSS Modules)

TypeScript Webpack Setup (with CSS Modules)

31 January, 2021
💡 https://github.com/abdus/webpack-typescript-starter 💡 https://academy.zerotomastery.io/courses/700470

It has not been many days since I started to choose TypeScript instead of JavaScript. It’s an interesting language(or a superset, as many of us would like to call) which adds so much awesomeness to Vanilla JavaScript. The most notable feature it adds to JavaScript is the TypeSafe programming.

Type-safe programming simply means that a programmer is less likely to write code which would produce a type-error. Type safety is the core feature of a Statically typed language.

How TypeScript makes JavaScript a type-safe language? Well, it does not. Because when the TypeScript code is compiled, there is no way the JavaScript engine running the compiled code, would prevent type errors. Then what’s so special about it? In short, TypeScript makes the development process easier and less tedious.

TypeScript Resources

Since the primary intention for this post is to provide an step-by-step guide on how to set-up a TypeScript project with Webpack, I would not add ‘How to code in TypeScript’ kind of thing here.

However, if you are curious about learning TypeScript, following are some of the good Resources (also available in my resources repository):

Setting Up the Project

To set-up a TypeScript project with webpack correctly, you should first understand how would everything work all-togather.

If you have manually wrote a webpack configuration before, you would know that webpack simply takes input(for example: SASS, JavaScript etc) and puts them into a single file(or multiple, in some cases).

To answer the question ‘Why we even need such overhead for a front-end project’, not all browser supports module yet. Plus there are other features like Tree Shaking(fency term for removing dead codes), code-splitting, dependency management etc which comes handy with a bundler like webpack.

To bundle TypeScript source files using Webpack, all we need to do is add a loader which will handle TypeScript-specific files.

There are two ways to achieve this.

ts-loader

ts-loader is a webpack loader which will compile TypeScript to regular JavaScript. Note that, ts-loader depends on typescript to compile code using tsconfig.json. So, it’s pretty much obvious that we must add typescript as a dependency to the package.json file.

If you are using ts-loader, relevent configuration from webpack.config.ts would look something like this:

module.exports = {
  ....

  module: {
    rules: [
      {
        test: /\.tsx?$/, // select file ending with .ts or .tsx
        use: 'ts-loader', // use ts-loader to handle TypeScript files
        exclude: /node_modules/, // don't do anything for node_modules
      }
    ]
  }

  ....
}

That’s pretty much it. No other configuration required for TypeScript.

@babel/preset-typescript

@babel/preset-typescript is a collection of plugins to handle TypeScript files. As of now, this preset contains only one plug-in called @babel/plugin-transform-typescript

If you are planning to follow this approach (and I will definately recommend this approach), you should have a .babelrc file at project-root (same as wher you have webpack.config.ts file).

{
  "presets": ["@babel/preset-typescript"]
}

Install babel-loader for webpack. And ask webpack to use babel-loader to handle TypeScript files. We are done.

tsconfig.json

Please refer to official TypeScript documentation to learn about the configurations. A minimal configuration file may look like this:

// this is a default tsconfig I use in all of my projects. feel free to modify
// it as you want.
{
  {
  "compilerOptions": {
    "module": "CommonJS",
    "noImplicitAny": true,
    "removeComments": true,
    "preserveConstEnums": true,
    "sourceMap": true
  },
  "exclude": ["node_modules"]
}

}

Adding Types Definition to the Project

When writing webpack configuration file(s) in TypeScript, you may encounter errors. Don’t worry about them. They are easy to ger rid of. Just install appropriate type definitions from @types.

For example, to get rid of webpack configuration error, install @types/webpack using Yarn.

Step by Step Guide

Initialize package.json. You can use either yarn or npm. I would suggest you to use yarn, as it’s faster. But it’s upto you what you use…for sure.

To initialize, simply run yarn init(or npm init) to create package.json. This will hold information about the project. For exapmple, dependencies etc. Optionally, you can pass --yes, which will choose default value for every question asked by either tools.

Create webpack configuration file, webpack.config.ts. Note that, I am going to write it in TypeScript. You may choose to write in plain JavaScript. It does not matter.

We need to import path module from Node.js as we have to provide valid and correct pathnames to configuration options. We also need to install couple of other dependencies. Following is a list of what we will need.

Primary Packages:

Types:

Following packages provides type definitions for TypeScript. We need these packages beause some of the libraries does not provide official type definitions yet.

Note that these packages should be installed as devDependencies. No problem if you wish to keep them as dependencies. Just a convention.

Install all of them using yarn:

yarn add --dev webpack webpack-dev-server html-webpack-plugin
mini-css-extract-plugin css-loader ts-loader typescript  @types/webpack
@types/webpack-dev-server @types/mini-css-extract-plugin

And copy the following webpack.config.ts file. Configuration options are pretty much self-explanatory. You can always look up for explanation

import * as path from "path";
import * as webpack from "webpack";
import * as HtmlWebpackPlugin from "html-webpack-plugin";
import * as MiniCssExtract from "mini-css-extract-plugin";

const config: webpack.Configuration = {
  mode: process.env.NODE_ENV === "prod" ? "production" : "development",
  entry: path.resolve(__dirname, "src/index.ts"),
  output: {
    path: path.resolve("build"),
    filename: "[name].[contenthash].js",
  },

  // plugins
  plugins: [
    new HtmlWebpackPlugin({
      template: path.resolve(__dirname, "public/index.html"),
    }),
    new MiniCssExtract(),
  ],

  // modules and loaders
  module: {
    rules: [
      {
        test: /\.tsx?$/,
        use: ["ts-loader"],
      },

      {
        test: /\.css$/,
        use: [MiniCssExtract.loader, "css-loader"],
      },
    ],
  },

  // dev server config
  devServer: {
    port: 3000,
    contentBase: path.resolve(__dirname, "build"),
    compress: true,
  },
};

export default config;

At this point, Webpack configuration is done. Whatever webpack bundles, will be placed inside build/ directory. You can safely .gitignore this directory.

To make development process easier, you may add npm scripts in package.json. Following are two example scripts:

{
  ...
  "scripts": {
    "start": "webpack s",
    "build": "rimraf build && webpack"
  }
  ...
}

Note that in build script I have added rimraf. This is a package provides functionalities of rm command. You can simply install it using yarn add --dev rimraf. Purpose of using it, is to remove build/ directory to get a fresh build of the source code everytime we run webpack.

Troubleshooting

TS2307: Cannot find module '*.css' or its corresponding type declarations.

This occurs because TypeScript have no idea how to handle imported CSS. To get rid of this, create a file called declaration.d.ts in project root and put following code.

declare module "*.css" {
  const content: Record<string, string>;
  export default content;
}

With Babel

Pretty simple. Instead of loading TypeScript file with ts-loader, use babel-loader. You can use @babel/preset-typescript for a ready-made configuration.

Conclusion

I put up a repository on GitHub which contains the code I have demonstrated in this post. Repository is available at https://github.com/abdus/webpack-typescript-starter

Thank you!

abdus s. azad
About the Author
Abdus is a Software Engineer working at Level. In his free time, he likes to play with Linux-based machines. Contact him at abdus@abdus.net.