Pelle Wessman

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How to use TypeScript 3.7 to generate declarations from JSDoc


While TypeScript for long has supported validating the types in ones javascript files, even reading ones JSDoc-comments, it hasn’t really worked that well for those who in turn wanted to use ones code.

By default TypeScript doesn’t read the JSDoc of any dependencies. One have had to set maxNodeModuleJsDepth to a higher value, which hasn’t been without some issues.

Issues range from having the required depth change over time due to nested modules in node\_modules, making it hard to guarantee that types has been read, and picking up weird JSDoc comments from other packages – JSDoc comments that has never been tested for correctness.

So, what about TypeScript 3.7? It introduces a way to create a type definition file from your JSDoc definitions. I decided to try it out on a project.


This is how I added it to a project which publishes a single index.js file, bunyan-adaptor:

1. Create a new tsconfig file

Add a new tsconfig.json with the sole purpose of generating your declaration. This way you can avoid getting declarations generated for tests and such.

I added a declaration.tsconfig.json containing:

  "extends": "./tsconfig",
  "exclude": [
  "compilerOptions": {
    "declaration": true,
    "noEmit": false,
    "emitDeclarationOnly": true

2. Add a npm script for generating the declaration

"declaration:build": "rm -f index.d.ts && tsc -p declaration.tsconfig.json",

3. (optional) Add a npm script for ensuring your declaration has been committed

"declaration:check": "git diff --exit-code -- index.d.ts",

4. (optional) Add a prepublishOnly npm script

"prepublishOnly": "npm run --silent declaration:build && npm run --silent declaration:check",

Or simpler, with the use of npm-run-all:

"prepublishOnly": "run-s declaration:*",

5. Profit / Party / 🦄 / 🤳

However you want to celebrate: This is the moment.

Run npm run declaration:build, commit the resulting index.d.ts and publish your module!

Note: Visual Studio Code could/will complain about your generated type declaration unless you tell it to use TypeScript 3.7.

Tell it by running the TypeScript: Select TypeScript Version... command when in eg. the type declaration file.

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