Creating a TypeScript Package

There are a lot of different TypeScript setups out there. Some of these are correct, some of them have invalid configurations that may or may not work by accident, others are outdated, This guide will walk you through steps to setup a basic minimal TypeScript package with some tests.

Table of Contents

Gitting started

To get started, create a new folder and initialize a git repository.

mkdir my-package
cd my-package
git init


A TypeScript project contains some generated files. We don’t want to commit those to git, so we need a .gitignore file.

# This directory contains our dependencies

# This is where we will write our compiled output

# The result of `npm pack`


Next, create a file named package.json. package.json is the entrypoint of your npm package.

  "name": "my-package",
  "version": "0.0.0",
  "description": "",
  "type": "module",
  "exports": "./dist/my-package.js",
  "main": "./dist/my-package.js",
  "repository": "my-github-username/my-package",
  "files": [
  "scripts": {
    "prepack": "tsc --build",
    "pretest": "tsc --build",
    "test": "node --enable-source-maps --test"
  "devDependencies": {
    "@types/node": "^20.0.0",
    "typescript": "^5.0.0"

name is the name of the package through which it will be available on npm. In this case, your users will be able to install the package by running npm install my-package. It is also the name using which users will import your package.

version is the semantic version of your package. We will keep it 0.0.0 to get started.

description is a short single line description of your package.

type indicates the type of files with a .js or .ts extension. The default is commonjs, but it’s best to always set it explicitly. For new packages I recommend using module.

exports determines which file will be resolved when your package is imported. In this example, the following import:

import 'my-package'

resolves to the dist/my-package.js file in your package. Package exports support more complex configurations to support different entrypoints and export conditions, but that’s out of scope for this guide. For more information on that, see the Node.js documentation on Package entry points.

main is mostly no longer used if exports is defined. Some bundlers still use it. It’s also used by TypeScript’s legacy module resolution algorithms.

files determines which files should be included in the package. Typically you write TypeScript code in a src directory, and emit it to the dist directory. Different projects may use different folder names, but for this example we’ll stick with those. In our example the tests will follow the *.test.ts naming pattern. We don’t want to publish tests, so those are excluded.

scripts may contain various reusable scripts. Some special names are used for life cycle scripts. A TypeScript project typicall contains the following life cycle scripts:

devDependencies contains the dependencies needed to develop the project. For our project we need typescript for compiling the project, and @types/node to get type definitions for the Node.js test runner.

After creating package.json, run npm install to install dependencies and create a package-lock.json file.


Our next file is tsconfig.json. tsconfig.json configures your TypeScript program.

  "compilerOptions": {
    "declaration": true,
    "declarationMap": true,
    "lib": "es2022",
    "module": "nodenext",
    "outDir": "dist",
    "rootDir": "src",
    "sourceMap": true,
    "strict": true,
    "target": "es2022"

strict enables several recommended strict type checking options. This is generally recommended for new projects.

target configures the ECMAScript version we want to support. Our package will target Node.js 18, for which es2022 is sufficient. lib needs to match the target. If your package is for use in the browser, you can omit lib. By default it will match your target, and also include the matching DOM types.

rootDir specifies where we will author the source code. outDir specifies where the compiled output should be written.

declaration specifies we want to emit TypeScript declaration files. Without declaration files, the package can’t be consumed by TypeScript users who want to use this package. declarationMap emits a declaration map for each declaration file. If this is included, Go to definition from within an editor will take the user to the source code from which the declaration file was generated instead of the declaration file itself. sourceMap allows certain tools such as debuggers or stack traces to map the compiled output back to the source code.

module configures the module system to use. For libraries you should use nodenext or node16. Those are equivalent at the moment of writing. For applications that are bundled you should use preserve. Other module options are outdated and should not be used. The module option also configures moduleResolution and esModuleInterop for you, so you shouldn’t specify those.

The code

Since the focus of this guide is on creating a project, the code example will be very minimal.

The entry point refers to my-package.js in the out dir. We need to match this file in out root dir. So our source code will be in src/my-package.ts. Let’s write the following content:

export function greet(name = 'you'): string {
  return `Hello ${name}!`

We also need a test file. Let’s name it src/my-package.test.ts.

import assert from 'node:assert/strict'
import { test } from 'node:test'
import { greet } from 'my-package'

test('greet with name', () => {
  const greeting = greet('Remco')

  assert.equal(greeting, 'Hello Remco!')

test('greet without', () => {
  const greeting = greet()

  assert.equal(greeting, 'Hello you!')

Note that in our test, we import greet from my-package. We could have imported greet from ./my-package.js. However, by importing from it my-package we do not only test the greet function, we also make sure that it is properly exported in the public interface.

Now to run the tests, run npm test.

Automate publishing

Now that we have a useful package, let’s publish it. This section will focus on using GitHub, but the same concepts apply to other hosting platforms.

Create a repository

First, create a new repository on GitHub. Next we commit what we have. Then we add the new GitHub repository as the origin remote, and we push to GitHub.

git add .
git commit -m 'Initial commit'
git remote add origin ''
git push -u origin main

If everything went well, your project is now on GitHub.

GitHub actions

Next we create a GitHub workflow to automate testing and publishing. Create the file .github/workflows/ci.yaml with the following content:

name: ci

    branches: [main]
    tags: ['*']

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      - uses: actions/checkout@v4
      - uses: actions/setup-node@v4
          node-version: 20
      - run: npm ci
      - run: npm pack
      - uses: actions/upload-artifact@v4
          name: package
          path: '*.tgz'

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
          - 18
          - 20
      - uses: actions/checkout@v4
      - uses: actions/setup-node@v4
          node-version: ${{ matrix.node-version }}
      - run: npm ci
      - run: npm test

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      - pack
      - test
    if: startsWith(github.ref, 'refs/tags/')
      - uses: actions/setup-node@v4
          node-version: 20
      - uses: actions/download-artifact@v4
        with: { name: package }
      - run: npm publish *.tgz --provenance --access public
          NODE_AUTH_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.NPM_TOKEN }}

This workflow does the following:

The release job needs an npm access token. To get an npm access token, go to and log in. Click on your profile avatar → Access TokensGenerate New Token and follow the instructions. Copy the access token.

From your project on GitHub, go to SettingsSecrets and variablesActions. Click New repository secret. As the name, enter NPM_TOKEN. This needs to match the secret used in the workflow file. Paste the npm token in the Secret field, and click Add secret.

Add, commit, and push this file.

git add .github/workflows/ci.yaml
git commit -m 'Add CI workflow'
git push


Now all you need to do to publish this, is push a new tag to GitHub. The npm version command increases the version and creates a git tag. So all you need to run to publish version 0.0.1 is:

npm version patch
git push --tags

You will receive an email from npm when your package is published succesfully.

Further configuration

This post only shows the a minimal TypeScript project. It’s strongly recommended to add some more metadata to your project, including:

However, that’s out of scope for this post.