Part 2: Switch to TypeScript

12 Jun 2019

In this second part of the series about writing an Azure Function in TypeScript, the JavaScript function is converted to TypeScript. This is mainly setting up the TypeScript compiler. We won’t make any changes until part 6: Refactoring, after the tests have been created.

If you prefer reading code, this is the code base after part 2.

Compiling the TypeScript

To keep things organized we put the source files in a folder named src and we will be building into a distribution folder named dist.

├── node_modules
│   └── ...
├── src
│   ├── greet
│   │   ├── function.json
│   │   ├── index.ts (renamed from .js)
│   │   └── sample.dat
│   ├── host.json
│   └── local.settings.json
├── package.json
└── yarn.lock

We’re now ready to compile. This will require installing the TypeScript compiler.

$ yarn add --exact --dev typescript

The TypeScript compiler is configured with a tsconfig.json file.

  • module and moduleResolution is configured to compile into JavaScript output that is compatible with the Azure Functions host.
  • outDir and rootDir are the output and input folders.
  • sourceMap means that we want TypeScript to generate map files along with the js files. This allows us to debug the TypeScript source files, instead of debugging the generated JavaScript files.
  • target instructs the compiler to output JavaScript that is compatible with the very recent ECMAScript version 2018. This is possible since Node.js version 10 supports ECMAScript 2018.
// tsconfig.json
  "compilerOptions": {
    "module": "commonjs",
    "moduleResolution": "node",
    "outDir": "dist",
    "rootDir": "src",
    "sourceMap": true,
    "target": "es2018"

Note that you strive to always turn on TypeScript strict mode that enables a handful of very nice compile time checks. We will do this when refactoring the code in part 6.

Building the solution consists of two things:

  1. Compiling the TypeScript files and
  2. copying the json files from src to dist.

We create a build command to handle this, and we update our start command so that the solution is built before starting the host. The start is also updated to switch to the dist folder.

// In package.json
"scripts": {
  "build": "tsc && cp src/*.json dist && cp src/greet/*.json dist/greet",
  "start": "yarn run build && (cd dist; func host start)"

We still use yarn run start to start our local Azure host, but now the code is compiled first.

Copying Files

The command for copying the json files cp src/*.json dist && cp src/greet/*.json dist/greet would have to be updated every time we add or rename a function. This is avoided by using the small copyfiles command line tool.

// In package.json
"build": "tsc && copyfiles --up 1 \"src/**/*.json\" dist",

Right now the build command is very simple, but as the project grows it might become beneficial to introduce a build tool like Webpack. We explore using Webpack in part 7.