Thursday, July 27, 2017

Creating a New TypeScript Project in VSCode

I recently switched to using VSCode when writing TypeScript apps because I like the lightweight nature of it. However, this means setting up a lot of things yourself when compared to using an IDE like Visual Studio that does everything for you. Here is a quick outline of the steps I use to set up a new project. There aren't many explanations here, this is just a quick reference.

Create the app

First thing you need to do is create a place to put your app and initialize it. So create a folder with your app name, then inside that folder run from the command line: npm init

This will guide you through creating a package.json file by asking a number of questions. Now you can open the folder in VSCode and start working on your app.

Set up the compiler

Next you'll want to get the TS compiler set up for your project. There is a long article here about how to do it, but here's the gist (I'm assuming you already have the TS compiler installed).

In VSCode create a tsconfig.json file and put the following in it:

    "compilerOptions": {
        "target": "es5",
        "module": "commonjs",
        "sourceMap": true
        "include": [
        "src/**/*", "unittests/**/*"

You'll probably want to put all your TS source files in a separate folder in your project. If you want to configure the compiler to only compile files within certain folders use the include option. In this example I'm only compiling files in the src and unittests folders.

Now configure VSCode's default build task to TS. Select menu item: Tasks => Configure Default Build Task then select the tsc:build option in the dropdown list. This creates a tasks.json file already configured to use TS so there's nothing else to do.

Now you can start writing TS. To compile press Ctrl+Shift+B.

At this point you probably don't want to see all the generated JS files. You can hide them by selecting menu item: File => Preferences => Settings and adding the following.

"files.exclude": {
  "**/*.js": { "when": "$(basename).ts"},
  "**/*": true,

Import JS libraries

If you're using JS libraries like JQuery, Knockout, etc., you can add them to your project using npm. You can use the terminal window inside VSCode to do this. For example, to get knockout.js type the following: npm install --save knockout

This will get the knockout file and put it in the node_modules folder. It also saves the reference to your package.json file as a dependency.

If you want type definition files for your libraries it's also very easy to get using npm. npm install --save @types/knockout

Running your app

A great tool for running web apps is live-server, which you can install from npm. If you name your HTML file index.html it will open it in the browser automatically and any time you make changes it will reload the page.

Friday, February 10, 2017


A quick post today to talk about a nice Node.js tool called live-server. This app starts up a simple development http server to serve your web apps on your local computer. It also watches for changes to your pages and tells the browser to reload them automatically.

There was a time when you used to be able to just run your web apps straight from the file system. Those days are gone due to increased security with browsers. Also, if you want your page to make ajax calls that won't happen over the file protocol either, again due to security restrictions. So this is a really simple way to start up a server without having to configure something like IIS.

All you have to do is go to the folder in your file system where you want to serve files from and fire it up from a node command line. And just like that you're in business, it couldn't be any easier.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Debugging Touch Events on the Desktop

It can be a pain in the behind to debug touch events when developing your web application on the desktop. But I found this great setting in Chrome that makes it a whole lot easier. Just put this into the browser:


If you set the value to "enabled" it will then emulate touch events whenever you are emulating a touch device. How do you emulate a touch device, you ask?

To emulate a touch device open up developer tool (F12) and click on the "Toggle Device Toolbar" button. At the time of this writing it's in the upper left corner of the window (it seems to move around with each new release so you may have to hunt for it).

When you turn this feature on it shows how the web page would look on that device, allows you to rotate the device, and allows you to choose from multiple devices including iPhone and Nexus or even define your own device.

When you have both of these features enabled you will start getting touch events instead of mouse events. To switch back to mouse events just turn device emulation off. You can leave the touch-events flag on, it won't hurt anything.

Code hard!