Electric Sheep

React: TypeScript basics

March 26, 2022

This is the first in a series of posts delving into using React with TypeScript (Ts).

Writing React with Ts is a lot of fun, Ts is in general! It helps to eradicate a whole subset of bugs, document JavaScript (Js) code with the intent of the original author and makes it easier to onboard developers to a project, reducing cognitive load.

Project starters that such as create-react-app have Ts optional support built into their project bootstrapping. For create-react-app you need to add the flag --template typescript when you initialise your new application.

Adding TypeScript to and existing project depends on your set up so advise on setup can vary greatly, most people are likely using webpack and their Ts docs are well maintained. Fundamentally you need to get .ts and .tsx file types transpiled in your build pipeline.

Using Ts on a npm based project some packages you install will ship with Type Definitions (typings), some like React don’t.

Typings allow the Ts complier (tsc) to enforce the API of the libraries you use, making third party library consumption easy. Ts ships with typings for standard Js, so writing plain Ts as a direct replacement for Js is a doddle.

If React does not have a types definitions shipped, what do we do? Luckily there is a community lead project called DefinitelyTyped which maintains a repository for the major Js projects (such as React) on GitHub, MicroSoft in turn make sure these typings are available on npm, under the @types scope. These typings are installed as devDependencies, as types are not required at runtime.

Run the following command to get typings for your React code.


npm i -D @types/node @types/react @types/react-dom


yarn add -D @types/node @types/react @types/react-dom

Typings for Jest are also available from the package @types/jest.

Once your configuration is setup, you can start creating you first components.

Lets start simple and create a <Title /> component. I will be writing in the functional form of React, writing with React object form is also supported.

Create a new file Title.tsx, the .tsx file extension is used to denote JSX written in Ts.

// Title.tsx

// We define the type for our props
type TitleProps = {
  children?: ReactNode;

// We use the type to define our components API
const Title = (props: TitleProps) => <h1>{children}</h1>;

export default Title;

Its about as simple as that, we you consume the component the API of our component is known by our IDE, contract of the API is enforced at transpile time, resulting in a failed build if the component is being used incorrectly and live feedback is provided from the IDE to the developer as they work.

As a note, the type keyword can be replaced with interface in this example. The ReactNode type is very broad but probably the most appropriate for child element in React.


A list of resources that may be useful on your React TypeScript journey.