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TypeScript Projects

Crawlee is built with TypeScript, which means it provides the type definition directly in the package. This allows writing code with auto-completion for TypeScript and JavaScript code alike. Besides that, projects written in TypeScript can take advantage of compile-time type-checking and avoid many coding mistakes, while providing documentation for functions, parameters and return values. It will also help with refactoring a lot, and ensuring the least amount of bugs will sneak through.

Setting up a TypeScript project

To use TypeScript in our projects, we'll need the following prerequisites:

  1. TypeScript compiler tsc installed somewhere:

    npm install --save-dev typescript

    TypeScript can be a development dependency in our project, as shown above. There's no need to pollute the production environment or the system's global repository with TypeScript.

  2. A build script invoking tsc and a correctly specified main entry point defined in the package.json (pointing to the built code):

    {
    "scripts": {
    "build": "tsc"
    },
    "main": "dist/main.js"
    }
  3. Type declarations for NodeJS, so we can take advantage of type-checking in all the features we'll use:

    npm install --save-dev @types/node
  4. TypeScript configuration file allowing tsc to understand the project layout and the features used in the project:

    We are extending the @apify/tsconfig, it contains the set of rules we believe are worth following.

    To be able to use feature called Top level await, we will need to set the module and target compiler options to ES2022 or above. This will make the project compile to ECMAScript Modules.

    tsconfig.json
    {
    "extends": "@apify/tsconfig",
    "compilerOptions": {
    "module": "ES2022",
    "target": "ES2022",
    "outDir": "dist"
    },
    "include": [
    "./src/**/*"
    ]
    }

    Place the content above inside a tsconfig.json in the root folder.

    Also, to enjoy using the types in .js source files, VSCode users that are using JavaScript should create a jsconfig.json with the same content and add "checkJs": true to "compilerOptions".

    If we want to use one of the browser crawlers, we will also need to add "lib": ["DOM"] to the compiler options.

    Ensure that you have installed @apify/tsconfig

    npm install --save-dev @apify/tsconfig

Running the project with ts-node

During development, it's handy to run the project directly instead of compiling the TypeScript code to JavaScript every time. We can use ts-node for that, just install it as a dev dependency and add a new NPM script:

npm install --save-dev ts-node

As mentioned above, our project will be compiled to use ES Modules. Because of this, we need to use the ts-node-esm binary.

We use the -T or --transpileOnly flag, this means the code will not be type-checked, which results in faster compilation. If you don't mind the added time and want to do the type checking, just remove this flag.

package.json
{
"scripts": {
"start:dev": "ts-node-esm -T src/main.ts"
}
}

Running in production

To run the project in production, we first need to compile it via build script. After that, we will have the compiled JavaScript code in the dist, and we can use node dist/main.js to run it.

package.json
{
"scripts": {
"start:prod": "node dist/main.js"
}
}

Docker build

For Dockerfile we recommend using multi-stage build, so we don't install the dev dependencies like TypeScript in the final image:

Dockerfile
# using multistage build, as we need dev deps to build the TS source code
FROM apify/actor-node:16 AS builder

# copy all files, install all dependencies (including dev deps) and build the project
COPY . ./
RUN npm install --include=dev \
&& npm run build

# create final image
FROM apify/actor-node:16
# copy only necessary files
COPY --from=builder /usr/src/app/package*.json ./
COPY --from=builder /usr/src/app/dist ./dist

# install only prod deps
RUN npm --quiet set progress=false \
&& npm install --only=prod --no-optional

# run compiled code
CMD npm run start:prod

Putting it all together

Let's wrap it up to. In addition to the scripts we described above, we also need to set the type: 'module' in the package.json to be able to use the Top level await described above. For convenience, we will have 3 start scripts, the default one will be an alias to start:dev, which is our ts-node script that does not require compilation (nor type checking). The production script (start:prod) is then used in the Dockerfile, after explicit npm run build call.

package.json
{
"name": "my-crawlee-project",
"type": "module",
"main": "dist/main.js",
"dependencies": {
"crawlee": "3.0.0"
},
"devDependencies": {
"@apify/tsconfig": "^0.1.0",
"ts-node": "^10.8.0",
"typescript": "^4.7.4"
},
"scripts": {
"start": "npm run start:dev",
"start:prod": "node dist/main.js",
"start:dev": "ts-node-esm -T src/main.ts",
"build": "tsc"
}
}