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How to use TypeScript & Docker building a REST service with debugging enabled (e.g. WebStorm or VSCode).


# Clone the directory 
$ git clone
# Install the local dependencies 
# - Not necessary if you just want to use/test the docker containers 
$ npm install

The Development Workflow

The development environment contains the following:

  • A docker container called rest-service containing the REST server as defined in ./src.
  • The REST services is exposed at http://localhost:8000.
  • Watcher (using nodemon ): As soon as you make changes to the ./src folder, the TypeScript files will be transpiled again and the server restarted.
    • So you can run your integration tests against your local rest-service container, which is after any change immediately up to date.
  • Remote debugging enabled through port 5858.

Run the Development Environment

$ docker-compose --f=./docker/ up

This will give you all of the above described.

Debugging in WebStorm

Assuming that rest-service itself could rely on other services it makes sense just to spin up the development environment:

$ docker-compose --f=./docker/ up

So you can run your integration tests against http://localhost8000 The rest-service will be updated every time you make updates to the ./src folder.

If you want to debug the rest-service (e.g. when hitting integration tests against the rest-service) this is the configuration being used in this example:

Create a remote debugger

  • ./docker/ opens the port 5858 for the debugger, so let's connect to it:

Remote Debugger Configuration in WebStorm

Running Unit Tests

Running the unit test in this scenario is straight-forward, just configure WebStorm as follows. (This will not use the container, just directly test the transpiled TypeScript code).

Configure Unit Tests in WebStorm

Most of the settings should be default, except:

  • Extra mocha options: --require ./test/mocha.conf.js
  • Test file patterns: ./test/unit/**/*.spec.ts

Hit the Debugger (That's the trick!!!)

If you want to debug the rest-service (running inside the container), follow these steps:

1) Set up the remote debugger as shown above
2) Run the development environment docker-compose --f=./docker/ up

3) Set up the integration tests in Mocha:

The configuration is very similar to the unit tests:

Configure Integration Tests in WebStorm

  • Extra mocha options: --require ./test/mocha.conf.js
  • Test file patterns: ./test/integration/**/*.spec.ts

4) Start your "Remote Debugger"

Start Remote Debugger in WebStorm

Here come the trick. If you don't see your ./*.ts files (as in the screenshot below), then the sourcemaps as created by tsc have not been resolved by WebStorm. (That's a bug and I'll file it as such).

Watch the Tool's Panel in WebStorm

There's a neat trick, though a bit annoying, but i works:

Just press the "Re-Run Debugger" icon, and then you should see the ./*.ts files as in the second following screenshot.

Watch the Tool's Panel  in WebStorm

Watch the Tool's Panel  in WebStorm

Once this works you can hit any breakpoint in the rest-service (e.g. by running test:integration in Run mode) and it will be hit:

Debugging WebStorm

Continuous Integration

To simulate the Continuous Integration script run the following

$ bash ./docker/

An example how to implement CI using travis is provided, have a look at the .travis.yml file and the result .


This solutions is very much inspired by the following two articles:

Another very interesting read in that context:

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npm i boilerplate-typescript-rest-docker

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  • stefanwalther