TypeScript icon, indicating that this package has built-in type declarations

0.46.3 • Public • Published

Tsickle - TypeScript to Closure Translator Build Status

Tsickle converts TypeScript code into a form acceptable to the Closure Compiler. This allows using TypeScript to transpile your sources, and then using Closure Compiler to bundle and optimize them, while taking advantage of type information in Closure Compiler.

What conversion means

A (non-exhaustive) list of the sorts of transformations Tsickle applies:

  • inserts Closure-compatible JSDoc annotations on functions/classes/etc
  • converts ES6 modules into goog.module modules
  • generates externs.js from TypeScript d.ts (and declare, see below)
  • declares types for class member variables
  • translates export * from ... into a form Closure accepts
  • converts TypeScript enums into a form Closure accepts
  • reprocesses all jsdoc to strip Closure-invalid tags

In general the goal is that you write valid TypeScript and Tsickle handles making it valid Closure Compiler code.

Warning: work in progress

We already use tsickle within Google to minify our apps (including those using Angular), but we have less experience using tsickle with the various JavaScript builds that are seen outside of Google.

We would like to make tsickle usable for everyone but right now if you'd like to try it you should expect to spend some time debugging and reporting bugs.


Tsickle is a library, designed to be used by a larger program that interacts with TypeScript and the Closure compiler.

Some known clients are:

  1. Within Google we use tsickle inside the Bazel build system. That code is published as open source as part of Bazel's nodejs/TypeScript build rules.
  2. tscc wraps tsickle and closure compiler, and interops with rollup.
  3. We publish a simple demo program in the demo/ subdirectory.

Design details

Output format

Tsickle is designed to do whatever is necessary to make the code acceptable by Closure compiler. We view its output as a necessary intermediate form for communicating to the Closure compiler, and not something for humans. This means the tsickle output may be kind of ugly to read. Its only real use is to pass it on to the compiler.

For one example, the syntax of types tsickle produces are specific to Closure. The type {!Foo} means "Foo, excluding null" and a type alias becomes a var statement that is tagged with @typedef.

Tsickle emits modules using Closure's goog.module module system. This system is similar to but different from ES modules, and was supported by Closure before the ES module system was finalized.

Differences from TypeScript

Closure and TypeScript are not identical. Tsickle hides most of the differences, but users must still be aware of some differences.


Any declaration in a .d.ts file, as well as any declaration tagged with declare ..., is intepreted by Tsickle as a name that should be preserved through Closure compilation (i.e. not renamed into something shorter). Use it any time the specific string names of your fields are significant. That would most often happen when the object either coming from outside your program, or being passed out of the program.


declare interface JSONResult {
    username: string;
let r = JSON.parse(input) as JSONResult;

By adding declare to the interface (or if it were in a .d.ts file), Tsickle will inform Closure that it must use exactly the field name .username (and not e.g. .a) in the output JS. This matters for this example because the input JSON probably uses the string 'username' and not whatever name Closure would invent for it. (Note: declare on an interface has no additional meaning in pure TypeScript.)

Exporting decorators

An exporting decorator is a decorator that has @ExportDecoratedItems in its JSDoc.

The names of elements that have an exporting decorator are preserved through the Closure compilation process by applying an @export tag to them.


/** @ExportDecoratedItems */
function myDecorator() {
  // ...

class DoNotRenameThisClass { ... }



One-time setup

Run yarn to install dependencies.

Build & Test commands

  • yarn build builds the code base.
  • Run tsc --watch for an interactive, incremental, and continuous build.
  • yarn lint checks for lint.
  • yarn test runs unit tests, e2e tests and checks for lint (but make sure to yarn build first or run tsc!). Set the TEST_FILTER environment variable to filter what golden tests to run.

TypeScript AST help

https://astexplorer.net/ and https://ts-ast-viewer.com/ are convenient tools to visualize and inspect a TypeScript AST.


You can debug tests by passing --node_options=--inspect or --node_options=--inspect-brk (to suspend execution directly after startup).

For example, to debug a specific golden test:

TEST_FILTER=my_golden_test node --inspect-brk=4332 ./node_modules/.bin/jasmine out/test/*.js

Then open [about:inspect] in Chrome and choose "about:inspect". Chrome will launch a debugging session on any node process that starts with a debugger listening on one of the listed ports. The tsickle tests and Chrome both default to localhost:9229, so things should work out of the box.

The break in specific code locations you can add debugger; statements in the source code.

Updating Goldens

Run UPDATE_GOLDENS=y yarn test to have the test suite update the goldens in test_files/....

Environment variables

Set the environment variable TEST_FILTER=<REGEX> to limit the golden tests (found in test_files/...) to only run tests with a name matching the regex.


On a new branch, run:

# tsickle releases are all minor releases for now, see npm help version.
$ npm version minor

This will update the version in package.json, commit the changes, and create a git tag.

Push the branch, open a pull request, get it reviewed, and wait for it to be merged.

Checkout and pull the latest version from master:

$ git checkout master && git pull

Check if the tag exists. If not, re-tag the commit and push the tag.

$ git tag
# Does this show the tag already? If not, proceed with:
$ git tag v0.32.0 && git push origin v0.32.0  # but use correct version

Once the versioned tag is pushed to GitHub the release (as found on https://github.com/angular/tsickle/releases) will be implicitly created.

From the master branch run:

npm config set registry https://wombat-dressing-room.appspot.com
npm login
npm publish  # runs a clean build & test automatically



Package Sidebar


npm i tsickle

Weekly Downloads






Unpacked Size

688 kB

Total Files


Last publish


  • angular
  • google-wombot