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TypeScript: Augmenting global and lib.dom.d.ts

Stefan Baumgartner

Written by @ddprrt

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Recently I wanted to use a ResizeObserver in my application. ResizeObserver recently landed in all major browsers, but when you use it in TypeScript — at the time of this writing — ResizeObserver won’t be recognized as a valid object (or constructor). So why is that?

How DOM API types land in TypeScript #

TypeScript stores types to all DOM APIs in lib.dom.d.ts. This file is auto-generated from Web IDL files. Web IDL stands for Web Interface Definition Language and is a format the W3C and WHATWG use to define interfaces to web APIs. It came out around 2012 and is a standard since 2016.

When you read standards at W3C — like on Resize Observer — you can see a parts of a definition or the full definition somewhere within the specification. Like this one:

enum ResizeObserverBoxOptions {
"border-box", "content-box", "device-pixel-content-box"
};

dictionary ResizeObserverOptions {
ResizeObserverBoxOptions box = "content-box";
};

[Exposed=(Window)]
interface ResizeObserver {
constructor(ResizeObserverCallback callback);
void observe(Element target, optional ResizeObserverOptions options);
void unobserve(Element target);
void disconnect();
};

callback ResizeObserverCallback = void (sequence<ResizeObserverEntry> entries, ResizeObserver observer);

[Exposed=Window]
interface ResizeObserverEntry {
readonly attribute Element target;
readonly attribute DOMRectReadOnly contentRect;
readonly attribute FrozenArray<ResizeObserverSize> borderBoxSize;
readonly attribute FrozenArray<ResizeObserverSize> contentBoxSize;
readonly attribute FrozenArray<ResizeObserverSize> devicePixelContentBoxSize;
};

interface ResizeObserverSize {
readonly attribute unrestricted double inlineSize;
readonly attribute unrestricted double blockSize;
};

interface ResizeObservation {
constructor(Element target);
readonly attribute Element target;
readonly attribute ResizeObserverBoxOptions observedBox;
readonly attribute FrozenArray<ResizeObserverSize> lastReportedSizes;
};

Browsers use this as a guideline to implement respective APIs. TypeScript uses these IDL files to generate lib.dom.d.ts. The TS JS Lib generator project scrapes web standards and extracts IDL information. Then an IDL to TypeScript parser generates the correct typings.

Pages to scrape are maintained manually. The moment a specification is far enough and supported by all major browsers, people add a new resource and see their change released with an upcoming TypeScript version. So it’s just a matter of time until we get ResizeObserver in lib.dom.d.ts.

If we can’t wait, we just can add the typings ourselves. And only for the project we currently work with.

Ambient declarations #

Let’s assume we generated the types for ResizeObserver. We would store the output in a file called resize-observer.d.ts. Here are the contents:

type ResizeObserverBoxOptions =
"border-box" |
"content-box" |
"device-pixel-content-box";

interface ResizeObserverOptions {
box?: ResizeObserverBoxOptions;
}

interface ResizeObservation {
readonly lastReportedSizes: ReadonlyArray<ResizeObserverSize>;
readonly observedBox: ResizeObserverBoxOptions;
readonly target: Element;
}

declare var ResizeObservation: {
prototype: ResizeObservation;
new(target: Element): ResizeObservation;
};

interface ResizeObserver {
disconnect(): void;
observe(target: Element, options?: ResizeObserverOptions): void;
unobserve(target: Element): void;
}

export declare var ResizeObserver: {
prototype: ResizeObserver;
new(callback: ResizeObserverCallback): ResizeObserver;
};

interface ResizeObserverEntry {
readonly borderBoxSize: ReadonlyArray<ResizeObserverSize>;
readonly contentBoxSize: ReadonlyArray<ResizeObserverSize>;
readonly contentRect: DOMRectReadOnly;
readonly devicePixelContentBoxSize: ReadonlyArray<ResizeObserverSize>;
readonly target: Element;
}

declare var ResizeObserverEntry: {
prototype: ResizeObserverEntry;
new(): ResizeObserverEntry;
};

interface ResizeObserverSize {
readonly blockSize: number;
readonly inlineSize: number;
}

declare var ResizeObserverSize: {
prototype: ResizeObserverSize;
new(): ResizeObserverSize;
};

interface ResizeObserverCallback {
(entries: ResizeObserverEntry[], observer: ResizeObserver): void;
}

We declare a ton of interfaces, and some variables that implement our interfaces, like declare var ResizeObserver which is the object that defines the prototype and constructor function:

declare var ResizeObserver: {
prototype: ResizeObserver;
new(callback: ResizeObserverCallback): ResizeObserver;
};

This already helps a lot. We can use the — arguably — long type declarations and put them directly in the file where we need them. ResizeObserver is found! We want to have it available everywhere, though.

Augmenting global #

Thanks to TypeScript’s declaration merging feature, we can extend namespaces and interfaces as we need it. There are several articles here on how to extend Object, JSX types, and more. This time, we’re extending the global namespace.

The global namespace contains all objects and interfaces that are, well, globally available. Like the window object (and Window interface), as well as everything else where which should be part of our JavaScript execution context. We augment the global namespace and add the ResizeObserver object to it:

declare global { // opening up the namespace
var ResizeObserver: { // mergin ResizeObserver to it
prototype: ResizeObserver;
new(callback: ResizeObserverCallback): ResizeObserver;
}
}

Let’s put resize-observer.d.ts in a folder called @types. Don’t forget to add the folder to both the sources that TypeScript shall parse, as well as the list of type declaration folders in tsconfig.json

{
"compilerOptions": {
//...
"typeRoots": ["@types", "./node_modules/@types"],
//...
},
"include": ["src", "@types"]
}

Since there might be a significant possibility that ResizeObserver is not yet available in your target browser, make sure that you make the ResizeObserver object possibly undefined. This urges you to check if the object is available:

declare global {
var ResizeObserver: {
prototype: ResizeObserver;
new(callback: ResizeObserverCallback): ResizeObserver;
} | undefined
}

In your application:

if(typeof ResizeObserver !== 'undefined') {
const x = new ResizeObserver((entries) => {})
}

This makes working with ResizeObserver as safe as possible!

Troubleshooting #

It might be that TypeScript doesn’t pick up your ambient declaration files and the global augmentation. If this happens, make sure that:

  1. You parse the @types folder via the include property in tsconfig.json
  2. Your ambient type declaration files are recognized as such by adding them to types or typeRoots in the tsconfig.json compiler Options
  3. Add export {} at the end of your ambient declaration file so TypeScript recognizes this file as a module

Further reading #

All the links above, plus:

More articles on TypeScript

My new book: TypeScript in 50 Lessons

this in JavaScript and TypeScript

TypeScript and ECMAScript Modules

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