July 30, 2022Last modified April 2, 2023

The Node ecosystem (still) has tooling problems

I recently published a small npm package containing a Vue library. The package is written in TypeScript powered by Vite, which I (wrongly) assumed would mediate most of my woes.

Obi Wan gif of him sarcastically saying "Oh, this is going to be easy"

First, I used Vite to build a small front-end site to demonstrate the library. This let me test the component and demonstrate usage in the same repository. Getting this working was fairly straight forward for someone with experience wrangling TypeScript configurations, but I imagine for a less experienced developer it could've been a daunting task. I ended up with two tsconfigs, tsconfig.node.json and tsconfig.site.json, had to figure out module resolution, realized I needed vue-tsc, and had a multitude of other minor roadblocks. The nicest thing about Vite is it is fast, which made working on this manageable.

Second, I had to figure out how to publish a library. After lots of research (AKA reading Reddit threads and blog posts), I figured out the proper incantation of tsc parameters, package.json options, and tsconfigs to get something almost functional by channeling the Unix Magic wizard:

Unix Magic poster, a wizard crafting a potion surrounded by ingredients named after Unix tools

I added a *third* tsconfig, tsconfig.dist.json (that also extends tsconfig.node.json), added a new vite.config.ts for distribution (which required special options for passing to rollup), and I added something like the following to my package.json:

"types": "./dist/types/main.d.ts",
"files": [
"main": "./dist/sortablejs-vue3.umd.js",
"module": "./dist/sortablejs-vue3.es.js",
"exports": {
".": {
"import": "./dist/sortablejs-vue3.es.js",
"require": "./dist/sortablejs-vue3.umd.js"

The next thing I did was establish some tooling. I set-up Prettier with an npm script to format my code (which requires two new configuration files), a GitHub bot for updating dependencies (which requires a configuration file), and Vercel for deploying the demo site. Someone later submit a pull request for auto-publishing to npm when new tags are pushed, which required a .github/ directory to be made.

Now I was ready to release the library! Or so I thought: for some reason, .github/ was being included in the package contents. After some digging, I found I needed to add an .npmignore, something I've done in the past but forgot about. Thankfully, using it again caused me to remember that npm defaults to using your .gitignore, and when you add an npmignore it no longer does! I copied the contents of my .gitignore over and added a line for .github.

Finally, I had a publishable library!

You can see the code at https://github.com/MaxLeiter/sortablejs-vue3, and I hope it's helpful to anyone looking to publish something similar in the future.

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