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ESM Node.js TypeScript with subpath exports

ES Modules is the future for JavaScript. TypeScript support has been lagging behind, but it is finally catching up. Here's what you need to use them with TypeScript:


export default function main() {
  console.log('This is the main export')


export default function alternativeMain() {
  console.log('This is an alternative export')


  "compilerOptions": {
    "outDir": "dist",
    "moduleResolution": "Node16",
    "module": "ES2020"
  "src": ["src"]


  "name": "@robb_j/my-module",
  "version": "1.2.3",
  "type": "module",
  "scripts": {
    "build": "tsc"
  "files": ["dist/*"],
  "exports": {
    ".": {
      "types": "./dist/main.d.ts",
      "import": "./dist/main.js"
    "./*.js": {
      "types": "./dist/*.d.ts",
      "import": "./dist/*.js"
  "devDependencies": {
    "typescript": "^4.8.4"

type: module and exports are the key parts here. The type field tells Node.js that this module will use ESM, the obvious first step.

exports is a newer field and is used to tell Node.js how to import this module. It lets you customise which files to load depending on the module-type and TypeScript uses it to tell it how to load associated types.

The "." export is the files that are imported when no subpath is provided, in this case it will load the main.js file. The "./*.js" export is used when a subpath is used that ends with "js", that same wildcard is used to find the file too. More info →. If you had commonjs files too, you can link them up here too.

You need to use .js when importing files from within TypeScript (even when importing another TypeScript file), so it makes sense to use the .js here too. It helps to locate the type definitions too.

Running the example

# cd to the project

# Install dependencies
npm install

# Build the code to see what happens
npm run build

Full example

To see all the code, see the examples folder.

Bonus: testing locally

To test a module locally, you can use local relative dependencies. This works better than the npm link method, which I've always struggled with.

In another folder:


  "private": true,
  "type": "module"

Install the module relatively:

npm i ../relative/path/to/module

Then you can test it and you should have types and IDE help too.


import main from '@robb_j/my-module'
import alternativeMain from '@robb_j/my-module/another-module.js'