Django, Typescript, Gulp (Part Two)

Combining Typescript compilation with Django static files handling.

  1. Managing static browser assets with Django
  2. Compiling and converting Typescript
  3. Automating with Gulp

So the previous post describes setting up a skeleton Django app serving a placeholder app.js. Now we set up the tooling required to convert Typescript to browser-ready javascript.


First install nodejs. You could do this via a system package manager or otherwise, but one option that may suit python developers is to use nodeenv. This is a python utility installable in the usual way:

(django-1.10) $ pip install nodeenv

nodeenv can then be used to install a pre-built (the default) or a source-compiled nodejs binary within the context of the currently active virtual environment, eg.

(django-1.10) $ nodeenv -p --node=6.9.1

The -p option indicates that you want to associate node with a python virtualenv, and 6.9.1 is the latest nodejs LTS at the time of writing.

Now, once the virtual environment is activated, both the node and the npm in your $PATH will be those associated with that environment, and you can achieve the same essential isolation of javascript packages as for python packages.

(django-1.10) $ which node
<path to virtualenv>/bin/node
(django-1.10) $ which npm
<path to virtualenv>/bin/npm


Next install the Typescript compiler tsc:

(django-1.10) $ npm -g install typescript
(django-1.10) $ which tsc
<path to virtualenv>/bin/tsc

And create a configuration file for the project (tsconfig.json):

(django-1.10) $ tsc --init --rootDir ./client/src
message TS6071: Successfully created a tsconfig.json file.

Now, as a first typescript program, an insult generator! Start by creating the following as client/src/insults.ts

export class Insults {
    static adj1 = [
        "beslubbering", "bawdy", "cretinous", "dribbling", "foetid", "greasy",
        "grotesque", "hideous", "knavish", "lazy", "mewling", "puny", "pungent",
        "rank", "reekish", "slimy", "villainous", "weedy"

    static adj2 = [
        "boil-ridden", "clay-brained", "distempered", "dull-witted", "flap-mouthed",
        "gorbellied", "half-brained", "half-faced", "ill-bred", "lily-livered",
        "pig-faced", "purple-nosed", "shag-eared", "slack-jawed", "sour-faced",
        "swag-bellied", "whey-faced"

    static nouns = [
        "carbuncle", "canker-blossom", "clot", "codpiece", "dog", "dunce",
        "fat guts", "fool", "harpy", "harlot", "loon", "lout", "maggot",
        "malignancy", "measle", "miscreant", "mongrel", "mumbler", "old cow",
        "scut", "stinkhorn", "strumpet", "old toad", "weasel"

    static random() {
        var a = Insults.adj1[Math.floor(Math.random() * Insults.adj1.length)];
        var b = Insults.adj2[Math.floor(Math.random() * Insults.adj2.length)];
        var c = Insults.nouns[Math.floor(Math.random() * Insults.nouns.length)];
        return `${a} ${b} ${c}`

And call this from client/src/main.ts:

import { Insults } from "./insults";


Now compile:

(django-1.10) $ tsc

This should have created client/src/main.js which can be run directly with node:

(django-1.10) $ node client/src/main.js
mewling flap-mouthed mumbler
(django-1.10) $ node client/src/main.js
beslubbering gorbellied malignancy
(django-1.10) $ node client/src/main.js
bawdy swag-bellied strumpet
(django-1.10) $ node client/src/main.js
villainous purple-nosed fool
(django-1.10) $ node client/src/main.js
hideous half-faced harlot



The javascript created by tsc, while comprehensible to node, will not run directly in the browser. So to remedy this you need a "browserification" step.

First, change main.js so that it's easier to check the result, replacing console.log with document.write:

import { Insults } from "./insults";

var insult = Insults.random();


Next, install browserify:

(django-1.10) $ npm -g install browserify

(django-1.10) $ which browserify
<path to virtualenv>/bin/browserify

And run it against main.js to produce the browser-ready app.js:

(django-1.10) $ browserify client/src/main.js -o client/dist/app.js

Now, presuming you still have the Django dev server running from the earlier post (or have restarted it with python runserver), go to localhost:8000 where you should see a new insult displayed on every page refresh.

Slimy swag-bellied old toad
Rank sour-faced maggot
Reekish half-brained loon

The final step then is to automate this compilation/browserification procedure with Gulp.

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