Migrate from Flow to Typescript

Whatever your reason for migration from Flow to Typescript, it’s not easy - especially for a mature codebase with active contributors. Speaking from experience, this will cause headaches for you and your team. Personally I took 2 different approaches, the latter being successful (mostly). My first approach was to have Flow and Typescript coexist in a 1,000 file project, but this really doesn’t work for two big reasons

1) Developer experience - devs have to know 2 typing systems and which typing system to apply to their current work

2) Project setup - your project now needs to support both typing systems and exclude the other typing system in the correct files - aka a headache

Taking a step back, I realized the best way is to rip the bandaid off and migrate over a long weekend on your own (depending on the size/shape of your team). I started on a Friday morning and finish up on a Sunday evening - by Monday morning I had our entire CI/CD process running smoothly and my team quickly reviewed and approved the changes. It took a few bad starts to get everything just right (so that I could get it done in a weekend) so I’ve decided to share my approach so you can avoid similar mistakes.

Best solution: Swap type systems in one go.


  • Expect to have lots of any scattered in your code base. When doing the migration, your priority should be getting the code healthy, CI/CD passing, and then merged.
  • Expect to have a ton of issues at first - as you resolve massive changes (* to any) you’ll see fewer and fewer issues until all that is left is ~200-500 real issues. Those can again be waved away through smart use of search/replace in your IDE.
  • Expect to have some build issues. Your pipeline is changing and there will be some issues with building the project for production.

Helpful Prep

I wish I had done a few steps in preparation for this change. The first was luckily already in place, the other two I learned through trial-error.

1) Switch to babel as a build tool

Having babel as a build tool resolves all sorts of issues when turning your JavaScript into TypeScript. It’ll also solve a lot of headache if you do any type of module-resolving.

2) Get up-to-date with Babel 7

I hot-swapped Babel 7 in during my migration and it broke most existing functionality. I’d encourage a small PR before you do the swap to stave off this issue.

3) Do a quick pass and figure our your tsconfig.json and tslint.json file

Figuring this out beforehand will save you valuable time when you’re trying to get this migration done.

CLI Commands

React Projects

The below script will search for any file with /> within the src directory. We assume that this notation means that there is JSX in that file. It’s not a catch all and you could swap out for /> for </ if you have some unique files.

echo -e "grep -riRl --include=\*.ts \"/>\" src | while read FILE ; do\n    echo $FILE;\n    mv -v \"$FILE\" \"${FILE/.ts/.tsx}\";\ndone" >> flow-to-ts.sh

All Projects

You can run a variant of all projects

echo -e "grep -riRl --include=\*.js \"\" src | while read FILE ; do\n    echo $FILE;\n    mv -v \"$FILE\" \"${FILE/.js/.ts}\";\ndone" >> flow-to-ts.sh

Node Commands

I always recommend making a npm script command (or yarn), so I’ll assume that you know how to accomplish this. If you’re not interested in polluting your package.json file - you can run ./node_modules/.bin/<cli tool>.

  • tsc --project tsconfig.json
    • Run the typescript parser on all files.
  • tslint -p tsconfig.json --fix
    • Run tslint for all typescript files and fix anything it can fix
  • prettier --parser typescript --write 'src/**/*.ts'
    • Run prettier on all typescript files

When doing the migration, I recommend running the commands in this order many times. This led me to the most success as changing things to satisfy the linter might cause errors in the tsc command. Prettier fixes might cause issues with either command. This cascades until you can safely resolve the issue.

My Files


	"compilerOptions": {
		"baseUrl": "./",
		"esModuleInterop": true,
		"incremental": true,
		"jsx": "react",
		"module": "commonjs",
		"outDir": "public",
		"paths": {
			// module-resolvers
		"resolveJsonModule": true,
		"sourceMap": true,
		"target": "esnext"
	"include": [
	"exclude": [


	"extends": ["tslint:recommended", "tslint-react", "tslint-config-prettier"],
	"linterOptions": {
		"exclude": ["node_modules"]
	"rules": {
		// Rules should be project specific


module.exports  = {
	presets: [
	plugins: [
		// project specific

Most important

This repo gives a great overview of the differences in Flow vs Typescript. I copy-pasted many search/replaces directly from this repo with much success.

Hopefully everything here makes sense. As always, reach out to me on twitter if you have any questions.

Written on June 11, 2019