Global .d.ts

Global Libraries

A global library is one that can be accessed from the global scope (i.e. without using any form of import). Many libraries simply expose one or more global variables for use. For example, if you were using jQuery, the $ variable can be used by simply referring to it:

ts$(() => {

You’ll usually see guidance in the documentation of a global library of how to use the library in an HTML script tag:

html<script src="http://a.great.cdn.for/someLib.js"></script>

Today, most popular globally-accessible libraries are actually written as UMD libraries (see below). UMD library documentation is hard to distinguish from global library documentation. Before writing a global declaration file, make sure the library isn’t actually UMD.

Identifying a Global Library from Code

Global library code is usually extremely simple. A global “Hello, world” library might look like this:

jsfunction createGreeting(s) {
  return "Hello, " + s;

or like this:

jswindow.createGreeting = function (s) {
  return "Hello, " + s;

When looking at the code of a global library, you’ll usually see:

  • Top-level var statements or function declarations
  • One or more assignments to window.someName
  • Assumptions that DOM primitives like document or window exist

You won’t see:

  • Checks for, or usage of, module loaders like require or define
  • CommonJS/Node.js-style imports of the form var fs = require("fs");
  • Calls to define(...)
  • Documentation describing how to require or import the library

Examples of Global Libraries

Because it’s usually easy to turn a global library into a UMD library, very few popular libraries are still written in the global style. However, libraries that are small and require the DOM (or have no dependencies) may still be global.

Global Library Template

You can see an example DTS below:

ts// Type definitions for [~THE LIBRARY NAME~] [~OPTIONAL VERSION NUMBER~]
// Project: [~THE PROJECT NAME~]
// Definitions by: [~YOUR NAME~] <[~A URL FOR YOU~]>

/*~ If this library is callable (e.g. can be invoked as myLib(3)),
 *~ include those call signatures here.
 *~ Otherwise, delete this section.
declare function myLib(a: string): string;
declare function myLib(a: number): number;

/*~ If you want the name of this library to be a valid type name,
 *~ you can do so here.
 *~ For example, this allows us to write 'var x: myLib';
 *~ Be sure this actually makes sense! If it doesn't, just
 *~ delete this declaration and add types inside the namespace below.
interface myLib {
  name: string;
  length: number;
  extras?: string[];

/*~ If your library has properties exposed on a global variable,
 *~ place them here.
 *~ You should also place types (interfaces and type alias) here.
declare namespace myLib {
  //~ We can write 'myLib.timeout = 50;'
  let timeout: number;

  //~ We can access 'myLib.version', but not change it
  const version: string;

  //~ There's some class we can create via 'let c = new myLib.Cat(42)'
  //~ Or reference e.g. 'function f(c: myLib.Cat) { ... }
  class Cat {
    constructor(n: number);

    //~ We can read 'c.age' from a 'Cat' instance
    readonly age: number;

    //~ We can invoke 'c.purr()' from a 'Cat' instance
    purr(): void;

  //~ We can declare a variable as
  //~   'var s: myLib.CatSettings = { weight: 5, name: "Maru" };'
  interface CatSettings {
    weight: number;
    name: string;
    tailLength?: number;

  //~ We can write 'const v: myLib.VetID = 42;'
  //~  or 'const v: myLib.VetID = "bob";'
  type VetID = string | number;

  //~ We can invoke 'myLib.checkCat(c)' or 'myLib.checkCat(c, v);'
  function checkCat(c: Cat, s?: VetID);