Quickstart: Use Visual Studio to create your first Node.js app

In this 5-10 minute introduction to the Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE), you'll create a simple Node.js web application.

Prerequisites

  • You must have Visual Studio installed and the Node.js development workload.

    If you haven't already installed Visual Studio 2019, go to the Visual Studio downloads page to install it for free.

    If you haven't already installed Visual Studio 2017, go to the Visual Studio downloads page to install it for free.

    If you need to install the workload but already have Visual Studio, go to Tools > Get Tools and Features..., which opens the Visual Studio Installer. Choose the Node.js development workload, then choose Modify.

    Node.js workload in VS Installer

  • You must have the Node.js runtime installed.

    If you don't have it installed, install the LTS version from the Node.js website. In general, Visual Studio automatically detects the installed Node.js runtime. If it does not detect an installed runtime, you can configure your project to reference the installed runtime in the properties page (after you create a project, right-click the project node and choose Properties).

Create a project

First, you'll create an Node.js web application project.

  1. If you don't have the Node.js runtime already installed, install the LTS version from the Node.js website.

    In general, Visual Studio automatically detects the installed Node.js runtime. If it does not detect an installed runtime, you can configure your project to reference the installed runtime in the properties page (after you create a project, right-click the project node and choose Properties).

  2. Open Visual Studio.

  3. Create a new project.

    Press Esc to close the start window. Type Ctrl + Q to open the search box, type Node.js, then choose Create new Blank Node.js Web application project (JavaScript). In the dialog box that appears, choose Create.

    From the top menu bar, choose File > New > Project. In the left pane of the New Project dialog box, expand JavaScript, then choose Node.js. In the middle pane, choose Blank Node.js Web application, then choose OK.

    If you don't see the Blank Node.js Web application project template, you must add the Node.js development workload. For detailed instructions, see the Prerequisites.

    Visual Studio creates and the new solution and opens the project. server.js opens in the editor in the left pane.

Explore the IDE

  1. Take a look at Solution Explorer in the right pane.

    Solution Explorer

    • Highlighted in bold is your project, using the name you gave in the New Project dialog box. On disk, this project is represented by a .njsproj file in your project folder.

    • At the top level is a solution, which by default has the same name as your project. A solution, represented by a .sln file on disk, is a container for one or more related projects.

    • The npm node shows any installed npm packages. You can right-click the npm node to search for and install npm packages using a dialog box.

  2. If you want to install npm packages or Node.js commands from a command prompt, right-click the project node and choose Open Command Prompt Here.

    Node.js command prompt

  3. In the server.js file in the editor (left pane), choose http.createServer and then press F12 or choose Go To Definition from the context (right-click) menu. This command takes you to the definition of the createServer function in index.d.ts.

    Go To Definition context menu

  4. Got back to server.js, then put your cursor at the end of the string in this line of code, res.end('Hello World\n');, and modify it so that it looks like this:

    res.end('Hello World\n' + res.connection.

    Where you type connection., IntelliSense provides options to auto-complete the code entry.

    IntelliSense auto-complete

  5. Choose localPort, and then type ); to complete the statement so that it looks like this:

    res.end('Hello World\n' + res.connection.localPort);

Run the application

  1. Press Ctrl+F5 (or Debug > Start Without Debugging) to run the application. The app opens in a browser.

  2. In the browser window, you will see "Hello World" plus the local port number.

  3. Close the web browser.

Congratulations on completing this Quickstart in which you got started with the Visual Studio IDE and Node.js. If you'd like to delve deeper into its capabilities, continue with a tutorial in the Tutorials section of the table of contents.

Next steps