Andres Garcia

Full Stack Developer

Typescript json validation with io-ts

There's a Typescript library called io-ts that can help to strong-type json data fetched from the server and at the same time provide static typescript typing.


Imagine we have this line that fetches some data from an endpoint:

const employee = await fetchEmployee();

employee will probably have the any type. If we knew the shape of the employee object, we could create a type and cast employee:

type Employee {
  firstName: string;
  lastName: string;

const employee = await fetchEmployee() as Employee;

But now we are assuming the shape of employee, and if it changes in future versions of the backend, it can lead to annoying runtime errors such as accessing properties on undefined objects, which can be hard to track. We could validate it with a lib such as ajv, but we wouldn't be able to have a single source of truth.


With io-ts we can define a type like this:

import * as t from 'io-ts';

// The runtime type we will use to validate the data fetched from the server
const Employee = t.type({
  firstName: t.string,
  lastName: t.string,

// The static type. The above runtime type acts as the single source of truth
type Employee = t.TypeOf<typeof Employee>;

// Now we can do this (in pseudo-code)
const employee = Employee.decode(await fetchEmployee());

console.log(employee.firstName);  // works
console.log(;        // typescript compile error

Now employee is correctly typed, and the shape of the data is validated at runtime.

Implementing the pseudo-code

The lib is great, but the documentation found in the repository's README is a little confusing. The easiest way I found to just validate data and throw if the shape is incorrect is like this:

import { getOrElse } from "fp-ts/lib/Either";  // io-ts has fp-ts as a peer dependency
import { failure } from "io-ts/lib/PathReporter";

const toError = (errors: any) => new Error(failure(errors).join('\n'));
const employee = getOrElse(toError)(Employee.decode(await fetchEmployee()));

if (employee instanceof Error) {
  throw employee;

console.log('the first name is', employee.firstName)

This steps can be easily extracted to a helper function.