Managing Key-Value Constants in TypeScript

#typescript #angular
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A lot of applications have a dropdown select menu in a form. Let’s imagine a form control like below;


Typically, each select menu’s item has ID and label. The ID is responsible to communicate with other components, services, or server-side. The label is responsible to display text for users.

This post explains how to manage constants for the menu items which has ID and mapping for its label. It uses TypeScript’s as const feature which is introduced since v3.4.

Define colorIDs Tuple

In TypeScript, a tuple is an array, but its length and items are fixed. You can define a tuple with as const directive on the array literal. (as const directive needs TypeScript 3.4+)

Create colors.ts and define colorIDs tuple as following;

export const colorIDs = ["green", "red", "blue"] as const;

The type of colorIDs is not string[] but ['green', 'red', 'blue'] . Its length is absolutely 3 and colorIDs[0] is always 'green'. This is a tuple!

Extract ColorID Type

A Tuple type can be converted to its item’s union type. In this case, you can get 'green' | 'red' | 'blue' type from the tuple.

Add a line to colors.ts like below;

export const colorIDs = ["green", "red", "blue"] as const;

type ColorID = typeof colorIDs[number]; // === 'green' | 'red' | 'blue'

Got confusing? Don’t worry. It’s not magic.

colorIDs[number] means “fields which can be access by number”, which are 'green' , 'red', or 'blue' .

So typeof colorIDs[number] becomes the union type 'green' | 'red' | 'blue'.

Define colorLabels map

colorLabels map is an object like the below;

const colorLabels = {
  blue: "Blue",
  green: "Green",
  red: "Red"

Because colorLabels has no explicit type, you cannot notice even if you missed to define red ’s label.

Let’s make sure that colorLabels has a complete label set of all colors! ColorID can help it.

TypeScript gives us Record type to define Key-Value map object. The key is ColorID and the value is string. So colorLabels ’s type should be Record<ColorID, string> .

export const colorIDs = ["green", "red", "blue"] as const;

type ColorID = typeof colorIDs[number];

export const colorLabels: Record<ColorID, string> = {
  green: "Green",
  red: "Red",
  blue: "Blue"
} as const;

When you missed to define red field, TypeScript compiler throw the error on the object.

Compiler Error

By the way, Angular v8.0+ is compatible with TypeScript v3.4. The demo app in the above is the following;

import { Component } from "@angular/core";
import { FormControl } from "@angular/forms";

import { colorIDs, colorLabels } from "./colors";

  selector: "app-root",
  template: `
    <label for="favoriteColor">Select Favorite Color:&nbsp;</label>
    <select id="favoriteColor" [formControl]="favoriteColorControl">
      <option *ngFor="let id of colorIDs" [ngValue]="id">
        {{ colorLabels[id] }}
    <div>Selected color ID: {{ favoriteColorControl.value }}</div>
export class AppComponent {
  readonly colorIDs = colorIDs;
  readonly colorLabels = colorLabels;

  readonly favoriteColorControl = new FormControl(this.colorIDs[0]);


  • as const turns an array into a tuple
  • typeof colorIDs[number] returns an union type of its item
  • Define an object with Record<ColorID, string> for keeping a complete field set.
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