• 14-May-2023
Lightrun Team
Author Lightrun Team

The inferred type of “X” cannot be named without a reference to “Y”. This is likely not portable. A type annotation is necessary.

Lightrun Team
Lightrun Team

Explanation of the problem

The issue at hand involves an error related to the inferred type in TypeScript when dealing with symlinked node_modules. The problem has been verified on TypeScript version 4.1.3 and is likely reproducible on older versions and even the latest @next version. This issue is considered a regression or a corner case, possibly linked to other previously reported and resolved problems. Several GitHub issues have been referenced, indicating the complexity and interconnections with similar TypeScript issues. The provided links point to previously opened and closed issues on the Microsoft/TypeScript repository.

To reproduce the problem, a repository has been provided as a playground link. Cloning the repository and running yarn tsc triggers the issue. The repository setup mirrors a similar configuration where the node_modules directory is symbolically linked (symlinked) to a location that is not a direct parent of the symlinked node_modules. Additionally, the compilation relies on types from a library where those types are exported from another library. For instance, the use of withRouter from react-router-dom is just an export of the same type from react-router.

The observed behavior of the code results in an error message during compilation. The error, with the code snippet provided, points to an issue with the inferred type of Nav. The error specifically states that the inferred type cannot be named without a reference to '../../deps/node_modules/@types/react-router'. It suggests that a type annotation is necessary. The expected behavior, however, is that there should be no error, and the TypeScript compiler should be able to find all the respective modules without any issues. Various attempts have been made to resolve the error, such as enabling the preserveSymlinks option. The only workaround discovered so far is importing the withRouter type directly from react-router instead of react-router-dom. However, this workaround is not ideal as the intention is to use react-router-dom in multiple places.

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Problem solution for The inferred type of “X” cannot be named without a reference to “Y”. This is likely not portable. A type annotation is necessary.

The issue of the inferred type being unable to be named in TypeScript when using symlinked node_modules can arise in various scenarios, particularly in Rush monorepos with pnpm workspaces. While the root cause of this problem has not been pinpointed, it has been reported by multiple users, prompting extensive investigation and tracking of related issues. Notably, the problem manifests as an error message indicating that the inferred type cannot be named without a reference to a specific module. This error poses a portability concern and necessitates the inclusion of a type annotation.

One potential solution that has been proposed involves adding the preserveSymlinks option to the TypeScript configuration. By enabling this option, the TypeScript compiler retains the symbolic links present in the node_modules directory, allowing it to resolve the necessary modules correctly. To implement this solution, you can modify the tsconfig.json file and include the following code snippet within the compilerOptions section:

  "compilerOptions": {
    "preserveSymlinks": true

While the exact cause of this issue remains unknown, it is evident that the problem is not limited to a specific use case but can occur in various scenarios involving Rush monorepos and pnpm workspaces. The community has actively contributed to addressing this issue by investigating related problems and attempting to identify potential solutions. The recommended approach of enabling the preserveSymlinks option in the TypeScript configuration has been reported to alleviate the issue for some users. However, ongoing efforts are underway to find a comprehensive resolution that addresses the root cause and ensures seamless type inference in scenarios involving symlinked node_modules.

Other popular problems with Microsoft TypeScript

Problem: Incorrect Use of TypeScript Interfaces

TypeScript interfaces are a powerful tool for enforcing strict type checking in a codebase. However, incorrect use of interfaces can lead to problems with code accuracy and maintainability. For example, if an interface is defined with properties that are not used elsewhere in the code, it can be difficult to track down the source of an error later on.


To avoid this problem, it is recommended to make use of strict null checking and optional properties in interfaces. Additionally, be mindful of the properties and methods defined in an interface, and make sure that they are actually used elsewhere in the code. If an interface is no longer needed, it should be removed to prevent confusion and errors.

Problem: TypeScript Compilation Errors

TypeScript is a statically-typed language, which means that all type information is known at compile time. This can lead to compilation errors when code is written that violates TypeScript’s type system. For example, if a variable is declared with a type of string, and an attempt is made to assign a value of type number to it, a compile-time error will occur.


To resolve TypeScript compilation errors, it is important to carefully review the code and make sure that all variables are correctly declared with the correct type. In cases where a variable needs to be used with different types, a union type can be used to specify multiple types for the same variable. Additionally, the TypeScript documentation provides detailed information about the type system, and can be a valuable resource for resolving compilation errors.

Problem: Managing TypeScript Dependencies

Managing dependencies in a TypeScript project can be challenging, as different libraries and packages may have different versions and compatibility requirements. This can lead to conflicts and errors when attempting to use multiple libraries that have incompatible dependencies.


To resolve dependency management issues in a TypeScript project, it is recommended to make use of a package manager such as npm or yarn. These tools provide automated dependency management, and can help to prevent conflicts and errors when using multiple libraries and packages. Additionally, it is important to keep dependencies up-to-date, as newer versions may resolve compatibility issues and improve the overall stability of the project.

A brief introduction to Microsoft TypeScript

Microsoft TypeScript is a statically-typed, open-source programming language that builds on JavaScript. It is designed to provide optional type safety, improved tooling, and enhanced scalability to JavaScript code. TypeScript offers a language structure that is familiar to JavaScript developers, but with the added benefits of static type checking and enhanced tooling support.

TypeScript is designed to be compatible with existing JavaScript code and integrates seamlessly into many popular development environments and build tools. The language offers features such as class and interface definitions, type inference, and advanced type checking, making it easier for developers to write robust, maintainable code. TypeScript also includes a transpiler that can convert TypeScript code into equivalent JavaScript code, allowing developers to write TypeScript code that can run in any environment that supports JavaScript.

Most popular use cases for Microsoft TypeScript

  1. Large-scale web application development: TypeScript is well-suited for developing large-scale web applications, as it provides developers with the ability to write scalable, maintainable code. With its optional type checking, developers can catch type-related errors at compile time, making it easier to catch bugs and reduce the time spent debugging code. Additionally, TypeScript’s compatibility with existing JavaScript code allows developers to gradually adopt the language in their existing codebases, making it easier to transition to a statically-typed codebase.
class User {
    name: string;
    email: string;

    constructor(name: string, email: string) {
        this.name = name;
        this.email = email;

const user = new User("John Doe", "johndoe@example.com");
  1. Improved tooling support: TypeScript integrates well with modern development environments and build tools, making it easier for developers to write, manage, and maintain code. With TypeScript’s enhanced tooling support, developers can benefit from features such as code completion, refactoring, and debugging, which can help to increase developer productivity and reduce the time spent on manual code management tasks.
  2. Interoperability with JavaScript libraries: TypeScript is designed to be compatible with existing JavaScript code, making it easy for developers to integrate TypeScript with existing JavaScript libraries and codebases. Additionally, TypeScript provides a way to define type information for JavaScript libraries, making it easier to write TypeScript code that interacts with existing JavaScript libraries in a type-safe manner. This can help to reduce the time spent debugging and improve the overall stability of code.

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