Build your own IDE

This guide will teach you how to build your own Theia application.


You'll need node in version 10:

curl -o- | bash
nvm install 10

and yarn

npm install -g yarn

Also make sure your python --version points to a Python 2.x installation.


Start with creating a new empty directory and moving into it:

mkdir my-app
cd my-app

Create package.json in this directory:

  "private": true,
  "dependencies": {
    "typescript": "latest",
    "@theia/typescript": "next",
    "@theia/navigator": "next",
    "@theia/terminal": "next",
    "@theia/outline-view": "next",
    "@theia/preferences": "next",
    "@theia/messages": "next",
    "@theia/git": "next",
    "@theia/file-search": "next",
    "@theia/markers": "next",
    "@theia/preview": "next",
    "@theia/callhierarchy": "next",
    "@theia/merge-conflicts": "next",
    "@theia/search-in-workspace": "next",
    "@theia/json": "next",
    "@theia/textmate-grammars": "next",
    "@theia/mini-browser": "next"
  "devDependencies": {
    "@theia/cli": "next"

In a nutshell, Theia applications and extensions are Node.js packages. Each package has a package.json file that manifests package metadata, like name, version, its runtime and build time dependencies and so on.

Let's have a look at the created package:

  • Its name and version are omitted since we are not going to use it as a dependency, and it's marked as private since it is not going to be published as a Node.js package on its own.
  • We've listed required extensions as runtime dependencies, e.g. @theia/navigator.
    • Some extensions require additional tooling installed, For instance, @theia/python requires the Python Language Server to be installed. In such cases, please consult the corresponding extension documentation.
    • Use this link too see all published extensions.
  • We've listed @theia/cli as a build-time dependency. It provides scripts to build and run the application.


First, install all dependencies.


Second, use Theia CLI to build the application.

yarn theia build

yarn looks up theia executable provided by @theia/cli in the context of our application and then executes the build command with theia. This can take a while since the application is built in production mode by default, i.e. obfuscated and minified.


After the build is finished, we can start the application:

yarn theia start

You can provide a workspace path to open as a first argument and --hostname, --port options to deploy the application on specific network interfaces and ports, e.g. to open /workspace on all interfaces and port 8080:

yarn theia start /my-workspace --hostname --port 8080

In the terminal, you should see that Theia application is up and listening:


Open the application by entering the printed address in a new browser page.


Building native dependencies behind a proxy

If you run the yarn command behind a proxy you may encounter issues in building native dependencies (like oniguruma), in the last part of the build, with the following error stack:

[4/4] Building fresh packages...
[1/9]  XXXXX
[2/9]  XXXXX
[3/9]  XXXXX
[4/9]  XXXXX
error /theiaide/node_modules/XXXXX: Command failed.
Exit code: 1
Command: node-gyp rebuild
Directory: /theiaide/node_modules/XXXXX
gyp info it worked if it ends with ok
gyp info using node-gyp@3.8.0
gyp info using node@8.15.0 | linux | x64
gyp http GET
gyp WARN install got an error, rolling back install
gyp ERR! configure error
gyp ERR! stack Error: read ECONNRESET
gyp ERR! stack at TLSWrap.onread (net.js:622:25)
gyp ERR! System Linux 3.10.0-862.11.6.el7.x86_64
gyp ERR! command "/usr/bin/node" "/usr/lib/node_modules/npm/node_modules/node-gyp/bin/node-gyp.js" "rebuild"
gyp ERR! cwd /theiaide/node_modules/XXXXX
gyp ERR! node -v v8.15.0

This happens because node-gyp does not rely on system/NPM proxy settings. In that case, download the node-headers file using the link provided in the error stack (in the example above and run the build with the following command:

 npm_config_tarball=/path/to/node-v8.15.0-headers.tar.gz yarn install
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