In this tutorial, you'll set up a local development environment for your computer. You can use the environment to:

  • Build and test Zendesk apps
  • Make REST API requests
  • Install development tools

To interact with the environment, you'll use a shell program, or shell. A shell is a command-line interface (CLI) for your computer's operating system (OS). In a CLI, you enter lines of text, called commands, to tell your computer what to do. For example, you can use text commands to create a folder or run a script. Once you know the commands, a CLI helps you work faster and more efficiently.

Your computer's default shell and developer tools vary based on OS. To start, click the link for your OS:

If you use Linux, this tutorial assumes you're familiar with the command line. Skip to Installing Node.js.

Disclaimer: Zendesk doesn't provide support for third-party technologies, such as macOS, Windows, or Linux.

Setting up a macOS development environment

macOS comes with the Terminal app, which you can use to run shell commands. You'll also need to install the XCode Line Tools — a small set of common developer tools from Apple.

To install the XCode Command Line Tools:

  1. Open the Terminal app. At the prompt, type:

    xcode-select --install

    Press Enter to run the command.

  2. When prompted, click Install and accept the legal agreement.

  3. To confirm you've installed the tools, run:

    xcode-select --version

    The command returns your current version of the tools.

Next, installing Node.js.

Setting up a Windows development environment

If you use Windows 10 or 11, we recommend you use the Windows Terminal app and the Ubuntu terminal environment to run shell commands.

The Ubuntu terminal environment lets you use the Bash shell. By using Bash, you can use the same command syntax as most macOS and Linux computers.

  1. Download and install Windows Terminal.

  2. Install Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) and the Ubuntu terminal environment. Follow the Install Ubuntu on WSL2 tutorial on The instructions work for Windows 10 and Windows 11.

  3. In Windows Terminal, click the drop-down arrow and select the Ubuntu environment.

  4. Ubuntu comes with the Advanced Packaging Tool (APT). You can use APT to install other applications.

    To get the latest APT package lists, type the following in your Ubuntu terminal tab:

    sudo apt udpate

    Press Enter to run the command.

Next, installing Node.js.

Installing Node.js

Node.js is a Javascript runtime framework. It lets you run Javascript outside of the web browser. Several Zendesk developer tools, such as the Zendesk React app scaffold, require Node.js.

To install Node.js, use Node Version Manager (nvm). nvm lets you install and manage different Node.js versions on your computer.

  1. To install nvm, run:

    curl -o- | bash

    Note: Change v0.39.1 to the most recent available version.

  2. Reload your shell.

    In macOS, run source ~/.zshrc.

    In the Ubuntu terminal environment for Windows, run source ~/.bashrc.

  3. Use nvm to install the latest version of Node.js:

    nvm install node
  4. Verify that Node.js is installed and ready for use:

    node -v

    The command returns your installed Node.js version.

When you install Node.js, you also automatically install Node Package Manager (npm). You can use npm to run scripts and install dependencies for Node.js projects.

Congratulations! You've set up your development environment. As a next step, you can use curl to make REST API requests using commands. Check out Installing and Using curl.