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Typescript vs. JavaScript: Which One is Best?

JavaScript vs. Typescript

Interested Typescript vs. JavaScript: Which One is Best?

This is a hotly debated issue that we will cover in this article.

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Contents

Introduction
TO BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING
UP STEPS JAVASCRIPT
WHAT IS TYPESCRIPT AND WHY DO WE NEED IT?
KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TYPESCRIPT AND JAVASCRIPT

Introduction

The question of which one is best in the Typescript vs. Javascript battle is a difficult one. 

As with any engineer, the position that each software developer takes on such an issue revolves around the type of work that they do, the way they like to do things, and the end results that they see.

This is why developers will never agree on which is better and so the Javascript vs. Typescript debate will remain unsolved. However, this is a question that we will try to answer in this article.

To Begin at the Beginning

Developers always have a ‘trilemma’ (or project management triangle), which involves worrying about quality, speed, and cost. 

Every client wants to get a working product as soon as possible without any quality issues or bugs, and most importantly, at a minimal total cost of development. 

However, this isn’t something that can be easily achieved as increasing development speed to keep costs as low as possible will undoubtedly affect the quality of the final product. 

It is because of these factors that every developer out there is constantly trying to find the right balance to keep the client happy during the development period without cutting corners simply to limit the amount of time required for the development. 

One only has to refer to recent revelations that U.S aircraft manufacturer Boeing placed pressures on its programmers to speed up software development or cut safety programs altogether for its new 737 Max plane in order to save money. 

The resulting crashes have so far not only cost the company billions in payouts but may well have doomed this multibillion-dollar project altogether. 

This revelation highlights the sheer scale of the problem that reaches all the way to the top. Developers remain caught in the middle of this trilemma. 

Up Steps JavaScript

Software development would not be possible without basic tools such as programming languages. 

Developed by Konrad Zuse between 1943 and 1945, Plankalkül was officially the first computer programming language. However, it was Short Code, created in 1949, which is accepted as the first high-level programming language. 

However, these languages were very limited and are not in use today.

Today, the earliest ‘modern’ languages that are in widespread use only date back to the early 1990s. Javascript is one such language. 

Released back in 1995, JavaScript is a high-level, multi-paradigm language that supports event-driven, functional, and imperative programming styles. Its use is so widespread that, along with HTML and CSS, it is called a ‘core technology’ of the world wide web. 

According to an article in Medium, “There are over 1.6 billion websites in the world, and JavaScript is used on 95% of them (1.52 billion web sites with JavaScript)”.

One example of how JavaScript has helped developers reduce development times and costs is ‘Linting’.

‘Linting’ is the industry name for automated code checks performed by sophisticated software programs that often include some elements of machine learning. 

The JavaScript programming language was quick to develop an ecosystem for linting checks. It uses a static code analysis tool called ESlint to identify and flag problematic lines or sequences of code that might result in quality issues or bugs in the final product. 

Even though JS is already a dynamically-typed language, something which is designed to greatly reduce code errors, ESlint proved to be a powerful tool to help reduce errors as it greatly reduced the extra time developers spent on checking and debugging code.  

It is precisely these innovations in the tools that developers use that help them to keep down costs, reduce mistakes, and ultimately to make more and more sophisticated programs. 

However, despite JavaScript’s success and the multitude of developers using it, a younger challenger was about to challenge for its throne. 

What is Typescript and Why do we need it?

Typescript was not developed as a rival to JavaScript but rather to bridge a gap that arose as the latter became increasingly sophisticated. JavaScript grew in complexity and became heavy, resulting in it falling short in many aspects of a good Object-oriented programming language.  

This was particularly detrimental for enterprise-level companies, and this created a need for an alternative. Typescript was created to fill this gap.

TypeScript is a typed superset of JavaScript that compiles to plain JavaScript. It was first released in October 2012 (version 0.8), after two years of internal development at Microsoft. It wasn’t until 2016-2017 that it seriously attracted the attention of the development community.

At that time, a lot of frameworks and libraries written in Typescript were released, for example, Angular.io from Google, NestJS based on Express. 

Today Typescript is integrated into the life of most JavaScript developers and has become a reliable debugging helper through static typing checks.

According to 2019.stateofjs.com research out of 21,717 respondents, 58.5% use TS and are happy with it, 23% haven’t used TS but want to try, and 19% will never use TS.

Key differences between TypeScript and JavaScript

Now that you know sufficiently about both TypeScript and JavaScript, it’s time to understand how they differ. The key differences between TypeScript vs JavaScript are as follows:

1. TypeScript is compiled, however, JavaScript isn’t

We find that this is the most important difference between TypeScript and JavaScript. TypeScript is compiled, whereas JavaScript isn’t. That’s a completely different paradigm. Many other differences flow from this difference in paradigm.

JavaScript is an interpreted language. It can run directly on the browser. An interpreter on the browser reads the code, interprets each line, and executes it.

On the other hand, you need to first compile TypeScript code. The compiler translates the code into bytecode. The computer understands bytecode and executes it. This compilation process generates a JavaScript file, which can run on the browser.

2. TypeScript is statically-typed, however, JavaScript is dynamically-typed

We consider this the second-most important difference between TypeScript vs JavaScript. TypeScript is a statically-typed language, where you need explicitly declare the type of a variable. For example, if you plan to use a string, number, or Boolean for a variable, then you need to specifically declare that.

On the other hand, JavaScript is a dynamically-typed language. You don’t need to explicitly mention the type of variables beforehand. A variable in a JavaScript program can accommodate different types during the runtime. This difference with TypeScript has numerous other implications, and we will shortly talk about them.

3. Debugging TypeScript vs debugging JavaScript

TypeScript is statically-typed and compiled language, which makes debugging programs written in TypeScript an entirely different ball-game from debugging JavaScript. The TypeScript compiler will detect several common errors.

You need to explicitly declare the type of variables when you code using TypeScript. This eliminates those hard-to-debug errors related to variable types. If you have a development team that has a mix of experienced and mid-level developers, then you need a language that’s easy to debug. TypeScript fits the bill perfectly here.

Eliminating common errors during the compilation stage has benefits for the security of the application too. Hackers regularly exploit common bugs in programs to compromise application systems. You will be able to code a secure application using TypeScript.

On the other hand, JavaScript is interpreted and dynamically-typed. It doesn’t have a compiler to catch common errors. Unless you are alert, you could make variable-type related errors. If you have an all-star team, then you will be fine. Experienced developers know enough, and they will avoid making such programming errors. They will love the freedom offered by JavaScript.

4. TypeScript offers features that JavaScript doesn’t

TypeScript offers several powerful features that JavaScript doesn’t. A few examples are as follows:

  • TypeScript offers generics, however, JavaScript doesn’t provide this.
  • In addition to being strongly-typed, TypeScript offers interfaces. This helps with data binding. Data binding helps to define the communication between a component and the “Document Object Model” (DOM). JavaScript doesn’t offer such interfaces.

Highly skilled and experienced developers can achieve a lot with the help of the flexibility that JavaScript offers. However, if you have a development team with a mix of senior and mid-level programmers, then you would need a feature-rich language to achieve the same objectives. You will find that TypeScript is more useful in such a context.

5. TypeScript offers the prototyping capability, however, JavaScript doesn’t do that

During a complex development project, you might need to create prototypes. A creational design pattern, prototyping allows you to clone objects. You can clone objects without reference to their specific classes. Prototyping allows you to clone complex objects too.

TypeScript allows prototyping, however, JavaScript doesn’t. If you are working on complex development projects, then TypeScript is a better option.

6. The learning curve for TypeScript vs JavaScript

As you already know, JavaScript is very popular and it has been around for a while. Many developers know this popular language. New developers can learn it quite easily too.

Being a dynamically-typed language, JavaScript allows plenty of flexibility. If you are a new programmer, then you don’t need to learn too many rigid syntactical aspects. You won’t have a steep learning curve.

On the other hand, you will have a steep learning curve with respect to TypeScript. TypeScript is a statically-typed language with its rigid syntactical aspects. You can’t take too many liberties!

As you can see, TypeScript offers several powerful features that JavaScript doesn’t offer. Naturally, new developers need more time to learn TypeScript.

7. JavaScript ecosystem and developer communities vs that of TypeScript

JavaScript enjoys a lot of popularity and it has been around for a while now. There’s a rich ecosystem of tools and frameworks for JavaScript. A vibrant developer community supports JavaScript, and you can expect great support.

On the other hand, TypeScript is relatively new. Naturally, it will take time for a TypeScript ecosystem to develop and mature. While TypeScript has an enthusiastic developer community, it’s smaller than the JavaScript developer community.

When to use TypeScript vs JavaScript?

How do you decide whether to use TypeScript vs JavaScript? Consider the following factors:

  • The skill level of your development team: If you have a highly experienced development team, then JavaScript is a good option. Experienced programmers love the freedom offered by JavaScript. They get a lot done quickly without introducing errors in the code. On the other hand, if you have a team with a medium level of experience, you should use TypeScript. Being a compiled and statically-typed language, TypeScript rules out several common programming errors.
  • The complexity of the project: Are you executing a small or medium-complexity project? The rich ecosystem of JavaScript offers excellent tools and frameworks. You can expedite your development and testing phases significantly. On the other hand, you will find TypeScript a better option if you have a large and complex project. TypeScript has generics and several useful functions. It also offers powerful features including prototyping, which helps you to execute complex projects.
  • Your maintenance budget: Do you have a constrained budget for maintenance? In that case, you should look for a programming language that doesn’t allow coders to introduce complex bugs inadvertently. Variable type-related errors can be complex to identify and resolve. Such bug-fixing takes a lot of time too. Dynamically-typed languages like JavaScript offer plenty of freedom, however, it’s easy to inadvertently introduce variable type-related bugs. Such errors push maintenance costs up. If you want to keep your maintenance costs under control, TypeScript is a safer bet!

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