Typescript Vs JavaScript: Which Is Right For Me?

By XanoOctober 12, 2021

JavaScript is the most popular programming language used worldwide, which may make it seem like the obvious choice for your next project. There is something to be said for strength in numbers. Should you run into an issue with JavaScript, there are ample resources available online thanks to the millions of coders proficient in the language.

However, is the most popular option always the best?

In recent years, Typescript has emerged as a possible replacement for JavaScript for certain projects. Typescript has been around for the better part of a decade and first emerged in 2012 to fix problems that resulted from JavaScript's somewhat complex code architecture. Typescript potentially offers an alternative for larger, enterprise-level projects, which often hit snags when using JavaScript.

There is no one-size-fits option when it comes to a programming language and a lot comes down to the specifics of a given project and the capabilities of your development team. Below, we'll offer a brief overview of Typescript vs JavaScript, and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

What Is JavaScript?

A text-based programming language, JavaScript runs on both the client and server side and is largely responsible for making websites interactive. For example, Instagram embeds on a Buzzfeed article or the search feature on an ecommerce website rely on JavaScript to operate.

JavaScript is a scripting language, whereas Typescript is an object-oriented programming language (which we'll go over in more detail below). Scripting languages execute tasks in run-time environments such as software applications, web pages, and sometimes even games. Such languages automate tasks that would normally be performed by a human operator and are interpreted, not compiled, during runtime.

JavaScript is considered a client-side scripting language, which means it is run off the user's browser and visible to visitors, so it is often used to build user interfaces. 

Pros And Cons

As previously mentioned, JavaScript remains very popular. This means there is ample community support online for free if you ever need to troubleshoot issues. If you are compiling a development team, it will not be difficult to find programmers proficient in JavaScript.

As a high-level, multi-paradigm language, JavaScript supports both functional and event-driven programming. The issue of static vs dynamic typing often comes up in the Typescript vs JavaScript debate. JavaScript's dynamic typing means that a variable can be changed each time a variable is used, which can be a major timesaver as it leads to a lower volume code. Some developers also feel dynamic typing provides more freedom throughout the development process. 

However, this is something of a double-edged sword, as dynamic typing is notorious for run-time errors. Typescript allows for both dynamic and static typing, allowing you to switch between the two depending on which works best for a given task.

JavaScript's often complex code structure is difficult to maintain with enterprise level development, which in fact is largely responsible for the birth of Typescript. Microsoft created Typescript as a code closely related to JavaScript but better suited for backend coding.

What Is Typescript?

The simplest definition of Typescript is that it is a broader version of JavaScript. Everything valid in JavaScript will be valid in Typescript, but the reverse is not always true. Something valid in Typescript may or may not be valid in JavaScript.

To understand Typescript, you need to have familiarity with JavaScript as their fundamental building blocks are similar. Typescript is a portable language that works across various browsers, devices, and operating systems. As opposed to JavaScript, Typescript can execute smoothly without a specific VM or runtime environment.

Typescript is an object-oriented programming language as opposed to a scripting language. This means it organizes software around data (or objects) instead of functions and logic. That is, Typescript focuses on the objects developers are altering rather than the logic required to make these alterations.

Pros And Cons

Typescript's biggest advantage is something we have already discussed. For enterprise-level development, Typescript is often the better option. It has all the pros of JavaScript, but also incorporates many features that simplify development.

Optional static typing can help speed up bug fixes, give your code more structure, and make code self-documenting and easier to read. As we already touched on, cross-platform and cross-browser compatibility are also major advantages of Typescript.

In terms of cons, Typescript remains far less common than JavaScript, so this limits the availability of online support and lessens your pool of potential developers. (However, as Typescript is like JavaScript, the learning curve isn't too harsh.)

Typescript is designed to be easier to read, which – much like JavaScript's dynamic typing abilities – is a double-edged sword. The additional syntax and annotations can make Typescript code bloated, resulting in larger files you need to transpile in order to run on a browser. While this does not add a lot of additional time, the extra steps may not be worth it depending on the size of your project and your timeline.

Typescript Vs JavaScript: Which Do I Choose?

A very general rule of thumb is that Typescript works best for large scale projects, while JavaScript is better suited for smaller ones. As an object-oriented language, Typescript results in more reusable, clean code, ideal for enterprise level development.

However, there are obviously more factors at play in any given project. Building a large project on JavaScript is certainly possible, and if your current resources, budget, and timeline are not compatible with learning Typescript (or finding developers who do), JavaScript may be the better choice.

While there are some significant differences between Typescript and JavaScript, the similarities mean the choice between the two is often somewhat subjective. Always take a look at your individual needs and a project's specifications before deciding on a programming language.

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