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TypeScript vs JavaScript – Which One to Choose for 2021 Web Applications?

Krzysztof Bezrak ea37a034ca

08/06/2021 |

7 min read

Krzysztof Bezrąk

TypeScript and JavaScript are two popular web development technologies. In this article, we compare them to show you which one is a better match for your web application in 2021.

  1. TypeScript vs JavaScript - introduction
  2. What is the biggest benefit of TypeScript?
  3. TypeScript vs JavaScript - side by side comparison
  4. TypeScript or JavaScript - which one to use in a project?

 

TypeScript vs JavaScript - introduction

Today, JavaScript serves as the standard and go-to programming language for web developers looking to build application frontends. The large number of libraries, frameworks, and tools surrounding JavaScript make it a solid choice for your tech stack. Thanks to Node.js, developers can now use JavaScript to build application backends.

But more and more software engineers turn to TypeScript as a handy language for writing web applications. Why is that? And what does it mean for the future of JavaScript? 

Since the early days of web development, engineers have had a problematic relationship with JavaScript. Together with HTML and CSS, JavaScript is a core technology of browser and web development. That’s why it held the reign for such a long time, and people primarily focused on making it better. 

That was why Microsoft developers came up with the idea for TypeScript. TypeScript is a programming language and syntactical superset of JavaScript. It adds optional static typing to JS. TypeScript was designed to help developers in building large applications and transpiles to JavaScript. All the existing JavaScript software is also valid TypeScript software. 

A report on the Polish IT community from BulldogJob showed that 54% of surveyed developers knew JavaScript and only 22% of them declared knowing TypeScript. 

How does this play out internationally? The annual Stack Overflow Developer Survey is the best source of knowledge. In the 2020 edition, JavaScript won in the category of the most popular programming language (67.7%). TypeScript landed the 9th position with 25.4% of votes. However, TypeScript ranked second among the most loved programming languages (JavaScript got the 10th position). On the other hand, JavaScript snatched the second rank among the most wanted languages and TypeScript got the 4th.

According to the latest State of Frontend 2020 report, TypeScript’s popularity is clearly on the rise. More than half of the respondents (54%) said that they prefer TypeScript. But almost 40% admitted that they liked both programming languages. Moreover, almost one third (29%) of the surveyed frontend developers believe that JavaScript is going to become more like TypeScript in the future. 

 

What is the biggest benefit of TypeScript?

What problems does TypeScript actually solve? TypeScript has become so popular because it addresses several problems or missing points in JavaScript. It opened the door to JavaScript for all the developers who have an object-oriented language background. Transferring code writing in a language like Java, C#, or PHP to TypeScript is much easier than doing the same in JavaScript. Even if at the end we get JavaScript code.

The key benefits of TypeScript are:

  • TypeScript has types; JavaScript doesn’t. This makes controlling function parameters and variables easier. Types in TypeScript render the code easier to understand
  • It brought object-oriented programming as a first-class citizen in JavaScript with the introduction of classes, inheritance, property access types, interfaces, or abstract methods back in the day. Even if some of these have been added in JavaScript since, with static typing TypeScript is still a go-to for OOP fans.
  • Thanks to the above, it offers a much lighter introduction to the JavaScript world for developers coming from languages like C#, Java, and C++, so backend developers are able to quickly get comfortable with it. Transpilation of TypeScript code to JavaScript has another benefit of catching possible errors early at the project build time. Combined with strict null checking, it can prevent many costly client-side failures.
  • TypeScript provides IDE support because the information about types makes editors and Integrated development environments (IDE) more practical thanks to features like code navigation and autocompletion, with Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code being most worth mentioning for both being written in TypeScript, as well as offering full-fledged TypeScript experience for developers.

 

TypeScript vs JavaScript - side by side comparison

TypeScript vs JavaScript pros

TypeScriptJavaScript
Uses concepts like types and interfaces to describe data in use.JavaScript allows exploring and creating code with no build step required.
Developers can statically type various types of JavaScript features such as union types or intersections.A massive community of developers.
-There’s no need to compile JavaScript code.
Eases usage of third-party libraries if TypeScript annotations are added to it.No annotations are required.

 

TypeScript vs JavaScript cons

TypeScriptJavaScript
Steep learning curve.-
A smaller community of developers than JavaScript has.It’s hard to achieve type safety in JavaScript.
Code written in TypeScript needs to be compiled.-
It’s worth annotating code to make the most of TypeScript features.-

 

Developer salary

TypeScript developerJavaScript developer
The average salary for a Typescript developer is ~$91,883 per year in the United States.The average salary for a JavaScript developer is ~$84,134 per year in the United States.

 

TypeScript or JavaScript - which one to use in a project?

When to use TypeScript?

TypeScript was designed for large web application projects, and it’s indeed a good pick. Thanks to types, developers have a much easier time coding the app. The process is much more predictable too. Teams can also use new JavaScript features even if the app needs to support older browsers or Node.js.

Another important feature is decorators, essential for frameworks like Angular, Nest.js, or Loopback. TypeScript accelerates the development process, and the code is much easier to work with thanks to enhanced readability and integration with common IDEs.

 

When should you go for JavaScript?

TypeScript might sometimes be too much for a small web development project. It comes with an overhead and takes time to transpile code into JavaScript and type-check it. That’s why JavaScript is a better choice. Moreover, developers can easily debug code directly in the browser.

JavaScript is better for quick prototyping than TypeScript. But the tools, starter packs, and boilerplates available for TypeScript make setting up a project pretty fast as well.

If you have an existing system that is written in  JavaScript, moving it to TypeScript can be problematic. Even with TypeScript supporting gradual adoption, most of the time it’s a painful process, which needs to be taken into account before planning a huge migration strategy.

 

Wrap up

We hope that this article helps to decide which technology to choose for your next web development project.

TypeScript solves many headaches of JavaScript. It's a great pick if scalability and development speed matter to you. But JavaScript is constantly being developed and acquires features that make it increasingly similar to TypeScript. Even if you’re always getting plain JavaScript in the browser at the end of the day, choosing TypeScript or JavaScript is going to have a massive impact on your project and the way you’re going to develop and maintain it.

What are your experiences with TypeScript and JavaScript? Which one would you rather choose for your project and why? Let us know in the comments. 

Rated: 5.0 / 1 opinions
Krzysztof Bezrak ea37a034ca

Krzysztof Bezrąk

Frontend Developer who mostly works with React but likes to delve into backend, mobile, and DevOps topics from time to time. He likes to „hack” any hardware that surrounds him. In his free time, he loves to travel and enjoy good food and beer wherever he happens to be.

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