JS is the most popular software development language right now. The reasoning behind building a web-specific language makes a lot of sense. As web platforms became more complex, they needed to process a lot of actions simultaneously and react to users’ interactions. The use of a specific language that was designed for a browser made development easier.
What is Typescript?
Advantages of Typescript
Using a Typescript is not an essential change. Surely, there has to be a reason why teams, us included, are learning this subset. Speaking for our team, we defined four key advantages of the Typescript – these are the most beneficial ones, practically speaking.
1. Optional static typing
However, scalability becomes a problem. When developers don’t control types, keeping track of them is difficult, code lacks clarity and is hard to maintain.
Advantages of static typing
- Code is structured and uniform;
- The system automatically catches mistakenly entered types before the application enters the runtime stage;
- The strictness of limitations can be decreased: you can use dynamic typing in some pieces of functionality.
2. Improved readability
Solution: static reading alone is a huge step towards the increased code organization. However, it’s not the only way in which Typescript improved the readability of JS. In particular, we defined three other changes.
- Early bug detection. Static typing analysis and logic monitoring allow decreasing 15% of bugs in real-time. Sure, it’s not an absolute detection, but it’s a lot more than JS has to offer. To increase precision, developers can run a compiler.
- Stable code. Static typing allows developers to be sure that variables will remain in their declared state.
- Defined types. Typescript offers clear categories for variable declaration. Basic ones are number, string, array, object, boolean, void, null, and undefined. There are also advanced entities – generics, interfaces, and union types. Each of these describes a particular piece of functionality.
Typescript provides a more informative version of a codebase. It doesn’t require developers to write and read extensive documentation.
Problem: the presence of static typing can potentially slow the development of the product. Luckily, it’s not the case because Typescript ecosystems offer tools that overcompensate for potential delays.
Solution: along with improving the quality of the code, Typescript is also capable of increasing the production speed. Microsoft developed an instrument for code navigation called IntelliSense.
- IntelliSense offers options for automatic code completion;
- By hovering over a method’s name, you will see the properties and parameters of objects;
- Developers can set up hotkeys that will access detailed descriptions of an instrument.
Still, IntelliSence helped us speed up many projects, so even if it’s not the most reliable solution out there, it has great potential. This is why we think it’s still a valid advantage, despite some evident drawbacks.
4. New features
- Type annotation: the value for each static type is checked automatically by Typescript. Developers know what arguments can’t be assigned to a particular parameter. They see the alerts immediately – this self-documentation makes it easier to manage and monitor the code.
Obviously, the distinctions between JS and Typescript aren’t entirely in Typescript favor. Sometimes increasing the functionality and the level of complexity comes at a cost. Let’s take a look at other technical aspects.
Typescript’s ecosystem is hugely based on JS accomplishments. Additional possibilities like static typing created space for self-generating documentation, bug identification, improved code maintenance APIs, and inspired open-source developers to build multiple Typescript integrations.
Typescript supports Node.js and NPM packages. You can install Node.js components to combine the view of both backend and frontend codebases. You can also integrate Typescript with Node.js – you’ll benefit from the same advantages like static typing, automated documentation, garbage collecting – however, only for the backend.
Prototypes allow a developer to clone objects and their values. Prototypes allow copying the entire presence of functionality with a single action. To create a prototype in Typescript, developers need to understand which classes will make it up, define roles for each of them, and find ways to connect different patterns.
Luckily, there are many solutions for Typescript compilation. The more popular option is to install Typescript through the Node Package Manager.
When you run Typescript in conjunction with NPM, the language will automatically be compiled to the machine code. Microsoft Visual Studio Code, a popular platform for Typescript development, unfortunately, doesn’t feature a built-in compiler.
This year, Typescript ranked the 9th position, entering the list of 10 Most Popular Programming Language for the first time. It’s more popular than Swift, Objective-C, Go, and many others. The momentum for the Typescript market indicates rapid growth, and the community also has become a lot more active – see for yourself in StackOverflow’s questions.
When you use Typescript, you don’t exist traditional JS community, however, you create an additional limitation. Even though it’s technically a subset of a language, you won’t be able to use classical JS tools, unless they support Types Script as well.
Use cases for Typescript
Let’s start by analyzing the use cases for Typescript. After all, this tool is less common – so you might not have a good idea of where to fit it in yet. We’ve defined the most common scenarios where teams typically use Typescript.
When you have a large codebase
If you are working with a big team, Typescript will help you bring your code to a single standard. You will have uniform typing, be able to write a more detailed codebase, and catch bugs before the code enters the runtime.
When your team is used to static typing
The choice of the tech stack always depends on available resources. If you work with a team with a static development background like Java or C#, getting used to managing a dynamically-typed codebase might be a challenge.
Typescript can be at a transitional state: developers can already become accustomed to JS typing, but they can turn on optional static typing wherever it makes development easier.
Also, it’s worth noting that Typescript creators were hugely inspired by C#. So if your team knows C# well, getting familiar with Typescript will be a piece of cake.
For Angular 2 development
Can you use other JS libraries with Typescript? Technically, yes, but you would need to download tools that would convert the dynamically-built types into static ones. There are open-source tools for doing it automatically – but it’s still not an ultimate substitution for native support.
When fast development is the main priority
Typescript speeds up the development process by catching bugs in real-time without having a running garbage collector. Unlike garbage-collected language, this bug elimination doesn’t result in slower performance. It’s important to remember that the built-in detection will spot only about 15% of issues, for a complete check, you will still need to run a collector occasionally.
When the industry requires specific attention to detail
Typescript finds a middle ground between a plain default JS code and detailed annotations. It provides only the most crucial information about code errors which is enough to identify the issue. The code is informative, but much shorter.
So, Typescript is best used for projects handled by big teams, especially for those where the cost of an error is too high. If a team is accustomed to working with static-typing learning, Typescript development will be both easier to learn and fast to execute.
Let’s take a deeper look at the difference between React vs React Native, their respective advantages and disadvantages.
Typescript is a highly universal solution, but it’s not for everyone. There are at least several scenarios when teams should seriously consider the usage of the subset.
When you can’t afford an extra transpilation tax
This aspect leads to a range of additional customization. You will need to find a compiler, check the code compatibility with the browser, and the performance will take the hit as well.
When flexibility is a priority
Dynamic typing may lead to additional errors, but it’s also a huge flexibility driver. Having the possibility to assign a new variable to any type at any given moment allows developers to build new functionality without sticking to the same rules all the time.
As the project grows and requirements change, having a possibility to edit code dynamically and come up with new types comes in handy. If you are working with a small team, using JS and its flexible typing will get you much further than sticking to conventional static typing.
Flexibility is important on the MVP stages and for small platforms. If you are building a small service that is not designed to host hundreds of thousands of users at a time, JS codebase will be easy to maintain anyway.
Most frameworks currently fall into this category. Although you can use JS libraries for Typescript, it’s not as comfortable. React and Vue.js do offer official support for Typescript, however, users still need to install additional packages and tools.
It’s important to remember that Typescript codebase is generally bigger than JS code files. It provides more annotations, and they take up space. Also, it needs to be compiled. All these factors make JS smaller and faster in comparison – that is, if you don’t add too many annotations.
Technically, it’s slightly superior. Considering the fact that Typescript is the addition to JS, you are not losing much of core JS functionality. In exchange, you can switch to static typing, create informative codebase, and detect bugs while working on the code.
However, the practical answer depends, as always, on the use case. We’ve prepared a checklist to summarize all the main aspects.
Is Typescript here to stay for long?
It’s obvious that Typescript is not a passing trend. More frameworks are adopting the tool, and a lot more companies recognize its value. The patterns that we can track from statistics clearly show that Typescript has already gained high momentum.
It’s popular both on the job market and among developers. Product owners are getting increasingly more interested in the technology – we can confirm that.
So, if you are a developer who’s wondering if learning Typescript is worth the struggle, the answer is yes. If you haven’t worked with static typing before, you’ll likely be surprised to recognize many of its benefits.
Plus, this knowledge might eventually be useful with other static languages – like Java. Most importantly, you’ll be able to work efficiently with large teams and build high-quality code, which is the end goal, anyway.
If you are not sure which use cases your project fits better, we are always happy to help. Just drop us a line with a short description of the idea, and we’ll share our experience of working on a similar project and provide our reasoned opinion. If you already know which tool to use, you can contact our development team for its execution.