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TypeScript vs. JavaScript: Which One Should I Use?

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TypeScript vs. JavaScript: Which One Should I Use?

Key Points

  • TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript, meaning all JavaScript is compatible with TypeScript; JavaScript is a type of TypeScript.
  • The most significant difference between TypeScript and JavaScript is the handling of types, also known as static typing.
  • TypeScript is more predictable than JavaScript, making it a better choice for projects that require stability and fewer surprises.
  • JavaScript is easier to learn than TypeScript, making it a better option for quick and simple projects.
  • Developers working on solo projects or projects that require long-term stability should consider using TypeScript.

JavaScript is one of the core programming languages we use in Web Development. Initially developed by Netscape and Sun Microsystems, it has maintained an integral position in client-side internet program development. However, you can use more recent JavaScript engines server-side, leading to issues as companies have started using them to develop more extensive programs. TypeScript solves the problems of complexity within larger, server-side JavaScript programs. Let’s examine TypeScript vs. JavaScript.

TypeScript vs. JavaScript: Side-by-Side Comparison

TypeScriptJavaScript
PredictabilityEasy to predict how code will runCode may experience unpredictable results
Learning curveSteeper learning curveEasier to learn
PerformanceFewer bugs in the production phaseFewer error messages
Trans-compiledYesNo
Compiled or interpretedCompiledInterpreted

TypeScript vs. JavaScript: What’s the Difference?

Take an in-depth look at the differences between TypeScript vs. JavaScript.

What Is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a lightweight, high-level programming language best known for its usage in web program design. It can either be interpreted or just-in-time compiled. The language utilizes first-class functions and is heavily object-oriented. It supports object-oriented, imperative, and declarative programming styles.

This highly dynamic language supports dynamic script creation, object introspection, runtime object construction, function variables, variable parameter lists, and source-code recovery. Since JavaScript functions save their source text, you can retrieve the code using toString().

The prototype-based language allows you to create objects without defining a class first. It is multi-paradigm and single-threaded. In addition to its overwhelming ubiquity in web development, many non-browser programs use it, such as Apache CouchDB, Adobe Acrobat, and Node.js.

JavaScript can also be referred to as ECMAScript, and the language’s standard is written and published by ECMA International. “ECMAScript” is technically the name of the standard, not the language. However, you can use ECMAScript and JavaScript interchangeably.

ECMA International must vet and approve additions to the ECMAScript documentation. However, unique JavaScript engines can implement additional features without adding them to the standard. There are times when cumulative documentation may include a feature still in review for the standard.

You shouldn’t confuse JavaScript with the Java programming language. JavaScript is not “Interpreted Java” but a discrete programming language. While Oracle registered both as trademarks in the United States, they have unique syntax, semantics, and usages.

What Is TypeScript?

typescript vs. javascript
You can run JavaScript code in a TypeScript environment by simply changing the file extension.

TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript, meaning all JavaScript is compatible with TypeScript; JavaScript is a type of TypeScript. It offers optional classes, interfaces, and static typing. While ECMA International maintains JavaScript, Microsoft developed TypeScript to simplify writing large code bases using JavaScript.

Since TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript, you can run all JavaScript code in a TypeScript environment. However, the JavaScript code must adhere to TypeScript’s standard to do so. Thus, you may experience errors when importing JavaScript to a TypeScript environment directly; you’ll need to take those error messages and fix up the code to allow it to run.

Types

The most significant difference between TypeScript and JavaScript is the handling of types, also known as static typing. TypeScript uses static typing, meaning once you declare a variable as a particular type, you cannot arbitrarily change it to a different type later in the program.

When using JavaScript developed by multiple programmers, you can sometimes encounter variables that change types throughout a program’s lifespan. This issue can cause long-term stability issues and maintenance. After all, if one person set a variable type and another changed it, they may not have conferred about the change, leaving it up in the air.

If a variable changes types while a program is running, the program may try to call the variable and receive an invalid response, which can cause severe and sometimes fatal errors. So, while static typing can cause a program to throw errors early in production to account for the variables correctly, it improves long-term stability.

Predictability

TypeScript is more predictable than JavaScript. Static typing and more robust debugging mean you’ll better understand what your TypeScript program will do when you run it. JavaScript can often run into unpredictable results, especially when multiple programmers work on one project together.

If you need a programming language that doesn’t produce as many surprises, switching from JavaScript to TypeScript can reduce the oddities your code creates.

Learning Curve

There’s no way around the fact that JavaScript is easier to learn than TypeScript. Dynamically-typed programming languages prioritize speed and ease of use over stability. So, it makes sense that learning the dynamically typed option would naturally be easier.

Trans-Compilation

Another significant difference between TypeScript and JavaScript is that TypeScript can be trans-compiled. Trans-compilation is when you use the compiler as a translator that outputs an equivalent program in a different language than the input.

A traditional compiler also translates the program from one language to another. However, it translates the code from a higher-level language to a lower-level one. Trans-compilation uses a source-to-source compiler, translating a program from one language to another of roughly the same level of abstraction.

A high-level language, like Java or C++, has a significant level of abstraction from the computer’s instruction set. Computers don’t understand words and language. Low-level languages, like assembly or machine code, resemble the computer’s actual instruction set, and the computer can use those to execute functions within the processors.

While a standard compiler turns words into ones-and-zeroes, a trans-compiler turns words into other words. Trans-compilation allows programmers to implement some major features that JavaScript doesn’t allow due to its lack of trans-compilation. For instance, without trans-compilation, it’s not necessarily possible to run a program written in JavaScript in different browsers. You may need to adjust the code for each browser.

TypeScript vs. JavaScript: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • JavaScript is prototype-oriented, while TypeScript is object-oriented.
  • JavaScript is developed and maintained by EMCA International, while TypeScript is developed and maintained by Microsoft.
  • JavaScript is dynamically typed, while TypeScript is statically typed.
  • JavaScript is easier to learn, while TypeScript has a more demanding learning curve.
  • JavaScript may produce more unpredictable results, while TypeScript may produce more early errors.

TypeScript vs. JavaScript: Which One Should You Use?

Sometimes, JavaScript remains the superior option for certain scripts.

JavaScript and TypeScript serve essentially the same market. So, you might be wondering: which one is better? Which one should I use for my project? While TypeScript has some notable advantages over JavaScript, there are times when JavaScript might be a better option for your team and project. So, ensuring you’ve done your due diligence when choosing the language you will write your program in is crucial.

When to Use TypeScript

Developers working on solo projects that use JavaScript should strongly consider switching their focus to TypeScript. While it has a transition period, you will improve your overall program stability in the long run, which can quickly compensate for the slowdown from learning the additional features of TypeScript and its best coding practices.

You should also consider TypeScript for any programs that need long-term stability. A short-running program may be able to run on a less stable codebase effectively since there’s less time for it to encounter fatal errors. However, if stability is a concern for your project, TypeScript is a more predictable language than JavaScript.

You can also consider TypeScript when you use external frameworks and libraries offering type definitions. TypeScript handles typing more precisely than JavaScript and can benefit from these additional resources.

When to Use JavaScript

JavaScript is best for projects that are short and sweet. A quick script with a short run time doesn’t necessarily need all the safeguards of TypeScript. So, if you don’t already know how to program in TypeScript, JavaScript may be a better option for such projects.

If you have the time to learn TypeScript, it may be suitable for your future projects to learn it. It also increases your marketability as a programmer! However, for small, highly time-sensitive projects, JavaScript may be better, both because more people already know how to use it and because those who don’t will have an easier time learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a high-level interpreted language used in front-end web development.

What is TypeScript?

TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript. It is a high-level object-oriented programming language used in software and web development. 

What are the differences between TypeScript and JavaScript?

All JavaScript is usable as TypeScript. TypeScript is just JavaScript with extra features like trans-compilation, static typing, additional classes, and interfaces.

How do I change a JavaScript program into TypeScript?

You can change a JavaScript program into TypeScript by changing the file extension from .js to .ts.

Do I need to change my code to run JavaScript as TypeScript?

You may need to update your JavaScript code to run it as TypeScript if there are discrepancies within the code that flag during compiling.

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