Is TypeScript the new JavaScript?

While JavaScript is frequently the language of choice for all sizes of front-end and back-end applications, it is not the only option; nor is it necessarily the most efficient or the most profitable. Increasingly, TypeScript is becoming the language of choice for application development, especially for larger applications. The savings in time and money are significant enough that some organizations even take projects that were initially started in JavaScript and migrate them to TypeScript.

What is TypeScript?

While the number of programs written in JavaScript has grown exponentially, the programming language’s ability to express the relationships between different units of code and to mitigate coding errors early on has not kept pace. In addition to the inconsistent semantics of JavaScript, this makes JavaScript-based application development difficult to manage on a large scale.

Released in 2012, TypeScript was created to fill JavaScript gaps in large-scale application development. It is a strongly typed open source programming language that relies on JavaScript by adding optional static typing. Types are used to structure and validate code before it is executed, which is beneficial when developing large applications. They also provide additional code information, which is better documentation for other developers and makes collaboration easier.

TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript, which means that any JS code is also valid TS code, as long as the TS configuration is configured to be compatible with it. It generates code in pure JavaScript and allows developers to freely use JS libraries, tools and frameworks. It works on Node.js or any browser that supports ECMAScript 3 or higher. It also supports object-oriented programming features.

Disadvantages of JavaScript

JavaScript is one of the most popular programming languages ​​in the world and works extremely well for small projects. However, its drawbacks, many of which affect project costs and code delivery time, make the case for alternatives like TypeScript, especially for larger projects.

Most of these drawbacks are related to the lack of types and error checks at compile time, which makes JavaScript less than desirable for server-side code in enterprises and large code bases. Here are some of its drawbacks:

  • JavaScript uses dynamic typing, which means that scripts can be compiled even if they contain errors that may prevent them from executing correctly.
  • Because JavaScript is dynamically typed, it allows a variable to be assigned multiple properties. It doesn’t instantly let developers know what a variable might contain. This makes it easy to assign the wrong properties.
  • Because JavaScript is an interpreted language, errors can only be found during execution. Code must be executed before it is tested and validated, so it can take a considerable amount of time to find bugs and errors in JavaScript code.
  • To eliminate inaccuracies, it is necessary to manually check the types and syntactic correctness of the code. This lengthens development time and extends the delivery cycle to production, which increases development costs.
  • JavaScript code is executed on the client side so that it is visible to the user. Therefore, bugs and oversights can be exploited for malicious purposes.
  • Prolonged onboarding of new developers can result, as developers must determine the properties of the structures they are working with, as well as the data types. Although JSDoc can be used to document code and annotate types, there is still a need to synchronize the actual code and documentation. Lack of synchronization, in turn, can mislead developers and make it difficult to introduce new features requested by the business.
  • JavaScript is based on prototypes, not classes. It is not considered to be a purely object-oriented programming language, although it may follow certain object-oriented programming principles.

The TypeScript advantage

TypeScript is a superset of JavaScript. If a developer is familiar with JavaScript, there isn’t much of a learning curve to taking advantage of the features that TypeScript offers that make up for many of JavaScript shortcomings, and it can provide additional benefits.

For example, with JavaScript, variables can start as a property and then turn into an object or a string. These inconsistencies can cause problems that are difficult to resolve in large applications. TypeScript, on the other hand, parses the code and tries to determine the appropriate types of variables before execution. Once a variable type is assigned, it remains unchanged. The TypeScript compiler also helps shorten the quality assurance and testing process in later stages of development.

TypeScript also helps developers quickly understand the purpose of a variable in code. It can also suggest properties available in functions, classes or components. Being able to quickly find a variable is important because it reduces the likelihood of calling the wrong function or accidentally skipping a variable declaration. Any reduction in bugs and errors reduces the time it takes to resolve these issues and, therefore, reduces overall development time. This gives developers more time to work on the logic of the application and correct errors that can adversely affect the performance and usability of the application. According to a post mortem analysis of Airbnb, 38% of the bugs they encountered were preventable with TypeScript after the company adopted it across the organization.

As a static language, TypeScript performs compile-time type checks, reports type errors, and helps developers spot errors early in development. Reducing errors when working with large code bases can save development hours.

Clear, readable code is easy to maintain, even for newly integrated developers. Since TypeScript calls for type assignment, code instantly becomes easier to use and understand. In essence, TypeScript code is self-documenting, allowing distributed teams to work much more efficiently. Teams (and individual developers) don’t have to spend inordinate amounts of time learning about a project.

TypeScript’s integration with editors also makes it easier to validate code with contextual suggestions. TypeScript can determine which methods and properties can be assigned to specific objects, and these suggestions tend to increase developer productivity.

TypeScript is widely used to automate the deployment of CI / CD infrastructure and pipelines for backend and web applications. In addition, the client part (for example, when using Angular) and the backend can be written in the same language, TypeScript. This flexibility allows an engineer who knows a programming language to cover all parts of the system.

Since TypeScript is primarily transpiled to JavaScript, migrating legacy code to TypeScript is quick and easy. This can usually be accomplished simply by running the compiler and adding a keystroke where it is not recognized by the language. It is not necessary to change the code.

The advantages of TypeScript have been noticed by developers. TypeScript was used by 78% of 2020 State of JS respondents, 93% of them saying they would use it again. TypeScript continues to gain popularity. It was voted the second most popular programming language in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020.

TypeScript and AWS: Better Together

There is another compelling reason to consider TypeScript for large-scale application development projects. It is fully supported by AWS, the leading cloud platform for the design and development of modern applications, as discussed in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services.

The following services and tools have a seamless out-of-the-box integration with TypeScript, allowing you to use this language for a variety of tasks:

  • AWS CDK provides infrastructure-as-code (IaC) to automatically deploy the entire infrastructure with one click. You can also automate the creation of CI / CD pipelines for future launch of specific jobs on demand.
  • AWS Lambda Allows you to run compute tasks in serverless mode using automatic scaling and an efficient pricing system.
  • Amazon EC2, DHW and EKS can cover all your tasks and provide a wide range of solutions to run applications written in TypeScript, from bare metal servers to complex clusters of hundreds of Docker containers.

Optimize your application development projects

All decisions made during an application development project can impact overall costs and time to market. This involves using the right programming language and using the most appropriate platform and cloud resources.

When approaching an application development project, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works. Take the time to define your needs and priorities and select the best resources for the best results.


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