The Difference Between Typescript and Javascript, Explained

What is Typescript vs. Javascript?

Javascript is, no doubt, one of the most ubiquitous programming languages in the world. It powers 97% of the Internet and is a staple skill of any web developer. Javascript has gone beyond the web browser and is the basis of other technologies like Node.js and AngularJS.

But one often overlooked “cousin” of Javascript is Typescript. It was developed as a more powerful and flexible counterpart to Javascript and one that improves on its shortcomings.

In this TS vs. JS article, we’ll look at these languages in greater detail and discuss when to use one over the other.

What is Typescript?

Typescript is a programming language originally created and maintained by Microsoft. It is a superset of Javascript, which means all Javascript code is Typescript code (although the reverse isn’t necessarily true).

Because of this, both languages share the same syntax. In fact, you can convert Javascript code to Typescript code simply by changing the file name extension from “.js” to “.ts.”

However, the key difference between Javascript and Typescript ends with syntax. The latter has more traits and features, making it far more powerful and flexible than the former. For this reason, Typescript is used to build complex applications that plain Javascript can’t or will have a difficult time doing.

The development of Typescript came about because the Javascript development team had a hard time creating robust server-side apps efficiently. Thus, Typescript was devised as a way to bridge this gap and transform a scripting language into a bonafide enterprise-level, server-side programming tool.

For one, Typescript is an object-oriented programming language that’s compiled into an executable code, much like how the most powerful languages like C++ are built. Typescript also shares some of the features and capabilities of these languages absent in Javascript, such as strong typing and interfaces.

Indeed, strong typing is one of the biggest advantages that make Typescript much more robust than Javascript and aids in developing “safe” applications. For example, if an integer parameter is passed to a function that requires a string, Typescript will flag that as an error. Javascript will do nothing of the sort, making tracing errors much more arduous.

Typescript’s interface use also makes it the preferred choice for building applications with a larger team. This allows for the extensive use of APIs and a microservices architecture approach. For this same reason, it’s also better to pick Typescript vs. nodeJS for complex server-side applications.

Of course, with added functionality and power comes a steeper learning curve. Like any major language like Java or C#, it can be challenging for beginners to learn Typescript. However, it can be argued that the strict compile-time error features of Typescript are beneficial for beginners since it will be easier to spot errors and debug code.

Typescript’s biggest advantage as a compiled language can also be its weakness. Compiling takes time, and it’s far harder and longer to patch deployed applications. In contrast, you can receive Javascript errors on the fly and fix them live if needed.

What is Javascript?

Javascript is one of the most popular and in-use scripting languages globally. It is a just-in-time compiled language, meaning Javascript code is interpreted as the program is being executed (or, in the case of websites, as the browser is loading the HTML source).

Javascript is primarily used to create client-side functionality and interactivity to otherwise static HTML pages. It does this through direct access to the page’s Document Object Model (DOM), allowing code to manipulate page elements.

For example, Javascript code can verify inputs in a text box or form before it’s sent to the server to minimize errors. It also has animation features that make it ideal for web page effects and browser games. And if you’ve ever seen pop-up ads or dialog, that’s Javascript in action.

Javascript is often considered one of the easier programming languages to learn, making it excellent for beginners. Apart from its easy syntax, you can see the effects of your code in real-time, which can also make debugging easy. You also don’t need to install any software compilers or IDEs to code in Javascript – your browser is all you need.

The popularity of Javascript is also a big win since you’ll get plenty of support from learning resources. Javascript also has a robust library and numerous third-party tools covering almost any programming task.

Also, Javascript is now being used outside of its domain as a client-side browser tool. Javascript-based technologies like React Native and Node.js allow developers to create server-side and standalone applications. This can be a lucrative path for Javascript developers to extend their skill set to another domain.

However, using the plain and original Javascript for big-scale projects is still a challenging and inefficient endeavor. The language has minimal features that make it functional with larger teams. Also, Javascript lacks the benefits of mature object-oriented programming languages, such as compile-time error validation.

Javascript is also considered a weakly typed language. This means variable types aren’t explicitly defined but determined depending on their usage. A “+” operator, for example, will either add two variables if they’re numbers or join them together if they’re both strings. This might seem convenient, but it also makes it easier to make mistakes. It can lead to inconsistencies when you mix variable types, introducing errors that are difficult to debug.

What is the Difference between Typescript and Javascript?

Now that we’ve briefly defined each language, let’s delve into the distinct differences between Javascript vs. Typescript.

As we’ve discussed, Javascript is primarily used in client-side scripting. That’s because it can get complex and unreadable the longer it gets. Now, many technologies like Node.js make it possible to use Javascript for server-side apps. However, on its own, it’s simply inefficient to do so.

In contrast, Typescript is a full-fledged object-oriented language built for both client and server-side scripting from the ground up. In fact, it can be used for any software project of any size, thanks to its easy readability and maintainability.

Typescript also has strict data binding rules, which means that every variable should be explicitly tied to a type such as a string or an integer. The advantage of doing this is that errors that could “break” your code can be caught at compile time. For instance, if you accidentally pass a Boolean variable to a function that requires an integer, it will get flagged as an error.

A variable in Javascript, in comparison, can be any type. For simple programs, this can be very convenient. However, it is more prone to using the wrong variable type for longer code, leading to unpredictable results.

Annotation is a crucial practice to maximize Typescript code. This is opposed to Javascript, where annotation is needed.

Finally, Javascript has a bigger developer community behind it. This is a boon for beginners and experts alike, as you’ll always have a ready pool of professionals to help you out. In contrast, Typescript has a relatively smaller group, which can further increase the difficulty of learning the language.

Typescript or Javascript: Which One is Right For Your Project?

Reading this article thus far, chances are you’ll have this burning question about Typescript vs. Javascript: “which one should I use?

The short answer is: it depends. Both languages are capable in their own right and have their appropriate use cases. Which one you’ll go for will be based on your situation.

Often, the biggest deciding factor for using Typescript vs. Javascript is project complexity.

If you just need to create minimal functionality or have a smaller team, Javascript is ideal. It’s far easier to set up with no extra software to install. Plus, the added difficulty and capability of Typescript is often overkill in these cases and doesn’t warrant the added time and cost.

Javascript’s runtime compilation is also a boon for smaller teams since it’s much easier to maintain. You can detect and fix errors on the fly without recompiling and redeploying code.

There are also certain frameworks that don’t work at all in Typescript vs. JS. If your project is dependent on one, it’s far easier and faster to use it during development instead of having to build that functionality from scratch in Typescript.

From a compatibility standpoint, Javascript is also the clear winner. That’s because every browser supports JS, while TS is still limited in this regard.

However, if you have a complex project requiring dozens of features and a huge development team, stick with Typescript. Javascript code can get unwieldy and clunky the longer it is, plus strong typing makes many Typescript errors easier to detect early on. Typescript code is much more streamlined in contrast, making it readable even for long projects.

It’s also much more advantageous to go with Typescript if you value safe code execution. Thanks to its strong typing and compile-time error detection, you can often catch crucial bugs early on in the process. You also avoid inconsistent results, making your application much riskier to use.

Now, it may seem that deciding to go with JS vs. TS is straightforward. But it isn’t always cut and dry. Sometimes, only experience can tell you if one is better than the other on a certain project. And this is where a reputable agency like Expedition Co. is valuable.

As a full-stack web development agency, we can guide you on the best development tools and frameworks to use. We’re not just “guns for hire” but true collaborators in bringing your project’s vision to fruition.

Interested? Get in touch with us today to see how our expert web development services can take your project to the next level.