Differences in JavaScript and TypeScript: Which one is Better for Frontend Development?

JavaScript and TypeScript; both are popular scripting languages used excessively for frontend development projects. Let’s find out which is ideal and better suited for your frontend development project.

5 min read
Nov 18, 2021

Released back in 1995, JavaScript is arguably one of the popular household scripting languages used in almost every web development project. It has also been used for mobile and desktop software and product development projects.

At the time of release, JavaScript was portrayed as a natural extension of the Java programming language. Initially named LiveScript, the language was later renamed to JavaScript to bank on the popularity and traction Java was getting at the time of release.

Typescript, on the other hand, can be considered as the extension of JavaScript. It contains everything JS has in addition to a few more things. The language was created with a goal to extend the functionality of JavaScript and intends to be more explicit about what data is used in code, similar to Java.

Developed and maintained by Microsoft, Typescript requires a compiler to compile its code into a JS file for implementation. Thanks to this compilation, TypeScript can highlight the errors at the time of development, which JavaScript does at the runtime.

There are few instances where TypeScript is advantageous over JavaScript and few areas where JavaScript has the upper hand. So, deciding which one’s better to develop your frontend requires deep knowledge and understanding of both stacks.

Here, the expert team at ashutec presents a detailed guide on the differences between JavaScript and TypeScript to help you choose the right technology stack for your software and product development project. Let’s get into the basics first.

Basics About JavaScript

JavaScript was developed by Brenden Eich, specifically for Netscape Navigator — a popular Internet browser back in 1995. Through an alliance with Sun Microsystems — developers of Java, Netscape Communications developed a language to handle the client-side tasks and validate forms.

Initially named LiveScript, the language was supposed to be the companion of Java to ease server-side tasks and make the client-side validations effortless. Further, its syntax and nature are mostly inherited from the Java language. As Sun Microsystems helped complete the project, the language was officially renamed and launched as JavaScript.

Since then, it never looked back and has become a household name for every frontend developer. It is a high-level, dynamically typed, multiparadigm language, and one of the core technologies behind World Wide Web and web browser development. Today, there is a pool of JS-based frameworks available in the market to develop frontend and even the backend of web applications.

The language is mostly used for enhancing the interactivity of web applications and creating dynamic web pages. Meanwhile, it’s also been prominently used in desktop applications, mobile apps, and even in AI-based application development.

Basics About TypeScript

TypeScript is essentially a superset of JavaScript and contains mostly JS and a bit more. The only difference is it is statically typed and object-oriented as well as a multiparadigm programming language. It has to compile in JavaScript, meaning it has to depend on the JS to start with.

Released by Microsoft in 2012, it was expected to address certain shortcomings of JS in the field of web, frontend, and backend development. JavaScript was launched to make client-side tasks easy and later started being used for server-side tasks too. But as the language grew massively, the development became complex, which put roadblocks for it to succeed at the enterprise level for server-side development.

Differences Between JavaScript and TypeScript

  • TypeScript has a Static typing feature and JavaScript is a dynamic typing language.
  • TypeScript uses a compiler to compile the code, which takes a bit more time as JavaScript does not use a compiler.
  • TypeScript has a steep learning curve and requires prior knowledge of JavaScript and Scripting languages.
  • As JavaScript is older, it has a large and strong community compared to TypeScript.
  • Apps built using TypeScript don’t directly run on the browser and require a compilation step to transform code in JavaScript to run.
  • TypeScript can highlight errors in the code at the time of compilation while JavaScript highlights them at the runtime.
  • TypeScript is created to extend the functionality of JavaScript, so the syntax and coding features are almost identical.

JavaScript Vs TypeScript: Which one’s Better for Frontend Development?

Deciding which one is better depends on many factors. Let’s have a closer look to know which one comes in handy for the frontend development of applications.

Performance

Comparing the performance of both the languages seem a bit misnomer as both of them have similar performances. The only difference that could be seen in performance is the way the code is written in both languages.

However, back in the day, JavaScript was largely infamous for being slow. But since then, it has come a long way with significant performance improvements. JavaScript’s performance stems up based on how the code is being used. For instance, reducing unnecessary steps and features to boost the runtime performance for reusable code.

Further, there is a pool of amazing libraries and frameworks such as ReactJS for frontend development and NodeJS for backend development to increase the performance and usability of JavaScript. Also, being platform-independent, JavaScript helps cut down on the time to rewrite applications for different platforms.

TypeScript’s performance, on the other hand, is seen during the coding time. Since the language doesn’t run by itself, it has to be compiled in JavaScript. So, the performance of TypeScript actually depends on the performance of JavaScript.

Popularity

The winner is clearly JavaScript. JavaScript is one of the oldest languages still relevant and popular today. Also, it is one of the core technologies used in the World Wide Web besides HTML and CSS. Its popularity can be seen in its usage by the majority of big brands such as Netflix, YouTube, Google Docs, and also in computing devices such as Android, iPhone, Windows, etc.

The world has become too dependent on JavaScript. To give you an idea about its popularity, there are close to 1.9 billion websites in the world, and JavaScript is used in over 95% of all those websites. Today, the language has not just remained as the client-side technology to create engaging and interactive web pages and interfaces but also ventured into server-side programming, making it versatile and valuable.

As per the Octoverse, TypeScript stands at the fourth position for most popular languages over the years, where JavaScript rules at first. Also, the same is displayed in the Stack Overflow survey, where TypeScript came second, beaten only by Rust. This is no wonder because TypeScript resolves many JavaScript problems. However, TypeScript won’t reach a level to replace JavaScript completely. It can compete with JS but not beat it in terms of popularity.

Project Scale

The optimal project scale is another crucial factor to decide which stack is better. JavaScript was originally designed for small-scale applications and projects as it is a lightweight and cross-platform language. But today, JavaScript and frameworks based on the language are used for some of the advanced and complex frontend development projects.

TypeScript is not so lightweight and partially cross-platform language, so implementing it for small-scale applications is pointless. It has an intuitive ecosystem used for large projects with complex workflows where a great amount of coding is required. Static typing and OOP make the TS code clear and well documented.

JavaScript’s dynamic typing saves time on development, making it more beneficial and suitable for small-scale projects. Further, the JS is not required to be compiled or translated as in the case of TS, which saves additional time and offers a better user experience to end-users.

Conclusion

The answer to the question which stack is better out of JavaScript and TypeScript for frontend development depends on the performance, project scale, and community support required. In many areas, JavaScript has the upper hand, and in a few, TypeScript races ahead. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses and choosing one to develop the frontend of your applications requires your own preference.

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