Advantages and disadvantages of TypeScript

Advantages and disadvantages of TypeScript

TypeScript is a free, open-source, high-level programming language introduced in 2012 by Microsoft. Every year, the language gains popularity and has remained in active development since its release. It is regarded as one of the top ten most sought-after programming languages and is closely related to JavaScript. It works with front-end frameworks like React, Vue, and Angular. 

It can also be used with Node.js for backend development. The language offers strong type checking, allowing developers to detect errors at compile time instead of runtime. It also has a large community and support, making it a reliable developer choice. In addition, TS can be transpiled into JavaScript, making it easy to deploy almost anywhere. 

While TypeScript has many benefits, including stronger typing, better readability of code, and static type checking, it also has drawbacks, including longer compilation times and more expensive development costs. Like any other programming language, it has its advantages and disadvantages. Read the article to learn more about it. 

What are the benefits?

The following are some of the advantages of TypeScript you should know about before using the language for your next project.

1. Optional static typing

TS supports optional strong static typing, which means that once a variable is declared, it will not change type and can only accept specific values. During the compile time, the compiler will alert the developers to any type-related errors so that they will not be detected during the runtime. So, the language offers you less error-prone code and better performance during execution.

  • Additionally, it mandates a more structured approach to coding. 
  • Code becomes self-documenting when explicit type annotations are used, facilitating developers’ understanding and maintenance. 
  • It, therefore, increases the productivity of the developer team.
  • It is noteworthy that TypeScript does not always require declaring types. 
  • Developers can alter the degree of type strictness in various parts of projects at will. 
  • This method helps you strike the ideal balance between correctness and flexibility, setting TS apart from other statically typed languages.

2. Comprehensive IDE support

Type information dramatically enhances the utility of editors and integrated development environments (IDEs). They can provide accurate suggestions with features like code navigation and autocompletion. Additionally, you receive feedback as you type: As soon as an error occurs, the editor highlights it, including type-related errors. All of this increases your productivity significantly and aids in the writing of maintainable code.

Microsoft Visual Studio is the most popular and user-friendly environment for TS, but many other IDEs also support it. Some of the other IDEs are WebStorm (the intelligent JavaScript IDE), Eclipse (an integrated IDE offering a plugin for TS development), Atom (a cross-platform text editor) and CATS (an open-source TS development environment).

3. Fast refactoring

The process of refactoring or updating the app without changing its behaviour, which is necessary to keep the codebase robust and maintainable, is made less painful by TypeScript. IDEs come pre-installed with navigation tools such as “find all references” and “go to definition” because they know much about your code.

In addition, many errors are detected automatically. For instance, TS will notify you of a problem if you rename a function and then forget to update the name somewhere. Refactoring becomes more accessible and faster, which is especially helpful when working with sizable chunks of the codebase.

4. Compatibility across browsers and platforms

TypeScript is compatible with all JavaScript-enabled devices, platforms, and browsers once the compiler converts it into vanilla JavaScript. An integrated TS compiler (TS compiler, tsc), which can be run from the command line, is typically included in IDEs and editors that support TS. By adding a configuration file named tsconfig.json to the appropriate root directory, TS enables the conversion of a portion of the codebase or the entire application at once.

5. Ecosystem and thriving community

The community surrounding the open-source language TypeScript is expanding steadily. Its popularity and Microsoft’s backing ensure the technology will be supported, and the TS community is always ready to assist. It also has a rich ecosystem of libraries and frameworks built specifically for it. 

Using the language, developers can access type definitions for pre-existing JavaScript libraries, among other tools and resources. The most widely used JavaScript libraries have an extra package containing types that enable TS compatibility. In addition, some libraries and frameworks were explicitly created for TS.

What are the drawbacks? 

Although there are many benefits to using TypeScript, there may also be some drawbacks. It includes the following:

1. Learning curve

When switching to TypeScript, there might be a learning curve for experienced developers with plain JavaScript. You will require knowledge of interfaces, type annotations, and other features unique to TS. But in the long run, it can result in better code quality and fewer bugs, so the effort is usually worthwhile.

2. Compile time

Before TypeScript code can be executed in a browser, it must be transpiled into JavaScript. Your development process takes longer when you take the extra step of compilation. However, modern build tools and continuous integration platforms can lessen this disadvantage. These platforms can automatically transpile TS code into JavaScript and bundle it with other assets that are ready for deployment. It makes TS an attractive choice for teams that need to deliver software quickly.

3. Smaller ecosystem

Despite having a growing community, TypeScript has a smaller ecosystem than JavaScript. Integrating third-party libraries with your TS project might be challenging if they have TS type definitions. However, some tools, such as the DefinitelyTyped repository, provide type definitions for many popular third-party libraries. It ensures that you can easily integrate them with your TS project.

4. Compatibility

Projects involving a legacy JavaScript codebase might not fit TypeScript best because they might need extensive refactoring. Furthermore, some developers might need help incorporating TS into existing build systems and tools. Thus, it is essential to consider the long-term implications of introducing TS into a project before deciding. Additionally, it is necessary to consider the team’s skill level and the availability of resources for migrating to TS.

Among the many advantages of TypeScript are its robust community, quick refactoring, and optional static typing. However, it has certain disadvantages, including a learning curve, longer compilation times, a more limited ecosystem, and possible compatibility problems. The choice to use TS ultimately comes down to your project’s needs and development objectives. Make an informed decision about whether TS is the best option for your upcoming project by carefully weighing the benefits and drawbacks discussed in this blog post.

Interesting Links:

What are the pros and cons of TypeScript?

Understanding TypeScript & its benefits and pitfalls

Pictures: Canva

The author: Sascha Thattil works at which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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