The Rise Of TypeScript: Will It Cause A Decline In JavaScript

As we look back at the developer population data collected and published in the most recent BlueOptima Global Benchmark (BGB) Report, one key trend we’ve found that is worth paying close attention to is the rise in the use of TypeScript.

JavaScript Still Leads But Trends Point To Change

JavaScript continues to dominate the software development market, representing 22% of the total effort delivered into the enterprises sampled in the benchmark in Q4 (01-01-2020 to 31-12-2020). Data sampled in the BGB found TypeScript, C-Sharp, JavaScript, and SQL— comprising 32% of the total Coding Effort delivered into enterprise software development estates —remain the dominant skills.

Additionally, the 2020 StackOverflow Developer survey found that JavaScript maintained, for the 8th year in a row and at 69.7%, the highest position in the rank of programming languages most commonly used by surveyed professional developers.

Although JavaScript was closely followed by HTML/CSS, SQL, and Python, it is notable that the StackOverflow data complements uptrend findings related to TypeScript from the BlueOptima BGB. TypeScript is the most commonly used programming language by 28.3% of professional developers— up from 23.5% in 2019 and 18.3% in 2018. 

(Source: 2020 Stackoverflow Developer Survey- https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2020#technology-web-frameworks-professional-developers2)

Our findings indicate that a noteworthy change is underway as the enterprise adoption of TypeScript appears not only to be growing but to be rapidly displacing JavaScript as the current leader. This is a uniquely marked trend of language adoption and preference in such a short period of time, which leads to a few crucial questions.

Why Is Javascript The Leader?

JavaScript is the current industry leader for several reasons. It is easy for developers at any level to learn because it doesn’t require a complex development environment or toolkit. In fact, seeing how JavaScript works is as simple as opening the Developer Tools console of any web browser and writing a simple program, hitting enter, and watching it work immediately.

In comparison to other programming languages, JavaScript is fairly flexible and has many libraries and frameworks that are easy to learn and build quickly upon.

The 2020 Stackoverflow Developer Survey found that the top three Web Frameworks used by surveyed professional developers were all JavaScript frameworks:

(Source: 2020 Stackoverflow Developer Survey- https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2020#technology-web-frameworks-professional-developers2)

JavaScript can run anywhere on all devices. The rise of JavaScript alongside mobile-first development has made it the easiest current solution for developers looking to learn a language that supports agile, rapid, and efficient development. 

Finally, JavaScript’s ability to meet the demands of rapid development while at the same time maximising the user-experience makes it a natural fit for mobile development platforms. This has allowed it to maintain the dominant language used by current professional developers.

What Is TypeScript?

TypeScript, a superset of JavaScript, was first introduced by Microsoft in 2012. According to Microsoft lead architect Anders Hejlsberg, TypeScript was developed to fix the shortcomings of JavaScript in the development of large-scale applications for Microsoft and some of their enterprise clients. Challenges arising from complex JavaScript code showed a need for custom tooling to ease the language development of components. 

TypeScript, a statically compiled language, was developed as a solution to write clearer, more simple JavaScript for enterprise-level applications. TypeScript has Interface, whereas JavaScript does not. Additionally, TypeScript is widely thought to be more readable, predictable and is notable for its ability to be refactored more quickly.

Why Is TypeScript On The Rise?

TypeScript is succeeding in part because of patterns and its optional, on-demand static typing function. TypeScript is buoyed by its ability to intermingle with a large existing codebase in JavaScript and its potential ability to make the resulting code safer.

By providing minimal checking syntax on top of JavaScript, TypeScript allows developers to type check their code, which can reveal bugs and generally improve the organisation and documentation of large JavaScript code bases.”

Mary Branscombe, The New Stackhttps://thenewstack.io/typescript-getting-popular/)

In comparison to other JavaScript linting tools, such as CoffeeScript, Typescript is relatively simple to learn. Types are optional, and every JavaScript file is also a valid TypeScript file, which makes it versatile and functional for the development of both frontend and backend applications.

How Will Typescript Affect Productivity On Development Teams?

A 2020 report by Monterail found that, from a business perspective, Typescript contributes to a higher level of efficiency as it has been found to reduce development time.

“Thanks to a 15% reduction in bugs across the board, most developers observe a corresponding reduction in development time, which, in turn, gives them more time to work on application logic and fix errors that can be detrimental to in-app performance and usability. TypeScript’s compiler also helps shorten the QA and testing process in later stages of development.”

Additionally, TypeScript integrates seamlessly with both frontend and backend frameworks, such as React, Vue, and Node.js. As such, it is expected that developers in enterprise-level jobs who have TypeScript experience will work more efficiently when solving otherwise complex problems with JavaScript.

As digital demand continues to grow, startups are maturing into enterprises, and the need for rapidly scalable web and mobile applications is increasing. Consequently, the necessity for simplified JavaScript solutions is also increasing. 

It makes sense, then, that the adoption of TypeScript is happening so rapidly. Hiring managers in need of enterprise-level software developers should keep an eye on the rise of TypeScript as more developers— frontend, backend and full-stack —are adding this tool to their stack.

*A note about the BlueOptima Global Benchmark Q4 2020 Global Report

The BlueOptima Global Benchmark (BGB) Report is published quarterly. Each report contains data collected over the 12 months prior to publishing. Our most recent BGB compares the Q3 2020 (01-10-2019 to 30-09-2020) data benchmarked with the Q4 2020 (01-01-2020 to 31-12-2020) findings. The data employed in this analysis represents an approximated 2% sampling of the global enterprise software developer population.

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