Industry insights

Typescript Anyone?

Typescript Anyone?

There is a new language on the block. It’s from one of the most prolific language gurus of our time, Anders Hejlsberg. Yes, the list of languages that many of us have used were created by him, it’s really impressive. Anders is a Danish Computer Software Engineer who started his career by creating a Pascal compiler that eventually became Turbo Pascal. He later joined Borland and was the Chief Architect of the team that developed Delphi. When Borland started to falter he joined Microsoft.

This was at a critical juncture in the history of computer languages. Java was created by James Gosling in 1994. In the late 1990’s, Microsoft wanted to evolve the Java language and after being blocked to influence the language, chose to go their own separate way with C#. This lead to years of comparisons and competition between two fundamentally similar languages C# and Java.

In 2012, Hejlsberg announced a new project called TypeScript. This was to look at addressing the shortcoming of the JavaScript language that has become ubiquitous due to the adoption of client side web development. Hejlsberg recognised although JavaScript, a language that had been developed by Brendan Eich in 3 weeks in 1995 by the Netscape team, it was not well suited to enterprise solutions as it did not have a type system. It was therefore prone to simple spelling mistakes and being a runtime scripting language, many of these errors are only picked up at runtime. This has led to much of the difficulty of building full transactional systems that run in a web browser. TypeScript is a language that applies strong type checking and more advanced language constructs. TypeScript simply trans-compiles itself back to Javascript using Node. In this way, TypeScript can still support many of the oldest browsers while developers work in a modern type safe language.

Paralled to this, Google has been busy with a new version of their popular solution to build web apps called Angular. We were about to have a repeat of the Java, C# episode that happened in early 2000’s. The Google Angular team were going to build their own Javascript language enhancement called AtScript or @Script. This was to address the shortcomings of JavaScript. At their Angular conference, Google announced AtScript and was trying to convince the early adopters to embrace the new language. However, at the same conference they were introduced to TypeScript since TypeScript and Angular are open source projects, the Angular team recognised that TypeScript was the solution to their Javascript concerns. The team from Microsoft and Google worked together to incorporate the features of AtScript in TypeScript 1.5 and Google ended up dropping AtScript entirely. Angular 2.0 will allow web developers to build solutions in TypeScript with compile time type checking and the strong ability to unit test.

It’s great to see what good solutions are built when giants collaborate rather than compete. What are you waiting for? Go try out the tutorial on Angular 2.0 and learn some TypeScript for yourself.

What’s next? We’re ready!