Jacob Tan
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Jacob Tan's blog

Use TypeScript

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Use TypeScript

Jacob Tan's photo
Jacob Tan
·Aug 27, 2022·

3 min read

Table of contents

  • Past experience
  • Why Typescript now?

Recently, I tweeted this.

Starting to see the benefits of ts

— Jacob Tan (@jacobtyq) August 26, 2022

And friends on twitter started pouring in praises for the strongly typed language, with one saying "Once you taste TS, you never go back". I agree, it's like a popular beverage, best enjoyed in the purest form.

Another asked "What are the benefits that I am appreciating now. Was it previously unknown? Or previously underrated? Would it have helped your previous env or applies to current env?"

This post is to answer that very question.

Past experience

I have experienced TypeScript before, back in a previous project Jobsgowhere. I was my first time experiencing this new tool, and there were a lot of questions in my head. For example, why do we need to set up types / interfaces? Why do we need to know the shape of the values beforehand? What is this generic?

Coming from the dynamic wild west of JavaScript, it felt cumbersome. I was used to building functions and components that didn't require checking.

Why Typescript now?

To be fair, it wasn't a choice I made to switch to TypeScript. My team had grown and we have another developer to help with the project I'm working on. They suggested we migrate to TypeScript and I knew it's now or never.

When the project first started, I wanted to implement TypeScript. Given I wasn't confident that I would be able to build at a comfortable pace if we were to use Typescript (a.k.a not get fired) as I was only FE developer then, I shelved the idea.

Seeing the benefits

I started to see TypeScript benefits when I was building a new component. It was a simple component used to display a rank and it looked like this.

rank.png

This takes in a number (e.g. 3) and displays it as #3 with the appropriate styles. Simple right?

I looked at the Figma file and realised I needed to add a zero to the rank if it was less than 10 (e.g. #03). Ok, let's fix that.

newRank.png

This is when VSCode hits me with this error

padStart.png

And it was at this moment, I saw the benefits. I knew why we had to declare a type. If it was in JavaScript land, I would not have known what or why it was wrong.

With TypeScript, I knew exactly how to fix it and why there were errors

  1. We need to convert newRank into either a string or a number type
  2. Because padStart() is a String method
  3. And if the rank is > 10, it would remain as a number type

fixed.png

I was convinced.

To answer the question posted by my friend; Would I go back and tell my past self to use TypeScript? Definitely. Would I have tried to convince him to switch to TypeScript earlier? For sure.

However, I needed that magically moment in time where everything clicked, and that was something that couldn't be rushed.

I am still relevantly new to the world of TypeScript, and I hope it will get better.

 
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