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Flow vs TypeScript: What are the differences?
What is Flow? Simple project and task management for busy teams. Flow is an online collaboration platform that makes it easy for people to create, organize, discuss, and accomplish tasks with anyone, anytime, anywhere. By merging a sleek, intuitive interface with powerful functionality, we're out to revolutionize the way the world's productive teams get things done.
Flow belongs to "Project Management" category of the tech stack, while TypeScript can be primarily classified under "Templating Languages & Extensions".
TypeScript is an open source tool with 51.2K GitHub stars and 7.07K GitHub forks. Here's a link to TypeScript's open source repository on GitHub.
According to the StackShare community, TypeScript has a broader approval, being mentioned in 982 company stacks & 1455 developers stacks; compared to Flow, which is listed in 7 company stacks and 3 developer stacks.
I use TypeScript because:
- incredible developer tooling and community support
- actively developed and supported by Microsoft (yes, I like Microsoft) ;)
- easier to make sense of a TS codebase because the annotations provide so much more context than plain JS
- refactors become easier (VSCode has superb support for TS)
I've switched back and forth between TS and Flow and decided a year ago to abandon Flow completely in favor of TS. I don't want to bash Flow, however, my main grievances are very poor tooling (editor integration leaves much to be desired), a slower release cycle, and subpar docs and community support.
I use TypeScript because the tooling is more mature (the decision to discontinue TSLint in favor of moving all its checks to ESLint is a thoughtful and mature decision), there's a ton of examples and tutorials for it, and it just generally seems to be where the industry is headed. Flow (JS) is a fine tool, but it just hasn't seen the uptake that TS has, and as a result is lacking a lot of the nicer small things, like thorough Visual Studio Code integration, offered by TS.
Since we're migrating the codebase to TypeScript , we'll likely end up removing most usage of it and ultimately no longer needing it, but we've been very happy with the library.
We currently use TypeScript at work. Previously we used Flow (JS) but it was sometimes really difficult to make the types work the way you want. Especially non-trivial types were problematic. And the IDE support wasn't good, Flow took too much resources and sometimes remain stuck and do not show errors (I use Visual Studio Code). With TypeScript we almost do not have these problems. IDE support is superb, working with types is much easier and typing system seems more mature and powerful. There are some downsides (like partion inheritance etc.), but TS team is still pushing it forward. So for me TypeScript is clear winner.
I use TypeScript for Web Applications and for both frontend and backend because it has a lot of tooling around it and they really got the types and type safety right. Flow (JS) on the other hand lacks tooling and most of the times I scramble to find the right way of building my contracts in which TypeScript is very intuitive and natural. Additionally TypeScript is very similar to Java so your backend engineers and full stack engineers can work with it without much of context switch.
The only time I think Flow shines is (based on probably my outdated knowledge) Flow is/was the only option if you want/wanted to build a React Native application mainly because React Native transpiler at the time I was working with it would only work with flow.
I use TypeScript because it's adoption by many developers, it's supported by many companies, and it's growth. AngularJS, React, @ASP.NET Core. I started using it in .NET Core, then for a job. Later I added more Angular experience and wrote more React software. It makes your code easier to understand and read... which means it makes other people's code easier to understand and read.
I use TypeScript because I tried both on a Meteor project, and found the quantity of errors it enabled us to catch and the simplification of code it allowed was higher than Flow (JS).
I use TypeScript because of broad support, on tools, repos, community ... the only reason to consider flow is if you're a facebook employee
I use TypeScript because i love to program in Angular and used in node as well
I recommend TypeScript. When used correctly, TypeScript can enable your application to be scalable, easy to refactor, safe, and stable. One of the biggest draws of working with any typed language is that it forces you to think about your functions' inputs and outputs. This is invaluable as it can lead to more declarative, functional style code that ultimately can be easier to reason about.
TypeScript is however not a silver bullet. Just like anything new it takes time to fully understand the concepts of types, interfaces, abstract classes, and enums. In my experience engineers who excel when using TypeScript are those who have experience working with a statically typed language.
As our codebase grew in size, we were looking for ways to improve code quality. We chose TypeScript over Flow due to its rapid industry adoption and overall tools support.
We noticed how different open-source projects were migrating from Flow to TypeScript. Most notably, it was Jest, even though Jest and Flow were both developed by Facebook. See this HN thread if you want to dive into an interesting discussion around this move.
Additionally, at the beginning of 2019, both Babel and ESLint enabled seamless TypeScript support, which allowed easy migration path in a backward-compatible way.
Initially making a decision to use Flow vs Typescript we decided to go with flow as we wanted our code to run in a way we wrote it, because when using Flow types are simply removed from the code without modifying the code itself. Sadly, the type system of Flow was in some cases very hard to understand and declare the types correctly, especially in cases when the structure is very dynamic (e.g. object keys and values are created dynamically). Another reason was bad integration with IDE and frequent crashes which made DX very poor. Therefore, we made another evaluation of Typescript and decided to move towards it. As our code base was pretty big when we decided to migrate to TS we couldn't just stop and re-write everything, that's why we started writing new modules in Typescript as well as transforming old components. To make that possible we had to configure Webpack loader to support simultaneous bundling of Flow&JS and Typescript. After around 2 months of the transformation we have around 40% of code being written in Typescript and we are more than happy with integration TS has with IDE, as well as ease of declaring types for dynamic modules and functions.
Pros of Flow
- Great for collaboration6
- Easy to use6
Pros of TypeScript
- Type safe103
- The best AltJS ever47
- Best AltJS for BackEnd27
- Powerful type system, including generics & JS features15
- Nice and seamless hybrid of static and dynamic typing11
- Aligned with ES development for compatibility10
- Compile time errors10
- Structural, rather than nominal, subtyping7
- Garbage collection1
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Cons of Flow
Cons of TypeScript
- Code may look heavy and confusing5
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What is TypeScript?
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