Is CoffeeScript worth learning in 2022?

A lot of technologies aim at simplifying existing tech, but end up adding a new layer of complexity. It makes them inefficient in terms of development costs and time. You can say this about some JavaScript abstractions, such as CoffeeScript. In this article you will find out if CoffeeScript language is deprecated as of 2022?

What is CoffeeScript?

CoffeeScript is a programming language created in the end of 2009 and was designed to simplify writing JavaScript code. It is achieved by implementing different syntax constructions from other languages like Haskell, Ruby and Python. Thanks to the process called transpilation, the compiler/transpiler converts CoffeeScript code into JavaScript.

Alert array of integer squares from 1 to 10
CoffeeScript is concise — JavaScript is verbose

As you can see from the example above, generating the list of squares of numbers from 1 to 10 is one line of code with CoffeeScript and a whole code snippet of generated JavaScript. Brevity made CoffeeScript popular among frontend developers.

“CoffeeScript is well done and more convenient to use than JS, provided you buy into the Python-esque significant space and the costs of generating JS from another source language. But semantically it’s still JS.”

Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript

Rise and fall of CoffeeScript

I used Google Trends tool to trace the history of CoffeeScript popularity. Turns out, it became very popular within the few month of its release.

CoffeeScript popularity exponentially grows till 2012 and then slowly falls
CoffeeScript “Interest over time” plot

CoffeeScript attracted a lot of developer attention till 2015. With this technology frontend development became easier. In 2015, ECMAScript, the JavaScript standard added a lot of new features to the language. It made CoffeeScript partly superfluous, so it started to fade away. For example, to alert the 1 to 10 squares you can write a single line of modern JavaScript:

alert(Array.from({length: 10}, (_, i) => (i+1)**2))

But writing it this way may confuse other developers.

Is CoffeeScript still needed in 2022?

You may wonder if it makes sense to use CoffeeScript in 2022. If you aim to write less code, you can give it a try. But in this case, the drawback is the development environment complexity — it increases. Also, CoffeeScript community is pretty small. It means that you are likely to find less information and support, which can be a problem at some point.

So I would say, no, you don’t need CoffeeScript anymore in 2022.

Conclusion — should you learn CoffeeScript?

If you are interested in different technologies and programming languages and do it for fun, then you can learn it. But if you are trying to find out, which technology is the future of web development, then the answer is certainly not CoffeeScript. It is not worth learning CoffeeScript in 2022. To become a more qualified frontend developer, you may be interested in, say, TypeScript instead.

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