CoffeeScript vs JavaScript

Even though JavaScript is currently one of the most used programming languages in the world, mainly because it is one of the three core technologies that make up World Wide Web content production, you may have heard quite a lot about CoffeeScript. Maybe some experienced programmers have suggested you to learn CoffeeScript instead, due to the advantages offered over JavaScript. So, what are actually the differences between CoffeeScript and JavaScript? How much different are they from one another? Should you learn CoffeeScript or JavaScript? Continue reading below to find your answer!

About CoffeeScript and JavaScript
If you are interested in learning web development, you will eventually need to learn some JavaScript because it is used along with HTML and CSS as the core technologies of the web. JavaScript, developed in 1995, is a high-level, dynamic, object-based, multi-paradigm programming language. Well, even though it is very popularly used, it is not without its problems. Learning JavaScript can be quite difficult and confusing at first for some reasons. The noisy syntax involves lots of curly braces and semicolons and function keywords. It uses prototype inheritance instead of class-based object orientation. It has somehow strange type coercion and strange equality testing results using ==, ===, !=, and !==. (Read also : JavaScript vs Ruby)

Thus, CoffeeScript was developed in 2009. It is a programming language that transcompiles into JavaScript. It adds ‘syntactic sugar’ to enhance the brevity and readability. In other words, CoffeeScript is a precompiled language that aims to eliminate JavaScript’s nastiness awkwardness often faced by programmers, but still translates the code into JavaScript behind the scene. CoffeeScript is inspired from Ruby, Python, and Haskell.

Syntactic Differences
In general, CoffeeScript’s syntax is indeed a lot cleaner and more readable than JavaScript. The simpler syntax can also increase the programmer’s productivity because there is less code to write and read in any given program. You can make function and lambda definitions quickly and easily.

In JavaScript, there are multiple possible ways to make class definitions. This can be a powerful feature for some, but also can also cause confusion. CoffeeScript, on the other hand, has a straightforward way for class definitions.

Additionally, in JavaScript, white-space is not syntactically significant. CoffeeScript borrows the characteristic of Python by making white-space syntactically significant, indicating the block of code. You can say that JavaScript is more similar to C, whereas CoffeeScript is more similar to Ruby and Python. If you hate Ruby/Python, you will not enjoy CoffeeScript.

Should You Learn JavaScript before CoffeeScript?
If learning CoffeeScript is your primary goal, you can learn it straight away. You can start learning writing in CoffeeScript now. You still have to expect to learn some JavaScript down the road, and there is actually a lot about JavaScript that you will need to learn. However, a total mastery over JavaScript is not required to start learning CoffeeScript. In fact, by learning CoffeeScript first, you will learn more about good habits and principles that you can apply when coding in JavaScript later.

- Simpler, cleaner code- Relatively more difficult syntax
- Whitespace is syntactically significant- Whitespace is not syntactically significant
- Straightforward class definitions- Various ways for class definitions
- More similar to Ruby and Python- More similar to C

CoffeeScript is very different from JavaScript, though it transcomplies into the latter anyway. CoffeeScript offers much more readable code and clear class definitions. You can learn CoffeeScript first and JavaScript as you go. However, you will need to learn some JavaScript too nonetheless. If you hate Ruby/Python-like languages or CoffeeScript is not your primary goal, you can focus solely on JavaScript.

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