Farewell ReScript


Programming languages play a crucial role in shaping the development process of software projects. As developers, we often find ourselves at crossroads, having to make decisions about which language to use for a particular project. As a front-end developer, the shift from ReScript, a language that instilled confidence with its unique features, to TypeScript, a more widely adopted but arguably less powerful language, was motivated by a delicate balance between individual confidence and community support.

ReScript, formerly known as BuckleScript, is a statically-typed functional programming language that compiles to JavaScript. Its type system is robust, providing developers with strong guarantees about their code's correctness. The language's syntax, very similar to modern JavaScript, is clean and expressive, making it a joy to work with. Additionally, ReScript is equipped with powerful features like pattern matching and algebraic data types, enabling developers to write concise and maintainable code.

Using ReScript had instilled in me a sense of confidence in my codebases. The strong type system caught many potential errors at compile-time, reducing the likelihood of JavaScript runtime issues. This confidence translated into increased productivity and at some point, faster development cycles. The ability to express complex ideas in a concise and readable manner added to the appeal of ReScript, making it a language that aligned with my programming philosophy.

My problem with ReScript

However, the Achilles' heel of ReScript is its small and niche community. While the community is passionate and supportive, the limited pool of developers meant fewer bindings, resources, and third-party integrations. Troubleshooting issues or finding solutions to specific problems often proved to be a challenging task. At some point in time, the lack of a large user base also translated to slower language evolution and fewer tools available for ReScript developers.

In contrast, TypeScript, a superset of JavaScript, has gained widespread adoption in the industry. Its gradual typing system provides a middle ground between the dynamically-typed nature of JavaScript and the statically-typed assurance of languages like ReScript. TypeScript's popularity ensures a vast and active community, resulting in a plethora of bindings, documentation, and community-driven tools.

In front-end development, it has been choosen by many frameworks and libraries as the default language. Even if React & React Native still rely on Flow (since it's widely used internally at Facebook/Meta), some huge projects like Next.js and Jest embraced it.

My decision to transition from ReScript to TypeScript was largely motivated by the desire for a more robust user base. The TypeScript community is vast and diverse, providing an extensive knowledge base and a wealth of resources. This rich ecosystem facilitates easier problem-solving, so somehow, faster development, and a smoother onboarding process for new team members, which is a crucial factor when working in a team.

Choosing TypeScript also aligns with industry standards, as many large-scale projects and organizations prefer or mandate its use. This widespread adoption ensures compatibility with a variety of tools, frameworks, and services. Integration with existing projects and collaboration with other developers become more seamless, contributing to a smoother development experience.

In the journey from ReScript to TypeScript, my decision was not a dismissal of ReScript's strengths but rather a calculated move to balance individual confidence with a more expansive support system. This shift reflects the practical considerations I faced when choosing tools for my projects. While ReScript brought a sense of superheroic confidence, the broader community support and industry alignment of TypeScript proved essential for navigating the complex landscape of modern software development.

So as of today, when starting a project, I will prefer TypeScript over ReScript. But I will still keep an eye on ReScript, and I hope to see it grow in the future.

I love ReScript, and I'm grateful for the time I spent with it. I'm also grateful for the community, which is one of the most welcoming and supportive I've ever seen. I'm sure I'll come back to it in the future, but for now, I'm saying goodbye to ReScript as my main language.