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Babel vs CoffeeScript: What are the differences?

Developers describe Babel as "Use next generation JavaScript, today". Babel will turn your ES6+ code into ES5 friendly code, so you can start using it right now without waiting for browser support. On the other hand, CoffeeScript is detailed as "Unfancy JavaScript". CoffeeScript is a little language that compiles into JavaScript. Underneath that awkward Java-esque patina, JavaScript has always had a gorgeous heart. CoffeeScript is an attempt to expose the good parts of JavaScript in a simple way.

Babel and CoffeeScript are primarily classified as "JavaScript Compilers" and "Languages" tools respectively.

"Modern Javascript works with all browsers", "Open source" and "Integration with lots of tools" are the key factors why developers consider Babel; whereas "Easy to read", "Faster to write" and "Syntactic sugar" are the primary reasons why CoffeeScript is favored.

Babel and CoffeeScript are both open source tools. Babel with 33.8K GitHub stars and 3.6K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than CoffeeScript with 15.2K GitHub stars and 1.99K GitHub forks.

According to the StackShare community, Babel has a broader approval, being mentioned in 902 company stacks & 688 developers stacks; compared to CoffeeScript, which is listed in 364 company stacks and 170 developer stacks.

What is Babel?

Babel will turn your ES6+ code into ES5 friendly code, so you can start using it right now without waiting for browser support.

What is CoffeeScript?

It adds syntactic sugar inspired by Ruby, Python and Haskell in an effort to enhance JavaScript's brevity and readability. Specific additional features include list comprehension and de-structuring assignment.
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    What are some alternatives to Babel and CoffeeScript?
    Webpack
    A bundler for javascript and friends. Packs many modules into a few bundled assets. Code Splitting allows to load parts for the application on demand. Through "loaders" modules can be CommonJs, AMD, ES6 modules, CSS, Images, JSON, Coffeescript, LESS, ... and your custom stuff.
    TypeScript
    TypeScript is a language for application-scale JavaScript development. It's a typed superset of JavaScript that compiles to plain JavaScript.
    ESLint
    A pluggable and configurable linter tool for identifying and reporting on patterns in JavaScript. Maintain your code quality with ease.
    Modernizr
    It’s a collection of superfast tests or detects as we like to call them which run as your web page loads, then you can use the results to tailor the experience to the user. It tells you what HTML, CSS and JavaScript features the user’s browser has to offer.
    Scala.js
    It is a safer way to build robust front-end web applications. With it, typos and type-errors are immediately caught and shown to you in your editor, without even needing to compile your code. Refactor any field or method with ease, with the confidence that if you mess it up the editor will tell you immediately
    See all alternatives
    Decisions about Babel and CoffeeScript
    Jake Stein
    Jake Stein
    CEO at Stitch · | 15 upvotes · 120.9K views
    atStitchStitch
    AngularJS
    AngularJS
    React
    React
    CoffeeScript
    CoffeeScript
    JavaScript
    JavaScript
    ES6
    ES6

    Stitch’s frontend is used to configure data sources and destinations and monitor the status of each. Although we have been using AngularJS since its early days, we recently introduced React components into our front end, which many of our developers find easier to work with. We started using CoffeeScript when it was one of the few options for a more expressive alternative to vanilla JavaScript, but today we opt to instead write new code in ES6, which we feel is a more mature alternative.

    See more
    Eli Hooten
    Eli Hooten
    CTO at Codecov · | 13 upvotes · 70.2K views
    atCodecovCodecov
    TypeScript
    TypeScript
    JavaScript
    JavaScript
    CoffeeScript
    CoffeeScript
    Vue.js
    Vue.js
    Visual Studio Code
    Visual Studio Code

    We chose TypeScript at Codecov when undergoing a recent rewrite of a legacy front end. Our previous front end was a mishmash of vanilla JavaScript and CoffeeScript , and was expanded upon haphazardly as the need arose. Without a unifying set of paradigms and patterns, the CoffeeScript and JavaScript setup was proving hard to maintain and expand upon by an engineering team. During a move to Vue.js , we decided to also make the move to TypeScript. Integrating TypeScript and Vue.js is fairly well understood at this point, so the setup wasn't all that difficult, and we felt that the benefits of incorporating TypeScript would outweigh the required time to set it up and get our engineering team up to speed.

    Choosing to add TypeScript has given us one more layer to rely on to help enforce code quality, good standards, and best practices within our engineering organization. One of the biggest benefits for us as an engineering team has been how well our IDEs and editors (e.g., Visual Studio Code ) integrate with and understand TypeScript . This allows developers to catch many more errors at development time instead of relying on run time. The end result is safer (from a type perspective) code and a more efficient coding experience that helps to catch and remove errors with less developer effort.

    See more
    Gustavo Muñoz
    Gustavo Muñoz
    Web UI Developer at Globant · | 2 upvotes · 6.2K views
    Angular 2
    Angular 2
    TypeScript
    TypeScript
    React
    React
    Flow (JS)
    Flow (JS)
    JavaScript
    JavaScript
    CoffeeScript
    CoffeeScript
    #Angular
    #ECMA

    Long ago when Angular 2 evolved I had to decide between the new #Angular and TypeScript or React. I really love typing my code, but forced to use TypeScript was a bit too much. I prefer the new #ECMA standard and the evolution of the old and reliable JavaScript. So finding Flow (JS) was an incredible milestone in my career as a developer. Finally, I could use types in my code, and JavaScript with the new standard. I already had the experience of CoffeeScript, so TypeScript was not an option.

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    Robert Zuber
    Robert Zuber
    CTO at CircleCI · | 4 upvotes · 11.5K views
    atCircleCICircleCI
    CoffeeScript
    CoffeeScript
    Hubot
    Hubot
    Go
    Go
    Slack
    Slack

    We have added very little to the CoffeeScript Hubot application – just enough to allow it to talk to our Hubot workers. The Hubot workers implement our operational management functionality and expose it to Hubot so we can get chat integration for free. We’ve also tailored the authentication and authorization code of Hubot to meet the needs of roles within our team.

    For larger tasks, we’ve got an internal #CLI written in Go that talks to the same #API as Hubot, giving access to the same functionality we have in Slack, with the addition of scripting, piping, and all of our favorite #Unix tools. When the Hubot worker recognizes the CLI is in use, it logs the commands to Slack to maintain visibility of operational changes.

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    TypeScript
    TypeScript
    CoffeeScript
    CoffeeScript
    JavaScript
    JavaScript
    Flow (JS)
    Flow (JS)

    From a StackShare community member: "We are looking to rewrite our outdated front-end with TypeScript. Right now we have a mix of CoffeeScript and vanilla JavaScript. I have read that adopting TypeScript can help enforce better code quality, and best practices. I also heard good things about Flow (JS). Which one would you recommend and why?"

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    Interest over time
    Reviews of Babel and CoffeeScript
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    How developers use Babel and CoffeeScript
    Avatar of Cloudcraft
    Cloudcraft uses BabelBabel

    Babel is awesome! 100% of the code for Cloudcraft.co is transpiled from ES2015 (even some ES7 extensions, like decorators and class properties!), using Gulp+Browserify for the frontend and on-the-fly translation in the Node.js backend. Babel allows us to use all the features of future JS, today, giving us a efficient and clean codebase. Overall, it has been an exceptionally smooth adoption, everything Just Works(tm), including debugging with source maps, etc.

    Avatar of Volkan Özçelik
    Volkan Özçelik uses BabelBabel

    When you are using modern (or sometimes experimental) features of the language, you’ll eventually have to transpile them so that your app works in a wide spectrum of user agents.

    Babel is the transpilation tool of my choice.

    Avatar of Kent Steiner
    Kent Steiner uses BabelBabel

    I use babel so I can confidently move forward using ES6 and other more modern Javascript concepts and libraries in development and still maintain compatibility with the current state of web browsers and other viewports.

    Avatar of Mick Dekkers
    Mick Dekkers uses BabelBabel

    Babel transpiles ES6/ES2015+ code to a format older browsers (*cough* IE *cough*) can understand. This allows developers to write modern JS code while remaining compatible with older systems.

    Avatar of Marc3842h
    Marc3842h uses BabelBabel

    Babel is used in Kuro (https://github.com/Marc3842h/kuro).

    Kuro is the browser facing portion of shiro. We use Babel as a easy to use build system for our frontend stack.

    Avatar of Oomba
    Oomba uses CoffeeScriptCoffeeScript

    All of our Javascript code is first written in CoffeeScript for ease of reading / writing. It is compiled to Javascript before being minified and served to the client.

    Avatar of opening.io
    opening.io uses CoffeeScriptCoffeeScript

    All front-end / back-end is driven by Coffeescript. For the main ReactJS functionality JSX is embedded with coffee in .cjsx files / handled by Browserify.

    Avatar of Jeff Flynn
    Jeff Flynn uses CoffeeScriptCoffeeScript

    We like CoffeeScript because it's more readable, we use it because we have a lot of libraries and functions already (plays nicely with Rails, too)

    Avatar of Chris Hartwig
    Chris Hartwig uses CoffeeScriptCoffeeScript

    All our code is CoffeeScript, blending seemlessly in our JS stack

    Avatar of Publitory
    Publitory uses CoffeeScriptCoffeeScript

    Javascript is a hell. We use coffeescript for its readability.

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