Cool TypeScript 3.7 things

November 06, 2019 • ☕️ 2 min read

What a great day - it’s not raining in London and there’s a new version of TypeScript out - 🎉 - let’s talk about some of the neat stuff in it!

Note: most of the knowledge in this post can be acquired by digesting the changelog for this release. I just thought I’d give my own summary as it may be easier to consume.

TypeScript 3.7 (I suggest you give this a quick flick through) has given us a super rad set of features/changes. I thought I’d pick a few of the things that I think are going to improve the quality of life for everyone and give a breakdown with code examples to illustrate their usefulness.

Spoiler: a class of annoying boilerplate is removed

Optional Chaining

Let’s look at some code that we see frequently

if (foo && foo.bar && foo.bar.baz) {
  console.log(`This sucks!`);

We all have written code like this and we all hate it… fortunately, optional chaining eliminates this (be careful, though - more on this in a second!). We can now do this:

if (foo?.bar?.baz) {
  console.log(`Now we're cooking with gas!`);

I can hear you breathing a sigh of relief from here… not having to write that sort of code again is a rather cathartic feeling.

We can also use optional chaining for array access and calling functions.

Array access:

const result = someArray?.[0];

console.log(`Result: ${result}`); // Will be the value of the array element if someArray exists, else undefined.

Calling functions (code lifted from release notes):

async function makeRequest(url: string, log?: (msg: string) => void) {
  log?.(`Request started at ${new Date().toISOString()}`);

  const result = (await fetch(url)).json();

  log?.(`Request finished at at ${new Date().toISOString()}`);

  return result;

There are some gotchas with this, though…

  1. Optional chaining doesn’t short circuit, so if you have a line of code such as:
let result = foo?.bar / someFunctionCall();

It doesn’t stop someFunctionCall from being invoked, meaning you may try divide undefined by whatever someFunctionCall returns which isn’t ideal. This is why it’s recommended you have strictNullChecks enabled.

  1. The two following lines may look equivalent, but are not:
foo && (await foo());


await foo?.();

The first snippet will short circuit and not call foo() if it isn’t defined, whereas the second snippet will wrap the undefined case into a promise and return that.

  1. When matching regular expressions, null is returned, not undefined, which makes the two following lines non-equivalent:
const match = someString.match(/someRegex/);
return match && match[1];


const match = someString.match(/someRegex/);
return match?.[1];

To rewrite the first snippet using optional chaining, you’d also need to use the nullish coalescing operator (see the next section for a full explanation of this operator - for now you can think of it as a ‘fallback’ operator):

const match = someString.match(/someRegex/);
return match?.[1] ?? null;

Nullish Coalescing

The nullish coalescing operator (or fallback operate, as I like to say in my head when reading code) is another sweet addition to TypeScript 3.7. In essence, it allows us to say “use this value if it is present, else do something else.

Without the fallback operator, to achieve this sort of behaviour, we’d have to write something like (code shamelessly stolen again from the 3.7 release notes):

let x = foo !== null && foo !== undefined ? foo : bar();

We can now rewrite the above as:

let x = foo ?? bar();

🙏 Sweet merciful lord that is so much nicer 🙏

This operator also now allows us to avoid subtle bugs, too. Before, a common thing I would see in code would be:

const x: number | string = y || 100;

Which works for most cases but falls over at the fact that if y is 0 or '', the fallback value will be used, despite 0 or '' potentially being valid values. We can now safely rewrite it as:

const x: number | string = y ?? 100;


Uncalled Function Checks

The last neat thing I wanted to pick out of this release are uncalled function checks. Suppose you have the following code:

interface User {
  isAdmin(): boolean;
  doSomethingDangerous(): void;

function foo(user: User) {
  if (user.isAdmin) {

We have a bug: user.isAdmin is always true because the function is defined, therefore we will always invoked doSomethingDangerous()!

Uh oh 🙀

Fortunately, this will now error in 3.7:

// error! This condition will always return true since the function is always defined.
//  Did you mean to call it instead?

All of the features and improvements in TypeScript 3.7 are pretty neato burrito 🌯

I’m super excited to use them all at length and you should be too!


The (not so witty) ramblings of an Australian developer.
Written by Dave Cooper