In contrast to other options, Scala.js is a compiler plugin for an already existing and mature language: Scala. As such, it benefits automatically from the existing compiler, from the language design choices made for Scala, which exists and is established in the industry since years.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Implements a mature language
In contrast to other options, Scala.js is a compiler plugin for an already existing and mature language: Scala.
As such, it benefits automatically from the existing compiler, from the language design choices made for Scala, which exists and is established in the industry since years.
Pro Immutable values
The immutable values make it perfect for working with concurrency.
Scala supports both Functional and Object Oriented styles of programming. Beginners can learn both paradigms without having to learn a new language, and experts can switch between the two according to what best suits their needs at the time.
Pro Type inference
Scala offers type inference, which, while giving the same safety as Java's type system, allows programmers to focus on the code itself, rather than on updating type annotations.
Pro Extensive standard libraries
Scala.js implements most of the Scala standard library and many parts of the Java one. Among others, it supports Scala's rich collection library.
Pro Dead-code elimination
Scala.js performs dead-code elimination out of the box (when running in the "fullOpts" mode).
Pro The strength of Scala on the server
The strength of Scala (JVM) on the server can not be underestimated, and is probably superior to any other choice listed here (where applicable; many have no server-side equivalent).
Being able to use such a powerful language (and ecosystem) on the server AND on the client, and sharing code between the two, is a big advantage.
Because Scala.js is a plugin to the Scala compiler, the whole power of the Scala language is available at compile-time. Which includes macros. Very expressive things can be done, in a type-safe way, which are difficult or impossible in other languages.
Keeps your client and server sources in sync.
Pro Incremental compilation
Through SBT, Scala.js supports incremental compilation out of the box. That is: SBT automatically picks-up the changes (think "watch" in other tools) and only recompiles what is needed.
This makes the development cycle fast and very pleasant to work with.
Pro Excellent tooling (IDE) support
The same good and mature tooling that can be used for Scala can be used for Scala.js out of the box (code-completion, refactoring, immediate feedback, etc.).
Pro Strong static typing, null safe and flexible, almost dynamic type system
The compiler prevents you from using a potentially null variable, unless you check it is not null. Ie. it forces you to check a potentially null value before using it.
The type system is strict, but flexible, allowing union and intersection of types, covariant and contravariant types, reified types, etc.
Type inference and union types allows a dynamic programming style, close of JS spirit.
It brings type safety to JS, allowing to define interfaces to existing JS APIs, yet using the
dynamic keyword for flexible calls in the JS ecosystem.
Pro Excellent IDE support
Ceylon has reified generics, so it doesn't loose the type of collections at runtime. This makes autocompletion, debugging, etc. first-class. The Eclipse plugin makes it a full-fledged Ceylon IDE, and an IntelliJ IDEA plugin is in the works.
Pro Great tutorial
Gavin King, main author of the language, has a great, clear technical writing style, making understandable difficult concepts like variance or sound type system.
Pro Try it out in the browser
It has a Web IDE: http://try.ceylon-lang.org/ with impressive demos: http://try.ceylon-lang.org/?gist=bd41b47f325b6d32514a so you can try it without installing anything, and see the JS generation / interop in action.
Pro Excellent documentation
The language specification is very complete and up to date; also, the language module is very well documented.
Pro Easy to learn even if you don't have prior programming experience
Ceylon is indeed fairly easy and readable. Of course those ones who know OOP and a bit of functional programming concepts will feel almost at home right from the start.
Pro Generate HTML
HTML generation is supported right in the SDK.
Pro Same code in backend and frontend
Con Can be intimidating for beginners
Scala is an industrial language. It brings functional programming to the JVM. All books/tutorials cover friendly aspects of Scala, but there are corners of the language that one can wander into that are not friendly to beginners.
Con A complex language with a lot of incidental complexity that results in significant mental overhead
Con Combines OOP and functional programming for a hodge-podge paradigm
Its excellent mix of functional and OOP programming just like Python to use the tool best suited
Con Lack of physical or electronic books
We should hope Red Hat or anyone interested would take the time and write one. That would strengthen the maturity of the language, but Ceylon is rapidly developing which can make the author's efforts futile because his or hers work will become obsolete soon.
The second hindrance is, of course, popularity of the language which can't give much to the pockets of the author (however, Dart's unpopularity at start didn't prevent it to have a lot of printed material, but that's Google's child, we know).
Con Currently has large runtime
Ceylon 1.2 needs a language runtime of 1.55 MiB, and the Collection library adds another 370 KiB. That's a lot for the Web...
Now, this has to be put in perspective: if you use Ceylon to make a web application, these files will be loaded once, then cached by the browser (that's not casual browsing).
Moreover, most servers compress such resource, and the numbers become respectively 234 KiB and 54 KiB, which is more reasonable...