Don’t Use Typescript Enums

Typescript Programming

As a developer who has worked extensively with TypeScript, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on the use of enums in this language. Enums, while a convenient way to define a set of named constants, can often lead to more problems than they solve. In this article, I will delve deep into the reasons why I believe it’s best to avoid using TypeScript enums.

What are Enums?

Enums in TypeScript allow us to define a set of named constants. They are handy when we want to represent a fixed set of values that are mutually exclusive. For example, if we have a set of colors like “red”, “green”, and “blue”, we can define an enum like this:

enum Color {

Enums can also be assigned explicit values:

enum Color {
Red = 1,
Green = 2,
Blue = 3

The Pitfalls of Enums

While enums may seem like a convenient choice at first glance, there are several drawbacks that developers should be aware of:

1. Lack of Type Safety

Enums in TypeScript are not fully type-safe. This means that any numeric value can be assigned to an enum, even if it doesn’t correspond to a valid enum member. For example, the following code will compile without any errors:

let color: Color = 4;

This lack of type safety can lead to bugs that are difficult to track down, especially in larger codebases.

2. Enum Members as Magic Numbers

Enums often lead to the use of magic numbers in code. Magic numbers are hard-coded numeric values that lack context and make the code less readable and maintainable. For example, consider the following code:

if (color === Color.Red) {
// Do something

In this example, the value Color.Red is a magic number that lacks any meaningful context. It becomes harder to understand the code as it grows in complexity.

3. Increased Coupling

Enums introduce a tight coupling between different parts of the codebase. If we change the values or order of an enum, it can break dependencies in other parts of the code that rely on those enum values. This tight coupling makes refactoring more challenging and can result in brittle code.

4. Limited Extensibility

Enums in TypeScript cannot be extended or modified after they are defined. This lack of extensibility can be a limitation in scenarios where we need to add or remove members from an enum dynamically at runtime.

Alternatives to Enums

Instead of using enums, there are alternative approaches that can address the drawbacks mentioned above:

1. Union Types

Union types allow us to create a type that can represent multiple possible values. By using union types, we can achieve type safety without relying on enums. For example:

type Color = "Red" | "Green" | "Blue";

Using union types not only provides better type safety but also eliminates the need for magic numbers and reduces coupling between parts of the codebase.

2. Constants or Readonly Variables

Another alternative is to use constants or readonly variables to represent a set of named values. This approach provides type safety, flexibility, and avoids the drawbacks associated with enums. For example:

const Red = "Red";
const Green = "Green";
const Blue = "Blue";

By using constants or readonly variables, we can achieve the same level of type safety as enums while maintaining the flexibility to modify or extend the values at runtime.

A Final Thought

While TypeScript enums may seem like a convenient choice for representing a fixed set of values, they can introduce several problems in larger codebases. Lack of type safety, use of magic numbers, increased coupling, and limited extensibility are some of the drawbacks that should be considered.


It is worth exploring alternative approaches such as union types or constants/readonly variables to achieve better type safety, maintainability, and extensibility in our TypeScript code. By avoiding the use of enums, we can write code that is more flexible, readable, and easier to maintain in the long run.