Another Look at JavaScript

I attended CodeMash this year for the first time. If you’ve never been to CodeMash then I urge you to go. It’s a conference for developers and run by developers. Not a bunch of marketing fluff and product road maps and the like for which we suffer through in other conferences.

Many of the CodeMash sessions were what you’d expect, including mobile development topics featuring iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7. Of course there were topics on F#, Ruby, Scala and Groovy.

What I did not expect was so much coverage and interest in JavaScript and JavaScript-related tools and technologies.

Why? Partly because JavaScript has always been considered a “toy” language since it’s introduction in 1995. JavaScript was what was used by web interface designers (not programmers) to make HTML widgets work. Real programmers had more important things to do like access databases and run reports.

Besides, what could you actually do with JavaScript? It’s still essentially an HTML widget language, right? And there’s all the browser inconsistencies you have to deal with – making web interface programming a real headache. Is this still true?

Not so much.

Tools like jQuery have greatly simplified handling browser inconsistencies. jQuery makes browser event handling and DOM access uniform across all browser makes and versions.

HTML5 dramatically changes what’s possible on the client. Video and audio no longer require a browser plugin. Canvas allows for advanced graphics. Web Storage and Web SQL provide data services. RIA features like drag and drop have been added. Oh, and your “web” app can now run locally, disconnected from the web.

These are the features we expect from a fully-featured desktop application technology like Java or .NET. All available for the web. Aiming to fulfill Java’s promise of write once run everywhere albeit with a much lighter and yet in some ways a more powerful technology stack.

And what language is used for this next generation of apps we’ll be building? JavaScript.

In future posts I’ll look further into JavaScript as a language and how to utilize HTML5 and jQuery to build the next generation of apps.

More to Explore

Big Wheel Keep on Turning
Canvas Breakout

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About taylodl

I'm an enterprise architect/developer who enjoys programming, math, music, physics, martial arts and beer
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