Technical 101 Series: JavaScript

Next in our series on popular programming languages, we dive into the multi-paradigm scripting language JavaScript.

by Susan Mees

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript (JS) is a multi-paradigm scripting language, used to implement complex features, functionality, and behaviors on web pages. Along with HTML and CSS, JavaScript is one of the core languages used to make up the web today. Over 97% of websites use JavaScript for their client-facing web page behavior and all major web browsers have a dedicated Javascript engine to execute the code. JavaScript has also expanded outside of web programming and is now used as a core element of many software systems and applications.

Though JavaScript’s name and syntax were both inspired by Java, they are separate languages that have very different designs.

History of SQL

Originally dubbed LiveScript, JavaScript was created over the course of 10 days in 1995 by Brendan Eich, a programmer who worked at Netscape Communications. Netscape was a leading browser in the early web and was interested in finding ways to expand the web. It was this goal that helped give birth to JavaScript. Java was already in use and was growing quickly. Netscape was looking for a way to integrate Java into their browser but found the language to be too large and complex to appeal to many programmers. Brendan Eich was brought in to design a new, versatile language that could help speed up web development. Thus, JavaScript was born.

Today Javascript is officially known as ECMAScript.

Pros & Cons of JavaScript

JavaScript is an incredibly popular language for web pages as well as software and application development. It is highly flexible, easy to learn, and increasingly useful at helping developers quickly create applications. JavaScript code is interpreted at runtime (unlike Java) which makes it much more dynamic than other programming options. The ubiquity of JavaScript has also led to the creation of other programming languages that compile, or translate, to it allowing developers to write code in other languages that still runs on the web.

There are a few cons of using JavaScript. For one, though the code is typically compressed in a way that makes it hard to read, any JavaScript that is provided to the user can be examined and locally manipulated, meaning that it can be less secure than other options. Though the speed of JavaScript has increased significantly in its lifetime, there are aspects of the language that can slow down applications or make sites sluggish if developers aren’t careful. Additionally, because JavaScript is typically compressed into a compact format, it presents difficulties when it comes to debugging issues.

Where have I seen JavaScript in the wild?

As mentioned above, over 97% of websites use JavaScript in some way so its reach is very wide. Especially popular sites that use JavaScript are Google, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and YouTube.

Why do we use JavaScript?

One main reason that we use JavaScript is because of its ubiquity in development. JavaScript has a large, active community of tools and libraries which can offer our team the ability to develop quickly and nimbly when moving through a project.

See it in action in our projects like IQVIA, Roost, Slingmax, Drexel University, Neighborhood Holdings, Science History Institute, and the US Department of Defense.

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