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The state of web development

Why JavaScript is so essential to modern development

Nancy J. Chavira
javascript
© Shutterstock / Allies Interactive

Love it, hate it, or neutral on it, JavaScript has had a big hand in making the web what it is today. What makes JavaScript such an essential language to modern web programming? In this article, go through a brief history of JavaScript’s creation, its competition, and some of its drawbacks in modern programming.

JavaScript is one of the world’s pre-eminent programming languages and is primarily used by developers in the creation of interactive tools. These days it is omnipresent in modern development circles, powering vast swathes of interactivity on the web. Why so? How did JS become so important?

How JS was introduced

Netscape developed JavaScript way back in 1995 to support its popular web browser, Navigator. JavaScript, as the name suggests, was produced as a companion language to Java, and as such, other languages such as Python could therefore not be used.

It was with the introduction of JS that the web became something more than just a fully static space. What was needed was dynamism, which JS successfully brought, and from there it quickly grew as a frontend language, and despite the demise of Navigator, other emerging browsers such as Explorer, Firefox and Chrome soon jumped on board the JS bandwagon.

What JS has done for the web

As well as the need for dynamism, a language was needed that would satisfy all parties, from scriptwriters to frontend developers. Java was too big for the role, but JS has proven to be just right. Java was already a popularly-established language, and of course, the JavaScript name wanted to take advantage of this popularity.

But the fact remains that with the development of JS, a number of functions and innovations which are now synonymous on web browsers are a result of JS, such as autocomplete functions, rollovers and dropdown menus, loading capabilities and a whole lot more besides.

The characteristics which have driven JS to success

So why JavaScript? Why not another language? What are the traits of JS which have led it to the fore?

First and foremost, JavaScript can be directly placed in the HTML of a webpage, which no other language can be, making it the unique language to be understood by browsers (a distinct advantage). The reality is that browsers can interact directly with JS in a way that they can’t with other languages, enabling the experiences that we have come to know and love from our web browsing.

SEE ALSO: Mozilla combines Python and JavaScript to create interactive data science in your browser

How exactly has JS achieved this? Because it is open and, very importantly, standardized, it is a very effective language, which cannot be denied. It also has great compatibility with other programming languages, which is vital considering not all servers run on the same language. Compatibility is, therefore, an essential consideration,” argues Ricardo Oliveira, a tech blogger at ResearchPapersUK and Writinity.

JS VS. Node.js

Node.js is a cross-platform environment that allows for the execution of JavaScript separately from the browser. It’s open-source and has opened up a whole new host of possibilities for developers.

It can run on cloud platforms and even on robots and IoT appliances. This is JavaScript for the next generation, and it is recognized for its ability to handle data asynchronously.

The drawbacks

As with any language, there are a few potential pitfalls with JS. First of all, uncertainty remains as to how effectively search engines are able to crawl JavaScript, which can bring up SEO concerns. 

“JavaScript can also be overdone to the extent that it becomes detrimental to performance. Then there is the issue of dependency, which comes about when you overuse JavaScript. Becoming reliant upon these dependencies can cause a headache for the whole development team,” warns Rebecca Dawson, a project manager at LastMinuteWriting and DraftBeyond.

Where is JS optional?

JavaScript is optimal in client-side activities due to the speed of loading times: due to its asynchronous nature, it can speak with the server without interrupting any client-facing interactions. And user-friendly interactivity is really where JS leaves its mark. Its UX is so engaging that the web without it would still look like the static tool it once was. 

SEE ALSO: Feathers 4: JavaScript and TypeScript framework creates real-time apps

From the development side, it is easy and quick to learn compared to many other languages, and web design is both responsive and clean. And as a by-product of its immense popularity, there is an incredible level of support available through online communities to boot.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a fan or not (and most people are) JavaScript has achieved its pre-eminence due to the effectiveness of its basic functions and its unequalled compatibility. Without it, the web just wouldn’t look like it does today.

Author

Nancy J. Chavira

Nancy is a blog manager at Lucky Assignments and GumEssays, and social media marketing keynote speaker. Her goals include engaging with her audience in a thoughtful way and helping improvement through personal connections. When she’s not writing or speaking, she likes to hike and try out new recipes.


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