So we started to live in the JavaScript Era

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Web has never been a place for one unique language, over the last 25 years there has been plenty of hype on many like Perl, PHP, Java, Python... But since 2008 it's being conquered again, this time by an old mature player: JavaScript.

Languages of the Web Reign

Reasons to look at JavaScript from a different angle are many. The time were we developed web applications in a mix of different languages to cover the look, data structures and controllers (MVC), have not passed yet. We have been busy building sites in PHP, Rails and Django, flattening data structures from SQL to NoSQL, using server side APIs in Tcl, Perl, Ruby and Python and sending data back and force in JSON.

And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.

In a retrospective view

The Javascript Ring In ancient Elfish: "JavaScript, one language to rule them all" In 1995 Brendan Eich forged the Ring of JavaScript at Netscape, very far from the Mount of Doom. One year later the language was given for standardization to Ecma International, and then it wandered in the wilderness for over a decade, between discussions and in the solitude of the client side. In the meanwhile we had to get the job done and as mere mortals we did what we had to do: coding some sites, patching other, migrating old CMS to better products, deploying wikis, updating schemas, and the time passed between caffeine and lembas bread.

5 years ago, in 2008, in a remote cold place in Denmark, Northern Europe, a working group at Google, not precisely hobbits and dwarfs, released the Javascript V8 Engine. They launched the product that would change the still waters of the JavaScript world. The 2nd browser war was about to start. And a new realm of open source projects based on JavaScript started their way to conquer the Web.

The 2nd browser war started with the goal of dethroning Microsoft's IE in a battle to improve browsers performance. And with IE already defeated the war continues today in a different field: HTML5.

HTML5 has been produced by the WHAT Working Group, diverging from the direction Web Standards were taking under the control of the W3C. The Group started as an effort to make the Web evolve in the right direction and came up with what is known as HTML5. The W3C has later standardize the result but the WHATWG will stay independent from the Consortium. Why the detour? Misunderstanding, lack of action... read A competing vision part of Mark Pilgrim's Dive Into HTML5 to catch the drift.

What is remarkable to this story is the fact that HTML5 defines a set of new JavaScript APIs, that has been implemented in major browsers empowering the JavaScript language to a position no other language has ever been before.

During the dark time of JavaScript the language was mainly used in the Client side. But since 2008, with the V8 release and the implementation of HTML5, cutting edge projects written in JavaScript have flourished everywhere. Just to mention a few...

... I'm not being fair enough as there are many more some competing in the same field.

The differences

  • The substantial differences between JavaScript and other languages, notably its simplicity.
  • The unique fact of being the only scripting language standardize for the browser.
  • And all the new HTML5 JavaScript APIs.

Are putting JavaScript for long in the Throne of the Web Programming Languages.

April 17, 2015  -  Amit Joshi
Nice Article.
September 2, 2015  -  danirus
Thank you! ;)

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