What is JavaScript (Part 1)

This is the first instalment of a mini-series about JavaScript. I realize that Javascript isn’t exactly new territory, and the web is full of Javascript tutorials, but I still think it’s important to address. Why? Because even though it’s extremely popular, it’s this abundance that leads many beginning (and even intermediate) programmers to believe that javascript is an unpolished and unwieldily scripting language for the web.

It’s so easy to Google javascript tutorials and be introduced to hundreds of terrible programming practices that eventually get turned into terrible habits.

First, let’s address a few annoying myths about JavaScript:

1) JavaScript Is The Same As Java

It’s a common misconception that JavaScript is either the same as the Java programming language, or that JavaScript is somehow related. Both of these notions are false.

JavaScript was originally going to be called LiveScript, but the developers more than likely felt that JavaScript made the new scripting language sound like it was in good company. Unfortunately, this decision has plagued JavaScript since it’s inception in 1995. The confusion was amplified by the fact that web browsers also supported a form of client-side Java. Rest assured, JavaScript is completely independent of Java.

2) JavaScript Is For Losers

While that’s not an official statement, it is unfortunately the opinion of many ignorant “programmers”. This is not only a biproduct of the naming choice, but the terrible implementation of JavaScript within earlier versions of browsers during the browser wars between Netscape and Microsoft.

The “Script” part of the name immediately makes the language seem less than desirable for some developers. As if a scripting language has no business being in the stable of a professional programming languages. Nothing could be further from the truth… in fact, there’s one extremely popular programming language that is also a scripting language: PHP. Also Perl. And C# … oh, and Java.

JavaScript syntax is very familiar and will actually assist those wanting to expand their programming knowledge to a server-side language like PHP.

3) JavaScript Is Full Of Bugs

It’s 2013. Those days have been gone for so long, it’s not even funny. The language itself is extremely mature, and any inconsistencies that exist are attributable to one thing: bad browsers and sloppy DOM rendering.

There are a few more unreliable statements slithering through the web, seeking to further taint the reputation of JavaScript, but the above 3 myths are the most important to consider.

In Part 2 of this series on “What is JavaScript”, I will address the fundamental aspects of what JavaScript actually does within the browser, and how it relates to the other languages throughout the content of a web page.





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