What is Javascript?

JavascriptOne of the first concepts you need to learn when you start Web programming is what JavaScript is. Without JavaScript, websites couldn’t have interactive user interfaces, and the Internet would revert back to the 1990s when websites were static HTML pages with simple graphics and menus.

How Is JavaScript Used?

JavaScript was invented in 1995 by an engineer named Brendan Eich, who was working for Netscape at the time. Its main use is as the programming language of Web browsers and HTML, but it can be used in any application that uses high-level, object-oriented code or dynamically interpreted scripts. For example, it’s used for scripting the custom behavior of game characters in 3-D game engines, such as Unity 3-D, and it’s used to build cross-platform, Web-based mobile apps. Just about every Web designer uses JavaScript in the user interface of Web pages, so in-line JavaScript commands are the most common example of this language.

When it’s used to change attributes on a Web page from a user’s computer, it’s called client-side JavaScript. There is another way to make websites with it, however, and frameworks like AngularJS, Node.js and JQuerry allow programmers to build JavaScript apps that run on the server side, according to Mozilla. These programs can perform more powerful functions and manipulate data much more quickly because they can update the data on a page without waiting for a message from the client. A dynamic Web page can be continuously updated without the need to reload the page.

Relatively Simple Project Requirements

Another common use for JavaScript is to create simple data-gathering pages, such as online quizzes and surveys. These pages are simple compared to many dynamic websites, such as social media sites, forums and content management systems, because they don’t require many interacting components. A simple JavaScript questionnaire can be coded in one page with HTML and CSS styling, although it might require basic Common Gateway Interface scripting to put data in a database. In contrast, most full-featured websites require many programming modules organized in a project hierarchy. These programs usually use JavaScript for UI programming, but they use Python, PHP or Ruby for the business logic that makes up most of the application.

The best way to learn what JavaScript is would be to start practicing with simple Web pages. It’s not necessary to dive into PHP or Python before you feel comfortable writing HTML and JavaScript. You can practice coding UIs by signing up for a free blogging account with Tumblr or Blogger. These websites use sophisticated CMS software behind the scenes, but they expose the UI code to you so that you can customize your blog page. They also expose common database functions through a basic application programming interface, so when you get the hang of JavaScript coding, you can move to the next level. Although JavaScript is one of the most common languages used on the Internet, it’s not supported by all browsers, and it’s actually quite resource-hungry. However, its open-source license means it has much better support than closed software, such as Adobe Flash, which requires a browser plugin.

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The Internet is the most important medium for information in the digital age, and Web programming is an essential skill. When you learn what JavaScript is, you can begin making Web pages that dynamically change their content.