What is JavaScript?

JavaScript is a dynamic computer programming language. It is lightweight and most commonly used as a part of web pages, whose implementations allow client-side script to interact with the user and make dynamic pages. It is an interpreted programming language with object-oriented capabilities.

JavaScript was first known as LiveScript, but Netscape changed its name to JavaScript, possibly because of the excitement being generated by Java. JavaScript made its first appearance in Netscape 2.0 in 1995 with the name LiveScript. The general-purpose core of the language has been embedded in Netscape, Internet Explorer, and other web browsers.

The ECMA-262 Specification defined a standard version of the core JavaScript language.

  • JavaScript is a lightweight, interpreted programming language.
  • Designed for creating network-centric applications.
  • Complementary to and integrated with Java.
  • Complementary to and integrated with HTML.
  • Open and cross-platform

Client-Side JavaScript

Client-side JavaScript is the most common form of language. The script should be included in or referenced by an HTML document for the code to be interpreted by the browser.

It means that a web page need not be a static HTML, but can include programs that interact with the user, control the browser, and dynamically create HTML content.

The JavaScript client-side mechanism provides many advantages over traditional CGI server-side scripts. For example, you might use JavaScript to check if the user has entered a valid e-mail address in a form field.

The JavaScript code is executed when the user submits the form, and only if all the entries are valid, they would be submitted to the Web Server.

JavaScript can be used to trap user-initiated events such as button clicks, link navigation, and other actions that the user initiates explicitly or implicitly.

JavaScript Development Tools

One of the major strengths of JavaScript is that it does not require expensive development tools. You can start with a simple text editor such as Notepad. Since it is an interpreted language inside the context of a web browser, you don’t even need to buy a compiler.

To make our life simpler, various vendors have come up with very nice JavaScript editing tools. Some of them are listed here −

  • Microsoft FrontPage − Microsoft has developed a popular HTML editor called FrontPage. FrontPage also provides web developers with a number of JavaScript tools to assist in the creation of interactive websites.
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX − Macromedia Dreamweaver MX is a very popular HTML and JavaScript editor in the professional web development crowd. It provides several handy prebuilt JavaScript components, integrates well with databases, and conforms to new standards such as XHTML and XML.
  • Macromedia HomeSite 5 − HomeSite 5 is a well-liked HTML and JavaScript editor from Macromedia that can be used to manage personal websites effectively.

    JavaScript Alternatives and Their Pros and Cons

    Despite all the popularity and uniqueness of JavaScript, there are some decent alternative tools that can be used for certain tasks execution. Here are some of them.

    1. CoffeeScript

    This language is transcomplied into JS. What it does is improving the readability of JavaScript and making the code simpler and shorter. CoffeeScript can also be used with Node.js. It is not a modification or a subgroup of JavaScript, though. But if you want to use it for coding, you need to know JavaScript anyway. Drawbacks of CoffeeScript include a need for compilation, a limited feature set and few specialists writing in it.

    2. Dart

    Dart is Google’s product that offers a lot of opportunities for constructing well-structured apps. It is a new-gen high-performance language that gives pretty much flexibility to developers. Dart is regularly upgraded by Google, but if compared to JavaScript it still has fewer capabilities and a smaller community.

    3. TypeScript

    This programming language has been developed by Microsoft. Its primary function is the enhancement of JavaScript capabilities, which it is backwards compatible with. When compiled to JS, any app written in TypeScript can be viewed in most browsers. It is also compatible with Node.js. TypeScript supports classes and modules connection as well as static type-checking. The community of the language is smaller than that of JavaScript, and coding using this language it more time-consuming.

    4. ClojureScript

    ClojureScript is an implementation of Clojure programming language with a compilation into JavaScript. It emits JS code which is compatible with the compilation mode of the Google Closure compiler. It smoothly works in most browsers, is compatible with mobile platforms and Node, js. It is a simple and powerful programming tool, though not as popular as JavaScript.

    5. Opal

    It is one of the object-oriented languages acting as a transcompiler to JavaScript from Ruby. As developers claim, Opal is developed to complement or completely replace other languages including JavaScript, Java, and C, C++, C#and Eifel. However, as of today, its popularity is low. And still, it is certainly worth mentioning.

    6. Elm

    Elm is a relatively new functional language used for graphic interface development. Despite its not very long history, it is now actively utilized by web-developers who work with JavaScript. It is easily compiled to JavaScript and offers much flexibility in front-end development. Elm is easy to use and feature a self-formatting code.

    7. Kaffeine

    If you feel that capabilities of JavaScript are not sufficient for all your tasks completion, try Kaffeine — an effective tool, the main purpose of which is an extension of JavaScript syntax. Its code compiles JavaScript code and makes the process of debugging simpler.

    8. Roy

    Like many other languages, Roy is compiled to JavaScript. It has been developed as an experimental tool and to a large extent resembles JavaScript. Roy not only makes the generation of code simpler but also has some features of functional languages like pattern matching, whitespace significant syntax and others. Here again, the main problem is the low popularity of the language.

    Why is JavaScript Better?

    As you see, today there is some real (though less popular) alternative to JavaScript. And still, you’ll hardly do without the latter. The reasons for it are not only above-mentioned JavaScript advantages but also some independent facts:

    • all browsers support JavaScript;
    • JS scripts and plugins are used everywhere by everyone, even by regular users;
    • it has the richest feature set;
    • specialists who can code in JS languages are always in demand.

    Finally, JavaScript is regularly upgrading, and new releases allow resolving more and more complicated tasks.


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