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What's JavaScript?

2018-04-15
A recent Stack Overflow survey revealed that JavaScript remains as the most popular programming language in the world. Have you ever wondered why? I dare to tell that you can do anything with JavaScript: web application, mobile application, robots…...anything.

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There are many reasons why JavaScript is such a widely-used language. It has a variety of applications and it has a syntax that is similar enough to Java that allows many libraries between the two languages to intersect. JavaScript is a client-side language, meaning all execution occurs on the client’s side instead of the server side, where execution occurs on a remote host computer or server.

Where can you find JavaScript? It’s typically used to add automation and animations to web pages. Web developers use JavaScript to automate tasks, add sophistication, and to make their web pages more similar to desktop applications. JavaScript is also used on servers and embedded hardware controls.

There are a couple cons to JavaScript. From a security perspective, the JavaScript engine has vulnerabilities that others can exploit from. This in turn expose website visitors and web servers to attacks that can damage computing systems.

However, if these issues are addressed and mitigated, JavaScript is indeed a powerful language that can be used for many things. Websites use JavaScript to add engaging features that we see today. Web apps, which are applications that connect to the Internet to fetch data, also use JavaScript. Facebook is a website, while Google maps is a web app, and both are frequently powered by JavaScript.

A little-known fact is that JavaScript is great for presentations. RevealJS is a library that help presentations standout by adding animations and charts. D3JS is another famous visualization tool in the same vein that is also based on JavaScript.

Recently, we saw a trend towards browser games, including Facebook games and online games played on the browser itself. There are even browser games to teach you programming!

JavaScript is starting to become more prevalent in real-world applications as well. Consider the case of Pebble, a famous smartwatch maker. Pebble.js, a small JavaScript framework that allows developers to create applications, was created for the Pebble line of watches.

NodeJS is a JavaScript-based language that was developed a few years ago to handle server applications. Since then, Node has been adopted by many major companies, like Wal-Mart, as a key part of their back-end infrastructure. It’s now easier than ever to build a web server with few lines of JavaScript code.

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