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In The Way Javascript Grew Up And Became A Real Language

Over 20 years ago, there were some people predicted that JavaScript would become one of the world’s most popular languages. You know what? AT first, it wasn’t even designed to be a serious coding tool. Finally, Tech developers who needed to create web applications already found a mature tool they preferred to use. That is why JavaScript Grew Up and Became a Real Language.

In 1995, Netscape realized they needed a simpler option for everyone. They were in a challenging position which is at war with Microsoft in the market and on the edge of closing a major strategic partnership with Sun Microsystems. They hired Brendan Eich to create the new language under an extremely strict timeline. He polished off the first version of JavaScript just in time with only 10 days. Netscape wanted a language that looked like Java, though it behaved differently. The similar names which are Java and JavaScript, has led to years of confusion.

The Era of Rollover Buttons - JavaScript Grew Up and Became A Real Language

For the first five years since it was born, JavaScript was a fill-the-gaps tool for anyone who wasn’t up to programming in Java. They were amateurs, hobbyists, and people who want to do simple things in a big hurry. It also included web designers who are new tech workers being in charge of making web page user interface look smooth and graphical. Hence, they desired something more polished than the <blink> tag and more up-to-date than just a spinning globe GIF.

Professionally, JavaScript’s prime job is to create the users’ interface glue that held over-designed web pages together. Every time you needed an interactive button or a pop-up menu, you would come to JavaScript. So, who wanted a rollover button? The answer is totally everyone. Once, JavaScript was very popular in swapping one image for another every time the mouse came by - the least important job in the world.

Then the question arisen is how JavaScript grew up and became a real language. Although it seems weird to think that Tech developers would use code to automate buttons, and then distribute that code with their web pages, over and over again. Few people did expect that JavaScript would go much farther in the future. And many coders were better-off using a server-side programming language which could churn out the right JavaScript on command. Many people think that the idea of JavaScript grew up and became a real language was as ridiculous as imagining you’d replace your database stored procedures with Excel macros.

JavaScript - Prisoner of the sandbox

Nowadays, when people criticize JavaScript, it’s usually owing to limitations in the language itself. But these are not the reasons that JavaScript was likely to be a poor programming tool in its early years. After all, there are many ugly programming languages that became fundamental by being in the right place and at the right time such as BASIC, COBOL, SQL, and PHP. JavaScript is the only language that was natively supported in every web browser. The real limitation with JavaScript was the sandbox. This is a tightly controlled environment that pinned your code in place, which cut JavaScript off from the desktop world and even everything on the web server.

Opening a pipeline with XML Http Request

Oddly enough, Microsoft used to save JavaScript. However, it wasn’t today’s Microsoft, the company that celebrates open source development on every operating system. During time that the world was going wild for rollover buttons, a Microsoft’s team was investigating a way to make a more responsive web front-end for Outlook, a product called Outlook Web Access. They created a small bit of plumbing with an ActiveX called XMLHttpRequest. The basic idea was simple, that is it gave JavaScript code a way to make web requests. Then JavaScript code can use the XMLHttpRequest object to make its own requests. Suddenly, a web page could tap into the all the resources of the web server and remained undisturbed while the call takes place in the background.

The JavaScript Grew Up and Became A Real Language Journey

XMLHttpRequest was the essential ingredient that changed the course of JavaScript. Yet, there were several more inflection points.

For years, the JavaScript language had been frozen. The problem here was that Internet Explorer, the market-leading web browser, was upgraded on operating system timescales — which is very slowly. Tech developers were forced to write code to check browser versions. In 2006, developers got a solution, which is jQuery. Though jQuery is more than a little dated today, 10 years ago it was an essential tool for troubleshooting browser compatibility issues.

Later in 2008, HTML5 appeared. It wasn’t about JavaScript, but it was paired with a new wave of JavaScript - APIs. With this advance, Tech developers had tools for storing local data, managing browser history, using audio, and running background tasks. Once again, the gap between web features and desktop capabilities was narrowed.

JavaScript in Modern Times

JavaScript Grew Up and Became A Real Language Journey. Was its success an inevitable outcome of its privileged place in the browser?

One thing is undeniable that JavaScript was forced to earn its way. Throughout its entire life, JavaScript was no one’s favorite. Most people supported Java applets, then Flash, and even Silverlight. JavaScript faced these competitors and overpowered them all. Perhaps the most reasonable assessment is that JavaScript proved something that every Tech developer knows. While the most important factor for a new technology is its reach, it doesn’t need to start out being the best when your technology has superior reach.

The future of JavaScript stretches down a differently branching road. JavaScript grew up and became a real language. We now have JavaScript running on web servers and powering desktop applications. We have one-step-away languages like TypeScript that compile into JavaScript in order to give developers a way to write for web pages without compromising their morals.

JavaScript, for all its hacks and inconsistencies, is one of the greatest. Brendan Eich put JavaScript inside Netscape. We integrated the entire world into the browser. Finally, the result was the modern web.


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