The value of JavaScript in modern web development

There's something for everyone

24-09-2018

The days of dial-up have long gone, and with it, many old programming languages have become irrelevant to modern web pages, browsers, and online services.

JavaScript, however, lives on. First established in 1995 under the name Mocha, the programming language continues to be a valuable client-side scripting tool for web developers worldwide.

The scripting language allows developers to implement complex components on web pages which perform tasks on the client’s machine, without the need for server interaction. Maps, timers, dynamic media, library access, and animation are only some of the features that JavaScript is used for in modern browsing experiences.

Together with HTML and CSS, JavaScript is arguably one of the most important programming languages which underpin the Internet as we know it. Only a few lines of code can produce a variety of interactive features, and this is why the programming language has become so popular with the open-source community.

JavaScript is used by 80 percent of developers and by 95 percent of all websites to create dynamic logic on web pages. According to Coding Dojo, JavaScript is the third most popular programming language to learn.

When people talk about JavaScript they may also be including ECMAScript and Typescript in their thought process, although it can be slightly confusing as JavaScript is defined as a general purpose scripting language that conforms to the ECMAScript specification, whereas Typescript is a strict syntactical superset of JavaScript. No-one is likely to get particularly angry if you just call it JavaScript.

Below are some of the most interesting open-source projects which highlight how valuable JavaScript still is to the Internet -- and how the programming language will remain a critical component in next-generation web services.



Angular

Angular (previously known as AngularJS) is a JavaScript framework built to fill the gap left by HTML in application development. While HTML is acceptable when it comes to declaring static documents, as a markup language it is not really suitable for dynamic views in web-applications.

This is where Angular comes in. Offering an armoury of tools, it can streamline and simplify development workflows, offer a great deal of functionality “out of the box” as well as make use of other libraries, boosting development speeds and time to market.

The current version (Angular 6) has strong backwards compatibility with versions 2, 4 and 5 (much like Half Life, version 3 never happened) - and we're already keenly eyeing up the new functionality that will be available in Angular 7.

As well as being geared for web and mobile development, Angular has been touted as one of the JavaScript projects containing the most potential for the creation of Internet of Things (IoT) apps, such as software for controlling smart home devices (11).

Gartner estimates that 20.4 billion IoT devices will be in active use by 2020. With so many devices anticipated to hit the market, developers need to be able to rapidly create apps for their control, and so projects like Angular will likely remain popular for years to come. (12)


React

Also known as ReactJS, React is an open-source JavaScript library maintained by Facebook for building user interfaces (UIs) and view handling through the development of components which are self-managing. The architecture is compatible with Node.js and can be used for both single pages and mobile applications.

Popular implementations of React include Facebook’s own Newsfeed and on the Instagram platform.

React’s strengths lay within its ease of use. As a front-end system, the project’s component-based approach -- rather than through templates -- makes the system easy to grasp and therefore within the reach of more developers. In addition, React supports code reusability and quick debugging through one-way data binding.


AR.JS

AR.JS is a JavaScript-based open-source project which aims to make augmented reality (AR) “a reality for the web.”

The project aims to develop free JavaScript codes and standards which can be used to create AR applications online which are suitable not only for high-spec PC users, but also mobile browsers -- whether Android, iOS or Windows Phone.

As long as a browser is compatible with WebGL and WebRTC, the code can be used to run AR applications at up to 60 fps, even on legacy devices.

In total, the JavaScript required to get started is fewer than 10 lines of code. The project is currently focusing on implementing transparent and glass effects, as well as improving shadow rendering.

Analysts have predicted the AR apps and services market will be worth $61 billion by 2023, and JavaScript frameworks able to compress code, streamline AR apps on mobile devices, and potentially reduce power usage will be valuable assets for developers worldwide.


Reaction

Reaction is an e-commerce platform built with JavaScript (not to be confused with Facebook’s React library). Built upon event-driven script, it aims to make commerce platform construction more effective with real-time, drag-and-drop merchandising, order processing, payments, taxes, and analytics.

Given JavaScripts’ versatility, the developers are also working on integration with “dozens” of third-party applications, as well as universal single sign-on authentication.

“Since anything in our codebase can be extended, overwritten, or installed as a package, you may also develop, scale, and customize anything on our platform,” the developers say.

In 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to $2.3 trillion and revenues are projected to grow to $4.88 trillion by 2021. As consumers now often expect online alternatives to visiting physical outlets, these kinds of projects can give businesses - especially SMBs - the tools they need to quickly build an ecommerce solution.


Bottender

Built on top of messaging APIs, Bottender is an open-source project which focuses on bot creation. The modular framework encompasses handlers which behave as standard JavaScript functions and is flexible enough for custom implementation of bots and interactive chat systems.

The interface can be used to handle multiple platforms, server framework adapters, and platform connectors. Chatbots are already becoming a critical element of marketing and customer service solutions, giving JavaScript developers the opportunity to develop interesting, interactive use cases of the programming language.


Vue

Licensed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Vue is a lightweight open-source progressive framework developed for the creation of user interfaces. The JavaScript framework and library, supported by ES5-compliant browsers, can be used interchangeably depending on the use case.

Vue has gained traction in recent years not only because of its versatility but as a potential alternative to React and Angular, of which the licenses are owned by Facebook and Google, respectively.


Node.js

Supported by the Node.js Foundation, Node.js is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine.

The open-source project, downloaded over one million times, aims to promote the adoption of Node.js and related modules for the purpose of building scalable network applications.

Node.js’ package ecosystem, npm, contains one of the largest repositories of open-source libraries in existence and the framework is most widely used in the deployment of push notifications in real-time, an element of social media, commerce, and media websites which is becoming more and more common.



With so many modern, interesting use cases of such an old language appearing due to AR, IoT, mobile device adoption and e-commerce, we can expect JavaScript -- as a versatile, popular programming language able to handle dynamic content -- to remain a favourite for software developers across many disciplines alike in the foreseeable future.

Framework Training is happy to help you build the right set of skills to meet your technical challenges - find out more information about our JavaScript training courses or get in touch to tell us about your learning goals.

LINK STACK

  1. https://medium.mybridge.co/amazing-javascript-projects-for-the-past-year
  2. ttps://github.com/jeromeetienne/AR.js
  3. https://medium.com/arjs/augmented-reality-in-10-lines-of-html-4e193ea9fdbf
  4. https://reactjs.org/
  5. https://github.com/reactioncommerce/reaction
  6. https://github.com/Yoctol/bottender
  7. https://github.com/vuejs/vue
  8. https://github.com/nodejs/node
  9. https://foundation.nodejs.org/
  10. https://www.codingdojo.com//blog/7-most-in-demand-programming-languages-of-2018/
  11. https://angular.io/
  12. https://medium.com/@lelylan/building-your-first-app-for-the-internet-of-things-in-15-minutes
  13. https://www.zdnet.com/article/iot-devices-will-outnumber-the-worlds-population-this-year-for-the-first-time/
  14. https://www.mobilepaymentstoday.com/blogs/what-is-ars-role-in-retail-mobile-apps-going-forward/
  15. https://www.statista.com/statistics/379046/worldwide-retail-e-commerce-sales/
  16. https://www.hubspot.com/stories/chatbot-marketing-future
  17. https://medium.com/embrace-technology/why-do-developers-now-compare-vue-js-to-javascript-giants-angular-and-react
  18. https://medium.freecodecamp.org/whats-the-difference-between-javascript-and-ecmascript
  19. https://medium.com/arjs/augmented-reality-in-10-lines-of-html

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