Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

JavaScript Has Fashion and Luck to Thank?

Category: Articles, JavaScript

Because JavaScript is the language of the web browser, and because the web browser has become the dominant application delivery system, and because JavaScript isn’t too bad, JavaScript has become the World’s Most Popular Programming Language. Its popularity is growing. It is now being embedded in other applications and contexts. JavaScript has become important.

Douglas Crockford got to act all curmudgeonly as he talks on how The World’s Most Popular Programming Language Has Fashion and Luck to Thank.

He starts out talking about the black art of languages:

The art in language design is knowing what to leave out. The features of a good language work together harmoniously. A good language helps us to better understand a problem and to find the best expression of its solution.

A good language is composed of a limited set of features. But there is little agreement on which features are best. Programmers can argue endlessly about features and whether a set of features makes one language better than another. Features matter, but we just don’t understand yet how they matter.

Language design has more to do with fashion than technology. It may seem strange that fashion is a major factor in the nerdliest of arts, but it is true. A language with radically different syntax, for example, has no hope of finding broad adoption, regardless of the brilliance of its design. This tends to constrain the rate at which languages evolve.

Just like fashion, a programming language is often a product of its time. The deep problem in language design is not technological, it is psychological. A programming language should equip us with structures that help us to reason more effectively.

And then he gets to JavaScript itself, and how it has managed to become the most deployed language in history even with its foibles.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 5:06 am
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If Javascript has fashion and luck to thank, does that make John Resig the online equivalent of Madonna?

Strike a pose dude!

Comment by wwwmarty — March 25, 2008

When Doug acts all curmudgeonly, it’s the best! I’m being totally genuine here, he’s done a lot to keep things on a decent path (I wish more, however, on the ECMAScript 4 front. I’m NOT a fan of what’s going on with all of that; and his gripe of security concerns well seem to have been mostly ignored since building in xss security will “break companies that serve ads, like doubleclick the web” or something.)

funny note*
I just totally failed the captcha on here when to answer the question “What does the X in Ajax stand for” I wrote JSON, is that wrong? ;-)

Comment by naterkane — March 25, 2008

I agree with Doug that a focus on ‘getting the security right’ is needed, but also I can see Brendan viewpoint of trying to mature the language. Trying to take a more holistic viewpoint on this! at least the language is being a point of discussion amongst the people using it, and not turned into a ‘dead end’ thereby becoming a ‘STOIC’. ;)

Comment by fighne — March 25, 2008

Hidden requests (this site’s name links to a technique to make use of them) have made JavaScript to a serious approach to write second generation applications that connect people around the world.

@naterkane: ;) you say it. AJAJ (http://www.litfuel.net/plush/?postid=100) would be a silly word but for me it would express in a better way what it’s about: one Standard for everything: programming and wrapper for data. JSON is brilliant because it’s simple and is supported by more and more server side languages. Think of PHP’s json_en/decode().

Comment by webEater — March 26, 2008

Thanks for that

Comment by Tribulus — September 22, 2008

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