Technical

Discovering JavaScript is a Programming Language

Thomas Powell

Every day people discover that JavaScript is a programming language.  That sounds crazy, but it’s true. For example just today it seems a reporter is pointing out that JavaScript can be trouble when it fails – http://weblog.infoworld.com/stratdev/archives/2008/08/bad_javascript.html In this situation some miscoded JavaScript caused script based stats to go crazy,  so headline time bugs have occurred in JavaScript code of all things and it meant something.

Why this is so much about JavaScript and not about stats is quite odd.  Literally every day I am hearing something along these lines.  Some surprise discovery that if I replaced the word C or C++ for JavaScript you’d say of course or that’s obvious or bordering on insanely obvious but for some reason such observations are new because it is JavaScript.

JavaScript is just a programming language

And it is one that is here to stay for some time.

No!  Say it isn’t so you must call it an ugly hack, gripe about, deny its popularity, say it is underpowered, not OOP like in the true sense, too incompatable between browsers or any other talking point you can find.  Make sure to tell everyone because people will eventually see the light…they’ll realize something else must be better maybe Java maybe Python or Ruby maybe C# or even F#, what about Haskell.  Now those are real programming languages, tough guy/gal ones, real deal appropriate languages!

Ok I see that you are right.If only we had those languages in browser we’d be set – everything would be fixed and that awful JavaScript would die a horrible death or be used only by foolish designers.  You know what I see that logic now, come to think of it I don’t even understand how people even write in English it too is so awful.  If only we had English 2.0 I personally wouldn’t have so many typos.  You see English 2.0 makes everyone spoke all proper like.  Ain’t no trouble figguring out your thinkings in English 2.0.   English 2.0 is better than all them other funny 1.0 languages like Japanese, Chinese and Spanish you can write yer thoughts in it and those other languages ya just can’t.

Ok that was thick but you see how lame this thinking is about programming languages or spoken languages.  The language simply really isn’t the issue–it just isn’t Doug Crockford and the rest of you – it is what is being done with it and how it is thought about.  You can be a lousy or great coder in any language! Frankly I don’t see nearly as much influence of language on this as people seem to state.  I agree JavaScript has its problems but so do other languages like C even.  Problems or not, JavaScript won the client-side battle- game over. So it is time to get on the JavaScript bandwagon and treat it right.

Say it slowly first quietly JavaScript is actually a programming language – now louder it is a REAL PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE.  What does that mean?  Well it means it has bugs!  It means that you can’t learn it in one day or something.  It means that you should comment it, use appropriate style, do unit tests, write documentation for it, address exception handling, on and on and on.

So flame away composing your messages in JavaScript powered Gmail and please BCC the Google Tech department they need the “clue-in” email as well.

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