The JavaScript Revolution

The writing is on the wall. If you're not learning more JavaScript, you're going to get left behind.

Does that mean that you wont be able to get gigs? Certainly not. It just means that the greatest level of innovation seems to be happening in JavaScript land. Let me tell you a story...

Once upon a time, in a computer generation far far away, ECMA Script was a scripting language in it's infancy. Something designed to make life developing in a browser just a little easier. Java came along and was getting popular about the same time. So ECMA Script jumped on the band wagon and branded itself JavaScript! That helped it gain a little popularity. Enough to hold it's own in the browser space.

Many hesitated to use this JavaScripty thing because it was considered unapproachable or too difficult to bother with, because every browser implemented their core functions just a little bit differently. Enough to make it difficult to make sure that every browser would behave similarly.

Then, in come the standardized libraries. This was the beginning of a revolution. It was when people began to realize that JavaScript wasn't about writing messy code in one huge file that barely managed to work. People started innovating. Creating their own way of interacting with each individual browser, splitting up their scripting files in to more manageable chunks, and so forth.

That was the tipping point. When people realized that this somewhat abnormal functional language  could be used to actually do a lot of very powerful things like AJAX, browser animation and more. What is more, it's possibly the most popular language out there that has many of it's foundations coming right out of the LISP playbook. I digress, anyway, that was about the same time that big browser companies began to take notice and start optimizing their JavaScripting engines (really, we have Chrome to thank for the JavaScript engine optimization war). What is more, people started thinking about the best ways to utilize these new capabilities and a whole new era of libraries were born- ExtJS, SproutCore, Backbone, and so many more. These have all been used to push the browser in to new levels of near-desktop application styles and design. Who would have guessed that JavaScript would become the glue of the browser?

What's more, it doesn't stop with the browser. Nothing as solid as V8 can stay in one place. V8 is the JavaScript browser built by Google for their Chrome web browser. The thing is.. it was fast. Really, really fast. Why couldn't the server side also benefit from such a fast engine? The answer is.. it could! NodeJS was born. Not the first JavaScript interpreter to show up on scene, but definitely the one to catch on. Including package management in a similar way to what is done in the Ruby community.

This is a new way of working- "Event" based programming. It's an upstart. A powerful one. People have started to realize just how much idle processor time they have, and how much could be utilized by not constantly having a blocking thread. It's like the idea of not using transactions for databases. The first time you see it, it just doesn't make any sense. You have to put the time and effort in to understanding it before you can utilize it's power.

I don't think it's a unfair of me to say- JavaScript is the glue that holds a fair portion of the internet together. As we move forward, I can say with some level of confidence that JavaScript will continue to take a larger role in server and client web application development.

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