Why JavaScript they said?

A lot has been said about JavaScript since its inception in 1995. Some ridicule it, some hate it, but those who understand it love it. This is my take on why is JavaScript so important in today’s programming world. Without further ado, let’s just jump into it.

Let’s start with some facts, JS is the single most popular language understood by browsers. Indeed ~95% of all the web sites use JavaScript and there are lots of them. JS has the biggest community of engineers and developers. JavaScript can be used on both frontend and backend. JavaScript gives a flavour of both Object-Oriented programming and Functional programming. PWAs are a reality now, this means mobile apps can be written in JavaScript (Twitter and Firebase are the best examples).

Even though facts say a lot, let us see some characteristics of JavaScript that makes it so lucrative. At the same time, we will further examine some facts in detail.

Easy to learn

JavaScript is easy to learn, you do not need high-end IDEs and browsers provide as a good environment to run the code. For someone new to coding JS with its flexibility lets you quickly ease into the more complex concepts. For the experienced developers, it gives the flexibility to adapt your own style Object-Oriented, Functional or Procedural (More on this below)

Front-end & Back-end

JS gives you entry to the world of HTML and CSS, especially with React and Styled Components where HTML and CSS are written in JS it becomes really easy to create web apps with knowledge of JavaScript and basics of HTML and CSS. HTML and CSS have their own learning curves, but for an entry-level job, you can learn that on the go. Also with web world already transitioned to single-page applications for speed and User Experience, JS is uniquely and perfectly positioned.

JS also gives you entry to the world of backend programming. Node.js has taken JS to the next level. This essentially means JS can be used to create APIs, read and write from databases, create microservices, etc. The important part is that once you have learnt it, you can serve both front-end and back-end applications. This I believe is a significant win.

Desktop and Handheld devices

As I mentioned before progressive web apps are a reality. Some would know that Twitter already has a PWA and so does Firebase. This means that developers who can code in JS can now create Apps for mobile without having to rely on specific languages and technologies. While I agree PWAs are still in the nascent stage I also believe their emergence is imminent.

Flavours of engineering concepts

One of the best features, albeit not intentional, of JS is that it can be used in both Object-oriented and Functional flavours of software engineering. While JS is not typically an Object-oriented language, it does give syntactic sugar, so that the developers are comfortable using it. At the same time with libraries such as RxJs, Immutable.js and Ramada JS can be used in a functional way. Why is this important? One, this gives developers of different experiences ease to work with JavaScript. Second, the best practices of both can be used while developing with JS. Third, this gives developers a chance to transition from one flavour to another without learning another language.

Go serverless — Lambdas / Cloud Functions

The concept of first-class functions in JS makes it a very good contender for writing Lambdas. AWS and GCP the leading cloud platforms have JS as a language to write serverless code. This gives the engineers who have good experience with JS a unique advantage. Not only can they code Front-end and Back-end applications, but they also have the ability to utilize cloud platforms to go serverless.

Data Science, AI, ML

This might be something many of us might not be aware of, but JavaScript is increasingly been used for data science. While most data scientists still rely on R or Python, JS makes for a compelling language, mainly because of its learning curve is not very steep. Libraries are indeed already present to do data analytics in JS. TensorFlow, Twitter-text are just two such libraries. Here you can find a list of many available JS libraries that can be used for Data Science, AI and ML.

Community Support

JS has one of the most active open source community. This means you will not hit the wall very easily and this indeed is coming from my personal experience. Also, the community is continuously innovating and libraries such ad Ramda, TypeScript, RxJS, Flow, Immutable.js, prettier, etc are a testament to this.

Summary

While these are the reasons I have discovered over the many years, there I am sure are many more. But the fact of the matter is that JS is a language that was, is and will be in our lives for the future to come. You can look down upon it, rant about it, hate it even, but will not get rid of it. Not only JS has a strong footing in its own domain, but it is also expanding its influence very fast and this gives the engineers who are comfortable with JS and its echo-system a unique advantage.

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Ishan Aggarwal

Ishan Aggarwal

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