The triumph of JavaScript

JavaScript is eating the world, with new tools and enhancements arriving at a breakneck pace. Is it time to accept the inevitable?

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The JavaScript ecosystem
The triumph of JavaScript seems to have inspired the launch of a new framework every week, as well as other tools associated with JavaScript coding. Along with jQuery and Node.js, this year's Best of Open Source Software Awards showcased seven JavaScript winners:

  • AngularJS, a toolset for turning static HTML pages into JavaScript applications, with support for MVC architecture
  • Backbone.js, a JavaScript library that enables developers to add structure to apps and represent data as Models
  • Bootstrap, a responsive Web design framework intended to be used in conjunction with JQuery
  • Enyo, an object-oriented JavaScript framework that can be used to build HTML5/CSS apps
  • D3, a JavaScript library that pushes vector graphics about as far as it can go in the browser, no plug-ins necessary
  • Ember.js, an up-and-coming JavaScript framework for developing MVC applications with rich functionality
  • Emscripten, a compiler that converts C++ into asm.js, Mozilla's highly optimizable subset of JavaScript

That's quite a toolbox -- and these represent only the cream of the crop of what's available. The explosion in these tools, most of which are open source, continues to fuel JavaScript's momentum.

But ... JavaScript??
Nonetheless, experienced developers remain a little queasy. InfoWorld's Andy Oliver articulates his reservations this way:

All JavaScript, all the time is entirely possible -- you just need to decide for yourself whether it's a good idea ... The manager in me loves the idea of being able to have a pool of developers who can do jQuery, Node.js, and maybe light database work on MongoDB. The developer in me cringes at the idea of spending my days writing JavaScript ... The project lead in me cringes at the thought of a bunch of JavaScript developers even thinking about my precious database.

In other words, both easy to learn and somewhat awkward, JavaScript democratizes programming -- which will lead to messed-up code written by people who don't know what they're doing.

But there are also growing ranks of good JavaScript coders, many of whom will run close behind such advancements as asm.js or Intel's RiverTrail parallel programming model. They certainly won't suffer from a lack of tools to pursue their craft.

Of course, there are also JavaScript alternatives, led by Google Dart, which is due for a formal 1.0 release sometime soon (see "First look: Google Dart vs. JavaScript"). But Dart code needs to be compiled to JavaScript to run in any browser except a special version of Chromium equipped with the Dart virtual machine.

The best doesn't always triumph. As with the x86 instruction set, sometimes the winner just happens to be the last platform standing. I have no idea how JavaScript can extend itself to enable developers to build, say, applications with the accumulated richness of a Microsoft Office. But strange as it may seem to see the future through a browser window, I wouldn't bet money against it.

This article, "The triumph of JavaScript," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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