Here to stay: 4 reasons to stick with JavaScript

All eyes are on Node.js, TypeScript, CoffeeScript, ClojureScript, and Dart, but they're shaping up as transitional tech at best

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With JavaScript seemingly conquering the world, it's no surprise a whole host of associated technologies are also on the rise, from Node.js to a slew of new languages that compile to JavaScript.

In one form or another, these new languages, including TypeScript, CoffeeScript, ClojureScript, and Google's Dart, all have as one of their stated goals making it easier to write JavaScript applications. But there's a growing list of reasons why such languages are shaping up to be short-term, transitional technologies and not a long-term bet like JavaScript itself.

1. Writing code directly in JavaScript will get you far more of an audience

If you write unambiguous JavaScript code, it stands a far better change of being adopted broadly. Write using one of the intermediate languages, and you'll end up mostly targeting the audience for those intermediates -- for which there isn't nearly as big a base of users (unless targeting those users is your intention, of course).

Also, writing directly in JavaScript means you stand a better chance of being appreciated by people just coming into the language. The vast majority of resources for learning, writing, debugging, and implementing JavaScript all focus on the core language and not one of its intermediate targets. This isn't to say that such things don't exist -- for example, books on CoffeeScript -- but only that they're in the deep minority.

2. The intermediates aren't that popular to begin with

The intermediate languages are appreciated and used in certain circles, but they've had a tough time getting any traction outside of that. A recent survey of JavaScript developers showed that a minority -- 22 percent -- of those surveyed do development in languages that compile to JavaScript. CoffeeScript, by the way, was the most popular of the bunch by a wide margin (85 percent), but it still ranks as an edge case rather than a mainstream item like jQuery.

A wider survey of developers showed an even greater disparity between JavaScript as a whole and those other languages. JavaScript has remained within the top 10 languages used overall, while CoffeeScript and the rest aren't even in the top 100.

3. Next iteration of JavaScript aims to provide many features offered by intermediates

Developer Matt Greer noted this in a recent blog post: Many functions found in CoffeeScript, like arrow functions or object literal shorthands, are planned for the next release of JavaScript. It's easy to forget that JavaScript is itself ever evolving.

4. Third-party JavaScript libraries can add much of the missing functionality

The wealth of third-party libraries written for JavaScript have gone a long way toward extending the language's functionality and even extending its syntax. jQuery is a classic example: It's used broadly, it's battle-tested, and it adds a great deal of flexibility to the way things can be identified and manipulated through the language. Plenty of other such libraries are also surfacing -- such as Args.js, a way to add support for optional and default function parameters. If this sort of native extension to JavaScript is available, then there isn't as much need to switch to a whole new language to employ it.

Granted, if a given programmer is comfortable and happy with CoffeeScript or any of the other intermediate languages, that's more than enough reason to stick with it. But the future of JavaScript as a whole -- its evolution as a language and the ecosystem around it -- all but guarantees such measures won't be as vital to making the most of JavaScript as they might once have been.

This story, "Here to stay: 4 reasons to stick with JavaScript," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.