Respect JavaScript

It has always baffled me why people don’t treat JavaScript like any other programming language. You wouldn’t start trying to develop an application in C without understanding the basics first, would you? Yet, this is what developers do constantly when dealing with JavaScript. They don’t want to learn JavaScript, they want to get right into the mix.

Part of the reason I wrote Professional JavaScript in the manner I did is because I wanted people to treat it like a programming language instead of a toy that web designers use to make “cool” effects. Now, this did garner some negative reviews from non-programmers, but that was to be expected. While Ajax is the current buzzword, it’s also encouraging a whole new slew of people who don’t know JavaScript to try and make it do things that require a good working knowledge of the language. How do I know? Professional Ajax is selling much better than the first book, but it requires no less technical knowledge. I have seen many more posts in forums by people wanting to implement Ajax solutions that begin with, “please help me, I don’t really know JavaScript.” ::sigh::

Though the reviews are only beginning to come in, I’m sure the Ajax book will get some similar reviews. This is where I accent the Professional part of the titles; both of these books are intended for programming professionals, not beginners. This is what we need more of: programmers who really understand JavaScript.


  1. Kevin

    This is what I loved about "Professional Javascript." The fact that you didn't treat javascript like a kiddy-language and actually showed us what it could do. I know a lot of Java based web applications that could easily be written in javascript, eliminating the need for the user to download JRE.

  2. Julian Turner

    As an amateur programmer, I have come to appreciate the scope of what you can do with JavaScript combined with a browser and components (XUL/ActiveX/XPCOM etc).

    I started learning JavaScript (along with the Browser object model) in 1999, as a relatively forgiving way into programming.

    I then started having ideas about applications I could like write to support my non-programming day-job.

    Having developed my JavaScript and Browser knowledge reasonably far, and having limited time, I did not have the opportunity to go back and start learning C++, VB, Java, C# etc, so I have been compelled to go as far as possible to create applications using JavaScript and the browser.

    As a consequence I have created (running as hta's) the following apps for my work using JavaScript and the browser (admittedly only IE at the moment):
    - a personal time recorder,
    - a 2 pane outliner for creating a personal knowledge base (a JavaScript/XML equivalent to Jot+ using the DHTML editing component, which I also use combined with AJAX to drive my website (although it is not cross-browser at the moment),
    - a word to html converter (allows me to define the resulting HTML better and more cleanly than relying on Microsoft's own converter),
    - a number of macros to control and apply automatic numbering in word (using GetObject and JavaScript to automate word),
    - a loan and APR calculator.

    In writing these applications, I have found over time that you are driven to use almost every feature of the language, and appreciate the expressive power of aspects of JavaScript such as function expressions, prototype based inheritance, closures, and functions as arguments for higher order programming.

  3. Mike Shaffer

    I hear on the "Javascript isn't a real language.." I teach high school kids (on the side, I've also got a "day" job) and every parent/teacher night I get some parent that wants to deride my choice of teaching Javascript and why it's not ...

    Javascript is very powerful, very flexible and has all the "goodness" of real languages. And some stuff virtually nobody has. Throw in the simplicity of the development environment (notepad & a browser) and come on. The kids love it because they're learning cool web stuff and I teach 'em the fundamentals like constructors and real OO stuff.

    BTW to anyone reading this: Professional Javascript is the only book I have the students get. It's the best. Period. And we're in negotiations to start an advanced class...and guess what the book will be? Professional AJAX, of course.

  4. Nicholas C. Zakas

    Wow Mike, that's awesome! I feel humbled by your choice of books. :)

  5. Ricardo García

    I've written software with many languages but I have a special affection for javascript. Reasons? It's simple, elegant, powerfull, object oriented (if you don't mind Nicholas, look at another delicious example from Guyon Roche at <a href=', and standard.

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