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How to Talk Tech: What Is JavaScript?

In this series, we’ll explain many of the important terms, concepts, and tools that are driving forward technology today. Many of our more tech-savvy readers will know this stuff cold, but for everyone else, think of this as a primer to help you understand what’s what when you’re joining a meeting with a bunch of smart developers.

Today’s subject: JavaScript.  Here’s how we explain it to our clients.

What is JavaScript used for?

JavaScript is a very, very common programming language that is generally used to create interactive elements on websites. It is a client-side scripting language (hopefully we haven’t lost you yet!) which essentially means that the code is executed on the user’s computer rather than on the server. 

One of the main benefits of JavaScript is that it allows developers to create dynamic, exciting and interactive web pages. This can include things like form validation, image sliders and pop-up windows. It can also be used to create games, mobile applications and more.

Why do so many software developers use JavaScript? 

There are far too many companies using JavaScript to list here, but some of the ones you may know include Google, Meta, Microsoft, eBay, Netflix, PayPal, LinkedIn, Walmart and Uber. In other words, it’s wildly popular with developers. But why?

JavaScript is an object-oriented, prototype-based language, which means that it’s based on the concept of objects. Objects are collections of related data and functions used to represent real-world concepts. For example, an object could represent a person, with properties like name, age, and occupation, and methods like speak or walk. Object-oriented languages are easier to troubleshoot when something goes wrong, and make it easier to scale up or reuse code. Benefits like these and others let JavaScript programmers make more effective use of their time — and that added productivity can really add up when you look at the bigger picture of a tech project.

JavaScript is also a flexible language, as it can be used in a variety of contexts. It can be run in a web browser, on a server using Node.js or even on a device like a smart fridge. That’s a big plus for developers, who don’t have to learn specialized languages they’ll use just once or twice in their careers. Instead, they can increase their skills and experience with every JavaScript project, saving time and money by using a programming language they’ve mastered.

The language is essential to building the front end of web applications. One of the unique features of JavaScript is its ability to interact with the two other vital layers of building websites, HTML and CSS, which are almost universally used to structure and style web pages. JavaScript can be used to manipulate the DOM (Document Object Model), which is a tree-like structure that represents the elements of a web page. This allows developers to change the content, style and layout of a web page in real-time, making the whole development process easier and faster.

Developers love JavaScript because it is the only client-side scripting language supported by all browsers and has a lot of open-source libraries available, so lots of difficult things to do have already been done by previous developers who have made their solutions available to use.

Some of the most common front-end development frameworks, like Angular and React, are also based on JavaScript.

How does JavaScript work with Node.js?

Node.js was introduced in 2009 and greatly expanded JavaScript’s capabilities. It’s an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment for building server-side applications. It enables developers to use JavaScript on the back-end. Node.js is lightweight and efficient, perfect for data-intensive real-time applications that run across distributed devices.

Node.js is built on top of Google’s V8 JavaScript engine, which is responsible for executing JavaScript code. This means that developers can leverage the entire JavaScript ecosystem to build their applications. This makes it easy for developers who already know JavaScript to pick up Node.js and start building server-side applications quickly. Its strong community support and vast package ecosystem make it an increasingly popular choice among back-end developers. 

Do you need a JavaScript developer for your tech project?

No, not every web development project needs a JavaScript developer.  But a huge number of websites and web applications use JavaScript, and most teams we work with view it as an essential tool for web development. It’s used by millions of people and is one of the most important programming languages out there.  

Of course, if you’re looking for some terrific JavaScript engineers, at Plan A Technologies, we’ve carefully selected some of the best JavaScript programmers in the world to join our team. If you want our team’s expertise and experience to work toward making your project the next big thing in your industry, just reach out and contact us today.


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