Oct 13

JavaScript- Things I Wish I'd Known (Open Source Development)

I avoided three things early on which I wish I had just gone ahead with at the time.
  1. Version Control with GIT.
  2. Learning VIM (a very powerful text editor) Along with Command line orientation.
  3. Javascript/Jquery and by extension HTML/CSS.

The last of these is Javascript:

Many do not  understand that the Web Browser is now a full fledged operating system. It has I/O handling, for the network and local storage. It supports the machine interface across many operating systems and machine types and it handles the presentation of data along with user interaction. It is fair to say the the browser is now the most cross platform operating system in existence today.

Somewhat disappointedly it requires the mastery of a minimum of three separate languages with several sub dialects.  HTML, CSS and Javascript are the three languages (you can also add SQL for local storage). It is very tempting not to gain a familiarity with all three (or four). Don't make that mistake!

Web server based programming requires so much learning across so many domains to grasp, that I put the whole subject of HTML/CSS/JS at the bottom of my very long list of learning tasks. I got the basics but I figured that I could get away with just the basics, after all it was "just presentation". Well presentation counts!

On twitter someone (and I've tried to remember who so I can attribute) made the observation that if you do not know the layers of the programming model you are very likely to be working in the wrong one. Similar aims can be achieved in the database layer the layer just above the Database known as the ORM or even higher in the view or template layers or right in the browser using Javasript (this layer description is somewhat simplified).

For most clients and consumers it is almost all about the presentation. Most presentation issues are best solved using HTML/CSS with some helping of JavaScript and its associated libraries.

The concept is really heating up as the mobile Web gains market. With new standards, since most mobile browsers use the same core (Webkit) very rich mobile apps can be almost entirely coded "in browser".

In short, mobile Web will be the biggest and fastest growing demand area for developers for a while. The browser is a full fledged operating system environment and you must understand it to develop the kinds of applications that consumers are demanding and getting comfortable with. For new developments there is no reason to use Flash or Silverlight (both of which are vendor platforms) stay open and run everywhere! Using HTML5/CSS3 and Javascript and its associated libraries is the only way to go in today's market..

Resources:

  1. the new Mozilla Javascipt reference
  2. Mark Pilgrims' HTML5 book
  3. Jquery
  4. CSS via Ryan Carson

Tags: Javascript, tools

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