When the Internet boomed in the 1990s, technology companies battled to build the most powerful and efficient web browser on the market. This sparked the first “browser war,” between Microsoft (Internet Explorer) and NetScape (NetScape Navigator) to gain dominance in the usage share of web browsers.

Netscape needed a lightweight scripting language for easier programming which ultimately made web development more accessible, unlike other languages that required deeper training. In 1995, a NetScape employee, Brendan Eich, was given ten days to help build the company a lightweight scripting language. As a result, Eich built Mocha, which was later renamed JavaScript. The moral of the story – JavaScript was never intended to become the standard language for the web! However, as NetScape won the browser war, the popularity of JavaScript grew. More and more sites began using JavaScript, and those that didn’t eventually had to as most developers used JavaScript to make websites.

JavaScript is now an essential web technology that’s supported by major web browsers. The language is crucial for anyone who wants to become a web developer. Many experts agree that JavaScript will continue to grow as an indispensable language for web development.

JavaScript on the Web

JavaScript, also called JS, is a flexible and powerful language that is implemented consistently by various web browsers, making it the language for web development. JavaScript, HTML, and CSS are the core components of web technology. While HTML is responsible for structure and CSS is responsible for style, JavaScripts provides interactivity to web pages in the browser.

Popularity of JavaScript

At this point, you may be wondering: how is it that a language written in 10 days by one guy became mass-adopted by the world wide web? In short, JavaScript became a hit because it turned web browsers into application platforms. Here’s how:

  1. JavaScript can be used in both the front-end and back-end of web development.
  2. JavaScript is standardized so it’s frequently updated with new versions.
  3. JavaScript integrates easily with HTML and CSS.
  4. JavaScript allows websites to have interactivity like scroll transitions and object movement. Modern browsers still compete to process JavaScript the fastest for the best user experiences. Chrome, the most used Internet browser in 2017, has been so successful because of its ability to process JavaScript quickly.
  5. JavaScript offers a wide range of frameworks and libraries that help developers create complex applications with low overhead. Programmers can import libraries and frameworks in their code to augment their application’s functionality.

JavaScript for Servers

In the early 2000s, big platforms like Facebook and Google began using JavaScript in their back-end server logic to process and respond to front-end requests. JavaScript helped businesses scale since engineers who knew JavaScript could apply those skills in a back-end context.

JavaScript used for servers, also known as server-side JavaScript, gained popularity because it allowed for scalability. In the server, JavaScript can be integrated with other languages to communicate with databases.

Node.JS, or Node, is one of the most popular versions of server-side JavaScript. Node has been used to write large platforms for NASA, eBay and many others. Since Javascript can execute programs out of sequential order, Node can be used to create scalable web applications, messaging platforms, and multiplayer games. This is why Google Cloud and Amazon Web Service depend on Node for some of their services.

What Else Can JavaScript Do?

Beyond the web, JavaScript has a large presence amongst cross-platform applications. We use some popular standalone desktop apps like Slack, GitHub, Skype, and Tidal. These applications are developed with the JavaScript framework called Electron.js. Electron is excellent for making desktop applications that need to work across different devices regardless of operating system.

In addition, JavaScript has the potential of expanding into other innovative technologies such as virtual reality and gaming. JavaScript can be used for animating, rendering and scaling. JavaScript even has contributed to the internet of things, the technology that makes simple objects, like your fridge, smarter. Everyday devices can become interactive and collect data using JavaScript libraries.

Conclusion

When diving into either programming or web development, JavaScript is an excellent language to learn. The capabilities of JavaScript allow you to use it in many different fields. Mastering what is known as “vanilla” or plain JavaScript will help you to tackle more complicated frameworks and libraries to make you a competitive developer. Take some of our Codecademy JavaScript courses to become the JavaScript rockstar companies are looking for!