The importance of JavaScript in software development

Categories: software development |

This article talks about the importance of using JavaScript for software development. Even though Javascript has been criticised, it is one of the most popular and growing programming languages for building software. This is because you can find it in any of the layers that compound a software system.

One of the main advantages of using JavaScript is that it is web browser compatible, which means that it is supported by the most common browsers like Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge. In fact it is very easy to learn from scratch; for instance in Chrome all you need to do is Select Tools -> Developer tools from the Main Menu.

The importance of JavaScript in software development

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console.log('Hello world');

Just by writing console.log(“Hello world”) you can write your first Javascript program. The developers tools that you can find in your browsers are very useful, easy to manage, and they help non-developers to follow up any issues that may occur with their web applications.

As a result many people used to think that Javascript was only found in the Browser or client-side of a web application. While this have been the case for several years, currently we count on a growing platform called Node.js which allows programmers to develop server side applications written in Javascript.

For instance, if we were to develop a web application to register data, we can develop the front-end of the application using a Javascript framework like AngularJS; and the back-end of the application using Node.js. The architecture looks like this:

The importance of JavaScript in software development

In the graphic you’ll notice that I added the MongoDB database to the architecture. This database engine can be easily integrated with Node.js so that you can store information in the database.

This type of architecture results in a cost-effective programming language training, since all developers will use Javascript as the only language. This is unlike other applications, which require developers specialized in different languages.

Another advantage from a development standpoint, is that the same code can be reused by the back-end and the front-end. Usually this does not happen when the back-end is implemented in a different language than Javascript, for a web application.

This is why this type of architecture is becoming more common nowadays. In fact the popularity of JavaScript has been growing in recent years. Along with Java, PHP, Python, and C#; Javascript is one of the most popular languages for software development. (Source: redmonk.com)

The importance of JavaScript in software development

As a consequence of its popularity it is often easier for an IT team to recruit Javascript web developers, than web developers of others languages.

Today JavaScript frameworks are growing even faster. AngularJS for example is used by large enterprises like Apple and IBM. The AngularJS team, is releasing AngularJS 2.0; which is the result of a partnership between Google and Microsoft. Other widely used frameworks such as Node.js is being successfully used by enterprises such as Walmart.

One of the problems with Javascript is that its latest version (ECMAScript 6) is not completely supported by most common browsers. A solution for this is using a tool known as a “transpiler”, which helps developers to downgrade Javascript code which has been programmed with the latest version of Javascript, into a version which is compatible with most Browsers. One of the most common transpilers is TypeScript; which was created by Microsoft and will be used in AngularJS 2.0 in order to create apps compatible across browsers.

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Another common argument against Javascript is that, some the programming language characteristics it offers would be hard to be understand by a person who wants to learn programming from the beginning. I agree on that point; and actually I would argue that it can be advisable to spend at least two years learning how to program with other educational programming languages like Pascal, C, C++, Java or C#.

However despite these criticisms, Javascript architectures continue to grow in popularity, and are saving costs in duplicating code, as well as with programming language training.

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