Beautiful JavaScript

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Beautiful jаvascript by Anton Kovalyov

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FUNCTIONS ARE FIRST-CLASS CITIZENS, SYNTAX RESEMBLES JAVA, INHERITANCE is prototypal, and (+"") equals zero. This is jаvascript, arguably the most polarizing and misunderstood programming language in the world. It was created in 10 days and had a lot of warts and rough edges. Since then, there have been many attempts to replace it as the language of the Web. And yet, the language and the ecosystem around it are thriving. jаvascript is the most popular language in the world—and the only true language of the web platform. What made jаvascript special? Why did a language that was created in such a hurry succeed where others failed?

I believe the reasons why jаvascript (and the Web in general) survived lie in its omnipresence—it’s practically impossible to find a personal computer that doesn’t have some sort of jаvascript interpreter—and its ability to gain from disorder, to use its stressors for self-improvement.

jаvascript, like no other language, brought all kinds of different people to the platform. Anyone with a text editor and a web browser could get started with jаvascript, and many did. Its expressiveness and limited standard library prompted those people to experiment with the language and push it to its limits. People were not only making websites and applications; they were writing libraries and creating programming languages that could be compiled back into jаvascript. Those libraries competed with each other, and their approaches to solving problems often contradicted one another. The jаvascript ecosystem was a mess, but it was bursting with life.

Many of those libraries and languages are now forgotten. Their best ideas, however—the ones that proved themselves and stood the test of time—were absorbed into the language. They made their way into jаvascript’s standard library and its syntax. They made the language better.

Then there were languages and technologies that were designed to replace jаvascript. But instead of succeeding, they unwillingly became its necessary stressors. Every time a new language or system to replace jаvascript emerged, browser vendors would find a way to make it faster, more powerful, and more robust. Once again, good ideas were absorbed into newer versions of the language, and the bad ones were discarded. These competing technologies didn’t replace jаvascript; instead, they made it better.

Today, jаvascript is unbelievably popular. Will it last? I don’t know. I cannot predict whether it will still be popular 5 or 10 years from now, but it doesn’t really matter. For me, jаvascript will always be a great example of a language that survived not despite its flaws but because of them, and a language that brought people of so many different backgrounds into this wonderful world of computer programming.



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