The Age of Javascript is Here

The Age of Javascript is Here

Web 2.0 has seen the resurrection of Javascript. This is quite amazing when you consider how it was misused like animated GIFs or Java applets previously were.

Many of today’s key Web 2.0 sites are heavily reliant on Javascript for slick presentation. Some Javascript effects are almost rivalling Flash in their aesthetic attractiveness and complexity.

Software makers, and in particular Mozilla, Apple and Google are tripping over themselves to make sure their own particular browsers – Firefox, Safari and Chrome – give the best Javascript performance.

The recent version of Firefox included the TraceMonkey JavaScript engine and which made 3.5 twice as fast as version 3 and over ten times faster than version 2.

Google’s Chrome is at the moment the champion Javascript-friendly browser, with the latest release scoring 709ms on the Sunspider Javascript benchmarker, beating Safari 4 with 910ms and Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer following behind.

This outstanding performance will filter down to ordinary users as developers will design more complex Javascript applications and sites to take advantage of the new technology.

Ordinary users will notice the difference too in their email clients which will load a lot faster than previously.

For front-end developers, the advent of the JQuery Javascript library has taken hold across the industry and is just as revolutionary as the introduction of CSS. The whole concept of JQuery is based on the undeniable premise of web design: ‘separate content, behaviour and presentation’; and this concept dramatically simplifies development and maintainability.

Other popular Javascript frameworks and libraries include Prototype, Yahoo! UI Library (YUI) and MooTools.

No doubt you are also familiar with the term AJAX which has been as ubiquitous as the term Web 2.0 over the last five years. AJAX is a shorthand for asynchronous JavaScript and XML, with the client-side scripting language being used as the glue to bring together HTML and XML. This technique for data presentation has been widely used in recent times and has presented to the web community another reason to use Javascript.

The Google crawler too has become far better at reading the language whereas before it would have trouble following links written with Javascript.

There are still accessibility issues with this script though and as a rule all essential features that is used for on a site should still function equally well if it is turned off in the browser.

It is still the case though that the main reason why anybody should use Javascript is for form validation. Using a client-side script for this purpose lessons the burden on server resources but also provides a more user-friendly approach than using a server-side script and CSS alone.

So if you are a web designer it really is worth thinking about learning Javascript as it will undoubtedly be a vital element of online creativity in the years and decades to come.

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