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Everything You Need to Know About JavaScript

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JavaScript is a scripting language used to create and control dynamic website content. This means things that move, refresh, or otherwise change on a user’s screen without the user having to manually reload a web page. Think features like animated graphics, photo slideshows, autocomplete text suggestions, and interactive forms. This includes some of the most ubiquitous parts of your daily online life: When your Facebook timeline updates on your screen or Google suggests search terms based on a few letters you’ve typed into your search bar, that’s JavaScript in action.

How Does JavaScript Work?

So what’s a scripting language?

Scripting languages are a type of coding language used to automate website processes that web developers would otherwise need to execute step-by-step. A scripting language like JS does this by telling computer programs such as websites or web applications to do something. In the case of JavaScript, this means telling the dynamic features described above to do whatever it is they do, like telling images to animate themselves, photos to cycle through a slideshow, or autocomplete suggestions to respond to prompts.

Because JavaScript is such an integral part of web functionality, all major web browsers come with built-in engines that can render JavaScript. This means JS commands can be typed directly into an HTML document and web browsers will be able to understand them—using JavaScript doesn’t require downloading any additional programs or compilers.

To give you an idea of what JavaScript looks like, consider the following basic example of JavaScript code. If you wanted users to receive a “thanks for signing up” confirmation message after signing up for an offer or service on a website, you would code it directly into an HTML page (between <script> tags) like this:

<script>
window.onload = initAll;
function initAll() {
document.getElementById(“submit”).onclick = submitMessage;
}
function submitMessage() {
var greeting = document.getElementById(“name”).getAttribute(“value”);
document.getElementById(“headline”).innerHTML = “Thank you for joining our email list,” + greeting;
return false;
}
<script/>

Writing out the above JavaScript code and inserting it in an HTML doc is an example of coding JavaScript by hand (also known as “Vanilla JavaScript”), and can be used to create a variety of JavaScript projects. However, as you become more familiar with the JavaScript language, there are different tools you can implement to make it easier and more efficient to use.

jQuery

When you work with JavaScript you’ll notice JS functions and features that show up regularly across multiple websites or web apps—things like menu animations and fade outs, file upload forms, and image galleries. While you could code each of these things from the ground up every time you need one, your coding life will be a lot easier if you use coding libraries like jQuery. The jQuery library is made up of JavaScript coding functions that can be performed through single line jQuery commands. For example, the JavaScript code example above would look like this if it were performed using the jQuery code instead:

<script>
$(“#submit”).click(function () {
var greeting = $(“#name”).val();
$(“#headline”).html(“Thank you for joining our email list, ” + greeting);
return false;
});
<script/>

As you can see, the jQuery programming approach is a lot more concise, and it can be reused any time you want to perform the same JavaScript function while coding a website or web app. In addition to examples like the one above (which are considered jQuery snippets—snippets of code inserted directly from the jQuery library to perform dedicated functions), jQuery code can be put together to create more complicated plugins. jQuery plugins can be found directly from the jQuery UI (User Interface) repository, where source code is available for copying and pasting.

JavaScript Frameworks

While JS libraries like jQuery function as digital Swiss Army knives for individual coding needs, front-end developers can take things a step farther by using tools called JavaScript frameworks. Extending past the patchwork functionality of jQuery, JS frameworks provide JavaScript developers with templates for websites or web applications to be built around. JS frameworks create spaces in a template where JS code is recommended to go, as well as prewritten code (much like jQuery) that can be plugged into those spaces. JavaScript frameworks range from examples like Angular.js which have to applied to an entire project to frameworks like Vue.js and React.js that can be applied to as little or as much of your code as you want. While there are a number of frameworks that can be considered industry standards, your best bet when picking one to learn is to consider potential employers or clients and identify which JS framework—if any—they favor. And keep in mind, once you’ve learned one framework, it’s relatively easy to pick up more.

The takeaway here? While HTML and CSS are the skills that will let you code a basic web page, JavaScript is the programming language that will bring that page to life. Even though HTML and CSS by themselves will put you in position to do beginning developer work, taking the time to learn JavaScript will help your job prospects increase exponentially.

 

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8 comments

  1. Paul Pasillas Replied

    Thank you for sharing I learned something new

  2. Acme Gamers Replied

    Java script is very useful now a days as now I see all of the web pages contains JAVA Script. Well it is very informative scenario.

  3. Anonymous Replied

    Thank very much for opening new doors and windows hehehehe sometimes people don’t get into programming causes it look so complicated thank you for helping to take that wall down little by little.

  4. Anonymous Replied

    Ah, now I know what Java’s real name is. I would hear either Java or ECMAScript and I always thought they were different.

  5. adrian771 Replied

    Perhaps Java had moved to the level that people can’t do without is, its world wild application

  6. Yolanda Replied

    Ia always good to start to undertanding all the basis of a language!Thanks!

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