“You STILL work with JavaScript?”

Some time ago, I had lunch with a former colleague I last saw in 2000, when we were working together in a project. We got to talking, and eventually he asked me an interesting question.

The history

When we were working together back in 2000, it was the good ol’ days for IT and we were hired as consultants for one of the larger Internet consultancy companies in Stockholm. For instance, when the company was introduced to the stock market, we were standing on a gargantuan balcony in central Stockholm, drinking champagne and looking down at the mob in the streets…

In our project, all team members had about the same music taste, so we constantly listened to some good rock and heavy metal while developing the extranet we were working on. It was a good group of people, and we had some nice times.

Fast forward to today(-ish)

We had lunch at a local place in Stockholm, where we talked about our family situations and what had happened since the IT boom. After the initial “how are things now 8 years later”-phase, we got to talking about our currently professional roles and what we were doing. Before I got to say anything, he tilted his head a little and said:

Please don’t tell me you still work with JavaScript

While he’s a good guy, naturally, I wasn’t too happy about that he either insinuated that it wasn’t “proper” developing, or that by now, I should’ve moved to something more sturdy. Knowing that he’s very nice, he probably meant less harm than I make it out to be, but I was still a bit dumbfounded.

The web and the future

To be honest, I couldn’t be more excited by working with JavaScript. In these times and age, JavaScript is used almost everywhere for interaction coding, and with the AJAX revolution and the extremely wide-spread JavaScript libraries, what better coding place is there to be in?

Apparently people have taken the rapid and dynamic developing JavaScript offers to their hearts, and with web browser vendors (at the least the serious ones) implementing crazy-fast rendering engines, JavaScript will be around for a long long time. Therefore, I’m very happy. 🙂

Do you work with JavaScript, and how do you feel about it?


  • Rick Mans says:

    I completely agree with you, JavaScript is currently one of the hottest technologies in town. And to make things even better, JavaScript is native in most browsers, instead of other techniques. I blogged about something like this subject a few months ago, stating that JavaScript will replace all plug in based techniques in the next few years.

  • mdm-adph says:

    No, I work in Ajax.

    Honestly, that's what I've started to tell people now (if they don't say it first). I'm amazed at how quickly the word "Ajax" has directly replaced "JavaScript" or "Web Development" among management that I meet.

    At first, I was weirded out (isn't one just a subset of the other?), but if it keeps the management happy, I'm willing to do it… to a point. 😀

  • Gunnar says:

    I work with Javascript! Not as much as I did by the time you hang around in our office. But I kind of miss the time when you had to do everything yourself. Nowadays it is hard to get a kick out if it because whatever you try to achieve, you can bet that someone else already have done it. Better.

    I know. It is stupid. But every programmer always feels deep down in his/her heart that their own code is the best.

    And all these libraries… Man.. which is the best?

    But as you say, it is great that Javascript is used more and more and it is considered more serious programming language. Untyped languages are hotter now than before.

    I'm truly looking forward to performing more and more javascript programming!

    ps. If you visit my site, you will not find it interesting. yet. It was created yesterday.

  • I do, and it's my biggest passion for the moment. I love my profession, but let's be honest – all tasks in web interface development and web interaction design aren't funny. It has nothing to about their level of profession, they are just … well known, even boring, after repeatedly finished them many times over and over.

    But, a tricky JavaScript problem can still excite me enough to make me not going home before I'm done. Happens almost every time, last earlier this day.

  • JavaScript is my favourite language, although Ruby has also gotten a place in my heart over the past few years.

    I can't really imagine a time in the next few years, where I will NOT be working with JavaScript on a daily basis.

    I am curious to know what fantastic languages your former colleague is working with, that causes him to ask such odd questions … perhaps he is not doing web development anymore, and is oblivious to what goes on in our world?

  • BARTdG says:

    I fully agree with you and Anders. It more fun than ever and it makes me more excited than much of all the other computer stuff can.

    After reading your post I started thinking back. I have worked with Javascript mostly as a hobby, but I 've been doing it for at leat ten years. I remember printing out all the Netcape documentation when I was at university and reading every bit of it. *nostalgic sigh*

    I especially like Javascript because it 's an ideal language to teach yourself. There are so many sites about it. And if you like something on a certain site, you can just view the sourcecode and learn something that way.

    Hmmm, feeling all happy now. Thanks, Robert 🙂

  • Steven Clark says:

    I see this at university all the time, but from another direction. The software engineering is keyed to "real programming" which is software, and "the web" which is easy stuff. Most lecturers haven't had anything to do with a commercial web environment for a long time, my software engineering project lecturer for example says 10 years ago since she had anything to do with the web.

    Therefore to do "web" projects means you have to write perfect code to get good marks, but if you choose a "software" project then you get better marks for crappier code.

    What anyone on the ground finds, if they want to make high quality web products, is this is a huge area encompassing a large number of technologies and methodologies.

    Similarly with your friend and his reference to JavaScript. No doubt he's in that mindshift. That's an old outdated mental model they are carrying that (oddly for the computer world) says they're unwilling to accept that the game is changing, or has changed. When your friend says JavaScript he's just thinking "websites how hard is that?".

    The reality is that now it's applications and frameworks. And IMO "software" in the context my uni professors would class it usually means we control the environment. Whereas web technologies are a far harder ballpark to play in.

    Just my 2 cents. Its kind of on track. Finishing uni in under 2 weeks with a degree I'm perceived as the "easy path" guy. Regardless of making the Dean's Honour Roll of Excellence for the school in 2007!

  • Stefan Van Reeth says:

    Since I only can agree with all of the above, I can keep it short this time.

    JavaScript? I love it to the bone. There ain't a day without hammering away something in it. Be it usefull or just for fun.

    Resistance is futile… you will be assimilated.

  • Lim Chee Aun says:

    I do, and I really get into it a lot now, much more than few years ago when I start learning all the raw JavaScript stuff. I was dumbfounded by <a href="http://search.twitter.com/search?q=cheeaun+java&quot; rel="nofollow">(almost) the same question as well, from a Java developer, but oh well, I'm very glad that I work with JavaScript. 🙂

  • Martin S. says:

    What does the guy himself work with today, then? THAT would be interesting to know, too. 🙂

  • Gustaf Forsslund says:

    I have been working with Javascript since the later half of the nineties and I have also been working as a Java developer at the same time. The last few years and I have stepped away from backend duties because I seriously enjoy the frontend stuff that much more.

    I have to (out of nostalgia) agree a bit with Gunnar, though. Sometimes I miss the early days when you (occasionally) felt like a pioneer and you more or less had to do everything yourself. We have come a long way since then.

  • Phil says:

    JavaScript is the only language that kept me interested in programming, since Java put me off during my computer science degree. I am proud to work with JavaScript and relish every opportunity I get to use or teach JavaScript.

    Now I also deal with Ruby, but I have taken to it due to some of its similarities with JavaScript.

    I agree with Martin S, it would be really interesting to hear what your friend works in now. It sounds like he hasn't paid attention to recent developments in browsers and JavaScript. And that's his loss.

  • I’ve been working with JS since 1996, and I still find it a fascinating and extremely powerful language.

    To put this in some perspective: in the 1980s I worked as a software engineer in Forth and assembly language, and then worked for several years as a games programmer, almost exclusively in assembly language. I’ve also worked with Pascal, VB, C#, XSLT, and Java, as well as playing with numerous other languages.

    I used to find it annoying when people dismissed JS as some kind of toy language. Now, I just let it pass. If they want to deprive themselves of the pleasure of working with the language because of misguided attitudes based on a lack of understanding, that’s their problem. There’s none so blind as them that will not see.

    For the record, I’ve also made extensive use of JS in non-browser contexts. I’ve written complex server-side ASP applications in JScript, and created system administration tools and assorted utilities using JScript in Windows Script Host. It’s also possible to use JS to script the OS X platform if you don’t get along with Applescript 🙂

  • Eric Shepherd says:

    Yes, I work with JavaScript! Since most of my colleagues have been backend programmers, I've been defending it as an amazing language for years, and it just keeps getting better, really. The fact that it is flexible enough to implement interfaces, commands/actions, and many other sophisticated techniques is part of why it's going to be around for years to come and able to handle whatever we want to throw at it (if we try hard enough…)

  • Andrew Noyes says:

    JavaScript is, by far, the best part of my day. I work with XHTML, CSS, PHP, XML, and JavaScript. I learned programming with C++, I'm rehearsed in VBScript, Visual Basic, C#, Java, Objective-C 2.0…and, well you get the idea.

    JavaScript has become my favorite language to work with. No, I'm not crazy. It's not the cleanest and doesn't always make a lot of sense, but it's the most fun to work with. It's a language I've been using since before I wrote my first line of C++, and in learning a language like C++ I've come to realize that JavaScript has most of the same features as other languages, and it's the language that is going to push the web into the next generation. I like its abstract OOP model, I like the whacky programming constructs and rules that have been kind of slopped into the spec because there was no defined rule for such constructs in JavaScript like there is in other languages.

    People who think of JavaScript as a kiddie language are either ill-informed or are condescending bigots. These are the same people I remember in my Computer Science classes in College pretending that they were hot shit because they could write Assembly Language, and talked about how much better it is than high level languages. I know both kinds, the kind who just don't understand what JavaScript is and the kind who like to stick in their rut of pretending that JavaScript is a lesser language than Java or C++. The great thing about the former kind is that they'll usually listen to you if you want to explain to them how great JavaScript is.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks everyone, I was sure I wasn't alone!


    I definitely agree. WIth all the JavaScript libraries, pugins et al, there's less real fun coding nowadays, although one can still almost find/create a nice window of opportunity. 🙂

    Congrats to the new site!


    Interesting reading. Not sure flash will go away, given economical interests and the spread it already has, but especially with Google Chrome and onter new JavaScript engines, it will at least be a lot of new exciting opportunities! 🙂


    Absolutely, teachers in universities and institutions have to get into the game, and that fast!

    Morgan, Martin S, Phil,

    Honestly, I'm not sure what he's actually working with, but my guess is that it is database- and Microsoft-related.


    I think many, many people have the same experience as you, unfortunately.

  • Steve says:

    javascript.. sigh.. such a silly language 😉 tbh I have a love/hate relationship with our dear friend mr. javascript.. but hey, I guess that's what makes it so interesting. Thank god for all the nice little frameworks now a days.

    Shout outs to Robert and player-apprentice Martin S!

    <3 Matt Cutts

  • Pelle says:

    Sadly I work mostly in PHP and I would like to work in JavaScript a lot more and also do all of the serverside work in javaScript – but it isn't possible right know so I just have to code away in PHP and dream about what I can do when it's time for the client work.

  • RickyRiot says:

    I've been using JS since the mid 90's and remember my first all JS driven website that catered for IE and NS version 3! I've always liked the language and the fact it's stayed pretty static over the years has almost been a benefit.

    I detect the use of the word AJAX, and honestly believe it's a term of ignorance. xmlhttp was introduced and developed many years before some marketing term was invented and I always correct the speaker. It's abuse has been legendary too. People sending reams of HTML and JS via the responseText then evaluating on the client. Messy and down right poor developement.

    I also detest all the libraries, another patching of ignorance. My analogy for this is that you can put a 5yo into a car and they will be able to look where they are going and steer, but if any other problems arise they are in trouble. And thus, is the life of a JS library.

    The spotlight on the client side has in fact had negative effects, imo, on the whole environment, with the heinous crime of HTML5 and the ridiculous addition of content-contextual rules in CSS.

    As much as I love JS, it's shining beacon has been catnip to the zombies of the programming world and now every jackass tries to claim to be an expert despite doing nothing but implementing a few calls to a jQuery method.

  • @Pelle: Have you tried out 10gen or AppJet? Or tried Kris Zyp's Persevere? There's _major_ SSJS goodness for you right there.

    Personally I've only been coding JS for the last three years, coming from a Java background (I began in JDK 1.0.2 :). I've completely changed course, adopting REST and Thin Server Architecture and found a very good way of working quicker. It helps that I found Dojo early on, I guess (I'm a contrib).



  • Maicon Peixinho says:

    Yes, I work with Javascript! I'm a brazilian, and here, Javascript is extremely broken .. But, I found a place in which I can do what you really like .. be a javascript programmer.

    Here, i use a cool sentence:

    "I'm a Javascript Programmer, and my car is better than yours" ..

    P.S: Sorry my poor english … I'll study more about this language .. I promise.

    Ow, I would like to have more contact with the international scene, if someone has an interest in my contact, this is my email: maiconpeixinho@globo.com


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