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Programming News

JavaScript Creator Talks About the Future 305

Posted by timothy
from the browser-as-universe dept.
mikejuk writes "JavaScript is currently an important language — possibly the most important of all the languages at this point in time. So an impromptu talk at JSConf given by the creator of JavaScript, Brendan Eich, is not something to ignore. He seems to be a worried about the way committees define languages and wants ordinary JavaScript programmers to get involved."
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JavaScript Creator Talks About the Future

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  • by jaymz2k4 (790806) <jaymzNO@SPAMjaymz.eu> on Saturday May 07, 2011 @05:49AM (#36055420) Homepage

    possibly the most important of all the languages at this point in time

    Not so sure I'd agree with that summary - I don't doubt the importance of JavaScript to the modern internet but I'd be more inclined to consider the C's of this world as the main foundation of the industry.

  • by x*yy*x (2058140) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @05:58AM (#36055448)
    I don't think C/C++ are so important anymore. Sure, a lot of underlying stuff is done with them. But so much more that billions of people see everyday is done with html and javascript. More stuff is created directly with those than C/C++. Besides, there's C#, Object Pascal, Assembly, Java and tons of replacements for C/C++. That isn't really the case with JavaScript.
  • by mhh91 (1784516) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @06:02AM (#36055462)
    C (and its derivatives) power almost all web servers in use today, and without servers, there's no web. Most browsers are written in C++ today, JS saw the light of day working inside browsers. A lot of programming languages have their main implementations written in C (Ruby, Python, PHP). So, yes, C/C++ are still important in the days of the web.
  • by jepaton (662235) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @06:03AM (#36055468)

    Virtually every device has substantial amounts of code written in C or C++. Javascript would be useless on the microcontroller I write C code for. If C and C++ were to vanish overnight we'd be back in the stone age. I won't comment on whether C and C++ belong in the stone age, but it's great that many programmers don't have to think at the lower levels of machine abstraction.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2011 @06:03AM (#36055470)

    JavaScript isn't even that important to the modern Internet. It's pretty isolated to the Web, and even there it's only seriously used by a small number of sites. It just gets a lot of undeserved hype.

    Indeed, C and its derivatives and related languages are in fact the main foundation of virtually all software. For every line of JavaScript in a given web site, there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of lines of C or C++ code doing the real work within the JavaScript interpreter, the web browser, the client's OS, the routers between the client and server, the server's OS, the web server, the back-end web app (or the language it's implemented in), the back-end database server, and so forth.

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @06:10AM (#36055490)

    The problem with javascript is that it is one of the WORST languages and environments. I dare to say Brandan owes the whole industry a great big apology. If he were japanese, there is a traditional act he should perform. Javascript doesn't have types to speak of, doesn't handle numbers very well, I mean seriously "+" appends two numbers? No scope to speak of. It looks object oriented, but has no real notion of classes. No inheritance. All of the features that have made languages "safer" and "easier" to program in, javascript lacks. I can't think of one innovative or positive aspect of javascript, and lament that it is, alas, the only option at this point. Visual Basic is a better language, and I hate VB too.

    Javascript is a hack by a person who didn't know better and we are stuck with it. I shake my head. For decades people have been creating new computer languages. ruby, java, perl, erlang, c++, c, pascal, basic, cobol, fortran, etc. All of these had an objective, to allow some some form of expressiveness or simplicity. Yet, javascript is on all the browsers. Irony for sure.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2011 @06:32AM (#36055558)

    Just wait until you've had to fix your first Node.js and MongoDB disaster. I'm working with one client to get rid of such a system. It is by far one of the worst gigs I've ever had, and I've had to clean up a whole lot of stupid shit before.

    JavaScript barely works as a client-side scripting language, and even then the experience is totally shitty for developers and users alike. Slashdot is a really good example of how JavaScript can absolutely fuck up a site unnecessarily.

    But it has absolutely no place for server-side development. It's just not up to the task in any way. It's missing basic language features necessary for large-scale server-side development. Its development tools are atrocious. Its runtime performance is horrible. Node.js is fucking stupid, and that's putting it nicely. Using it to query a data store is an extremely idiotic idea. All in all, it's a massive failure.

    JavaScript "programmers" have put together some of the worst and most broken systems that I've ever dealt with, and I've been dealing with horrible systems written using languages like PHP, Visual Basic, PowerBuilder and Perl. JavaScript may be one of the biggest computing disasters of all time.

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Saturday May 07, 2011 @06:37AM (#36055576)

    C isn't web scale.

    I'm not sure if you're going for funny or not -- Just to clarify, CGI was traditionally done via C. Apache is written in C. To this day, I still write processor intensive server side code in C or C++ (with a few C libs to support cross platform code & CGI) -- Even dinky hosing services like 1&1 offer remote SSH, have C/C++ compilers installed (G++, GCC), as well as GIT.

    I wouldn't develop on any system that doesn't at least support this minimal setup -- for web development or otherwise...

    Perhaps you mean C isn't a cross platform client side sand-boxed language?
    Neither is JavaScript:

    It's not cross platform -- The amount of conditional cruft you have to add to ATTEMPT a cross-browser solution is rediculous, so much so that there are entire libraries and frameworks for client side JS just to get most of the way there, and even then, some browsers are left behind.

    It's not sand-boxed -- Modern browsers compile JS to machine code and run that... Because the language requires features that make it slow, to do it any other way (bytecode in a VM), is terribly slow.

    I use JS, but it's not all it's cracked up to be... Most devs I know only use it as a client side language because it's available -- not because the language is so great.

  • by somersault (912633) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @06:39AM (#36055582) Homepage Journal

    "At this point in time" however, the Cs are just doing the same as what they have been doing for decades, whereas JavaScript is becoming a more and more important part of rich, highly cross platform applications. C is good for that too, of course, but it tends to just be a part of the background implementation just now. It is generally not a driving force or limiting factor in how we choose to implement high level applications, whereas JavaScript is.

    Already other comments are streaming in (dynamically via JavaScript!) pointing out how basically all devices have software written in C at some level. I know this, the submitter probably knows it, and it doesn't change which is more important right now. For example, JavaScript has done more for making Linux viable on the desktop than C or Java ever has. So many apps these days can be written as web apps, and run on any OS and any hardware, as long as they have a decent web browser. It is currently changing, and will continue to change how we use our computing devices.

  • by anonymov (1768712) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @06:53AM (#36055626)

    It's not cross platform -- The amount of conditional cruft you have to add to ATTEMPT a cross-browser solution is rediculous

    That's not the problem of javascript - that's the problem of implementation. Do you really think it would be any better if someone invented SomeBetterScript back then - and then MS made EvenBettererScript, which would be almost, but not completely, unlike the SomeBetterScript, and then Mozilla added their own extensions, and then other browsers implemented those extensions in incompatible way, adding some of their own in process, and ...

    You see what I'm talking about? JS by itself is quite nice language - web client bindings for JS is awful thanks to all the implementors.

    And yes, libraries and frameworks are good thing and they do make browser JS crossplatform - think about how AWT/Swing/SWT makes Java crossplatform and what would happen if you had to have your own bindings and workarounds.

    It's not sand-boxed -- Modern browsers compile JS to machine code and run that.

    And that's pure bullshit. "Compile to machine code and run that" has nothing to do with sandboxing - that's what all the languages that give a bit of concern about performance do, after all. Please come back when you learn the difference between "sandboxing vs non-sandboxing" and "interpreting vs JIT compiling".

  • by itsdapead (734413) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @07:33AM (#36055764)

    JavaScript isn't even that important to the modern Internet. It's pretty isolated to the Web,

    Yup, and the web isn't very important to the modern Internet at all.

    and even there it's only seriously used by a small number of sites.

    Just a few tiny, insignificant ones like Slashdot, Google (Docs/Maps/GMail) and any other website that contains anything more interactive than a form submit button. Except the ones that use Flash (but then the ActionScript language used by Flash developers is a superset of ECMAScript.) - or Java, which really is "only used seriously by a small number of sites" (for given values of "small" and "seriously").

    Its also the only game in town if you want to target iOS, Android and desktop browsers with the same codebase. Meanwhile, Java's star seems to be falling, .Net/C#/VB (however well respected) are effectively Microsoft-only.

    For every line of JavaScript in a given web site, there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of lines of C or C++ code doing the real work within the JavaScript interpreter

    Well, yes, that will be true of any "scripting" language.

    The statement in TFA that Javascript is "possibly the most important of all the languages" is flamebait, but your position is equally absurd.

    The "contest" is probably Javascript vs. Python/Ruby/Perl/PHP. ("CoffeeScript", mentioned in TFA seems to be an effort to make JavaScript look more like the first three of those to appease the haters of curly brackets - where's the campaign to make Javascript look more like PHP, I ask !? :-) ).

  • by DiegoBravo (324012) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @07:50AM (#36055830) Journal

    > If C and C++ were to vanish overnight we'd be back in the stone age.

    If COBOL were to vanish overnight, C programmers wouldn't get their paychecks; that's stone age...

  • by Lennie (16154) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @08:02AM (#36055864) Homepage

    Most of what is bad about JavaScript isn't so much the language, but the environment. People still drag their IE6 on to the internet and they expect things to work and it seems many website builders try to oblige them. They work around the problems in that 10 year old software. Many things have changed since then.

    I do not know what you do, but let's say you are a Java programmer, when you code do you always keep in the back of your mind it should still work on the 1.3 runtimes from 10 years ago ? And do you check/test it too ?

    If you are a C-programmer developing programs which run on Linux, you always create 2 code paths ? One which compiles and runs on Linux 2.2.x/gcc 2.95.x ? And some #ifdef where you take advantage of the newer features which Linux and other modern operating systems offer you ?

    Or do your programs still compile against the libraries of KDE3 ? QT from before 3.0 ? Or the GTK1.2 ? And do you test this ? And regularly ?

    So yes, there is some cruft. That doesn't mean the newer stuff can be exciting to people.

    The HTML5 and other new specifications has a lot of good things in it, the WHATWG was specifically created to create a new specification for creating applications, which has now grown into the HTML5-specification as it is now. JavaScript it self has some really interresting properties.

  • by itsdapead (734413) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @11:23AM (#36056778)

    BitTorrent traffic alone far outweighs Web traffic.

    ...and many people locate the BitTorrent they want to use by searching on the web.

    Then there are more traditional uses like FTP

    ...and many people locate the file they want to download by FTP by following a link on a web site (assuming they don't download it using HTTP).

    and email.

    Which many people now access via a webmail application such as Gmail or Outlook Web Access - and while they aren't going to supplant email anytime soon, people are increasingly using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to communicate.

    Voice and video teleconferencing are always becoming more prevalent. Then there's also gaming.

    ...and people don't use the web at all to locate people, find game servers, find out about games or even play them on line?

    Don't forget DNS. And there are many other more technical uses that I know you won't be familiar with.

    Actually, I've been using the Internet since before the web existed, and I've even written POP and SMTP clients in lovingly hand-crafted C so cut the patronising crap - I do actually know the difference between the web and the Internet. The argument was whether the Web was an important part of the Internet - not whether it was the only use.

    Sites that use Flash and/or JavaScript heavily tend to be rather useless. Slashdot has gotten progressively worse to use as more JavaScript has been introduced.

    OTOH, sites like Google Maps and Docs use it to great effect. I'd agree that Slashdot is a less than stellar example (and I'm not quite sure why it needs so much scripting to do what it does).

    Likewise, Flash doesn't really add anything useful to the table.

    Vector graphics and object-based animation that scale nicely without having to be coded from scratch? Its particularly suitable for things like online tests and educational applets. Again, it can be abused by using it for things that could/should be done in plain old HTML - and its use it for animated/interactive ads may be annoying, but that doesn't make it insignificant. Plus, all the people flaming iOS because it doesn't support Flash presumably think its good for something. For my money, it ought to be replaced by HTML5+SVG+DOM+CSS+AJAX+Javascript in the long term, but the development tools aren't there yet.

    We could download and play games long before Flash existed.

    In a format that would run unmodified on Windows, Mac, Linux on some mobile devices? Well, yes, there is Java - although I've found Flash to be more consistent cross-platform and easier to deliver (the plug-in is a simple download which most people already have, and its trivial to package Flash as stand alone .exe or .app files that run without plugins) and Flash's graphics engine is perfect for simple 2d games. Java may be better for complex stuff Minecraft, but if I wanted to write a poker app I'd choose Flash (until/unless SVG is properly supported across browsers). Plus, Flash is biggest in "on line" games like Farmville, which are tied to web-based social networking.

    We could stream videos using RealPlayer and other technologies long before YouTube existed. In fact, those real applications are often much effective to use than the Flash- or JavaScript-based "equivalents".

    Sometimes the issue is not just technical. Macromedia/Adobe give away the player plug-in, make their money selling tools to content creators and only bug users when an update to the player is available. RealPlayer were continually trying to push their premium media player software and content on your users. You could tell users to go install Flash player without them coming back and asking if they had to pay (because Real had made the "Free Playe

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