What the Heck is JavaScript?

30.05.2016 |

by Rich Armstrong

Besides being awesome, JavaScript is a programming language! What does that mean? It means you can tell the computer what to do, especially when things happen—like when someone clicks a big fat button, when an animation ends, when a file is opened, when the database changes, et cetera. And it’s also really good at storing information (tons of it, in fact) and doing things fast, like counting, sorting, and listening—things most humans are terrible at. It’s fair to say that programming, JavaScript included, helps us mere mortals a lot.

But it needs a place to run in, be executed in, something to compute it—it needs an environment in which to exist. If you write some JavaScript, save it, and open it (where?), nothing much happens. Maybe you’ll be able to read it and edit it, but nothing really happens until the computer reads it, understands it, and takes action from it. It’s just theory until it’s read by the computer in the correct environment. It’s like my wife asking me to phone the plumber at 11pm; wrong environment, so it doesn’t compute. JavaScript needs an environment!

So where does JavaScript run? Where does the computer interpret what you’ve written and do what you’ve said? Well, there’s several places! The terminal with the command line is one; JavaScript Servers are another. After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, and other Adobe apps use it in places too, as do PDF files, Logic Pro, and a few other apps. But the best, most fun, and simplest place to learn and run JavaScript is in a browser like Google Chrome (especially Google Chrome, in fact).

And then? Well, JavaScript needs to be connected to an HTML page—either in it, or linked to it, much like CSS. The browser then interprets the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and BOOM! You have a webpage, a website, or an app, and you can take over the world! And this is the trinity of the world wide web: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript! And JavaScript is the best part.

To prepare for tomorrow’s lesson, download and install the following apps:

Google Chrome for Desktop (an amazing browser for JavaScript, HTML, and CSS developers)
Sublime Text 3 (an amazing code editor)


Recommended book

“You Don’t Know JS: Up & Going” by Kyle Simpson


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